Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Young Adult Fiction

Someone asked me not long ago in the comments to a previous post to recommend some good young adult fiction and I'm sorry it has taken so long to get round to answering the question. It's been a very long time since I taught English to teens, and apart from ordering books for the British Council library I haven't had much to do with teenage fiction recently.

I hope though that the following links, and the links that spin off from them, are helpful as a starting point:

The British Council's Encompass Literature site has an interactive guide to fiction for ages 12-18 providing:
.. three reading compasses for Reality, Imaginative and Pot Luck. Within each compass you have between four and twelve subgroups to choose from, once again you can combine two groups to be more specific if you like. These include animal, magic, adventure, fantasy, humour, contemporary issues, classics, poetry, sport, self-discovery, family, friendships amongst others. If you prefer you can just search for Prizes or Interest Level in each compass. You can also use the Young Adult’s discussion board and join in the chats.
The Centre for Adolescent Reading (CAR) has very useful suggestions as well as reviews written by teenagers.

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has a whole lot of useful links to reading lists in different genres.

teenreads.com has a colourful website featuring useful reviews and a newsletter. I loved their Ultimate Teen Reading List, which I think provides a useful bridge to adult fiction (always a tricky transition).

BookSpot provides links to several other websites with useful information about teenage fiction.

And the Seattle Public Library has several useful booklists for teens including The Top 20 Young Adult books for the 20th Century.

Would be very grateful for your suggestions for other really good titles for young adult (that you've enjoyed, that your kids have enjoyed) and links to useful websites. (I know there are a few librarians who swing by the blog now and again, and maybe they're really the guys to ask ...)


Elizabeth said...

I love children (or young adult) fantasy, and here are two of my favourite authors!

URSULA LEGUIN - The Earthsea series is really powerful. I found that the first two books of the series (Tombs of Atuan and Wizard of Earthsea) were better written than the others.

DIANA WYNNE JONES - IMHO, her writing ranges from so-so to just plain wonderful. Among all the books she has written so far (and I read all of them), I think that the best one has to be Charmed Life.

animah said...

Elizabeth, Yes Yes to Diana Wynne Jones, though my personal favourite is The Orge Downstairs. I still read it today and laugh.
Another author is Joan Lingard who writes about youths in Belfast. And then KM Peyton who wrote the Flambards trilogy (or quartet). I absolutely loved it as a teenager. Try also Susan Cooper and Joan Aiken for more magical coming of age stories.For a more spooky feel, there's Alan Garner's The Owl Service. And even some of Stephen King's stories feature young boys - Stand By Me being a personal favourite.

animah said...

For young adult rabbits, there's Watership Down.
For young adult fans of Survivor and Lost, there's William Golding's Lord of the Flies.

BK said...

Cynthia Voigt's pretty good, especially her brilliant Homecoming series - great sympathetic look at family life.

Robert Cormier is a good bet if you want a thought-provoking, unsettling read. If you like romance, Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle will certainly enchant you. For grittier action, there's S.E Hinton.

Everyone knows Narnia but...Narnia! It never gets old. :)

juzblue said...

Ann Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (series) is a must read, IMO. And then there's Garth Nix, but maybe that's more fantasy than YA... Anyway, a personal fav. of mine is Tamora Pierce, whose books are filled with magic and adventure and stuff, but that's just me. :D

Sufian said...

I think young adults should read Thomas Bernhard.


Subashini said...

i would absolutely recommend i capture the castle as well, which i unfortunately read when i was out of my teens... glad i actually DID read it, but would have loved to have read it when i was a shy, miserable teenager in an all-girls school, romanticising boys and love relationships... ahh, the good ol' days.

along the same vein, and equally captivating, is rumer godden's the greengage summer, as well as the river and thursday's children. the latter two are probably for the tweeners or whatever they're calling them these days (age 10 or so)

there was a book i picked up awhile back on a lark, called sorcery and cecelia: the enchanted chocolate pot or something along those lines, co-authored by patricia wrede and caroline stevermer (i hope i got the spelling right) which is just loads of fun; bits of time-travel and magic and lots of old-fashioned witty banter. there is a follow-up which isn't as memorable, called the grand tour or something like that...

and of course, graphic novels are a whole other matter!

plus, it's not a young adult book as such, but to kill a mockingbird is one of those essentials... i read it as a young teen and it's been one of my solid favourites since.

