YA Research

Creating outreach services for young adults.

Sources of interest:

NPR’s website has collected their author interviews into one location https://www.npr.org/sections/author-interviews/ (Links to an external site.)

One way I love to get book recommendations is from authors, so I listened to fantasy and young adult author Daniel José Older’s interview:

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/22/1029750946/these-3-ya-novels-will-transform-your-summer-into-something-fantastic (Links to an external site.)

Another great source of author interviews is podcasts. For young adult authors, I enjoy Bookmarked.

Here’s one example:

https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/bookmarked-a-ya-book-podcast-122878/episodes/finding-the-perfect-blend-of-m-93216784 (Links to an external site.)

Bookmarked features interviews with YA authors about popular books diving into character development, world-building, and answering popular questions about the authors’ book and characters.

I think people are interested in creators, specifically artists, because they want to know more, they want to understand the process and the motivations behind the story. Most people are creators themselves and want to share this process.

Publishers (the good and the bad):

Again, I focus on the YA sections for each publisher. Harper Collins and Penguin Random House have really dated content. Simon and Schuster have current content and is very good!

Harper Collins: Harper Teen https://www.youtube.com/user/harperteen (Links to an external site.)

(Dated, their last video posted in 2015)

Penguin Random House https://www.youtube.com/user/RandomBooks (Links to an external site.)

(Last YA video in 2017)

Simon and Schuster’s Simon Teen https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYx1U-OQ3zjgllOB48tQ01Q (Links to an external site.)

Awards to watch:

The Alex Awards are awarded to ten books each year that have special appeal to children age 12-18. They do not have to be YA books.

https://www.ala.org/yalsa/alex-awards#current (Links to an external site.)

Why use databases instead of googling?

The awards process gives special attention to diversity and the wide-ranging scope of genres. My google search is more tailored to my individual likes and interests. Using a database helps deter and prevent some bias.

Reader's Choice Awards:

As a reader, I enjoy the Goodreads annual choice awards.

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-young-adult-fantasy-books-2020 (Links to an external site.)

The list often includes award winners but will also have books that are not as popular with critics, but are still great reads and very popular. In a YA context, I find this especially important. Working in a school library I often see how book choices are based on educational value, and very little money (if any) is spent on books children enjoy just for fun. I would like to see this change.

More Ideas:

This is an older article (2013) but it discusses some innovative teen services offered at public libraries that I would like to further explore

https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2013/01/29/innovative-library-services-in-the-wild/ (Links to an external site.)

The article references http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/ (Links to an external site.) is full of innovative ideas for teen spaces such as lending instruments, pop up books, and art displays, all aimed to get teens more engaged with the library. This kind of resource could help a librarian think beyond a traditional collection.

Final Thoughts:

What interested me most about this survey was the retention rates in my county, which was surprisingly low at around 40%. This makes me wonder how different the young generation is from the adult and how a collection can cater to these differences, or ensure that young people’s needs are being directly addressed as separate and different from the adult population.

In an academic environment, understanding how diverse the backgrounds of students are to the library is very important to address the many services that could be offered. Some students may never have used a library outside of the public school system.


I’m interested in building recommendations from the library for homeschool and other DIY educators. You can see what I came up with at www.jonijeffries.com/young-adult-books

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