From picture books to cookbooks, there is something for everyone at ALA Midwinter 2021! For the YA crowd, the can’t-miss session from Day 1 was a panel on the new digital-first series Represent! from DC. The panel discussion included author Christian Cooper, artist Alitha E. Martinez, editor Marie Javins, and moderator Andrew Aydin.
The first issue in this new series, written by Cooper and drawn by Martinez, is the story of Jules, a young Black birdwatcher, and readers can get this first issue for free (!) through all the major digital outlets.
Starting February 1, the Represent! series will release a new issue each week, each one giving voice to underrepresented perspectives, drawing on the personal stories of their creators. Click here to read a summary of the next five chapters in this exciting new series.
Last Sunday, ALA’s The Book Award Celebration event took place. The event celebrated several of its book and media award winners, including YALSA’s very own Printz and Odyssey Awards. If you missed our celebrations, check out the recordings below, which feature speeches and Q&A segments from the winning authors. Don’t forget to share these recordings with your teen patrons and feature them on your library’s website! You can also view the full playlist of all the celebrations.
The 2020 Alex Awards winners will be celebrated virtually next week on June 11 at 3:30pm EST and will run for 75 minutes. The virtual celebration will feature a Q&A session with the winning authors. Register now.
The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year’s publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002. The award is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust.
Participating authors include:
Angie Cruz, Dominicana, published by Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.
AJ Dungo, In Waves, published by Nobrow.
C. A. Fletcher, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, published by Orbit, a division of Hachette Group.
Maia Kobabe, Gender Queer: A Memoir, published by Lion Forge, an imprint of Oni Press.
Seanan McGuire, Middlegame, published by Tor.com Publishing, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of Macmillan.
Casey McQuiston, Red, White & Royal Blue, published by St. Martin’s Griffin, a division of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.
Temi Oh, Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, published by Saga Press/Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Inc.
Sara Quin and Tegan Quin, High School, published by MCD, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and imprint of Macmillan Publishers.
Participation is free, but registration is required. Register now.
Virtual celebrations for YALSA’s Printz and Odyssey Award, along with other ALA book and media awards will be celebrated on June 28. More information will be announced soon.
The 2018 Teen Read Week (TRW) site is now live. Teen Read Week will be celebrated October 7–13 with the theme “It’s Written in the Stars: READ.”
Library staff, afterschool providers, and educators can use the theme to encourage teens to think and read outside of the box, as well as seek out fantasy, science fiction and other out-of- this-world reads.
Library staff are also encouraged to join the free Teen Read Week site for full access to a variety of resources to help plan their Teen Read Week activities, including:
Forums: Discuss and share TRW-related resources and experiences;
Grants: Teen Read Week Activity Grant and Teens’ Top Ten Book Giveaway;
One of the best highlights of this year’s trip to ALA Annual was undoubtedly the Alex Award ceremony on Sunday, June 26th. A small group of dedicated individuals, including current and former committee members, made their way to the South Conference Center to listen to 2016 Chair Angela Craig deliver a brief presentation on the top ten award-winners and the vetted titles and hear the acceptance speech of special guest Ryan Gattis, author of All Involved (2016 Alex Award Winner).
In the wake of the acquittals over Rodney King’s beating at the hands of a few members in the Los Angeles Police Department, much of the Los Angeles metropolitan area experienced riots, lootings, arson, and violence including murders. Just six days of lawlessness resulted in:
eleven thousand fires
just under eleven thousand arrests
over two thousand people injured
more than $1 billion in property damages
approximately sixty deaths.
During these six days, Gattis set his novel and chose various characters taken from real interviews with those who experienced the riots, bringing to life the different realities during this turbulent period. Gang members, a firefighter, a nurse, a dreamer, an artist, a homeless man, and others give unique testimonies to all sides of the 1992 violence and show the complexities of survival, vengeance, desperation, and loss.
During Ryan’s acceptance speech, he described his own history with violence and how it created an author:
“I was seventeen when my nose was torn out of my face. Seventeen, when I had two facial reconstructive surgeries to fix it. I was eighteen when my senses of smell and taste returned. Before, I was on track to apply to the US Air Force Academy, and after, all I wanted to be was a storyteller.
Suffering violence, enduring it and not allowing it to determine everything about me has made me who I am today. And that is a very difficult thing to say, but an important thing.”
Winning an Alex has brought about some powerful results for Gattis, who shortly after the award, was asked to speak at Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School in Lynwood in South Central Los Angeles, an area described: “as inextricable from Compton as Long Beach Boulevard, sharing all of its violence and troubles but none of its notoriety”. They had not known he had won an Alex, but afterwards, were more enthused at the news. Upon his visit, in an area where “South Central Los Angeles is an island unto itself [and] the cities within it are locked off from the LA tax base and school system and must fend for themselves,” Ryan and his publishers (Ecco, HarperCollins, Picador and Macmillan in the UK, and Writers House in New York) were able to donate 150 books to students and over 100 to the library, including 2016 Alex Award titles. He found that the high school students knew very little of the Rodney King riots because “the generation before them had made an unspoken pact not to raise their children as they had been raised”. This discovery was “incredibly moving” and “filled [me] with hope for Lynwood and its future”. He shared with attendees a few photos and described his experience:
“Their students are young and excited and so eager to learn but they don’t read. They don’t read enough. So all I did when I went in there was talk about what reading means to me and how it changed my life. Especially the year of my life where I was basically a hermit trying to recover from my surgeries and…and my injury…”
Soon after this visit, he describes how he was invited to Lynwood Middle School and visited immediately after a second 8th grader was killed due to gang violence, an 8th grader whose “body had been discovered in a parked car at the end of an alley”.
