It's the last day of the semester here at Ponderosa High School, so I thought my last post for this school year should be able some of the books I'm excited to add to our library's collection when we return for the school year. We're in an interesting transition in YA right now. All the major players in YA have pretty much become movies now. . . .Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, The Fault in our Stars, etc. We're starting to see powerhouses that have dominated our top tens for the past 3 school years fade away. The Fault in Our Stars is no longer the most popular book. The Maze Runner, the #1 book all last year, was finally toppled from it's throne this year. So what's popular now? And what is there to look forward to?
If you are a TL like me, you like to control exactly what is being added to your collection in your book orders. You don't subscribe to a variety of services that will just send a certain amount of paperbacks or hardbacks to you at random. I simply put in an open PO at the beginning of the year and buy books monthly at my discretion. Therefore, it is on MY shoulders to make sure I am keeping track of completing series! If I buy the first book of a certain series, how do I make sure I eventually buy the second or third book? I used to simply depend on students. If a student wanted the second book, they'd ask for it. However, not all students are vocal or even realize they can ask for the next book. I know I was way too shy in high school to think I could request anything of our library. Therefore, I had to come up with a way to keep track of all the series we had going on in the library that had not finished yet!
For example, there seem to be a million fantasy series out there! From Sarah J. Maas to Robin LaFevers to Morgan Rhodes. . . . .fantasy is not necessarily a genre I read often, so it wasn't always on my radar. I came up with an easy and simple way to keep track of what books were coming out eventually.
I keep a link to this Google Form on my bookmarks bar, so if I come across a book I know I will want to add to the library's collection eventually, all I have to do is just click once, and I can start recording. When I look at the responses, it looks like the spreadsheet below.
This is a Google Sheet I always pull up whenever I am doing my book orders. If there is a long list, I always sort the sheet by column "F," which is "When does this book come out?" Then I can see if there are any books that came out that last month or are coming out soon that I should purchase.
Having a link right then and there to the book within the spreadsheet helps as well because now ordering it is only a click away.
I often will keep this Google Form up whenever I am doing a book order because that it usually when I come across series I need to complete or books I would like to purchase that are not released yet. It's a quick, easy, and accurate way to keep our library's collection current!
If you are like me, I use at least one book trailer (or movie trailer) whenever I do book talks with any grade level. It catches the student's attention and gets them excited about reading! Whenever I do a book order, I always make sure to search You Tube to see if any new books I'm ordering have a good book trailer. This allows me to keep up to date with the latest and greatest trailers!
Below are some YA books and contemporary fiction titles with good book trailers and no movie trailers (YET!) from their publishers that I have found really make that book fly off the shelf!
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
The Rithmitist by Brandon Sanderson
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Conversion by Katherine Howe
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Fragments by Dan Wells
The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Every year the Alex Awards come out from the American Library Association, and it is a great list of books written with adults as their intended audience but are interesting to young adults as well. With each monthly book order I do, I order one contemporary fiction titles at least, so lists such as this are essential for me. While some of the titles I list below are "Well, duh!" picks, they are still wildly popular contemporary fiction titles for teens.
It's bound to happen as a TL. . . . .you get that student in your library that just seems to have no interests, no hobbies, no desire to read ANYTHING, and you are tasked by their English teacher to help them find a book that will interest them. How can you make that magical moment for that student where they actually find enjoyment in readying, something they most likely will have never had in their life?!
TLs do have superpowers. . . . .and sometimes that superpower simply comes from know what books in your library are No-Fail books. Every kids who has given a certain book a try has enjoyed this book!
So what are some No-Fail books? Well, there are the perennial favorites every TL typically goes to:
Divergent, The Maze Runner, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ender's Game, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Fault in Our Stars, etc.
But what are some other ones that a big hits with students that are a little more off-the-beaten-path?
This is a great books for anyone who wants a fast-paced action-packed read. It's short at only 210 pages too, so it isn't too intimidating for even those students who are not big readers.
However, her mother says she has reminded her, but each time she tells her, Cadance regresses and loses her memory again. Finally, her doctor decide Cadance needs to return to the island during her seventeenth year to piece together what happened.
This was the best YA book I read all last year, and the ending is simply genius. Students will not be able to put this down until the rock-you-world conclusion. And at 227 pages, they will get there quickly!
One of my favorite activities as a TL is to recommend books to the students who walk through our doors. When I am talking to a student about finding a new book, I typically ask them a few standard questions. I created this flow chart for what my initial process usuall looks like.
You can see that my interview process always starts with the same question, "What was the last good book that you read?" This can tell you a lot about the student! If they can think of a title immediately, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that they are a big reader! If they struggle with coming up with a title, I'm willing to bet they don't enjoy reading too much. It's a great jumping off point to figuring out a genre that the student might enjoy.
Finally, you can see everything flows down to asking genre specific questions. Here are some examples. . . . .
Lets say the last good book a student has read is The Maze Runner. Do they enjoy the sci-fi/dystopian genre? Yes, they do? Have they read other similar books in that genre like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, etc.? If they haven't read one of those series you can stop right there. You know what their next favorite book is going to be. If they have read those ones, you can dig a little deeper. You cold ask something such as, "Did you like all the action in The Maze Runner? Or would you like to try something more sci-fi? Or just suspenseful and action packed no matter what the genre?" All these questions can help to guide you. Maybe they are willing to try something different as long as it has action and suspense. Maybe you can land on something such as The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancy or The Eye of Minds by James Dashner. Perhaps if you get a sense they are a big reader, you can go for something beyond YA like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline or World War Z by Max Brooks.
You will always get those students though that just don't seem interested in *anything* and were forced to come to the library by their teachers. I always try to keep some books starred in my book list for those books that seem to appeal to everyone. Then you can try to guide them towards those types of books. For example, Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi is a perfect choice for nearly anyone walking through the door. It's short, action packed, and involves the real-life event of Hurrican Katrina. Find those books that work for anyone and keep those one starred for those hard-to-crack cases.
One of my favorite things about my job is buying books! I mean, how many jobs do you get to buy books and get paid for it?! I pride myself on having a wide selection of fiction and non-fiction to serve our population, including the students and staff.
At the beginning of each year, I put in for an open purchase order to Amazon, and each month, I purchase a set of 20 books (give or take a few) to add into our collection. At the beginning of my career, I quickly realized that I needed to be careful about what I chose because my taste in books does not necessarily coordinate with what my students and staff would want to read.
Therefore, I came up with my Collection Development Matrix!
Finally, at the bottom are two "Flex" slots to pick a second copy of something or a new release.
In addition to the title, author, and price, I also have a column for if the book has a male or female main character, if it is part of a series, and if there is a book trailer for it. Because I'm working in Google Docs, I'm able to put "Yes" if a book has a book trailer and then hyperlink it, making finding book trailers for book talks a snap!
I have found forcing myself to make sure we have a balance of male or female main characters in books can be difficult! YA fiction tends to have many more female main characters, but I'm determined to make sure I have a balance. This matrix helps me keep track of that.
Overall, this matrix was worked out well for me. We get a good balance of books every month, and it develops are collection well. If you are interested in using my matrix, you can have your own copy of the Google Doc HERE.
Jennifer Zimny has been a teacher librarian at Ponderosa High School for the past three years and previous to that, she was the drama teacher for 9 years. She holds a BA in Theatre from CSUS, a teaching credential in English, and a teaching credential in Library Media Services from Azusa Pacific University