Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The NPR listeners have spoken. (So has the Internet.)

The results are in for NPR's poll on the "100 Best-Ever Teen Novels."

While the poll was in progress, I saw some speculation that the vast majority of voters would be adults. Teens don't listen to NPR, right? That may or may not be mostly true, but many teens do get involved with the YA books they love and the online communities that surround them. John Green, co-leader of what's probably the most active YA-related, teen-populated chunk of the Internet, is all over the list. So are a lot of recent books and authors that teens are asking for themselves. Cassandra Clare. Sarah Dessen. And there are plenty of crossovers between actual teens and adults who stay current in the YA world. :cough: I'm sure Divergent and Graceling and their sequels, for instance, had support from both.

But it's a varied list, which makes it even better. It's a list that acknowledges that good books for teens have been published all along, both before we started calling it YA and since. I don't doubt that some teens voted for the Anne of Green Gables books, but, well, so did I. I kind of do doubt that many teens voted for the Betsy-Tacy books, but they've meant something to teens, if not many current teens. To Kill a Mockingbird is there, and so is Speak, which to me is the touchstone YA realistic novel. The list also reflects quite a few books that changed YA's place in the industry (and, in some cases, did so for older and/or younger reading audiences as well). Publishing and bookselling would be different places today without the Harry Potter books, the Twilight books, and the Hunger Games books.

Of course, the books available in the original poll matter in the results. By and large, the logic used to choose these makes sense to me. Seriously, though, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is "too mature" to be YA?

But that kind of discussion is part of the fun. In the meantime, I'm glad that we seem to have heard from a lot of current and former teens, and I'm glad that both NPR and a whole lot of voters thought YA books worthy of such a poll.

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