professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

Best of what? By who? Decided according to what?

The list makers are at it again. Amazon has decreed the following books THE 100 YA books to read: http://www.amazon.com/b/?ie=UTF8&node=11424451011.

The problem with lists like these are myriad.

1. Who makes the decision?
2. What background do these folks have in YA literature?
3. What are the criteria for making the list?
4. What definition of YA is being used?
5. How are these books better to read than others?

I do create lists. I just did one for the workshops I did in NYC for PK-12. They were all new books. Many were award winners. They represented a wide range of publishers, authors, and potential readers. I paid some attention to the need for diversity in genre, age, ethnicity, SES, and many other factors.

But the folks at Amazon who created this list say this: "The Amazon editors got together and picked our very favorite young adult reads--you can see all 100 in alphabetical order below. You can also check out our young adult book club, where we'll have a monthly book pick and chance to ask the author questions. For more book recommendations, go to the Best YA Books of the Month page." Sorry, Amazon, I will not be relying on your "editors" for advice here. Since almost one half of these books are not YA (they are children's or adult), I am not sure I can depend on your expertise.

I might have missed some, but I counted only 8% of the books as authored by or featuring diverse characters. Some of the titles are classics (Shakespeare did not write for YA readers, I a fairly certain), some are books that might have become part of YA but were not published as such. More than 30% are fantasy/science fiction. Nonfiction is almost completely overlooked. Poetry, largely missing. So, diversity of form, format, and genre is weak.

We need to be careful about sharing lists created by folks who do not know our audience of readers.
Tags: lists
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