There are many online platforms for sharing and creating art. Teens are taking advantage the various mediums of creating and sharing their works. But what happens when your work becomes a smash hit? How do manage instant fame? How do you take advantage of opportunity when it comes your way? Many new teen titles are exploring the effects of being or becoming an online sensation. Teens are relating to these stories both on the artist/creator end of things, and even though they may not gain instant fame, teens still have to navigate similar tricky waters in the day to day of who is a true friend, and how to manage negative comments and bullies.
The following titles are about teens experiencing internet fame:
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Natasha “Tash” Zelenka has turned her literary crush of Leo Tolstoy to good use. With the help of her best friend, Jack, they have created a web series “Unhappy Families,” a modern retelling of Anna Karenina. When a famous vlogger gives a shout out to the series, it goes viral. Now she, along with the cast and crew, are finding what it means to be a hit sensation and are managing the adoration, and the trolls, coming their way. The instant fame is also creating tensions among the crew. The story is paralleled with Tash, who identifies as a romantic asexual, navigating flirtations coming her way. Admist the fame and romance, Tash is also dealing with her older sister creating distance, her parents announcing a new sibling on the way, college applications, the impending end of the series, and the big “What’s next.”
Bang by Barry Lyga
Sebastian loves making pizza. Not your basic generic pizza, but pizza that starts with homemade dough, recipes he has thoughtfully researched, homemade sauce, and the best toppings and combinations. This isn’t enough to keeps the memories at bay though. When he was four years old, he shot and killed his baby sister, and now has plans to do the same to himself at the end of summer. When Aneesha, a Muslim girl, moves into the neighborhood she encourages him to create a YouTube channel with her about his pizza creations. Things start to shift in Sebastian’s outlook, until the YouTube channel takes off, and he is recognized, and called out for his painful childhood past. Continue reading Going Viral – YA Books of Teens Managing Online Fame
Harry Potter Series (Best Books For Young Adults: 1999,2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, Teens Top Ten: 2004, 2006, & 2008) by J.K. Rowling: Ron is the quintessential goofball best friend; he is this literary trope. Ron is the comic relief from Harry’s angst. Understandable angst, I mean we all know Harry has had it rough. But Ron also plays the role of explaining magical culture to Harry (and us readers.) Hermione does this as well but as a “muggle” she tends to know more textbook-based facts. Ron is a great best friend to have, and an absolute goofball.
Much of diverse young adult literature is contemporary, realistic fiction, or historical fiction about the struggle of being a person of color. As a teen library worker, I get to know the personal lives of teens and some of their stories are heartbreaking. From poverty to bullying, I recognize that the struggle is real and I am happy to be a non-judgemental adult soundboard. I am also grateful for the plethora of young adult fiction available so that I can hand a book to a teen I feel will provide some insight and comfort.
But when life is tough, many teens also like to escape into fantasy and science fiction. Readers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror also like to see themselves in these books. If people of color can survive slavery and oppression and poverty, they can also survive zombies and maniacal kings and dragons. So, where are the black Hermiones?
I am a teen services specialist and a major part of my job is to connect teens with books. I have an avid reader, who is Middle Eastern, who asks me to recommend fantasy books about once a month. A year ago when the We Need Diverse Books movement started, I asked her to do a cue card about why we need diverse books and she stated that she would like to see more Middle Eastern characters in fantasy. A little over a year later, I gave her The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and she came back and absolutely raved about the book. She said that she particularly loved the inside cover because there was a girl who looked and dressed like her. This is one reason why we need diverse books.
If you are a library worker looking to enhance your diverse young adult repertoire or a teen reader looking for yourself in a magical world or a speculative fiction reader seeking something new, here’s a list of speculative young adult fantasy/science fiction titles for you to try. Please note that some titles feature characters of color in a supporting role—but that’s okay because Hermione was a supporting character, too. Continue reading Diversity YA Life: Diverse Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror
How do you fit reading into life? Everywhere of course! Here are some fun suggestions of how to incorporate books into (almost) all parts of your life. I guess there are some events where books don’t belong… But you may be surprised by these multitasking opportunities.
Some fast paced audio that will make you want to work out every day and never stop!
The Knife Of Never Letting Go (and Chaos Walking series)
The action-packed audio book will help you keep up an energetic pace and be thoroughly entertained all the while. Podehl’s amazing narration enhances Ness’ Sci-fi world which consists of only men whose thoughts are audible. Bonus: best talking dog voice ever.
Here is a thrill ride of a book that will keep you on your toes. Follow Cheyenne, a sixteen year old girl who is blind, as she gets kidnapped accidentally by a car thief. Clever Cheyenne methodically and systematically plans her escape while poor mistreated wannabe criminal Griffin tries to do the right thing in spite of his horrendous family.
This nail-biting gritty tale is perfect to listen to and get in shape! You will run like a Dauntless trying to catch a train as you join Tris on her epic search for the truth in post-apocalyptic Chicago.
Forget the Tarot cards, crystal balls, and palm-readers. Toss aside those stale fortune cookies. You need only look to your bookshelf to understand your deepest personality traits. Look for some of your favorite YA titles below and you may find that my keen “psychic” abilities can be enlightening.
* Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver. There is more to you than meets the eye. You keep your secrets close, and may not be very trustworthy. But you love deeply and are very protective.
* Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. You might have a hard time trusting yourself, but go with your instincts- they won’t steer you wrong. Be yourself and don’t try so hard to please others.
* The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough. You may feel like you are being influenced by forces greater than your own. But it’s OK, go with it. Don’t be afraid to get hurt and great things will happen.
* Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong. Others may call you inconsistent. Your horoscope sign may be best described as “Gemini.” You are brave, smart, and have a keen sense of justice. You develop strong connections to friends and family.
* The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2009 Best Book for Young Adults). Some would call you are a guys’ guy. But don’t discount the fairer sex, you may find a wonderful friend. You may not be “book smart” but you are clever and can get yourself out of tough situations. Just believe in yourself, and don’t forget to appreciate your dog.
* All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. You are drawn to those in pain and have some dark times. Talking through it may help. We all have to go through difficult times. Let yourself mourn those you have lost. Continue reading YA Book Personality Test
Adults reading young adult books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it! YA has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.) Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.
Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions? Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance. There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books. Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works) can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.
James Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero. Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.
Stephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner)and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner). Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!
Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy TheGirl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.
It’s the day before Halloween and perhaps this month you’ve watched a horror movie marathon or read a scary book. Have you ever been watching one of those movies or reading one of those books, and it’s the scene where the hero/heroine walks into the dark, obviously haunted house to hide from the killer and you scream, “Don’t go in there!?”
Then they do. You all know better, right?
I often have this experience and wonder what I would do if I was in those terrifying situations, running from zombies or trying to fend off a serial killer. Since I don’t have a lot of confidence in my survival abilities, I will turn to the hobby I have a lot of confidence in: reading! I propose turning to the examples of plucky, resourceful, and brave heroes and heroines in YA literature to save you from the frights of Halloween and beyond.
Here are a few books you may want to read to prepare you for a few scary situations.
Scary situation # 1: Haunted by Ghosts
Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones: Have you considered reasoning with the ghosts that haunt you? It works out fairly well for Sam Toop even though he is trying to save the ghosts, not save himself from ghosts. A little kindness goes a long away and maybe the ghost haunting you just wants a friend.
The Name of the Starby Maureen Johnson (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults): It’d be great if you could see the ghosts haunting you and could send them away with the tool of a special too like Rory, but if not consider assembling a crackerjack team of ghost hunters. Safety in numbers is always a good idea.
I love Banned Books Week. I find that every year it comes around, there is always a new population of people who have no idea what it is. They look at our displays in our libraries and bookstores and wonder what it is all about. I’ve even had some teens look at my display one year and then ask if they could actually check them out.
I think that is the best part of Banned Book Week: it gives you a way to have a conversation with patrons and readers about censorship, the freedom to read, and the nature of ideas.
As someone who is very open about her love of reading, I often find myself in a position of being asked for book recommendations. If I know someone’s reading tastes well, this is usually an easy task. There are also plenty of amazing lists out there that help for making recommendations for someone who is able to give you a specific example of their interests, like The Fault in Our Stars, dystopians, or contemporary romances. It’s those others, though, the ones that don’t consider themselves “readers,” so they are hesitant to name a book they’ve enjoyed that require a little more thought.
Over the past couple of years, I have begun keeping (and updating!) a mental list of “go-to books” that I can easily start with when making recommendations to these individuals. Here are a few of my most frequent go-to recommendations:
For the Simpsons Comics Fans Who Want a Non-graphic Novel:
Bad Unicorn by Platte F. Clark
While this book isn’t for everyone, it does has been very well received when I am able to get it into the right hands. These readers are the ones that will laugh out loud and grab it from you when you explain that it is about a killer unicorn named Princess the Destroyer. I have recommended this many times and have received positive feedback from the readers. I have even heard them telling others about it. Bad Unicorn has been getting many more reads than I anticipated the first time I saw it.
I began recommending Graceling after it popped up a few times here on The Hub. While your reader has to be okay with high fantasy, I have found it to be an easy sell to someone who has worked their way through a variety of dystopian and post-apocalyptic future novels and is ready for something new. I think it is more approachable to readers coming out of the Hunger Games series than other fantasy series such as Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness. Continue reading Go-To YA Book Recommendations
The definition for teen mysteries seems to be slightly less strictly defined as in comparison to their adult counterparts. First, there is usually “something” to solve. Generally, it is a crime, but in some cases it can be a secret that is not necessarily illegal or punishable by law. For example, why someone killed themselves or discovering that someone is cheating in a contest or academic endeavor. Also, while adult mystery novels usually have detectives at work at solving mysteries, in teen novels it is often an average teen with an inquisitive nature–someone who is a true amateur.
Teen mysteries are similar to their adult counterparts, however, when it comes to the plot unfolding. The clues are presented to the main character(s) and to the reader, and steps are taken as to get more information to discover the how, what, why, who, and sometimes even the where and when. Ultimately, we are given the final reveal at the end of the novel.