My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22-23, 2014: Crowd-sourced YA Lit

[Recently the boys and I have moved into chapter books, including the wonderful John Bellairs series. So in honor of that next stage of reading, this week’s series has AmericanStudied chapter books and Young Adult lit. This crowd-sourced post is drawn from the responses and favorites of fellow AmericanStudiers—add yours, please!]

Following up Monday’s Little House on the Prairie post, my colleague Heather Urbanski writes, “While I'm not sure the Little House books count as YA (they seem more middle-grade to me), your speculation that readers learned more about that era from those books than from official school is spot on for me. I've been thinking a lot about this lately because of a recent post that came across my feeds critiquing the character of Ma. I realized that I read those books much like I encountered science fiction/fantasy: as set in a different world from mine and the details of that world were what I took away. As for other YA faves, I am still captivated by Hunger Games years after first reading it and just finished Lissa Price's Starters/Enders series and loved it.”
I would also follow up my last point in that post to note a great children’s book on 19th century Chinese American railroad laborers that I recently discovered, Yin’s Coolies.
Following up Tuesday’s Encyclopedia Brown post, Tammi Minoski Tweets that “Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man was a favorite of mine when I was in 5th grade! It was just entertaining and I remember fancying myself as a ‘little girl’ Encyclopedia Brown.” LaSalleUGirl notes that, “I used to do the same thing with the Hardy Boys!” And Rob Velella adds, “I'm pretty sure my love of literature began with Encyclopedia Brown in 2nd grade. Perhaps ironically, I don't care for the entire mystery book genre today.”
Roland Gibson also follows up that post, writing, “I'm 47 years old this year, but that was one of my favorite reading pastimes growing up—when my father would take me and my older sister and my younger brother to the Littleton MA town library, and I would get Encyclopedia Brown books. As a boy, I didn't always have the focus and the speed to read longer, more involved stories, so the Encyclopedia Brown series was perfect for me.”
Following up Friday’s Doctor Proctor post, commenter Jaime Lynn writes, “So interesting. I had similar experiences when reading Pippi Longstocking as a kid. (When you're a kid, it's hard to tell whether it's just normal to live with a horse if you're Scandinavian, or whether that's another of the things that make Pippi quirky and unique.) More recently, as an inveterate devourer of middle-grades and YA books despite my childless status, I've been struck by how European and Australian books meant for young readers are darker? weightier? less dumbed-down? I don't know how to describe it. Silvana De Mari's The Last Dragon comes to mind. I was surprised -- repeatedly and pleasantly -- by the depth and thoughtfulness of the book and its themes. Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord and Inkheart hit me the same way. And if you ever have a whole day to listen to me rave about it, I'll be happy to wax endlessly about Alison Croggon's Chronicles of Pellinor (which is written in English, but brings an Australian sensibility to Tolkienesque fantasy).”
On Twitter, Philip Nel highlights some favorites: M.T. Anderson's Feed, Nancy Farmer's The House of the Scorpion, Walter Dean Myers’ Monster, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, and Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat.
Anastasia Salter does the same: Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, Libba Bray's Going Bovine, Francesca Lia Block's I Was a Teenage Fairy, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, and China MiƩville's Un Lun Dun.
@Frittersandclam does the same, noting that she “loves Scott Westerfeld’s The Uglies series so much.”
On Facebook, my colleague Anna Consalvo shares some more favorites: “Anything by Neil Gaiman. I'm thinking Coraline and The Graveyard Book. Sort of a modern Grimms Brothers. I think these would be great read-withs (as opposed to on a child's own). Beautifully descriptive, warm. dark, complicated in a fairy tale kind of way. And Brian Jacques’ Redwall series? Set of stories of good and evil played out by critters in the English countryside. Well written, delightful. A tad less scary and dark -- though any tale of good and evil gets shadowy.”
And Anna also shares the NY Times’Notable Children’s Books of 2013” list.
Finally, an interesting article on the “John Green effect” in YA publishing, and an interesting Coursehero infographic on Green's Fault in Our Stars.
Next series starts Monday,
PS. So what YA lit favorites and memories would you share?


  1. Beverly CLeary was a favorite of mine in the 2nd and third grade, in the early 70s. She was wonderful with Ramona the Pest!

  2. Totally agree about Cleary--I still remember reading many of her books so clearly (esp. *Dear Mr. Henshaw*, but many others too), and the boys have gotten into Ralph S. Mouse and Ramona already.