One week from tomorrow, I will be heading to Charleston, South Carolina for YALLfest (Charleston’s Young Adult Book Festival). Have any of my fellow English teachers or book-lovers heard of this?
Now in its fourth year, YALLFEST has become one of the largest gatherings of young adult writers and fans in the United States. The two-day event – hosted by Blue Bicycle Books on King Street downtown – will host sixty of the country’s top YA authors, including 25 New York Times bestsellers in panel discussions, presentations, and informal “coffee chats” about craft, story… I’m SO excited.
These are the books and the authors my students are devouring at night and coming to school talking about in the morning. There are whole fan clubs online devoted to these characters and counting down the days until the next book in a series comes out. And, in recent years, with the popularity of books like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Fault in Our Stars (as well as their subsequent movies) even adults have jumped on the YA bandwagon and started getting excited about this literature written for and about teenagers.
Despite all that, I’m admittedly behind the curve on this trend. Back when I was in grad school and in my early years of teaching, I was all about reading “what my students are reading.” But, lately, I’ve barely been able to squeeze in the latest cult classic before it hit theaters… I’m really hoping that this will be a jolt to my system and introduce me to some of the newest and greatest in the field. I’m confident that it will.
In the meantime, I’m doing a little – what they call in my profession – cramming. 😉
At the recommendation of my girlfriend Courtney – who recently earned her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is currently writing her own YA novel – I’ve chosen a book (one of their most popular) written by each of the event’s key note speakers to try to read between now and next weekend.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
*So far, I’m halfway through Matched and pretty into it. It’s a little Giver-meets-Hunger Games, but it is keeping my attention, and it’s an easy read. I’ve also heard great things about The Maze Runner, so I’m planning to start that one next… There are SO many other books I want to read too, but this seemed like a manageable way to narrow it down, and I think it will be the most beneficial since I’ll definitely hear each of these writers speak. Hopefully, when I come back, I’ll have LOTS more to share with you!
In the meantime, have you read any of these? Are you a YA Lit fan? What are some of your favorite titles and authors? Who should I look out for next week?
More to come,
Sounds fun! I go through phases–I read some YA books, and then I feel like I need some heady adult literature to get me thinking. Glutton for punishment, I guess. 🙂 Recently I’ve been into YA remakes of classics. I read one called Jane (based on Jane Eyre) which was really fun, and now a student is reading it, which is also really fun! I agree–it’s nice to know what they’re reading, and I wish I did more of it.
I teach 7th grade ELA and my department focuses heavily on developing our students’ love of reading through student selected books. I found that the only way I can effectively support my students with this much independent reading is to know what to suggest they read next and be able to talk to them about what they are reading. I try to “book talk” a new novel several times a week, which means I have read A LOT of YA in the last few years.
I read the Matched trilogy this summer and enjoyed it and I LOVE Sarah Dessen. She lives not too far from me here in NC and she’s my go to author now when I head to the beach.
My recent YA reads/recommendations:
Where She Went (so good I read it in a day)
The Impossible Knife of Memory (Laurie Halse Anderson… I love her)
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (I did this as a read aloud and EVERY kid loved it, so much so that I started reading them the sequel today)
Between Shades of Gray (an incredible WWII story)
Between the Lines (Jodi Piccoult’s only YA book)
The Selection Trilogy (these books are not something I expected to enjoy at all. I gave them to a girl and told her to “let me know how they are”. She got out of math class that afternoon to tell me I HAD to read them and soon… and sure enough I ate them up and am now anxiously awaiting the 4th book to come out this spring)
I am kind of jealous you are going to YALL Fest. I wanted to go but it didn’t work out with my schedule. One of my former students told her parents that all she wanted for her birthday this year was to go to YALL Fest, so they are taking her… which I think is adorable. Have a blast!
Sky @ Blonde Freedom says
I just bought Maze Runner this weekend and can’t wait to read it! I’m now on the second book of the Divergent series and love it. I also feel like you in that I am so behind on the current trends with my students and I’m only 22!! YALL fest sounds awesome and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it!
Matched is pretty good. I thought Just Listen was ok but it’s still one of the better ones I have read by Sarah Dessen. I just found out there is a fourth book in the Divergent series called Four. I put that one on my list to read.
I love YA lit and it’s great to be able to discuss and recommend books to my 8th graders. YA lit was really important to me as a young adult, and I’m happy to see so many adults embracing it now.
I’ll be at YALLFEST! I’m actually volunteering again this year – I’ll be at the information booth on Saturday afternoon, helping direct people and answer questions. I’m very excited. 🙂
Kate M. says
E – I will be at YallFest too! I’d love to try to meet up. Email me if you’re interested in getting together 🙂