I love YA literature, which is probably a good thing since at times it feels like I’m floating in a sea of books. ‘ And the analogy is not an accident. ‘ Depending on which statistic you read there are between 3,000 and 10,000 new books YA books published every year. ‘ How then, can we be expected to sift through all of these titles and find that magic novel that will turn all of our students into life-long readers? ‘ Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or super secret that veteran librarians can pass on to new librarians in some slightly creepy candle-lit ceremony. ‘ The truth is, it takes work. ‘ But the good news is there are so many different options for getting to know more about YA literature that there’s bound to be a strategy to keep even the most overwhelmed teacher-librarian from’ despair.
1) ‘ Start with what you’ve got. ‘ Learn your own collection. ‘ I’ve been fortunate enough to have shifted and reorganized our library’s collection seven times in six years (why this happened is another story). ‘ I say fortunate because it forced me to pick up/touch/look at nearly every book in the collection (about 17,000 titles). ‘ While I don’t recommend this to everyone (I don’t think my clerk has forgiven me quite yet) in hindsight it was a fantastic way to gain an intimate knowledge of what was sitting on the shelves. ‘ Okay, stop. ‘ Deep breath. ‘ For those of you’ hyperventilating’ at the thought of all the dust and heavy lifting, the same thing can be accomplished (almost) during inventory or repeatedly browsing your own shelves. ‘ That’s right. ‘ Get up and head to the stacks.
I don’t know if it was the dizzying prospect of having a part time job, or feeling flattered that someone I respect would suggest that I do it, or simply thriving on being over-committed, but I’m serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee 2013. Throughout my year of service, I’m going to try to provide a window into my experience sitting on the committee, showing you how the BFYA sausage gets made and hopefully interesting some of you in joining in the future.
When I was formally accepted as a member of BFYA2013, it started to really sink in what I’d gotten myself into. I hadn’t really read a book since the birth of my son in December, preferring to spend my time sleeping or staring at his fuzzy head. I’m used to reading 3-5 books over the course of Shabbat if I don’t have too many social commitments, and 1-2 during the week, so this steep decline was worrying. The email from the chair welcoming us all to BFYA2013 said we would read an average of a book a day for the year, and to see our friends now, because we wouldn’t have any time for them in the future. I pruned my RSS feed and YouTube subscriptions and pulled ARCs that fit in the brief (September 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012) off the shelf to start reading.
Not much more than a year ago, I was that person who proclaimed I would never own a Kindle. I loved books as objects (I have bookshelves in every room in my house except the bathroom) and, let’s face it, I’m kind of materialistic. I like to own things, to collect. At the same time, I had bigger concerns about a possible future where everyone would need a device to be able to read a book.
Flash forward to today: I am a Kindle owner. What happened?