Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Going public with talk about books for teens

When my friend Jennifer Walsh first told me about the kidlitosphere, I really didn't understand what she was talking about. I got my YA news by subscribing to the YALSA-BK listserv, and that made me feel pretty connected to news and happenings in the YA world.

Only when I started following a few specific blogs did I realize what a world I was missing. On blogs like Professor Nana's, I get almost daily reviews of brand new books that I frequently request and read myself. I know I trust Professor Nana's taste in books, and she reads so widely that I'm always discovering new things through her that I might not hear about otherwise. A real treasure trove, her blog. I feel the same way about Jen Hubert's Reading Rants reviews.

More recently I've begun following Liz Burns on A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy, and I've got a whole new appreciation for what blogs can do and be. Liz does plenty of reviews of new novels, and they are great reviews of great books, but she also covers a lot of the goings-on in the world of YA. By scrolling back through her posts over the summer, I learned so much and found so much to think about: like what makes a good review compared to a bad review (illustrated by a really awful and pathetic review of Catching Fire in Entertainment Weekly by someone who appears not to have read the book); and the fact that there is going to be a kidlitosphere conference in D.C. this fall organized solely by volunteers; and that Liz herself served on the Printz Committee this year and got her picture taken with the entire committee and four of the winning authors; and the story behind the story of the debate this summer within YALSA about possibly eliminating the Best Books for Young Adults list (Liz reports that no action is going to be taken at this time to dump BBYA, thank goodness).

Being a regular visitor to the blogs of people who are connected and embedded in the world of YA makes that world come alive for me in a whole different way than when I'm just sharing books with students and friends. Through blogs I start to see that there is breaking news in that world (witness the controversy over the cover of Liar), that blog posts can sometimes make things happen in that world (Bloomsbury ultimately changed the cover!), and how individuals bloggers do work through their posts. They make me want to be part of their conversations. So here I am.

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