Why I love reading Young Adult Books


When I was in elementary/middle school teachers would confiscate my books because I was reading instead of listening to them. But I just couldn’t help myself. The story would get so good I could not put it down. I longed for LEAP or other standardized testing days because that was the only time I was allowed to read what ever I wanted in class.

I remember staying up late reading Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Encyclopedia Brown, or The Baby-Sitter’s Club. Once my parents fell asleep I would sit next to a night-light in my room to read. I was too old for a night-light but it was a good source of light to read from and didn’t make my parents suspicious.

While reading I wanted to be the characters or one of their friends. I wanted to be IN the book and a part of the story. I would adopt the mannerisms or sayings from my favorite characters. After the story ended I was so sad. I would use my imagination to continue the story in my head. I guess that’s why I like series books.

As an adult I still read young adult books but now I appreciate the end of the story. I find a great ending can be euphoric in some ways. Young adult books also make me nostalgic for my youth. It was a time when you had no real problems but everything seemed to be the end of the world.


There is so much a writer can do with a YA story.  Kids have imaginations that are willing to accept anything. Life and experiences haven’t inhibited their imaginations yet. Whole worlds with different rules and laws can be created in these types of books. Plus an author can add different genres to every story. A YA book can be fantasy, sci-fi, romance, mystery, thriller, comedic and many more all rolled into one. And if it’s written just right it can conjure just as many feelings as well.


I’m really looking forward to this year’s BookExpo America. To meet other adults who share my passion for YA. I can’t wait to hear the authors speak at the Children’s Book & Author Breakfast; or go to sessions dedicated to children’s and YA books or hear how editors knew a certain YA title was perfect for their list. Here are few more sessions I can’t wait to attend:

While at BEA I will be tweeting about what I learn and what kind of swag I’ll be snagging. Follow me on Twitter here.

Hopefully my apartment won’t look like this after BEA:

But then again…

Banned Books Week

September 30 to October 6, 2012 is Banned Books Week. For the past 30 years the book community has been celebrating the freedom to read by highlighting the problem of censorship with a variety of events held at bookstores and libraries.

According to BannedBooksWeek.org, in 1982 Banned Books Week was launched. Since that year more than 11,000 books have been banned.

Click here to see the ten most challenged books in 2011.

Below is an essay I wrote for one of my classes in 2011 about censorship.

A classic children’s book about a pig who befriends a spider is 78th on the best-selling hardcover list and is also on the American Library Association’s frequently challenged classics list. Charlotte’s Web
was challenged in 2006 by a Kansas school district because of the talking animals and the “inappropriate subject matter” when Charlotte the spider died.

The parent group who challenged this 1953 Newbery Honor winner said, “humans are the highest level of God’s creation and are the only creatures that can communicate vocally. Showing lower life forms with human abilities is sacrilegious and disrespectful to God.”[i]

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has been banned by a California elementary school in January 2010 for its definition of oral sex[ii] and The American Heritage Dictionary
was banned in 1987 by a school district in Anchorage, Alaska because it includes “non-words” such as “bed”, “knockers” and “balls”.[iii]

One of the silliest reasons, at least in my opinion, to ban a book comes from my own home state, Texas. The Texas Board of Education banned Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. in January 2010 because they thought it was written by the same Bill Martin who wrote Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. They never verified whether it was the same person or not.[iv]

These books were challenged or actually banned for senseless reasons while other books have been banned for their sexual content, language, racism, etc. Whatever the reason these books have been challenged or banned it still results in a violation against our nation’s First Amendment. Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth.[v]

No book should be banned, they should be available to any and all to read and decide their own opinion about. Each child will decide whether they like a book or not. Kids are smarter and wiser than we give them credit for.

What it really comes down to is a child’s maturity level. Some children are more sheltered than others so certain books may make them uncomfortable. Others may just have content that may be too far over their head. Shakespeare may not be the right kind of material for a five-year-old because they wouldn’t understand some of the material but if they want to try it they should be given that opportunity.

