Could YASD possibly have better timing? On Friday at the Fran Romer Memorial Booktalk Workshop, YASD hosted author/editor extraordinaire Marc Aronson as the keynote speaker. Marc’s book, Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Spice, Magic, Slavery, Freedom, and Science, co-written with his wife Marina Budhos, was recently announced as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes in the category of Young Adult Literature. The March/April 2011 issue of The Horn Book focuses on non-fiction for young readers, featuring Aronson’s article “New Knowledge.” As if that wasn’t enough to make Aronson a serendipitous selection for YASD’s annual spring event, he is also the chair of this year’s National Book Award committee in the category of Young People’s Literature. Kudos to YASD for bringing an internationally known expert in literature for young people to Suffolk County!
Aronson inspired the audience to think of teen literature as something that is constantly evolving and impossible to define unless using clarifiers such as “right now” or “has been in recent years.” According to Aronson, we can never truly label teen literature because as soon as we do, it changes.
Also emphasized was how important non-fiction books (which Aronson suggests we call “reality books”) are when you consider them as handbooks for young people making important life decisions. An example he gave was non-fiction books about war and how teens may use these in determining whether or not they enlist in the armed forces.
Aronson urged us to “look for writing that engages the senses” when we seek quality non-fiction. All of the books selected for the break-out sections – in which librarians practiced their book talking skills – certainly engage multiple senses and deserve a place in our reader’s advisory arsenals.
Many thanks to all involved in putting this memorable morning together and the staff of the Harborfields Public Library for their hospitality. If you missed this program, you can read up on what Aronson has to say at his blog, Nonfiction Matters. YASD kindly donated extra copies of the March/April 2011 issue of The Horn Book to SCLS, and you can request your very own copy from Youth Services.