How, with all the YA books there are, do you find that one book that will inspire a teen reader?
The first and most important thing is to know what books are out there – not just the titles and authors – you need to know what the books are about and what the writing style and level is. The best way to do this is to read the books yourself but, with all the goodwill in the world, even someone with nothing to do all day would struggle to read widely enough. So here are my tips as to how you can become more knowledgeable about YA books:
- Try and read some of the books out there – but read a cross section of authors and genres so as to get a feel of what types of books are available.
- Remember the books you enjoyed as a teen, but accept that some may now be dated.
- Check out the many fantastic YA book review blogs. Find blogs whose style and content you enjoy and follow them. The good things about blogs is that they often review a mix of new and older releases, giving a good coverage of the YA market. Try and choose independent blogs that don’t have a vested interest in the books being reviewed. A list of some blogs I enjoy is available below.
- Looking at recommended reading lists (there are plenty if you search the net) is good. However, you still need to have a feel for what the books are about.
- Speak to librarians. They are a font of information.
- Speak to teenagers themselves about the books and authors they have enjoyed reading.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Suitably armed with knowledge about the YA book market, you need to find out a bit about your reader:
- their three favourite books and why they enjoyed them
- their favourite author and why they like them
- a book or books they have not enjoyed and why
- their interests
- their preferred genres and genres they do not enjoy
The questionnaire Finding the Right Book sets out these questions in a simple format. Once you have the information, give yourself some time to think what books might work for this reader and then suggest at least three books so that the reader can choose their favourite. It is fine if they reject a book, but do ask them why – in part to help them identify what their preferences are and in part to enable you to see the book through their eyes.
Recommending books is not an exact science – it can be hit and miss. The fun is in introducing readers to new books, talking about books and learning about your readers. It benefits everyone.
YA Book Review Blogs you should check out:
and of course this blog and its sister website Books Teens and Magazines!