Sunday, November 09, 2008

YA Lit Symposium: Hit List or Hot List?

Hit List or Hot List

Speakers: Rosemary Chance, Teri Lesene

We have to remember as librarians that we are charged with selecting the best books as our budgets permit.

Themes
be true to yourself
do the right thing

Teens today want to read what is relevant. While teens want to identify with characters, relevance is perhaps even more important.

Thing to remember: you can't go by the Lexile or the reading level on placing a book in the collection. In Texas, the 2007 report on banned books indicated that the largest category of challenges was due to incorrectly placed books.

Barry Lyga
Had been prepared for controversy prior to the publication of Boy Toy. Instead, it got a great critical response. Then was talking to a sales rep, who said that there was a gatekeeper problem with the book. Adults weren't letting the book into the hands of kids. Major bookstore chain wouldn't carry Boy Toy. Got told by a school librarian in the district he went to and said that she couldn't put it on the shelf because people might complain.

Instead of getting challenges and bannings, Boy Toy is not getting recommended, purchased, or publicized. Insidious, quiet, and disturbing. Doesn't care if people don't like it; a healthy debate is good. If the books never get out there, it doesn't matter how many starred reviews, how many awards, how many librarians love them. If the kids don't get them, what's the point?

Julie Anne Peters
I want my books to be banned because that means they got into the library. Librarians are intellectual freedom fighters. I like to make your jobs interesting.

Asked teens what they'd like to tell librarians
--There's going to be books that some people don't like. LGBTQ books are like lifelines to me.
--I think my library is pretty diverse, considering how deep in the Bible Belt it is. But I have pretty low expectations.
--My school promotes diversity left and right. What a wonderful place high school is becoming.
--My school librarian is like, awesome, dude!

Librarian comments
--If you don't have a balanced collection, it's just censorship disguised as collection development.

Coe Booth
Like Boy Toy, Tyrell is being kept away from the teens who want to read it. Wrote the book with reluctant readers--boys--in mind.

A lot of kids tell me Tyrell is the first book they read all the way through. They think the language is real and it reflects their culture. A Gossip Girl for boys. Many readers wanted a more happy, conclusive ending. Even though they're tough boys, they want a happy ending.

Teachers ask if she could write something like Tyrell without the cursing and sex? Another teacher said she wished she could use Tyrell in her classroom, except the n-word. You can't really teach African-American literature without using the n-word, either in the reclaimed sense or in the original derogatory sense.

My goal is to write real stories. I've seen kids who have lived worse than Tyrell--more "yikes!" then Tyrell. Trying to shelter a child with a book that doesn't have the tough situations doesn't help the child.

Not a complete and full record; speakers' remarks are paraphrased. Any errors or typos are my own.

4 comments:

Abby said...

"If you don't have a balanced collection, it's just censorship disguised as collection development."

That is SUCH a good point! Thanks for posting.

melissa said...

You're quite welcome! This panel, in particular, was very much about reminding us that we have to fight for the teens we're serving--because as the librarian I quoted said, in her letter to Julie Anne Peters, anything else is censorship.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I just had to pop in and say that I LOVED your details YA Symposium notes. So much so that I took the time out of my crazy Monday morning to read them and didn't feel guilty/ impatient once. Thanks so much for them!

As to this post in particular, personally, as a YA author, I think we have a responsibility to pimp other YA that we've enjoyed as well as our own. At every single book talk I give for LAMENT, you better believe I'm talking about FEED, THE HUNGER GAMES, SAVING FRANCESCA, etc . . . other books I've loved that I think people who like LAMENT will also love.

So I think books like BOY TOY (which I just finished on a flight back from NYC) should be pushed by the authors that enjoyed it as well, not just librarians, etc.

melissa said...

You're quite welcome, Maggie! Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed my take on the symposium. :-)

I agree that it's very important to discuss all kinds of books that you enjoy, even if you're just talking about one book or genre. After all, it's about promoting literature, whether it benefits us or not!