If you’re reading this, then you’re probably not surprised at the continued popularity of dystopian literature or the many subgenres within it. Why are readers drawn to a dark post-apocalyptic future or the natural disasters with climate-fiction (cli-fi)? The appeal of these plots attracts a readership that spans generations. Others are quick to judge those of us over the age of 18 that love dystopian literature and cli-fi but overlook the joy and positive elements to these plots: the hope in dystopian. The dystopian genre is more than The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner and as grateful as I am to movies turning kids onto reading books they have also generalized this vast genre and created a stereotype of both this genre’s plots and their readers.
Yes, these books are overly dramatic at times and incredibly unrealistic most of the time, but beyond the angst and youthful revolution mentality, one underlying message reoccurs – hope. Hope that stems from working together; hope that comes from faith in humanity; and hope that even in the midst of corrupt adults, deathly plagues, and the aftermath of natural disasters – we are stronger than the challenges and we, as a people, WILL survive. A story telling how we not only process and overcome negative events in life but still manage to find joy has been around long before the genre was named and long before we met Katniss.
Being drawn to dark plots, death, and those ‘scary’ elements that many adults do not think are age appropriate is not a new fascination for young readers. Children have grown up with Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales in which children not only kill parents, but adult characters often kill or torture children. Eighteen years ago parents also worried that Harry Potter was too dark for children. Yet with each of these masterpieces and their continued popularity decades and centuries later, children not only read about negative facts of life, but they also see how other children overcome these challenges. They learn that one can survive something tragic and sometimes life doesn’t have that Disney ending. Continue reading Sometimes the Apocalypse Can Be Good: Finding the Hope in Dystopian Literature
October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Saraya Flaig from Idaho.
For the past few years, one of my favorite events at the ALA Annual Conference has been YALSA’s YA Author Coffee Klatch. A ticketed event, the Coffee Klatch provides attendees with the opportunity to chat with fabulous young adult authors about their books, youth literature in general, and- in the case of Internet Girls author Lauren Myracle- most overused emoji. Most of the authors participating in the Coffee Klatch have had their work recognized on at least one of YALSA’s six annual selected lists and/or have been recipients of one of YALSA’s five literary awards.
Similar to speed dating, there are approximately 30+ round tables set up around the ballroom at which 8 or so people are seated. Every 5 minutes, a whistle goes off and a new author joins you at your table. To give you an idea of how memorable this event is: my husband reminded me of the 2008 Coffee Klatch we attended at ALA in Anaheim, along with our tiny infant son strapped to his chest (“Hey, that’s where we met John Green!”). This year, I brought along my sister, Nirmala, who happened to be experiencing ALA and Las Vegas for the very first time (!). She’s a writer, and getting to sit with fellow authors and commune about literature and the writing process engaged her on a whole new level. As a librarian who regularly reads and shares these authors’ works in a professional and personal capacity, the Klatch is basically my chance to fangirl them (but not in a creepy way, of course…yeaaaaah).
This year’s literary line-up included Josephine Angelini, Paolo Bacigalupi, Jessica Brody, Ally Condie, Jim Di Bartolo, Matt de la Pena, Matt Dembicki, Becca Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Friesen, Carol Goodman, Alan Gratz, Claudia Gray, Collen Gleason, Ryan Graudin, Nathan Hale, Jenny Han, PJ Hoover, Katherine Howe, Lindsey Leavitt, Marie Lu, Jonathan Maberry, Lauren Myracle, Blake Nelson, Jandy Nelson, Caragh O’Brien, Mary Pearson, Jason Reynolds, Graham Salisbury, Neal Shusterman, Jon Scieszka, Marcus Sedgwick, Clare Vanderpool, Scott Westerfeld, Cat Winters, and Meg Wolitzer.
Here are some highlights from my table:
Blinding Us with Science
Jon Scieszka’s new middle-grade Frank Einstein series is STEM-based with a lot of appeal for reluctant readers. Claudia Gray discussed A Thousand Pieces of You, the first book in her forthcoming Firebird series, featuring time-bending, parallel universes, and a healthy dose of romance. Continue reading ALA Annual 2014: YALSA’s YA Author Coffee Klatch
I belong to a book club where we do a roll call to see what everyone is reading. I am always interested to know what other people are reading or waiting to read- but just knowing what is popular in Ohio or the whole United States no longer satisfies my curiosity. I want to know what teens are reading all over the world.
Though the nation has existed since the Neolithic Age, it just gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The first municipal library opened in 1910. In 1998 the library was officially named National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has a very unique geography which includes , steppes, taiga, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. (Kazakhstan) This diversity is reflected in its population of 16.6 million people who comprise over 130 ethnicities.
Which makes me wonder: what are all of them reading?
Thank you to Celia of Haileybury Astana who has the answers. Here’s what Celia has to say about her school: Haileybury Astana, is a private British international school with over 350 pupils from nursery up through secondary school, growing every year. The operate two libraries, one for primary students and the other for secondary students. The school is located in Astana, Kazakhstan, which is billed as the second-coldest capital in the world — so we enjoy staying indoors and reading in the winter! **All commentary here is of course my own, and is not an official statement from the school!
What are the most popular titles for teens at your library right now?
Right now our teens are picking up new dystopian novels like Matched Ally Condie, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, but others are still reading perennial favorites like Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz, Jacqueline Wilson’s fiction.
What genres are most popular with your library’s teens?
Our teens read a variety of historical, fantasy, or scary stories. Nonfiction gets a good go as well, especially in science or history, and anything in our adventure or teen relationship categories tends to go quickly!
In your teen collection, what languages are the books available in?
Most of our books are in English, but we have a growing collection in Russian â€“ and we’ve even had donations of teen books in German or Kazakh! I’d love to see our pupils get the chance to read more intelligent teen fiction in Kazakh.
Do your teens prefer to read print novels or ebooks?
Right now, they prefer print, but many haven’t yet been introduced to ebooks â€“ I hope to do that soon.
I hope to learn and share about teen reading around the world. If you or someone you know lives overseas and works as a teacher or librarian with teens, please message me so I can do a post about the country they live in. To learn more about what other teens are reading, check out my previous posts in this series:
While not necessarily a well-known holiday, Thesaurus Day is celebrated on January 18, the birthday of Peter Mark Roget, creator of Roget’s Thesaurus.
The original version of Roget’s thesaurus, created in 1805 and released in 1852, contained 15,000 words. Over the years, the thesaurus has grown, adding thousands of additional words and synonyms. These days, in addition to print versions of the thesaurus, wordsmiths are able to access the Roget’s thesaurus online through Thesaurus.com. If you are interested in a historical perspective, a 1911 version has been cataloged as part of the ARTFL Project through the University of Chicago.
We’re celebrating a day early here on The Hub by using the thesaurus to swap words in some popular YA titles. See if you can figure out the original titles and then scroll down to check!
The Tome Bandit
The Bonus of Being a Loner
An Excellent and Dreadful Virtue
The Insanity Below
A Chain of Ill-fated Happenings.
The Commander of the Loops
Thirteen Rationales of Cause
The Categorically Bona Fide Journal of a Part-Time Native American