Where Are The Non-Celebrity Authors?

Something’s been bothering me and I feel the need to write about it. Since Jack was born (and I’ve been waking up MUCH earlier) I’ve started watching TV morning shows like Good Morning America and Live! With Kelly and Michael. They interview authors often, but lately they’ve interviewed some YA authors. I’m happy to see YA novels receive more coverage, but what bothers me is that celebrity authors are being interviewed.

If you’re like me then you view YA authors as celebrities, so you might wonder why I’m bothered by these authors being interviewed. Over the summer Kelly and Michael featured After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Rob DeFranco. When I saw this book in the line-up I was geeked because I thought maybe Barry Lyga would be on the show. Nope, they interviewed Peter Facinelli. Just this month Shay Mitchell was on Live! With Kelly and Michael talking about her YA/NA novel Bliss: A Novel. It seems like Good Morning America is more apt to interview authors who write novels for adults, like today they interviewed Michael Strahan about his new book.

I have nothing against Peter Facinelli or Shay Mitchell. I’m happy to see authors and their novels receiving national coverage. I’m especially happy to see YA novels earning such wide attention; hopefully those books will land in more teen’s hands now. But why can’t non-celebrity authors be interviewed on morning shows or national TV in general? Aren’t their books worthy of more attention? Don’t viewers read books other than those written by actors? How do we make this happen?

If any television producers happen to be reading my little blog (ha!), here are some YA authors my students love who write books that you should consider featuring on your shows:

Jason Reynolds–His newest book, All American Boyswhich he co-wrote with Brendan Kiely–is timely, important and powerful.

David Levithan–Besides the fact that I could listen to him talk for hours, he’s so smart and deeply insightful. His books make my teens think in ways they may not otherwise.

Gae Polisner–What I love about Gae is that she truly loves teens. She bends over backwards to connect with them, especially teens who are aspiring authors. Her most recent release, The Summer of Letting Go, has been so popular I haven’t seen my copies since the school year began.

Courtney Summers–Courtney understands how complex teen girls are. Her novels are loved by my students because they’re raw and real and deep. Her newest novel, All the Rage, zooms in on rape culture in ways that many books do not but should.

Julie Murphy–I haven’t told anyone this, but I had a dream a few weeks ago that Julie Murphy was being interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel. How cool would that be?! Dumplin’ is a book that should be featured on TV because of its focus on being body positive and being so appealing to teens in general.

Kwame Alexander–Um, he wrote a Newbery award-winning novel, so why HASN’T he been on national television?!

Cinda Williams Chima–Fantasy is always a popular genre and Cinda Williams Chima writes FANTASTIC fantasy series! Why not feature an author who writes fantasy that Lord of the Rings fans will love?

Sherman Alexie–He’s a well-known author in the publishing world. His YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been banned or censored multiple times despite its need to be in the hands of teens. Sherman Alexie would be great to interview because of his insight on censorship and the need for diversity in the publishing world.

Rae Carson–Rae is another fabulous fantasy author. Her newest release, Walk on Earth a Stranger, is a stunning piece of fantasy historical fiction that’s on the Young People’s Literature National Book Award longlist.

Libba Bray–She’s too smart and her writing too brilliant NOT to be featured on television.

I could go on and on with this list, but I’m going to stop here. Let me know in the comments which authors you’d love to see on national TV!

Top Ten Tuesday: Contemps I’d Love to Teach

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

I’ve been really fortunate in the past few years to teach some great young adult novels. I’m teaching in a new district this year, and as far as I know, we don’t teach any young adult novels. Hopefully I can change that in the future 🙂  This list is going to be based on what I have taught and what I’d like to teach.

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Goodreads)–This is a great book to pair with Of Mice and Men which my former district started doing a couple years ago.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (Goodreads)–This is a fabulous book. Marcelo has Aspergers and sees the world in a completely different light than the average person. We paired this us up with To Kill a Mockingbird since both are coming of age novels.

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (Goodreads)–This isn’t exactly realistic fiction since there’s an element of the supernatural, but it’s a fantastic book that I’d love to teach in a unit dealing with empathy.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time  Indian by Sherman Alexie (Goodreads)–This is a great book to teach when discussing racism, coming of age, and more. We also taught this with To Kill a Mockingbird.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Goodreads)–If you haven’t read Wonder yet, I really hope you do soon. This may be middle grade, but many of my sophomores read this last year and loved it. I’m reading it to my seniors and one class of sophomores this year at the start of the year to help build our classroom community. I have a bulletin board in my room with the words “Choose Kind” to add to our read aloud experience. I want my students to think about those two words inside and outside my room, so I have paint chips at the bottom of the board for them to write moments of kindness on and post on the bulletin board.  Wonder could be used in a bullying unit, in a community unit, etc.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Goodreads)–Again, this isn’t exactly realistic fiction, but it’s such an excellent, beautiful book. I’d love to teach this as an introduction to allegory before introducing my students to Lord of the Flies.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads)–There are multiple possibilities for the placement of Speak in schools. I’ve taught it to freshmen who were repeating a trimester of English 9, which went over very well. I’d also teach it with The Scarlett Letter or use it as a read aloud during that unit.

I would love to create a Young Adult Literature elective in my new district. Here are a few titles I would consider teaching since I love them, they have a strong message, strong characters, etc.

Winger by Andrew Smith (Goodreads)–There are so many reasons that I want to use this in a YA Lit class. So many.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Goodreads)–Astrid is a wonderful character. I love that this book speaks to the importance of not labeling people.

The Spectacular  Now by Tim Tharp (Goodreads)–I have mixed feelings overall about this book, but it’s an excellent example of a character with addiction. I think it would promote a wide variety of discussions in a YA Lit class.

Banned Books Week: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Banned Book: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Where/Why It’s Been Banned: Banned in the Stockton, Mo. School District (2010) because of violence, language, and some sexual content. Retained in the Helena, Mont. School District (2011) despite a parent’s objection that the book contained “obscene, vulgar and pornographic
language.” This New York Times bestseller won the National Book Award in 2007 in the “Young People’s Literature” category. (Source–Quote taken from the ALA banned books resource page.)

My Thoughts: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a spectacular book that’s full of heart.  Yes, there’s violence, poor language, and a brief piece of sexual content, but Junior is a dynamic character that readers can learn from.  The violence stems from racism, both on and off the reservation.  Junior values his education, but making the choice to attend school off the reservation is a tough one because it makes him look disloyal and like a traitor.  It’s hard for his family, friends, and community to understand his motivation.  Watching Junior acclimate to his new environment at the new school is at times heartwarming and heartbreaking, but it’s ultimately hopeful.  This book is so much more than violence, poor language, and sexual content.

If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do.  We added it to our freshman curriculum last year which turned out to be a huge success.  It was so popular, we had to order more copies to appease our students.  And it really helped our students connect with To Kill a Mockingbird.

Student Response: This quote comes from one of my seniors, Austin.  “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is banned for several reasons including sexual content and plain truth about school.  I think it shouldn’t be banned because we say and think way worse things than what’s in that book.”

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