And What About Alex (Spring 2013)

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alex award logoThe Spring 2013 issue of YALS is all about the association’s awards and lists. This blog post presents an edited conversation with Angela Carstensen, co-editor of SLJ’s Adult Books 4 Teens (AB4T) blog, editor of Outstanding Books for the College Bound [2011] and former Alex Award Committee member about brining the award to teens.

Q: We hear so much about Mock Printz, Newberry and Caldecott programs – why don’t we hear about a Mock Alex program?

A: I think it’d be difficult to do a Mock Alex: there are so many books being published, and only the SLJ AB4T blog and Booklist reviews are focused on which adult books might actually work for teens.  Not to mention the fact that so many adult books are quite long. 

Q: Do you think that teens would read the books if you bring them to teen’s attention?

A: Absolutely, but just like YA books, not everything appeals to every teen. Some books, like Night Circus will have many readers.  The thing is, most kids over 16 are ready to explore what’s out there – they don’t care who published it or what the target age group is; the challenge is that they don’t know where to start and what books will be really appealing. 

Q: So what about the “New Adult” trend?

A: Those seem to be YA books with more sex in them, or books about 19-20somethings, set in college or graduate school (like The History of Us or The Fallback Plan). Just like adult books in general, it is necessary to look at the books individually to know which may appeal to teens

Q: What should we do to help them find great adult books if we can’t do a Mock Alex?

A: What about a Post Alex, having a group read a few of the previous year’s winners? Also, the nominated list is a great tool for collection development for teens - and another great source is RUSA’s Reading List, which has great genre fiction suggestions. Both tend to shy away from the really literary works, but they include really great stuff!

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