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31 Days of Teens’ Top Ten: YA Galley Groups

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.  Each day during the month of May, The Hub will feature a post about Teens’ Top Ten.  Be sure to check in daily as we visit past winners and current nominees!

Watching and waiting for the list of Teens’ Top Ten nominations to be announced on Teen Literature Day is fun.  But helping to make that list of nominations is even more fun!  Today I bring you a new  perspective on the Teens’ Top Ten, from a participating review group.

Here is a bit of background: My library is host to several Young Adult Advisory Councils (TABs, TAGs, whatever you want to call them) all of which participate in our Teens’ Top Ten review group.   Over thirty publishers participate in the project, sending copies of galleys and pre-published books to teen groups around the country.  It is like I have dozens of birthdays throughout the year when these boxes arrive, full of fresh galleys, smelling like the next Teens’ Top Ten nomination.

After going through a quick how-to on reviewing a book, our teen readers can pick and choose what they want to take home.  When finished they review the book online and decide whether or not that book really was one of the best books of the  year.  Those that are nominated are combined with the nominations of other teens around the country and they make up the list of top 25 released on Teen Literature Day.

So without further ado…

The Top 10 Things I Have Learned and Loved About Being a Teens’ Top Ten Participant

10.  The publishing community is a tangled web. We send the reviews to the publishers and it is always surprising to find out who is an imprint of who.  It is really just one big family in the publishing world with way too many second-cousins.

9.  Galleys are for everyone. Just a few months ago, a reviewer asked if there was a similar group for her dad, who was jealous that she got to read books before they were published.

8.  Galleys aren’t meant to last forever. It hurts when a galley is passed around so much it falls apart.  But bless their hearts, they want to read it so bad they will put the pages back in order and duct tape them back in if they have to!

7.  Covers are important. Some of the books we receive don’t even have cover art yet.  They are always the ones left over, they just don’t jump out at the readers.

6.  Teens can be very concise. When we started we just assumed they would know how to write a review.  But it turns out that “it was good” is as in depth as they often felt like going until we started talking about what makes a good review.

5.  Galleys are great for advertising. We put a brightly colored sticker on our galleys with the web address for the online review form.  My teens constantly talk about getting stopped in the hall or class by another student to ask where they got their book.  They get to tell all about how they are in this very “exclusive” group at the Library.  We get more new participants through word of mouth than we could through traditional advertising, with far less effort.

4.  Teens suffer from collective mood swings. Sometimes our teens will nominate 50% of the books they review, other times they may only nominated around 10%.  I haven’t figured out a pattern (if it has to do with finals or vacations) but they all seem to be coordinated in their harshness and flattery.

3.  Teens love to share what they are reading. We don’t require that they “check out” the galleys and bring them back, but often times they do it anyway to share it with someone else in the group.

2.  If you aren’t first, you’re last (Ricky Bobby was right). Who doesn’t like being the first person to read a new book?  Our teens now consider reading a book on the day it is released being “behind the curve”.

1.  Teens love being listened to. One of best things about this group is that publishers want to read the reviews of teens.  I am constantly getting messages back from publishers, thanking us for participating and glad to know that a teen appreciated their book.  The teens who participate in our groups know that their voices are being heard, and that publishers really do care what they have to say.

You also get this warm fuzzy feeling when you see the Teens’ Top Ten Nominations announced, knowing that your teens help make that list!

-Kate Pickett is currently listening to Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness.

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Kate McNair

Kate is the Young Adult Librarian for the Johnson County Library in the Kansas City metro area. She loves, playing roller derby, crafting and being surprised!

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