Joshua said...

Sharon, have you read the god delusion by dawkins? Can you give a review?

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. the Adrian Mole series, Anne Frank. Actually I think young adults should read anything old adults (?) :) can read :)

sympozium said...

I found reading every one of Jackie Collins's novels as a Young Adult gave me a great understanding of life.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks for some great suggestions. i tend to agree with anonymous here - young adults can read pretty adult fare. (and on the lists above quite a few of the books are adult books), i guess one of the reasons why i feel i don't know this YA genre too well is that it didn't really exist when i was growing up. (age of dinosaurs y'know). there were kids books and there were adult books and very little written specifically for teenagers.

this post has got me thinking about what i did read at that age ... and well, i will self-indulgently blog it another day.

sympozium - that explains a lot! (i was more a harold robbins fan myself - learned everything i needed to know)

joshua - not yet. would be interested in reading it but haven't picked up a copy yet. i read dawkin's "the selfish gene" years ago which is a very important book. i have "unweaving the rainbow" but haven't read it yet. i've also read dawkin's essays on the subject online so i don't know that the book has much to say to me beyond that. (i've also wrestled with "darwin's dangerous idea" by philosopher daniel dennett which wanders into much the same territory.) there's an excellent piece about the book at salon.com though (you need to register but it's free).

anyway, if you've read it, do tell what you think.

Joshua said...

Thanks, Sharon. I haven't read the book myself but have ordered it from amazon together with the selfish gene. Tried salcon.com but it's a pop-up,so can't register, but it's ok.

There was an excellent review session in Perth recently. You can view it at abc.net.tv/firsttuesday

bibliobibuli said...

joshua - now you got me surfing around and reading about dawkins rather than getting on with the article i'm supposed to be writing! there's a wikipedia article about the book here with a summary of all the chapters and a list reviews.

re. salon - you have to watch an ad first - or you can just click it off. if you can register this is one of the most intelligent magazines on the net and has great stuff on books.

i can copy and paste the article to email if you get in touch.

btw - ted bought "the god delusion" in kino.

and do pop back and tell us about your thoughts on the book when you've read it.

sympozium said...

God Delusion readable but some parts are VERY tedious. Ultimately he has very good points but he does hammer them home too vigorously.

bibliobibuli said...

from everything else i've read i feel as if i've got the point already.

sympozium said...

Yes. Religion is bad. VERY bad.

Lynn said...

Thank you so much for the links! :)

Ted Mahsun said...

I recommend the Young Adult series, The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve. Some very interesting ideas, and the story's not bad either.

The fourth and final book, A Darkling Plain, recently won the 2006 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

I saw both The Selfish Gene (RM60++) and God Delusion in MPH MidValley last Saturday.

sulz said...

young adult fiction is my passion. my must-reads are a bit on the classic side:

1. the outsiders by s. e. hinton. in fact, anything by her is excellent.

2. i am david by anne holm. the recent foreign film of the same title is based on this book, and the book is of course better than the movie.

3. when jeff comes home by catherine atkins. it's about a 13-year-old boy who was kidnapped by a man who made him his boy lover before releasing and returning him to his family 3 years later. a very powerful and heartbreaking story.

4. island of blue dolphins by scott o'dell, the cay by theodore taylor, my side of the mountain by jean george. these 3 books go along the stranded-on-an-island-and-left-to-fend-for-themselves theme. can be escapism and inspiring for the young adult reader.

eyeris said...

On the fantasy side of things, don't go for the obvious Harry Potters - go for authors like Garth Nix, ursula le guin, Diana Wynne-Jones, Terry Pratchett and even Neil Gaiman.

these authors tend to be a lot more original in their stories, and have very unique writing styles, mroe than Rowling or that eragorn kid, who tend to rehash old fantasy plots into their own.

Oh, and The Hobbit, of course. :D

Joshua said...

Hi Sharon, I got to the article in the end. If you notice I typed salcon, instead of salon the first time, silly me!

The wikipedia was also useful. Thanks

Nicole said...

Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart and His Dark Materials series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its sequels by Anne Brashares, Douglas Adam's Hitchhikers series, Harry Potter, Diana Wynne-Jones, Terry Pratchett.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks for building up this brilliant list of recommendations!