Web Resources for “Joining the Conversation about Young Adult Literature”
Strong author, book, and publisher sites for use by teachers in search of quality resources
- Don Gallo’s website Authors 4 Teens provides interviews with many contemporary YA authors. Interviews explore authors’ craft, insights, habits, hobbies, studies, and passions. You have to pay for a one-year subscription to the site, but you can get free trial access for a limited period of time.
- A site designed for parents but also useful to teachers who are concerned about controversial material in YA novels is Common Sense Media. Reviewers provide age-appropriate ratings, parse out potentially objectionable content ranging from sexual content to profanity to violence, and identify themes raised in the books that families (or classroom teachers) might take up in discussion.
- YA author websites contain valuable teaching resources as well as information about the critical response to individual books. On Chris Crutcher’s site, you can find reading guides for his novels, his responses to specific censorship cases, excerpts from book reviews, archived interviews, and a long list of awards and honors his books have won. Nancy Werlin’s site offers similar resources along with excerpts from her books and background on how each book came to be written. Cory Doctorow provides review excerpts as well as a free download of his novel Little Brother.
- YA author blogs are great places to find out about authors’ current book projects, their book tours, their availability for author visits, and their contact information. Blogs also often contain authors’ spontaneous answers to reader questions about topics such as their writing process and their opinions about the role of literature in high school English classes. You can find the blogs of YA authors such as John Green (author of Printz Award winner Looking for Alaska), Sarah Dessen (author of newly-released Lock and Key and many more), and Laurie Halse Anderson (author of the forthcoming Chains and Wintergirls) by plugging their names and the word “blog” into Google.
- The YALSA-BK listserv, sponsored by the American Library Association, provides invaluable access to daily conversations among librarians, book critics, and authors about the newest books for teens. To subscribe, go to the listserv, look on the left-hand column and click “subscribe,” then enter your email address and click “submit.” The best thing about the listserv is that subscribers can get immediate answers to questions about YA novels and related resources.
Descriptions of resources for students to use in selecting books and doing critical research
- The American Library Association publishes annual lists of award-winning books for teens such as Best Books for Young Adults (for books that offer good quality literature as well as reading appeal for teens), the Michael L. Printz Award(for the book that best exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature), the Alex Awards (for adult books that appeal to teen readers), and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (for books that teens will pick up on their own and read for pleasure), and Great Graphic Novels for Teens (recommended GNs and illustrated nonfiction for readers ages 12-18). Award lists are a great place to begin in searching for recent titles that have also been critically acclaimed.
- Several individual young adult literature aficionados regularly post top-notch reviews of their favorite books. Three favorites are Jennifer Hubert Swan’s Reading Rants, Richie Partington’s Richie’s Picks, and Teri Lesesne’s The Goddess of YA Literature. Of the three, Reading Rants is particularly well-pitched to teen readers.
- You can hear Jennifer Buehler talk about the newest YA books on Text Messages, monthly themed podcasts produced for ReadWriteThink.
- Horn Book Magazine provides pithy and elegant bimonthly reviews of newly-published young adult novels, as well as literary-criticism-oriented articles about a wide range of topics in the world of children’s and young adult literature. The Horn Book website contains a limited archive of previously-published articles and reviews; complete editions of each issue in electronic journal format are also well worth looking up though a university library catalog.
- The ALAN Review offers literary analysis essays, author interviews, articles about incorporating YA novels into the curriculum, and clip-and-file mini reviews of young adult novels. The ALAN Online website contains a link to an electronic archive of select past issues.