This November, YA librarians and authors will descend upon St. Louis for the 2012 Young Adult Literature Symposium. If you haven’t been to this before, I highly recommend it. I went in 2010 and met a lot of fabulous people and rubbed elbows with a few authors (perpetuating my girl-crush on Lauren Myracle) and came away with a lot of great information. This year the theme is Hit Me with the Next Big Thing.
I started thinking about what exactly that means. How can we predict the future of what’s going to be hot and what’s going to flop? It’s not always easy to find what will be successful for your library, even when you’ve seen it be successful everywhere around you. I admit, I was having trouble with this concept until I listened to a webinar from Infopeople called Improvisation at Work! Communicating and Innovating in Your Library. Part of it covered the idea of â€œYes, and.â€ When I did an improv program for the teens at my library this past summer, one of the things that we covered is keeping the scene going versus shutting it down. I didn’t know it was called this at the time, but I was teaching them â€œYes, and.â€
One of the applications of â€œYes, andâ€ is brainstorming without judgment. We’ve all probably been in those meetings where we’re asked to brainstorm ideas on how to do something or come up with something new and innovative. If you’re saying, â€œBeen there, done that,â€ you’ve also probably encountered the person who always wants to point out the negative aspects of a suggestion. Whether their naysaying is legitimate or not is not the problem. The problem is that the naysayers can stop us in our tracks and keep us from being truly innovative.’ (Try making a rule in one of these brainstorming sessions that you can only make positive statements and see your results. You may come up with something truly amazing that you never would have thought of before).
So what will be the trends of the future? What genre is going to be the next vampire-craze? Our teens are changing, so how will that be reflected? What is the Next Big Thing? Start a dialogue of â€œYes, and,â€ see where it takes you, and then share it in the comments or bring it with you to St. Louis!
Anyone who knows me well knows I have “yes, and” tattooed on my left arm. (I actually got it done while I was at Annual in Chicago–my, how time flies!) I firmly believe that my improv training is some of the most valuable training I ever got for working with teens, particularly in a high school with a flexible schedule where I never know quite what the day will bring.
Just as it’s crucial on stage to accept (and build upon) the reality your scene partner offers you, it’s crucial to accept (and support) the reality your teens live in, whether or not it conforms to larger trends. Some of the (supposedly) hottest trends in YA literature at large have totally flopped in my school.