Last week 2 things happened that got me thinking, once again, about how teens read and write in the early 21st century. The first was my own reading. I started reading the audio version of The Perfect Thing by Steven Levy. The Perfect Thing is subtitled "How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness." It's all about the beginning days of the iPod - it's build and pre-release - and what's happened since it was launched. The book, from my perspective, is great. But, what was surprising to me was in the introduction, Steven Levy tells readers that the book is meant to be read using the shuffle function of an iPod. The concept being that he wrote it thinking there was not a need to create a linear story. Instead, each chapter (except the introduction) stands on its own and the book can be read in any order the reader chooses.

As I'm reading The Perfect Thing I'm thinking about each chapter as an entity unto itself and if what came before (or after) is needed in any way to make the chapter make sense. Each chapter does stand on its own so I can shuffle things around and listen in an order that is interesting and makes sense to me. That's pretty exciting. And, for teens who live in shuffle worlds brought to them by portable media devices, the ability to shuffle a book might give them a new insight into reading and writing. What books can be shuffled? What books can't be shuffled? What if every non-fiction title a teen read could shuffle? Is it a gimmick or does it really change the reading, and writing experience? Isn't shuffling a book to create the narrative that makes sense to the reader is a demonstration of identity and a demonstration of critical thinking?

The same day I started reading The Perfect Thing I heard on the TWIT podcast about a new project of Audible.com. Audible contracted with 15 thriller authors who are all writing a book together - each writing a chapter with Jeffrey Deaver writing the first and last chapters. The book, The Chopin Manuscript, is available in audio format only (at least at first.)

This isn't the first book that I know of that used the construct of multiple adult authors writing a novel together. Naked Came the Manatee was published about 10 years ago. It is a mystery novel written by a group of Florida authors including Carl Hiassen and Dave Barry. A decade ago collaboration was not as easy to do as it is in 2007. Authors can use tools like Google Docs and wikis to write content together. They don't have to deal with attachments, lost versions, missing changes, etc. The technological tools of the ages make it much easier to collaborate on content.

I don't know if the authors of The Chopin Manuscript are collaborating using tech tools like a wiki and Google Docs, but teens could. Not only could they collaborate on the text using these tools, but when it came to recording they could collaborate using Audacity to record and a site like PodOmatic to share and comment.

Reading and writing certainly isn't just about books anymore. And, it isn't about using traditional means to get ideas and stories to the reader. Some teens connect to reading and writing more strongly if they have a chance to interact with it in new and different ways. That might mean shuffling chapters or collaborating on the process via technology. There's lots of possibilities, find out from your teens which appeals to them the most.

Where has this month gone? In Texas it is tough to see the passing of September since the thermometer still runs in the 90s during the day. But my calendar does say that Monday is the end of the month. It is also the end of the special bundled registration being offered for midwinter and annual 2008. Go to: www.ala.org/midwinter to see the terrific bargain that awaits you. And hotel registration opens next week. To get into your top choice, plan to register ASAP.

See you in Philly and Anaheim.

Posted by Teri Lesesne

The deadline to propose papers and programs for YALSA's very first Young Adult Literature Symposium (to be held November 7-9, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee) is coming up fast—proposals for papers and programs are due in the YALSA office by Monday, October 1!

Visit the YA Lit Symposium Web site by the end of day Monday, and click on either the program or paper proposal forms.

If you have any questions between today and October 1, contact Stevie Kuenn, YALSA Communications Specialist, at skuenn@ala.org.

It’s that time of year again. Teen Read Week™ is just around the corner. Celebrating its 10-year anniversary October 14-20, Teen Read Week™ provides us with a wonderful opportunity to spend a week of our time devoted to and celebrating teen reading.

For those new to YALSA, Teen Read Week™ is a national literacy initiative aimed at teens, their parents, librarians and educators. Since 1998, this important program has encouraged teens to:

  • Make time to read for the fun of it
  • Use their local library to discover their interests
  • Get reading materials and participate in events at their school or public library

This year’s theme, LOL @ your library®, suggests humor as we "Laugh Out Loud" and reminds us that teens love to communicate through the Internet.

Want to get involved with Teen Read Week™? It’s not too late. The Teen Read Week™ website is a great place to start with a range of planning suggestions, tools and promotional information. If this is your first time participating, check out the page for first-timers. Join us at the Teen Read Week™ Wiki for even more ideas and to share your thoughts.

Watch the YALSA blog in the next few weeks for tips and inspiration on planning a fun and successful Teen Read Week™ for the teens at your library. Until then, happy planning!

