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!
As people who love young adult literature, we know that there is nothing more exciting than the new. New books, new author voices, and new hot subjects burst onto the scene and the past decade has seen great expansion in teen literature, not just among teen readers but among adults and media who have latched onto phenomena like the Twilight saga and The Hunger Games, propelling them to even greater popularity. And these popular phenomena of course generate spin-offs, until as a reader your head ends up spinning with choices. As someone who buys books for a collection, the decisions can become even more complicatedâ€”what will people be asking you for? How do you separate the trends that are here to stay from the flashes in the pan? Fortunately, we have the Teens’ Top Ten to help guide us.
Perhaps the single greatest thing about the TTT is that it is decided by teens! And if you start reading an author, series, or genre at 13, chances are you will remain captivated for the next few years, and your younger sibling may pick up on what you read, extending the life of a trend even further. This makes the TTT a fantastic predictor of who and what to pay attention to for years to come. What authors show up year after year? Note them down, and get everything you can by them! Looking at past lists reveals Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, and Meg Cabot appear consistently, unconnected to a series. As fellow Hub blogger Linda W. Braun pointed out, TTT is also a great tool for picking up on what series are destined to be on the top of everyone’s most-wanted list. The Hunger Games, Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series all appear on the TTT lists. Being aware of these series is invaluable in a world where each big genre spawns several series within it.
Speaking of big genres, TTT is also a fantastic predictor of when something is hot and when it falls out of favor. Looking back at the 2004 list we see Pirates! By Celia Rees and Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L.A. Meyer. Adventures on the high seas were all the rage, until the 2006 list reveals the presence of both Captain Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. By 2008 it is clear that vampires are in (Eclipse and Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy) and there is nary a pirate to be seen.
Along the way there is also a noteworthy trend in butt-kicking girl heroines in fantasies like Graceling, The Hunger Games. A passion for contemporary stories about real teens with real voices is clear in consistent choices of books like The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Paper Towns by John Green, and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Dragons, supernatural fiction, novels in verse, and short story collections all have their moment on a TTT list.
The Teens’ Top Ten list is a microcosm of the broader world of young adult literature, an invaluable crystal ball for looking forward to the future, and most importantly represents emphatic insight on what teens want to read. Which means reading books from the TTT list is some of the best reading time you can spend in a year. Pick up a book from any of the past years’ lists, or look ahead with this year’s and I promise you won’t be disappointed; you’ll just be ahead of the trend.
Mia Cabana, currently reading The popularity papers : the long-distance dispatch between Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow.
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