It took me a whole week to sort through my thoughts and notes for the YALSA President’s Program! Here they are at last.
The YALSA President’s Program kicked off Monday afternoon June 26 with Pam Spencer Holly and Beth Yoke delivering highlights from the past year (did you know YALSA is the fastest growing division in ALA? 😉 It’s really amazing that not only has membership increased by 10%, but 25% of YALSA members are student members. Could a student interest group be in the works?
I think Pam was so eager to pass over her presidential gavel to incoming president Judy Nelson that she forgot to mention an item on the agenda – Friends of YALSA. The website shows that YALSA only has 18 friends! I slipped a form to my boss, and I think I can get my mom to contribute too – who can YOU ask?
2007 sounds like it will be as busy as 2006! Tons of events are in the works as YALSA turns 50, Teen Tech Week lauches, and much, much more.
Judy Nelson announced a return to our roots with the theme of her presidency, “Still Reading After All These Years,” a focus on the wonderful rich and diverse world of our beloved YA literature. Very fitting, and smart, in light of the recent misconceptions of YA novels as fluff and nonsense.
Appropriately, the program that followed the membership meeting was all about the Renaissance of YA Literature, and a sequel to a program 10 years ago on the same topic: What’s so Adult about Young Adult? The afternoon was a celebration of crossover titles including the likes of Weetzie Bat (the original crossover novel) Perks of Being a Wallflower, and more. I missed the names of some of the speakers, so thanks in advance for any corrections you guys who attended can contribute.
Author and YA lit critic Michael Cart (Booklist’s “Carte Blanche” column, My Father’s Scar, and editor of Rush Hour, who convened the original program on this topic, gave a brief history of crossover novels, lamenting that titles so appropriate for teens are published as adult for (mostly) economic reasons, and commenting on the lack of adult recognition of the value of YA lit, stated of those who think that YA lit is “the stuff of Sweet Valley High, more the fools, they.”
What makes a crossover title? They share several traits:
- first novels
- young authors
- coming of age theme (teen protagonist)
- incorporate the mysterious, puzzling, and enigmatic
Next, a publisher spoke (missed her name!), sharing the stat that of the top 50 bestselling juvenile titles, 9 are (currently YA titles), and explaining a little about why editors publish young adult books under adult imprints.
Author Aidan Chambers (This is All, Postcards from No Man’s Land) offered the British perspective with humor and aplomb, quoting Shakespeare, poking fun at himself and explaining his position on the “life follows art” theory.
Author Greg Galloway (As Simple as Snow) followed, and discussed literature as types of glass – the transparent “windex” kind popularized by the likes of Dan Brown, and the more complex stained glass kind in which literary greats such as Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Chandler delight in use of language.
Sheila (Scofield? sorry Sheila!) provided the librarian in the field point of view, speaking about the gamut of authors and formats and genres teens ask for. She recommended promoting adult titles to young adults and young adult titles to adults by incorporating them into displays and booklists recommending YA titles to librarians serving adults, and asking the adult services librarians to recommend crossovers.” Promoting teen lit IS advocacy for teens, she said; her top suggestions are
Pretties/Uglies/Specials by Scott Westerfield
I is Someone Else by Patrick Cooper
titles by Marcus Zusak
Feed by M.T. Anderson
She concluded by reminding us that authors tell stories; they don’t write for a selected audience, and quoted Ranganathan: “Every reader has his or her book; Every book has its reader.” The concept was followed up in the Q&A period when one of the panelists reminded us that the readership of a book is one (the original Long Tail?).
Three excellent booklists distributed at this program are online at http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/annual.htm
~posted by Beth Gallaway