The YALSA web site went live today (Wed) in ALA's new content management system. As expected there are some problems that we are working with ALA's IT Dept. to fix. The largest chunk of information that did not get carried over with the conversion is everything in the For Members Only portion of the web site. This is not deliberate--it was a technical error that we are working to fix. Other issues are with the Teens' Top Ten pages, the Teens and Library Use Study info and the Young Adult Literature Symposium pages. We have these in queue and will get them resolved as soon as possible. If you notice other problems, please report them to Stephanie Kuenn at skuenn@ala.org or 1.800.545.2433 x2128. Thanks for your patience as we work through this web conversion!
-Beth Yoke

Attention all librarians, teachers, bloggers, and teens!

Votin’ is our sacred American duty!

It’s time to encourage your teens to cast their vote for the Teens’ Top 10

Sponsored by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) and the YA Galley Committee

The Teens’ Top 10 is the only book award list that is recommended and awarded solely by teens.

***Teens have been reading! 15 teen groups sifted through Advance Reader’s Copies/Galleys to find the best books for teens published in 2006 and 2007.

***This year, 25 titles made it through the laborious process and were nominated for the Teens’ Top 10. In order to be nominated, a book must be selected by 3 different teens from within these 15 groups.

***Now, we need teens from all over the United States to vote on the Top 10!

To do List

For Librarian -- Set up a voting station and inform your teens with the 5 W’s about Teens’ Top 10 voting. For more information about the Teens’ Top 10 (as well as promotion ideas), please visit the website. Get the information below into teens’ hands

For Teens -- Voting opens during Teen Read Week, October 14-20, 2007. We want to know which titles you think deserve the title of Teens’ Top 10. Twenty-five titles have been nominated by teens just like you as the best reads of 2006-2007. Read as many of the titles as you can before October 14, 2007. Teens should visit the website to place their vote anytime during Teen Read Week. We look forward to seeing which books YOU think are the best of the best.

For bloggers -- Get the word out about this important initiative.

The YA Galley Committee will count all of these votes to come up with the official list of Teens’ Top 10 for 2007.

Without further ado, these are the 25 nominated titles for Teens’ Top 10 2007:

1. Firegirl by Tony Abbott

2. Clay by David Almond
3. Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks
4. Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
5. The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman

6. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
7. How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles
8. In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth
9. The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson
10. What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles

11. Hello, Groin by Beth Goobie
12. River Secrets by Shannon Hale
13. Shock Point by April Henry
14. Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe

15. Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
16. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
17. Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller
18. Prom Anonymous by Blake Nelson
19. Maximum Ride: School’s Out-Forever by James Patterson

20. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
21. Penelope Bailey Takes the Stage by Susanna Reich
22. All Hallows Eve (13 Stories) by Vivian Vande Velde
23. Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
24. The Unresolved by T.K. Welsh

25. Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog by Ysabeau S. Wilce

For more information about the Teens’ Top 10, please visit
http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/teenreading/teenstopten/teenstopten.htm

(Posted on behalf of the YA Galley Committee)

"By mingling aspects of video gaming, social networking and communicating, virtual worlds have appeal for both genders and are an intriguing opportunity for those marketing to kids and teens," according to eMarketer. What might this mean for libraries? We usually want to be a popular place for teens to hang out whether it's a physical or virtual space. How might we market our services in virtual worlds? Teens could create a machinima PSA for a program or event. The library guild could be started by the IT manager. We could run our writer's groups in Gaia Online.

I find the question at the end of the article interesting, "What if a person's virtual activities have no bearing on their real-world activities?" I bet if we get to know a teen long enough that's in a virtual world often, we'll find many ways that their virtual activities are part of their real world activities. For example, I know a teen that is going to approach his library council to be more involved in a virtual world because of his own involvement. That's great advocacy!

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Exclusively via cellphone, "Thunder Road" by Steven Sanders will reach cell phones (Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T). Read the article here. Will you subscribe? If not, what comic would you subscribe to via cell phone? More reason to offer SMS to patrons? Share your stories.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

I wanted to be a teen librarian so I could empower teens to find themselves and be comfortable with who they are. Recently, a table and computer was set up for me in my library's teen area so that I could be where the teens are. I assumed that my questions would be mostly about what book to read next, help me with my homework assignment, or something else that pulled on my knowledge of their world.

Its not that way. I spend most of my time listening. I have parents who are worried about the gaming habits of their teens, or twenty somethings that want the opportunity to talk about their favorite comics and hold debates about the different between manga and traditional comics. I have teens who are more excited to recommend a book for me to read than to listen to my recommendations, and I'm amazed that I can serve by just having conversations.

So when you feel overwhelmed by the amount of new books published, or new trends in not only teen culture but library culture, remember that the best thing you can ever do is talk to you patrons and take the time to listen.