As the holiday season enters into full-swing and all my friends are discussing vacation plans with their families far and wide, I got to thinking about the ways in which families are depicted in YA literature. In particular, the surprising lack of diversity in how family units are portrayed as a general rule. More often that not, YA main characters come from “traditional” heterosexual nuclear families with birth parents who are not divorced. That said, as families across the nation become increasingly more diverse on all sorts of levels, so too are fictional families in YA and adult literature. In honor, then, of diverse families, both the ones we are born into and the ones we find, I’ve rounded up a wide array of titles celebrating the love we give and receive from the most important people in our lives.
Holly Goldberg Sloan’s book Counting by 7s is a favorite at my school with both students and teachers alike. It centers on the life of the endearingly quirky 12-year-old genius Willow Chance, the adopted multiracial daughter of loving white parents. When her adoptive parents tragically die in a car crash, Willow finds herself taken in by her Vietnamese friends and their single mom. What I really appreciated about this book is that it emphasizes that family, although always imperfect, is something that can be created and that is ultimately transformative. Featuring a truly unusual and unique set of misfit characters, this is an uplifting book that reads something like a fable or fairy tale come true. Continue reading Diverse Books, Diverse Families
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 Karina Hernandez from New Jersey.
Young adult books with teen romance are the stories that take you on a roller coaster of emotion. It’s the moment when the two characters meet. It’s the love that grows between the two of them. It’s the introduction of a good love triangle. It’s the struggle when the couple refuses to accept their love for each other. It’s the tears shed, the pillows punched in frustration, the smile released when they finally kiss.
Everyone has their favorite couple from a YA- Hazel and Augustus, Anna and Ã‰tienne, Tris and Tobias, Sophie and Archer, Hermione and Ron, Samantha and Jase, Willem and Allyson, Eleanor and Park. Everyone also has their favorite love triangle – Katniss/Peeta/Gale, Bella/Edward/Jacob, America/Maxon/Aspen, Clara/Tucker/Christian, Juliette/Adam/Warner (Why does it seem like all the love triangles are two boys and a girl, anyway?).
These are the stories that leave us either sobbing at the end or just closing the book and letting out the biggest smile. These stories make us fall in love and just feel happy from head to toe. They take us on a crazy adventure from start from finish, leaving us rapidly turning the pages, thirsty for more.
I don’t know if it’s my penchant for once-upon-a-time fairy tale retellings, but when I pick up a book, I expect it to be narrated in past tense. Recently, though, it seems like more and more YA books are being told in present tense. I’m not quite sure why this is a trend, but I find the more frequent use of present tense interesting and occasionally annoying (I write this completely aware of the irony that I am writing this post in the present tense).
I remember clearly the first time I noticed a story was being narrated in present tense–I honestly don’t remember the book or even quite when in my life this was, but I found the narration clunky and distracting, and I put the book down after a chapter or less. Looking back, I’m not sure if the writing was bad or clunky at all, or if I was just completely put off by the present tense. Now that I have encountered many more books that use present tense, I usually find it easier to ignore the tense and fall into the story, but not always. After all, past tense is something of a common language in English narrative writing, and it’s not like an author can’t convey that something is happening now even while using past tense. For example, Sam in Bennett Madison’s September Girls (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) describes his current whereabouts using past tense: “I had decided to take a walk, and now I was alone at the edge of the water as it came and went” (p. 22).
When I thought about writing a Hub post on this topic, I decided to speculate about reasons why an author might choose to use the present tense instead of the past. This seemed like a good way to try to appreciate this writing technique better. Here are some possibilities I’ve come up with: Continue reading No Tense Like the Present
Tom Haverford – It is not difficult to select books for Tom. Basically, all you have to do is tell him that a celebrity endorsed the book and he would be all over it. However, I do think that is a bit like cheating. There has to be a book that fits Tom’s personality and passion for the jet-setter life. There is a book– and it’s called So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (a 2005 Best Books for Young Adults selection). Before the name Westerfeld became synonymous with the Uglies series, he wrote So Yesterday. In this standalone novel, Hunter has the responsibility to find the Innovators, people who start trends, and present them to the retail market. Tom, with his big ideas like Entertainment 720 and Rent-a-Swag, will love the adventure Hunter embarks on in a city full of unknown pockets of cool. Unfortunately Pawnee is not a hub of trendsetting activity. Tom can live vicariously through Hunter’s story. Another title that Tom may enjoy is Feed by M.T. Anderson. In Feed, it is commonplace for everyone to have a feed similar to the Internet directly inputted into your brain. The program learns your likes and dislikes and sends you advertisements customized to you. Tom would love having all of that knowledge at his fingertips. Continue reading What Would They Read?: Parks and Recreation Part 2
May is National Photography Month and I thought it would be fun to bring together photos of places that reminded us of YA books, times we dressed up as YA characters, and book titles. I asked my fellow Hub bloggers to share their YA lit-inspired photos, and here’s what we came up with! (Click on the images for larger versions.)
Do you know the feeling that comes sometimes when you finish reading a really great book, the one in which you don’t want the story to end? You can always hope for a sequel or a companion novel. If there is a film adaptation, you can experience the world, again, there. Or you can keep the world alive by creating something yourself.
I recently attended the DML2014 conference in Boston and found myself surrounded by people passionately talking about ways to interact with digital media. As a blogger for The Hub, I immediately focused on the ways that people were using these programs and communities to create content based on YA books. This also tied in well with last week’s Teen Tech Week theme of DIY @ your library. Below, I have listed a handful of ways that youth and adults are taking their favorite stories and making something new.
Create a Program
One of the tools that was frequently mentioned at DML2014 is Scratch, a web-based programming tool that allows users to create and share games, videos, and stories. I searched Scratch for projects related to popular YA titles and found a wide variety of program types including interactive quizzes and games, slideshows, and still image fanart. A few examples include a Divergent Aptitude Test Simulation, Snape’s Potion Game (Harry Potter), and The Mortal Instruments: Downworld Attack game. These users have found a way to continue interacting with books that they enjoyed while also learning how to code computer programs. Scratch is only one of a number of options available in this area, too. Continue reading Get Creative with YA Lit