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Quick and Popular Reads for Teens
Holley, Pam Spencer (Editor) (2009)
Chicago: ALA
228 pages
ISBN 978 0 8389 3577 4
Available from: www.alastore.ala.org
 
 
Pam Spencer Holley, as past president of the Young Adult Services Association, has prepared an annotated list of recommended books appropriate for reluctant young adult readers (ages 12-18). Quick and Popular Reads for Teens highlights a decade’s compilation of lists recommending books for secondary students who are not avid readers. Although the lists are not new, teacher-librarians and English teachers may not remember the titles and themes as first options. The two reading lists, the focus of this book, are Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (QP) inaugurated in 1982 which identifies titles for recreational reading and Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (PPYA). The aim of the latter is to encourage young adults to read for pleasure from lists of popular or topical titles which are readily available in paperback. The selected titles represent a broad range of accessible themes and genres.
 
The first five chapters or 50 pages of Quick and Popular Reads for Teens have an introductory chapter about teen readers followed by two chapters which review the origin, history and selection processes of the QP and PPYA committees. A chapter on programming, displays and readers’ advisory services offers suggestions for using the lists in libraries as well as further readings. The next two chapters cover fiction and non-fiction, the annotated listings of the titles selected by the QP and PPYA committees from 1999 to 2008. The annotations have all been rewritten to provide more descriptive assistance to teacher-librarians as they provide recommendations to teenagers and develop their collections.
 
Theme based booklists in the final chapter will help with providing displays, producing bookmarks and selecting titles. A useful index has every fiction title listed with authors, titles and subjects interfiled in one alphabet. The subjects are in boldface to distinguish them from the authors and titles. Annotations are indicated by bold page numbers. Clearly, this organisation makes it easy to trace any reference quickly and effectively.
 
Book annotations cover more than 150 pages and are written concisely and to the point, generally one or two sentences long. These fiction snapshots are useful for a quick overview, as book recommendations or for display purposes. Most titles are published in the twenty-first century with a few prior to the year 2000. This is the strength of Quick and Popular Reads for Teens, that it is a compilation of a decade or more of quick picks and popular paperbacks rather than just very current material.
 
The original annotations, written with the teenage reader in mind, are available on the YALSA booklists website – see: www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists/. The annotations in Quick and Popular Reads for Teens have been rewritten to provide librarians with more descriptive information to assist in collection development, readers’ advisory services as well as the creation of displays, booklists and pathfinders. Chapter 4 provides excellent ways to reach out to reluctant readers and draw them into libraries and a reading culture. Programs are devised and incentives for attending such programs are outlined, such as, food, prizes, and academic rewards together with other forms of recognition. Regular outreach programs and activities, for example, book discussion groups and book talking, the use of audio books, DVDs, graphic novels and magazines can all be used with reluctant readers.
 
Importantly, early on in the text the term ‘reluctant reader’ is defined to reflect new guidelines, which remove any possible indication that the reluctant reader may be unskilled. Rather, he or she belongs to one of three reading categories: dormant readers who have other priorities, uncommitted readers who do not enjoy reading fiction but select non-fiction instead, and unmotivated readers who dislike reading but can be convinced with music and poetry magazines. Quick and Popular Reads for Teens is successful in what it intends to achieve, namely, an outline of programs and fine books to appeal to the reluctant reader.
 
Reviewed by Dr. Robin Zeidler
Director of Library Services
The Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership
Melbourne Grammar School