Word of caution: if you already have an enormous ‘To Be Read’ list, avoid YALSA at all costs. You will only find more wonderful books that you feel obligated to add and read.
Before this semester, I had never even heard of YALSA. YALSA works to advocate for teens and libraries around the nation. Through my research, I found out that it is a national association of people dedicated to build up our libraries “to engage, serve and empower teens.” YALSA not only advocates for the rights of teen readers; they also do research, train librarians and library workers, and give $150,000 to libraries every year. This association provides numerous lists that categorize books for readers to read.
Teens are not simply ‘older children’-they have reached a developmental stage that requires a different strategic approach in order to effectively understand, connect with and serve them. In addition, the needs and developmental abilities of younger teens ages 13 to 15 vary from those of older teens ages 16 to 18. YALSA helps libraries increase their outreach to teens and serve them better.
-YALSA answering the question “Why Focus on Teens?”
Let’s get one thing straight: book lists are dangerous. For example, today I thought I would spend some time looking through book lists and blogs for this class. “Some time” turned into hours. During this time, my TBR list exploded. Honestly, it did. (Good thing that I have this summer to catch up!) I found myself anxiously reading through the lists and feeling delighted when I saw books that I had previously read listed on them or found a great book to read (16 of these, to be exact). Book lists are excellent tools for readers to explore. By reading lists, book lovers everywhere are able to access both new and old books that could pique their interest. I explored the YALSA website and blog, the Hub. I looked through the 2014-16 lists of Best Fiction for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and the Teens’ Top Ten lists. The Hub, YALSA’s blog, had even more lists to explore. This site provided lists of books that covered topics in wide ranges, from substance abuse to Fairy Tale Retellings with Fierce Female Characters. The lists were numerous and thought out. There is truly a list for any type of book that you could be thinking of. If you didn’t get enough lists on those sites, be sure to look up Teen Services Underground, and be prepared to be amazed. Lists upon lists upon lists! It’s a reader’s dream. 🙂
As for me, I’ll continue to use this resource for quite some time I’m sure. I will access the “Quick Pick” list for readers in my class that need a boost on their reading and will encourage students to peruse through the site. I will utilize the lists to find books for classroom book talks. Anything that I can find that will help my students will be something that I will hold on to. YALSA is a great resource that will open doors for students for years to come; what more could you want, except maybe a tweet back? If you need me this summer, you’ll find me reading.