As we gear up for ALA Midwinter and the 2021 Youth Media Awards (YMA), we thought it could be fun to highlight a few YMA-related stories. In the coming weeks, we’ll focus on those titles from the past and present award cycles that might inspire you and your readers!
But first, a reminder: you can follow along with the Youth Media Awards announcements starting at 8 am CT on Monday, January 25. You can watch with ALA’s streaming platform or through the various social media platforms using the hashtag #alayma.
To begin our dive into these special awards, let’s look at the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Established in 2000, this award is granted each year to the “best book written for teens, based entirely on literary merit.” Mike Printz was a high school librarian for years, and he believed wholeheartedly in finding the right book for the right reader at the right time. In honor of 20 years of service to young adult readers, here are a few then and now connections:
Aliens. Vampires. Ghosts. Dystopians. These are some huge themes that pop culture has gone through in the past decade. From YA novels, to movies, to television shows there is always a theme that prevails for a period of time. Our current theme? Retellings.
The current line up of new movies are either remakes and reboots of originals or books and comics turned into movies, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant, and Deadpool leading the way. Current popular TV shows are either retellings or revivals of past shows, with the masses being particularly excited about Fuller House and X-Files.
Retellings abound in YA literature as well, not only in rewriting classics, such as Marta Acosta’s retelling of Jane Eyre entitled Dark Companion, but many retellings of fairy tales. What is it about retellings that catch our attention? Is it the themes that we know and love? Is it the comfort of the familiar, like we are coming home? I am sure the answer is different for everyone, but there is no doubt that retellings are taking the pop culture world by storm.
As with many themes, certain books quickly take the spotlight, while some others quietly gain attention. The same goes with retellings. Below are some books that all your friends may have been telling you about, books you haven’t heard of, and new books to keep an eye out for.
Happy 160th birthday, Oscar Wilde! In honor of this most fascinating and talented writer, I’ve rounded up some great YA that definitely owes a debt to Wilde’s work – or his life.
Readalike for The Picture of Dorian Gray
It shouldn’t be surprising that Wilde’s novel would resonate with teens – who doesn’t think from time to time about youth and beauty and the fear of growing old? While Wilde’s novel itself is already great for teens, this book may also resonate with them, and it fits into the popular paranormal genre by making what is clearly a supernatural occurrence in the original Wilde work more blatant:
Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul by Leanna Renee Hieber
Natalie is mute, but she is observant and sensitive, which is why she is the one who notices that a new portrait of Lord Denbury has a bit too much life to it. It turns out that the young, handsome man’s soul is actually trapped behind the painting, and Natalie is the only one who can access it and help him escape the magic that binds him there.
From the multiple big and small screen Sherlock Holmes adaptations to the Web sensation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ rewriting ofPride & Prejudiceforthe YouTube era, entertainment media continue to look to well-known literature for inspiration. In the world of young adult literature, re-imagining familiar stories in contemporary settings or with unique twists has become quite a tradition. Throughout 2012 and 2013, Hub bloggers Jessica Pryde and Jessica Miller traced this very trend in their series “From Classic To Contemporary,â€ covering a wide range of re-imagined classics in both young adult literature and film. Additionally, a number of new titles remixing classic novels or plays have appeared on the scene in just the past year. As the school year gains momentum and students study such classics, it seems only appropriate that we highlight a few of their young adult lit remixes.
Conversion – Katherine Howe St. Joan’s Academy is one of the top high schools in Danvers, MA. Within its hallowed walls, teenage girls battle for valedictorian, labor over applications to the best colleges in the country, attempt to sort out first relationships, and manage shifting friendships & high parental expectations. Senior Colleen Rowley and her friends knew they had a lot to balance but they were keeping it together–or so they thought. Then the seemingly flawless Clara Rutherford is overcome by uncontrollable tics in the middle of homeroom and within hours, the strange symptoms have spread to her friends. Suddenly, St. Joan’s becomes into a media circus as more students become ill and everyone fails to come up with an explanation or a cure. But only Colleen, who has continued to work on her extra credit project researching The Crucible, realizes that Danvers used to be called Salem Village and another group of girls was once at the epicenter of a similar episode a few centuries ago.
A few weeks ago, The Hub posted a poll asking for your favorite assigned summer reading in high school. With 49% of the 134 votes, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was the top selection. This got me thinking about how required reading has impacted us as YA readers.
It’s a safe assumption that we’re all readers over here on The Hub. The results of the poll show that there were some fantastic experiences, but does it mean that all of our past reading experiences were great? I turned to some of our bloggers to get the scoop on required reading: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Read on to hear how assigned readings have made our bloggers stronger feminists, wish fatal illnesses on heroines, and really, really love bacon.
Jessica Lind: “When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I had an English teacher who really challenged us with reading. During her class, I fell in love with Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, and 1984. I was transitioning out of the books of my childhood and these classics helped to keep me reading.”
Gretchen Kolderup: “My 10th grade US History class was combined into a two-period class with our English class. We learned history and we learned English, but it was all through the lens of social movements in America. The books that we were assigned were really thoughtful choices that illuminated social issues and that weren’t what you’d typically have as required reading — Power by Linda Hogan, All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller are the ones I remember. I loved that what we were reading was actually put into context so I could understand it — I would have missed so much of the meaning in the books if I hadn’t known what was happening in the world at the time they were published.”
Carla Land: “When I was in tenth grade I was in an honor’s English class and one of our required readings was The Great Gatsby. I absolutely hated it! My teacher was obsessed with the â€œeyes of Dr. T.J. Ecklebergâ€ and spent weeks talking about how important they were. I swore off of F. Scott Fitzgerald forever after that class. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college when I took a Modern Literature course- taught by a professor who was a Hemingway and Fitzgerald scholar. He’d spent his whole career studying them and their words. When we got to The Great Gatsby I held my breath and waited for the inevitable week long lesson on T.J. Eckleberg and his eyes. My professor commented on them once and they weren’t even on the test. After listening to him talk about the book and the author I had to take his Hemmingway and Fitzgerald course the next semester. It’s now one of my favorite books!” Continue reading Required Reading: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly