Quick! Give me a list of horror books that have all appeared on a YALSA booklist. Betcha can’t do it in 20 seconds or less! Or can you…?
YALSA launched its new Teen Book Finder app this week, and it is a really fun tool for YA lit lovers. Funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the app has a simple interface that allows users to access the full catalog of YALSA’s book awards and selection lists.
Opening the app lands the user on a home page, where three daily “Hot Picks” are displayed. Tapping on the search button allows users to search by title, author, genre, year, award, and booklist. Users can also build a personalized list of favorite titles. For a thorough overview of all the apps features, please see tech guru Linda Braun’s excellent video on the YALSAblog.
Where this app really shines
- It’s wicked fast! There was a short delay when I pulled up the title list, but that wasn’t a surprise given the amount of data it needs to retrieve.
- Navigation through the different lists is quick and easy and offers plenty of room for serendipitous browsing across categories.
- The author list is an outstanding resource. A quick check will give you a full list of all titles by a particular author that have appeared on a YALSA booklist or won an award.
Room for improvement
- There are no search filters for refined searching. It would be great if users could pull up a list of all the Printz Award winners by year but current limitations means the user must sort through either all Printz winners or a prohibitively long list of all award and booklist titles from a chosen year.
- Some titles have duplicate records, often with different information.
- On my display (iPhone 4), some of the navigation tools overlapped on the screen and were difficult to use. The vertical alphanumeric quick nav on the right side of the screen was frequently incomplete, with last letters of the alphabet permanently hidden behind the “My Favorites” icon. If I wanted to look at titles at the end of the alphabet, I had to tap on the letter S and scroll down from there.
Overall, I give this app a “thumbs up.” I am forever trying to remember titles from different years and lists, and this is certainly much faster than finding a computer and scanning each annual listing on the YALSA booklists page. While I don’t anticipate whipping out my phone in the stacks during a readers’ advisory conversation, I do picture myself using this frequently as I build recommended reading lists for teens and teachers.
— Summer Hayes, currently reading My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
 Editor’s note: The book covers and the “Find It” button use the OCLC API key, which uses ISBN-13s to identify records. Some of the items on YALSA’s lists might have multiple ISBNs (e.g., paperbacks vs hardcovers), so that’s where these inconsistencies come from. The developers of the app wrote a script that merges duplicates as much as possible, but it didn’t get everything.