I’m starting a new series called Sunday Shout Out where I can provide links to news stories, blog posts, and other things that I think are interesting and noteworthy. If you’re interested in participating or being featured in my next Sunday Shout Out, just drop me an e-mail.

First, is YALSA’s announcement of their 2010 Teen’s Top Ten List.
The winner is Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. The rest of the list includes:

  1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  2. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  3. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  9. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’m especially proud of the fact that I read half of them. Hopefully next year I can read the list of finalists before voting begins. However, does it strike anyone else as odd that the out of the top ten, none of the books have guys as main characters? Is this a sign that girls are still reading more than guys? Or is it just a sign that female librarians are voting more than the population of male teens? Going through the list of finalists, I only found four books out of 26 that starred boy characters, one book (Witch and Wizard by James Patterson) that stared a boy and a girl character, and one collection of short stories which I’m assuming has both boy and girl characters. So is there any wonder that the top ten do not represent one boy, when they were outnumbered 1 to 4 to begin with?

There was an article about this recently by the associated press, arguing that boys less interested in reading and that, even when they do read, they are more interested in reading about butts, farts, and poop. I personally am not completely sold on the idea that just putting farts, butts, or other bodily functions in a book is going to sell boys to the book or to the idea that reading is fun. Instead, I equate it to how some people feel about romance fiction or young adult fiction. Quite a few people feel that those genres are fluff, and why are you reading them when there are classics and more “literary” fiction to be read. They’re not intellectual, there’s no real big symbolism or themes, so why read them? Because it’s FUN! Because you don’t just read books in order to debate them, you read them to escape into a world that is not your own and experience a life that is completely different then you’re own. OR, you read to find yourself, to discover attitudes and beliefs and lives that reflect your own and reassure you that you aren’t alone in the world.

The librarian interviewed (who I know very well), has told me that the interviewer took what she said out of context and that she wasn’t even the one who did the grossology party, but that a coworker did. Where else have we heard these claims of misrepresentation by a reporter to “sell a story”? Oh yeas, that would be the New York Times article from a few weeks ago regarding the decline of the picture book and poor Amanda who has suffered from her generosity. One thing that I don’t think has been talked about a lot (and Marc Aronson had a great summary of reasons on his School Library Journal blog) is that schools might be contributing to this shift from picture books to chapter books because of Accelerated Readers tests. While I guess this could fall into the standardized testing category, I treat it as a separate category because of the parent factor. Like just today, I had a mother come in with her third grade daughter, AR list in hand, trying to find a book. They were choosing the books worth the most points, regardless of the reading level. While they were talking about Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Little House in the Big Woods, I didn’t think a whole lot about it. But when I heard The Outsiders mentioned, I stepped in and pointed out a little thing called reading level, and that reading level doesn’t always correspond to grade level. While AR lists are great, and I think the point system provides stimulation for some kids to read more, parents need to be made aware of the content of the books that they’re looking for, and that goes beyond just providing them with the title, author, and point level of a book. Parents don’t look for picture books because they don’t fulfill these AR requirements, and if someone wants to argue with me on that point that’s fine. I haven’t examined the dozens of pages of single spaced titles, so it’s possible I missed something.

However, I know there’s something I’ve apparently missed. If you are looking for chapter books, then there might be something else that you might have missed too. Booklist’s October 15th issue is all about debut novels, and they’ve released Top Ten First Novels for Youth.

  1. The Adventures of Jack Lime. By James Leck.
  2. The Adventures of Nanny Piggins. By R. A. Spratt. Illus. by Dan Santat.
  3. Blessing’s Bead. By Debby Dahl Edwardson.
  4. A Blue So Dark. By Holly Schindler.
  5. The Boneshaker. By Kate Milford. Illus. by Andrea Offermann.
  6. Griff Carver, Hallway Patrol. By Jim Krieg.
  7. Magic under Glass. By Jacklyn Dolamore.
  8. Medina Hill. By Trilby Kent.
  9. The Replacement. By Brenna Yovanoff
  10. The Toymaker. By Jeremy de Quidt

Michael Cart has some thoughts about making debut novels more distinguishable from the pack. While I do make a point to highlight when books are debut novels, I’ll admit that I don’t go out of my way to determine this status. Usually it’s listed in the front jacket copy, in the author blurb on the back jacket copy, or in the author’s note or acknowledgements. But I must not have been doing a good job, because I have read not one of these books. More to be added to the to-be-read list.

To that effect, I have two more sites to wrap up this Sunday Shout Out, and that’s The Contemps and Class 2k10. Class 2K10 is a collection of authors whose debut novels were released in 2010. There’s an upcoming website for the Class 2k11, but that website debuts on November 11th, so I’m saving that link for another day. The Contemps has a tagline of “YA Authors Keeping it Real,” which I love. It’s a group of realistic fiction writers who all have a book being released within the next year. Some are established and some are debut, but they’re issuing a challenge that people can pledge to read 18 of the 21 upcoming books before August 15th, 2011. One lucky winner will have the chance to win ALL of the books. You have to sign up before Nov. 15th, so you have about two more weeks to sign up.

Looking forward to finding some more great sites, news, and blogs for next week.