Parents and groups who decide a book should not be available at all to children or even adults are taking away the benefits of those books. The reader is not limited by birth, geographic location, or time, since reading allows meeting people, debating philosophies, and experiencing events far beyond the narrow confines of an individual’s own existence.[vi]

Judy Bloom, author of several books that have been challenged or banned, believes censorship is conceived through one thing, “I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don’t read about it, their children won’t know about it. And if they don’t know about it, it won’t happen.”[vii]

That’s why teachers and librarians have to work extra hard to make sure children have access to any and all the books they want but still come up with a list of books that satisfies parents and other groups while also allowing kids to broaden their horizons and letting their imagination to flourish. The teacher must exercise care to select or recommend works for class reading and group discussion.[viii]

Censorship in schools is a growing problem. The NCTE recommends a two-step program to protect students’ right to read for every school to adopt:

  • the establishment of a representative committee to consider book selection procedures and to screen complaints; and
  • a vigorous campaign to establish a community atmosphere in which local citizens may be enlisted to support the freedom to read.[ix]

Students and adults should be allowed to read anything and everything, taking away that right is unconstitutional, however, parents should be more involved in what their kids are reading. There are just other ways of going about it instead of taking away other children’s rights. Parents should open up a dialogue with their kids and teachers. They can ask the teacher for a comparable book that both parties approve of. Parents should talk about the things they don’t like about the book with their children and tell them why and answer their questions. There are other ways for parents to shelter their child instead of ruining it for everyone else; they just need to use their imagination.

[i] R. Wolf Baldassarro, Banned Books Awareness: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, April 3, 2011. http://world.edu/worldedu_posts/banned-books-awareness-charlottes-web-eb-white/

[ii] Jessie Junhardt and Amy Hertz, The 11 Most Surprising Banned Books, The Huffington Post, Posted 5/29/10, Updated: 5/25/11. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/29/the-11-most-surprising-ba_n_515381.html#slide_image

[iii] Melanie Jones, Banned Books: 7 Surprising Reasons to Censor. International Business Times Online. September 30, 2011. http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/223024/20110930/banned-books-surprising-reasons-censorship.htm

[iv] Pam Gaulin, Banner Books Week: 10 Banned Books You Might Not Expect. Yahoo! News online. September 24, 2011. http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20100924/en_ac/6827290_10_surprisingly_banned_books

[vi] NCTE. Guideline on The Students’ Right to Read. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/righttoreadguideline

[vii] Judy Bloom. Judy Bloom Talks About Censorship. http://www.judyblume.com/censorship.php

[viii] NCTE. Guideline on The Students’ Right to Read.

[ix]  NCTE. Guideline on The Students’ Right to Read.

“Each Peach Pear Plum” by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Each Peach Pear Plum written by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Janet Ahlberg is published by Puffin Books an imprint of the Penguin Group. It was first published by Viking in 1978 and that same year won the Kate Greenaway Medal.

I like this 32-page book because of the detailed illustrations and its interactive text. On the first page the reader is introduced to Tom Thumb by trying to find him in the picture. On the next page it continues with the same character but the reader has to find the next character in the ‘I spy’ game:

Each Peach Pear Plum

I spy Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb in the cupboard

I spy Mother Hubbard

Mother Hubbard down the cellar

I spy Cinderella

Each rectangular page tells the reader who they need to find. All the characters are from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. At the end of the book they come together to eat a plum pie. Combine that with their rhyming text and excellent illustrations it makes for a perfect board book.

The book is made of heavy cardstock perfect for babies to hold and gnaw on but still perfect for one to three-year-olds. The story and illustrations makes it perfect for parents to read to their children.

The text is a large Times font making it easy to read and see for toddlers on the left-side page. On the right side page the illustrations have one character in plain view for everyone to see and the other character hidden in the illustration for the child to find. On the page where Cinderella is dusting the banister, the Three Bears can be found looking through the window. To find them the child has to see past the dog sleeping on the couch; the towel and socks drying at the foot of the stairs; a broom and a mop bucket leaning next to the drying laundry; a flower pot on the windowsill; a fireplace with a kettle sitting over it; and a butter churn.

I obtained the book from the library but it sells for $6.99 which is the going rate for most board books.

Each Peach Pear Plum is a perfect addition to Penguin’s board books. Other books they publish through their imprints are by Eric Carle, Beatrix Potter, Eric Hill’s Spot books, A.A. Milne, etc.

I liked reading this book just to see how the character was hidden in the illustrations. Plus it has the perfect ending for children, all the characters from Tom Thumb to The Three Bears to the Wicked Witch to Robin Hood all gather around a table laughing and eating plum pie.