Monday, August 11, 2008

Looking for great YA? Try Oprah.

I love it when reading lists get it right, and I love it even more when Oprah's Book Club list gets it right.

This might be an old link, but I'm just seeing it now so I'm blogging about it now: Kids Reading List: 12 Years and up. I always dread those "12 and up" reading lists because too much of the time they're nothing but books written for adults prior to 1950. Too much of the time, reading lists for kids over 12 consist of "the classics" and maybe, if we're really lucky, The Outsiders. Not the case here. Oprah's list for teens include books published as late as October, 2008 and it includes some of my favorite titles from recent years, including Paper Towns, You Know Where to Find Me, and The Wednesday Wars. The second page of the list includes five genre classics, including Stargirl and The Ear, The Eye and the Arm.

What I find especially heartening about the second page of this list is that it acknowledges that not only are there great YA books, but it's a genre with its own classics. Ask anyone who doesn't deal in YA literature for a living what a classic novel for teens is, and they're most likely to name books along the lines of Catcher in the Rye or A Separate Peace. There's a legitimacy to these answers, don't get me wrong, but there's still a massive failure in the media and among teachers and parents (and even some librarians) to acknowledge that YA is its own genre, it's here to stay, and it has classics of its own. You can never tell at the time what will become a YA classic, but that's half the fun of watching the genre grow over the years.

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