Reflections from the YA Lit Symposium

Wow, what a weekend!  I’m just back from St. Louis and the YALSA YA Lit Symposium.  It;s been 2 and a half days of non-stop teen fiction and my head is swimming.

On Friday, I attended a pre-conference called What’s Next? Trends, Fads and the Next Big Thing in Publishing.  A lot of the session was a discussion about the impossibility of determining what will catch teens’ imaginations next (trolls and leprechauns = less helpful) but this list did emerge:

  • New Adult
  • Detailed World Building
  • Urban Settings
  • Realistic Fiction

This discusion was also a big part of another session. Sounds to me like books like Jellicoe Road are about to become even bigger.  In fact, there was a whole session on Australian authors called Globalize Me.  Here’s the handout of Aussie Printz winners.  It was great to hear from a representative from Australia but I wish the session had dealt with a wider range of international authors.  A session about The Next Generation of Author Visits was presented by a group of YA authors themselves. I found the discussion helpful because I’ve never organized an author visit but hope to start next year. I imagine more experienced librarians have detailed needs and author agreement templates.

Far and away the best session was the last one, Guys Talkin’ to Guys: What Will Guys Read Next, which featured real, live TEEN BOYS!  It was the only event at the Symposium with real teens, which I find sort of disconcerting.  I find my students’ opinions to be vital to everything I order and would have loved to hear their impressions during all of these sessions.  Authors Greg Neri,  Torrey Maldonado and Antony John brought so much energy and inspiration.  Maldonato’s incredible advice guys read what guys read (#grwgr) is really going change the way I think about collection development in my library.

Two sessions I’m sorry I missed are Rollie Welch’s Classic Literature vs. 21st Century Novels: Survival of the Fittest and Social Reading: Inside the Ebook Discussion.  I am sharing Mr. Welch’s handout with my MS English faculty and am going to develop it to include the books we are using now.

Speaking of books,  we scored a bunch of ARCs and signed copies during the Book Blitz.  I got

  • Elemental and Thou Shalt Not Roadtrip by Antony John (presents on Guy Reads)
  • The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats (presented about author visits)
  • Lie by Caroline Bock
  • Intentions by Deborah Heiligman
  • Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandria Diaz
  • Ask the Passengers by AS King
  • Son by Lois Lowry
  • Dodger ARC by Terry Pratchett
  • The Last Dragonslayer ARC by Jasper Fforde

I was really surprised that there were no graphic novelists at the Symposium.  In fact, I didn’t hear a single presenter talk about the futures of manga, comic books or independent graphic novels, but many librarians spoke about the high demand for them.  Why this disconnect, YALSA?

Lastly, I was really interested in Hannah Gomez’ paper on The Badging of Biracial Identity in YA Literature.  I think there’s a lot of research to be done about race and identity in teen fiction.  Maybe there’s an ALA poster session to be made…


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