One of my favorite audiences for booktalks is a group of middle school students. I love their tough exteriors, their hyper-aware disinterest, and their expectation that anything I say will be boring. For that reason, I like to line up my books on a table and ask them to pick which books look interesting. If there are a couple of picture books in the mix, inevitably someone will go for the laugh and select one of those. For example, I might set out these:
The picture books mixed in this line-up have a sarcastic edge that is just right for thirteen-year-old readers. They serve to break the ice and get the audience comfortable about choosing other books in my display. And it’s a way to raise awareness for the non-babyish appeal of many picture books.
The trick is finding these transcendent picture books. I have gathered a few favorites over the years. Maybe you have, too. These books are discovered not through subject headings or award lists, but through the experience of reading book after book and recognizing the appeal.
This is why I am excited to start an interest group focusing on picture books for young adults. It’s a small niche in the world of books, but such fun to explore!
Want to join me? An interest group is not like a committee in the sense that dedicated participation in required. We may decide to share our books through blog posts, or put together a conference program, but that’s completely up to our group. If you think this might be for you, just fill out this form. All you need is YALSA membership and an interest!
Diane Colson, currently reading All Involved by Ryan Gattis.