He notes: “Standing in front of a room full of young teenagers who know the cost of violence, who are dealing with its monstrous grief, at that very moment being asked to comfort them, to inspire them, is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. And yet…nowhere was it more important to say that reading helps us learn the consequences of behavior without having to suffer them ourselves. I remain in awe of the decision that the Alex committee have, not least because its incredible foresight forced me to see my work more clearly but it also pushed me to refocus my efforts to make certain that I reach an entirely new generation in Lynwood, and I do whatever I can to inspire them to be writers to tell their own stories to the world.”Continue reading ALA Annual 2016: Alex Award Recap with Ryan Gattis
Well, technically, YALSA has just two interest groups : Teen Mental Health, convened by Meaghan Hunt-Wilson, and the Washington DC Metro Area, convened by Carrie Kausch. But next week at the ALA Annual Conference, the YALSA Board will be discussing the revitalization of interest groups. The possibilities for interest groups topics are as vast and varied as the teens we work with. As evidenced by the interest groups listed above, the focus can be a specific issue, or it can be the virtual meeting space for a geographical area, or something completely different that falls under the banner of young adult library services.
Personally, I think forming interest groups is ideal for members with an affection for specific collection development topics. These could be the hot topics of the day, such as an interest group that promotes diversity in library materials, or an ageless topic, such as interest groups that suggest good books for class discussions. Although YALSA creates wonderful lists and chooses literary awards each year, there’s still so much left to explore.
Take graphic novels, for example. YALSA compiles an annual list of noteworthy graphic novels published over the previous 15 months, called Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Perhaps an interest group focusing on graphic novels may be more interested in creating topical lists, or grade level recommendations. Interest groups are member-driven and flexible, very different from YALSA committees that must be aligned with the objectives of the strategic plan. Continue reading This Is Where YALSA Gets Really Interesting!
Each year, School Library Journal presents a Day of Dialog, which allows librarians, educators, and library students the chance to come together and learn the latest about childrens and teens publishing trends and upcoming releases. This was the first time I have attended a Day of Dialog and I would definitely recommend future attendance to anyone who works with children and/or teens promoting books and reading. Check out my recap of the middle school/high school panels and speakers from the day! Continue reading School Library Journal 2016 Day of Dialog Recap
Newbery award winner, Kwame Alexander visited my school, Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, this month. His novel The Crossover (2014) has received recognition and numerous awards: the Newbery Medal (2015), NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Honor for Outstanding Fiction for Children (2015), Coretta Scott King Author Honor (2015). Penn State/Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award (2015), and Paterson Poetry Prize for Young People’s Literature (2015).
The appeal of The Crossover stretches beyond age and gender of the reader – and reading level as many reluctant readers have enjoyed the focus on basketball in this story. It focuses on fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan who wrestle with the highs and lows of high school (on and off the court) while their father ignores his declining health. The “Basketball Rules” mentioned throughout The Crossover are inspiring rules that can be incorporated in life, not just basketball.
The highlight of my trip to ALA Midwinter was attending the Best Fiction for Young Adults teen feedback session. A diverse group of teens from the Boston area had the opportunity to share their thoughts about titles nominated for the Best Fiction for Young Adults list. Their uncensored, frank and articulate opinions—both positive and negative—were a delight to hear. Here are the highlights!
Many teens shared gushing, glowing reviews of these books, which I’d say were informally the most popular picks of the teens present.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
“Very realistic, reflects how teens actually think/talk.”
Another reading thought it was “perfectly executed” and loved the mystery of Blue’s identity and the “adorable romance.”
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
The book left one reader “feeling breathless.” She liked the unexpected ending and that the main character had everyday problems in addition to her peculiar medical condition.
“sweet and romantic.”
Another reader thought it had an engaging plot and deep complex character relationships. She loved diagrams and drawings.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
“An emotional roller coaster.”
“Sarah J. Maas is a genius. Loved. So many plot twists. Action packed.”
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
“Euphoric, divine reading experience. Tragic and beautiful. Think long and hard, inspired to read and wander.”
“Takes the gold medal for sappy romance.”
Other Positive Feedback
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
One teen liked this book because it “focused on what’s important, not fluff.”
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
A young man enjoyed this book. He related to the main character’s struggle after losing a mother figure himself, and as a resident of inner-city Boston, he thought the urban setting was familiar and thought that Reynold’s captured the voice of teens with accurate dialogue.
Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding