Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How Much Book Could A Book Talk Talk (or Let's Give Them Something to Talk About)

Tip of the Day: Carry an umbrella. One that won't flip inside out with a sudden gust of wind. (It's just embarassing.)

I decided to do a Book Talk for the teens at my library. I read tons of books, so it should easy to pick a novel to discuss, right?

Um, no.

I realized that in order to appeal to the largest number of teens, I had to really think about what book to pick. I needed a novel that:

1) Appeals to boys and girls (so probably a boy MC)
2) Isn't too depressing
3) Is out in paperback (so I could afford to buy a copy for 15 teens)
4) Isn't too old/dated (so not too many teens read it already or think it's "old fashioned")
5) Appeals to readers 12-18 (though most of my participants will probably be 12-14)
6) Isn't about too controversial a topic (so parents won't yell at me)
7) Has an author who is contactable online (so I could ask for autographed bookplates for the books)

I posted my question and my list of requirements to the YA Librarian Listserv for my county, and got lots of helpful replies (thanks, all!), and some suggestions of what books worked for them (though many successful novels were definitely "girl books"). Some of the suggestions were for books I'd read and liked, but wasn't passionate about. Others were for books I hadn't read yet and now will read. But time was ticking for me to decide what book to talk!

With all the advice, I thought and branched out on my own. I chose NOTES FROM THE MIDNIGHT DRIVER by Jordan Sonnenblick.
It fit all the requirements and is funny, too! The author has also agreed to send me bookplates! An extra plus is that JS's first novel, DRUMS, GIRLS, AND DANGEROUS PIE is on the local required summer reading list. Hopefully teens will love that book as much as I did, and jump at the chance to read his next.

Of course, all of this made me think about if any of my books fit my own list of Book Talk requirements.

Oh no! They do not! I have all girl MCs! Crap.

What about you? Do you wonder if your book will be talked? Or chosen as a summer reading requirement for a school?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped


Kate Fall said...

I feel a little sad that you only chose from books with boy MCs. Aren't boys supposed to be interested in what girls are thinking? ;)

And yet I'm happy and perked up thinking of you being in touch with Jordan Sonnenblick and him sending you bookplates! How cool!

Emily Marshall said...

Yeah, I have to agree with Kate. I just tried doing a book discussion for a book featuring a boy MC and it bombed. But the one girl MC book did about 100x better in both getting read and in participation in the discussion. It was ridiculous the difference. But I do have more girls involved in wanting to do the book discussions in general than boys. And I still got the boys to read the girl MC book and enjoy it. I didn't pick my book this time around (it was a county-wide selection). Next month is "fantasy" month, but I'm pushing teens to read Breaking Dawn for the discussion.

Emily Marshall said...

Oh, yeah, have fun and good luck with your program! :)

Lisa Schroeder said...

Ack - I need to read Jordan's books! They sound great!!

I wrote a YA with a boy MC and it has yet to sell. I think it would be a great discussion book. But hey, I'm the author, so of course I'd probably think that. :)

DeenaML said...

I am thinking about next year using April Henry's SHOCK POINT -- it has a girl MC so it'd be a "risk" since it will more turn off the guys, but the story of an illegal detention center in Mexico might draw some boys it...?

Maybe what I need to do is jump on a book that has boys and girls as alternating povs?

Kate, it's so sad but true. If I rec a book with a girl MC to a teen boy, he is so not interested. It's interesting to see with the school summer reading lists which books the kids ask for. The boys never ask for the books with girl MCs. Sigh.

Em, I'll let you know how my discussion goes, but I'm sure your BREAKING DAWN discussion will go fantastic! I had 20 girls show up for our BD pre-book talk!

Lisa, I hope your boy MC book sells too bc I'm sure it would be perfect to book talk! :)

DeenaML said...

Oh yes, and I'll let you know how my book talk goes....