A little background:
I've always loved to read. I was "that kid." The one that had a book open when I should have been doing math. However, it wasn't until I was in college that I started reading "YA lit." I mean, I read some but mostly I was borrowing books from my high school librarian's personal collection (Bless her heart!)
My sophomore year I took a class called "Literature for Adolescents." It changed my life... literally. It was taught by the incredibly knowledgeable and passionate Rob Reid. The man is amazing. We read and discussed so many books! He "forced" us to read from different genres. Before his class I would have told you that I didn't care for fantasy books. Three chapters in to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and I was in the bookstore buying books two and three (four was only out in hardcover and I was broke so I put it on hold at the library!) I love fantasy. It may be my favorite genre. Who knows how long it would have taken me to realize this if he hadn't challenged me to read outside my box. Because of his class and his example I knew that I wanted to be a school librarian. I loved reading and talking about those YA books! Rob, if you're reading this, thank you. Keep doing what you do.
Okay, trip down memory lane over. Here's the list:
Top Ten Authors that Made me Love YA Literature:
1. John Green: There I was, wandering aimlessly through the teen section of the public library, without a book in mind. And then I saw it... a book with rainbow colored silhouettes of girls on the cover and a title set up to look like some sort of math equation. It was a cover I'd seen before, though I was not sure what the book was about. As I read the inside flap I decided to give it a go. Little did I know that this chance encounter would introduce me to one of my very favorite authors. Scarcely a chapter in to An Abundance of Katherines I began searching the internet for more information on this John Green guy and ordering ALL his books (Okay, okay, so at the time there were only two plus Let it Snow... but still!) I was introduced to Brotherhood 2.0, Nerdfighters and Maureen Johnson... Jackpot! I just crack up everytime I read any of John Green's books. I love the way he describes situations, the quirks his characters have, the intelligence with which he writes. Okay Heidi, enough with the gushing! You're making these too long!!
2. Chris Crutcher: I hear "One of the most banned authors" and I know I have to read him! I picked up Deadline at the library and it made me think and laugh and cry (oh man did I cry... even knowing how it was going to end!) Chris Crutcher's books opened up a new side of YA lit for me. They are real and heart-wrenching and oh so good.
3. Tamora Pierce: When I got my job as a librarian in a 7th and 8th grade building one of the first things I did was walk through the library and just pull out random books. One of the first ones I grab was a paperback and I thought, "There is no way a student would check this out!" It had nothing to do with the book but rather the condition of the copy. I read the back to see if it sounded like something I should order a new copy of. The book was Alanna: The First Adventure and I spent the first few months of my new job reading every Tamora Pierce book we had and ordering more. Pierce's worlds just sucked me in.
4. Holly Black: I have no idea where I got Tithe (my first Holly Black book) or why I picked it up but I am oh so thankful for however it happened! I reread Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside at least once a year. These were the first contemporary faerie tales that I read. All I have to say is thank you Holly Black! Also, White Cat is AMAZING and you have to read it. I have much love for Cassel.
5. Melissa Marr: As I was reading Holly Black's faeries I found Melissa Marr's. Oh happy, happy day! I was instantly in love with Wicked Lovely and the characters Melissa Marr shared with me (especially the ever so alluring Seth!) Her writing enchanted me and opened me up to reading other books with not so human characters.
6. J.K. Rowling: J.K. Rowling made me like fantasy stories against my will. She took every wall and preconceived notion I had and shattered them! I honestly cannot think of a fantasy book I read post elementary school and pre Harry Potter.
7. Cassandra Clare: I was down sick for the weekend. The library was closed and I had nothing to read. I ventured out to get cold medication and a book. My local store had a very limited selection of books. One of the only ones without Fabio on the cover was City of Bones (featuring a much more attractive half naked guy.) I had been reading more YA lit at this point. Holly Black and Melissa Marr were favorites. I figured it didn't hurt to try this one too. Of course it sucked me right in. It proved to me yet again that there were strong YA authors out there writing books that readers enjoy and that are exciting. This started me on a book buying binge that I am still working to curb!
8. Ally Carter: How could I not pick up a book called I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You? It was another one of those books that I pulled off my LMC shelves when I first got my job. They were fun and full of contemporary girls who kick butt (literally!) SO addictive!!
9. Sarah Dessen: I was on such a fantasy/paranormal kick. I needed to find books for my girls who wanted stories about girls and boys and life and the things that really happen. Enter Sarah Dessen. Exit any free time I had. I started with The Truth About Forever (the most recent at the time) and then read everything else she had written. I've reread most of them at least once. Sarah Dessen's books are never on my LMC's shelves and they give me such a great way to reach those girls who don't LOVE to read.
10. Robin McKinley: I don't even know where to start here. Beauty and the Beast has always been a favorite of mine so I read Beauty for the Literature for Adolescents class I mentioned earlier. Then I had to read Rose Daughter. And then there was The Hero and the Crown which of course lead to The Blue Sword and so on and so on. You get the picture? McKinley introduced me to the novel length retellings of my favorite fairy tale and new stories I didn't know I was missing out on. She also led me to other authors retelling stories I'd loved (like Alex Flinn, Gail Carson Levine, Donna Jo Napoli, etc...) I can never thank her enough!
These are just some of the authors that got me started loving YA lit. There are so many others out there that keep me loving it...Sarah Rees Brennan, David Levithan, Kiersten White, Sophie Jordan, Carrie Ryan, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Simone Elkeles, Maggie Stiefvater, and many, many more. Had I read them earlier this top ten list would have been even harder (and it was REALLY hard!!!) I hope you've enjoyed it. Now I want to know... who hooked YOU?