Yesterday, Charlie Gibson interviewed Marcus Zusack about his new book, THE BOOK THIEF. During the interview Gibson lavished praise on the book, never mentioning the fact that it was a books for YAs OR that Zusack had just received a Printz Honor for his last book. While I am grateful for the media coverage, I wish there were some way to let those who “handle” the talent know about YA and its awards. I am certain that had Zusack won a Newbery or Newbery Honor, it would have been mentioned. How can we get out the word?

Posted by Teri S. Lesesne

About Teri Lesesne

I am a professor of YA lit in the department of library science at SHSU in Texas. I am an active YALSA member, an author of two professional books, a blogger, and a grandmother of 6. I am on the Printz 2010 Committee and the YALS Editorial Board currently. I have also served on the QP, Edwards, and Odyssey Committees.

7 Thoughts on “Media coverage of YA literature

  1. Linda Braun [Member] on March 19, 2006 at 7:26 am said:

    And I assume that Zusak didn’t feel comfortable talking about his awards in this setting either. Although his publisher should have made sure this was a part of the interview. (But maybe they don’t have that power.)

    It seems to me that it’s really hard to get the word out about the awards for YAs because it’s so out of the regular world in which people like Charlie Gibson live and work. When Gibson was a teen there wasn’t a teen book award like the Printz and there wasn’t even teen fiction as it exists today so his ability to connect to this new world is probably hard for him.

    We need to get Gibson to interview someone like Michael Cart who can talk about the full realm of teen fiction and non-fiction including the history and the current day. Now I’d love to see that interview.

  2. I agree with Linda and feel we are still relatively the “new kid on the block award” and as Linda commented not so long ago there wasn’t a teen book award like the Printz. It will take perseverance, advocacy, and time for the awards to have mainstream significance. I have noticed an increased awareness in ALA since the late 90’s of our awards.

    One tactic could be to inform and educate media types who are parents of teens…someone like Katie Couric. It is interesting how quickly something becomes relevant when it involves your child.

  3. byoke [Member] on March 20, 2006 at 12:40 pm said:


    The YALSA Office knew in advance about this interview and asked our contact at Random House if Zusak could mention the Printz. They assured us that Zusak had undergone media training and had been prepped for this interiew, including the idea of mentioning the Printz. To cover our bases, the YALSA office also sent a letter by Pam Spencer Holley to Charlie Gibson and a copy of each of the 2006 Printz winner and honor books. I think what we need is a grass roots effort. There are over 5,000 YALSA members now. If each one just took a couple of minutes and wrote or called influential people like Charlie Gibson, then I bet they would sit up and pay attention. 5,000 letters or calls would have a LOT more impact than a single letter from the YALSA president (no offense meant to our energetic and fearless leader!).
    -Beth Yoke

  4. Trust me, Beth, no offense taken. I think that some of Beth’s efforts to mobilize us have taken root, especially with the “Today Show.” I was recently interviewed by one of their producers in regard to the series Gossip Girls; we’ll keep you posted on when that piece will air.

    And for all those members who feel as though they can’t participate because they aren’t able to attend conference, here’s a perfect way to be involved–write a letter to Charlie Gibson mentioning that you enjoyed the interview with Zusak but, did you know that he’d won a Printz honor?

    YALSA will post the address on this blog so you-all can help get the message out.

    Pam Spencer Holley

  5. byoke [Member] on March 21, 2006 at 2:45 pm said:

    To contact Charlie Gibson:
    Charlie Gibson, Host

    Good Morning America
    147 Columbus Ave. 8th Floor
    New York, NY 10023

    Or submit an email via this web page:
    Good Morning America
    -Beth Yoke

  6. byoke [Member] on April 12, 2006 at 8:45 am said:

    Over on YALSA-L a poster had this to say recently:
    “I’m not sure if any of you watched Oprah’s show yesterday (Monday, April 10th), but a piece of it concerned teen fiction. Naomi Wolf was on the showing talking about “a genre called teen fiction”. She was referring to the Gossip Girl series and books in the teen chicklit genre. The show made it appear as if this is the only type of book being published

    for teen girls today and that teen girls are being harmed by reading
    books that have sex and drugs in them and marginalize young women. I
    would love to have other librarians watch this episode and send Oprah a
    letter if you too found this bit misleading and unrepresentative of teen fiction. I wish Oprah would see how she herself was marginalizing teen girls. It would have been nice if she had shown other books that are published for teens as well.”
    If anyone does want to contact Oprah, here’s the address:
    Ms. Oprah Winfrey
    Harpo Studios
    1058 W. Washington Blvd.
    Chicago, IL 60607-2151

    You can also email the show at:

    In March YALSA sent Oprah a copy of each of the 2006 Edwards and Printz winner and honor books along with a letter from Pam Spencer Holley. We haven’t received any response, but if you do write her, you may want to mention these award winning books.
    -Beth Yoke

  7. byoke [Member] on April 13, 2006 at 9:58 am said:

    Here’s a personal response to Naomi Wolf’s article and appearance on Oprah:

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