As a founding member of ALAN, I have witnessed the growth of the organization, as well as the output of many outstanding books for young adults. NCTE’s annual convention has changed also. When I first started attending the convention, usually one or two authors spoke. One of my favorite memories is that of listening to Richard Armour, who delighted many with his humor, even making fun of teachers. (Some at my table were “offended.”)
Now, through the generosity of publishers, many authors—children’s, young adult, adult—appear and share their ideas and writing techniques with convention-goers. The post-convention ALAN Workshop is increasingly successful. Many authors talk briefly about the sources for their writings, and outstanding educators who know and use young adult literature share ways for using such books in the classroom. It is exciting to be a part of all this.
But there is a new cloud in the skies. The troubled economy has hit publishing in a big way. Many good friends have lost their jobs, as a number of good people are being let go from publishing houses. Publishers are facing a decline in sales, and schools and libraries have less money to spend on new books. The New York Times (January 29, 2009) reported that “The Washington Post has decided to shutter the print version of Book World, its Sunday stand-alone book review section, and shift reviews to space inside two other sections of the paper” (C1). In addition, the Los Angeles Times lost its stand-alone book review section in 2007. Publishers Weekly fired a number of people, including its editor-in-chief, Sara Nelson, and Elizabeth Devereaux, children’s reviews editor. (The size of PW has shrunk tremendously.) New people have been assigned to take over these tasks. Some publishers are urging employees to take voluntary retirement. Voltaire states: “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”
Since I was a youngster, how times have changed. I was an avid reader of comic books. I also was addicted to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. (I still read the Aladdin editions published today.) When I went to the library in the good old days, I was informed that professional organizations recommended against purchase by libraries of such “series books” and comic books. Too trivial. Now look at the lists of series books and graphic novels in libraries. Who would have thought that hundreds of thousands of young people would attend midnight parties for the latest in the Harry Potter and Twilight releases? Hooray!
Dear publishers, you have helped many of us to grow and appreciate your efforts. As a result, we have chosen to spread the word about the abundance of poignant, funny, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and mind-broadening books you have offered us. These good young adult books have touched not only our lives, but those of students, teachers, librarians, and parents. So, in hopes of attracting even more readers to even more books, here are some of my favorites from among more current titles.
Mortenson, Greg, and David Oliver Relin. Three Cups of Tea. Penguin, 2007.
Pennac, Daniel, translated by Sarah Adams. The Rights of the Reader. Candlewick, 2008.
Aronson, Marc. Race. Atheneum, 2008.
Brimmer, Larry Dane. We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin. Calkins Creek, 2008.
Busby, Cylin, and John Busby. The Year All Disappeared. Bloomsbury, 2008.
Crowe, Chris. Up Close: Thurgood Marshall. Viking, 2008.
Farr, Richard. Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster & Survival in the Antarctic, 1910–1913. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.
Heiligman, Deborah. Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith. Holt, 2009.
Kaufman, Michael T. 1968. New York Times/Roaring Brook, 2009.
Kuklin, Susan. No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row. Holt, 2008.
Lang, Lang, with Michael French. Lang Lang: Playing with Flying Keys. Delacorte, 2008.
McCafferty, Carla Killough. In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.
Burg, Shana. A Thousand Never Evers. Delacorte, 2008.
Chen, Da. Sword. HarperCollins. 2008.
Compestine, Ying Chang. Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party. Holt, 2007.
Craig, Colleen. Afrika. Tundra, 2008.
de la Pena, Matt. Mexican Whiteboy. Delacorte, 2008.
Erdrich, Louise. The Porcupine Year. HarperCollins, 2008.
Hijuelos, Oscar. Dark Dude. Atheneum, 2008.
Sitomer, Alan Lawrence. The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez. Hyperion, 2008.
Blundell, Judy. What I Saw and How I Lied. Scholastic, 2008.
Carter, Alden R. Walkaway. Holiday House, 2008.
Levitin, Sonia. Strange Relations. Knopf, 2008.
Moodie, Craig. Seaborn. Roaring Brook, 2008.
Moses, Sheila P. Joseph. McElderry, 2008.
Parry, Rosanne. Heart of a Shepherd. Random House, 2009.
