Growing up, I spent a great deal of time at the public library in the small city in which I lived. I especially loved participating in the summer reading programs, and some of my favorite childhood memories include meeting with children's librarians to report on my reading for the week or sitting on the floor in our living room with the stack of new books I'd just brought home from a library visit. I loved novels, especially historical fiction and mysteries.
By the time I got to high school, though, most of the time I spent at the public library - at least during the school year - was spent on debate research. I certainly still considered myself a reader - and I enjoyed most of what I was required to read at school, including To Kill a Mockingbird, Dandelion Wine, and The Fountainhead - but I wasn't visiting the library to find novels. In some ways I no longer quite fit in at one of my favorite places to be.
According to Wikipedia, the 1970s to the mid-1980s were the golden age of young adult fiction, when publishers began to focus on the emerging adolescent market, and booksellers and libraries, in turn, began creating YA sections distinct from either children's literature or novels written for adults. As with many trends, my town was apparently behind the times. I distinctly remember, at perhaps fifteen years old, asking the children's librarian one summer if I could participate in the reading program. She reluctantly allowed me to do it - but it was clear that I was really too old. There was no YA section at the library, no teen summer reading program.
Since becoming an adult - especially a mother of two teen girls - I have discovered that the young adult genre is not only one that I enjoy but also one that is filled with excellent novels. Just because these books are about adolescents and are marketed for adolescents, that doesn't mean that they, as a group, are in any way inferior to adult novels in character, plot, setting, theme, or style. I love visiting the teen section at the local branch of our county library, especially to peruse the new books shelf.
Among some of my favorite YA reads over the past couple of years - with links to my reviews - are the following:
- American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
- If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko
- Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
- Nothing but the Truth (and a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen Headley
- The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
- Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
- Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
I wrote this post for August's Bookworms Carnival,
hosted by Florinda at The 3R's.
Check out other carnival posts here.