Schumacher, Julie. Black Box. Delacorte, 2008.
Staples, Suzanne Fisher. The House of Djinn. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.
Vincent, Zu. The Lucky Place. Front Street, 2008.
Anderson, M. T. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing—Volume II: The Kingdom of the Waves. Candlewick, 2008.
Barker, M. P. A Difficult Boy. Holiday House, 2008.
Bryant, Jen. Ringside, 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial. Knopf, 2008.
Gardner, Sally. The Red Necklace. Dial, 2008.
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Uprising. Simon & Schuster, 2008.
Hesse, Karen. Brooklyn Bridge. Feiwel, 2008.
Heuston, Kimberly. The Shakeress. Calkins Creek, 2008.
Hostetter, Joyce Moyer. Healing Water: A Hawaiian Story. Candlewick, 2008.
Klages, Ellen. White Sands, Red Menace. Viking, 2009.
Meyer, Carolyn. In Mozart’s Shadow. Harcourt, 2008.
Rees, Celia. Sovay. Bloomsbury, 2008.
Rinaldi, Ann. The Redheaded Princess. HarperCollins, 2008.
Waldorf, Mary. The Gold Rush Kid. Clarion, 2008.
Wiseman, Eva. Puppet. Tundra, 2008.
Abrahams, Peter. Into the Dark. Harper Collins, 2008.
Bauer, Joan. Peeled. Putnam, 2008.
Davidson, Jenny. The Explosionist. Harper Collins, 2008.
Ferguson, Alane. The Circle of Blood. Sleuth, 2009.
Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. HarperCollins, 2008.
Green, John. Paper Towns. Dutton, 2008.
Haven, Paul. The Seven Keys of Balabad. Random House, 2009.
Hiasen, Carl. Scat. Knopf, 2009.
Parkinson, Curtis. Death in Kingsport. Tundra, 2007.
Sanders, Scott. The Hanging Woods. Houghton Mifflin, 2008.
Staub, Wendy Corsi. Lily Dale: Believing. Walker, 2008.
Velde, Vivian Vande. Stolen. Cavendish, 2008.
Coy, John. Box Out. Scholastic, 2008.
Eulo, Elena Yates. The Great Receiver. Holiday House, 2008.
Flynn, Pat. Out of His League. Walker, 2008.
Gratz, Alan. Brooklyn Nine. Dial, 2009.
Jones, V. M. Out of Control. Cavendish, 2008.
Konigsburg, Bill. Out of the Pocket. Dutton, 2008.
Mercado, Nancy, ed. Baseball Crazy: Ten Stories That Cover All the Bases. Puffin, 2009.
Preller, James, Six Innings. Feiwel, 2008.
Ritter, John H. The Desperado Who Stole Baseball, Philomel, 2009.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Wintergirls. Viking, 2009.
Barkley, Brad, & Heather Hepler. Jars of Glass. Dutton, 2008.
Beck, Nina. This Isn’t Fat, It’s Fabulous. Scholastic, 2008.
Booth, Coe. Kendra. Scholastic, 2008.
Freitas, Donna. The Possibilities of Sainthood. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.
Grab, Daphne. Alive and Well in Prague, New York. HarperCollins, 2008.
Katcher, Brian. Playing with Matches. Delacorte, 2008.
Korman, Gordon. Juvies Three. Hyperion, 2008.
Kwasney, Michelle D. Itch. Holt, 2008.
Mass, Wendy. Every Soul a Star. Little, Brown, 2008.
Pixley, Marcella. Freaks. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007.
Summers, Courtney. Cracked Up to Be. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009.
Wilson, Martin. What They Always Tell Us. Delacorte, 2008.
Franco, Betsy, ed. Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers. Candlewick, 2008.
Frost, Helen. Diamond Willow. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.
Greenberg, Jan, ed. Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from around the World. Abrams, 2008.
Reich, Susanna. Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin. Clarion, 2008.
Sones, Sonya. What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. Simon Pulse, 2008.
Weatherford, Carole Boston. Becoming Billie Holliday. Wordsong, 2008.
Woolf, Virgina Euwer. This Full House. HarperCollins, 2009.
Yeomans, Ellen. Rubber Houses. Little, Brown, 2007.