Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Memoirs on writing to hand to aspiring teen authors

“How do you become an author?” We’ve heard teens ask that question every time they meet an author – published, famous, or neither. And we’ve all heard the answer too: read. Read everything. Read more. No, even more than that.

Reading is essential. But more than novels, teens who are firmly dedicated to the writing life will benefit from reading some writing on the craft. Here are five books to hand to teens for inspiration and instruction.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird by Anne LamottLamott’s brief classic on writing (and life) is a must-read for teens seeking with a desire to live a life full of creativity. Her approach is gentle and frank, and full of examples and ideas that will spark action.

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Hole in my life by Jack GantosHow much do you want to be a writer? Why? It took a series of crappy decisions resulting in incarceration on a drug offense for children’s author Gantos to really answer those questions. Hand this Printz Honor book to teens who don’t see a path from their current life to the writer’s life.

A Sense of Wonder: On Reading and Writing Books for Children by Katherine Paterson

A Sense of Wonder by Katherine PatersonAnother path to writing for youth by  Newberry Medal and National Book Award winner Katherine Paterson. This essay collection is culled from her many years of work. It gives insight into the books she has written, why she wrote them, and offers comfort and copious inspiration to those who aspire to write for youth.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing by Stephen King

Teens with aspirations of publishing would be well served to learn from one of the biggest publishing successes of our time. King begins his memoir with his path to authorship through poverty and addiction, and into his craft. The second half of the book offers specific instructions and examples of the rules King lives and writes by. Essential reading.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

Reading Like a WriterReading for the pure joy of reading transports us to different places and times. It helps us connect with each other and with ourselves. What teens will learn over time is that reading for the pleasure of reading is only one way to do it. When I started selecting books for the library, I looked at them differently, just like when I started reviewing books. When I began editing books, yet another way of reading emerged. Here, Prose walks readers through the experience of reading as a writer, looking at successful writers and sussing out what it is about their work that allows for us to connect with it as readers.

12 Blogs of Christmas: Go Book Yourself

“I read and loved The Hunger Games, what else do you have like that?” Reader’s Advisory! It’s the heart of what we do.  If a teen comes in and asks me this question, I will jump over the desk in an attempt to get 10 more books in their hands.  But the truth is, sometimes I just don’t know.  I haven’t read the book.  Hey, it happens.  I can’t read everything!  But there is a blog for that!

Blog #2: Go Book Yourself!

Go Book Yourself is, once again, technically a Tumblr that is devoted to RA.  It gives you one title and recommends 4 more that you may like.  And it is very visual, which gets bonus points in my book.  It covers more than just YA, but it does have an easy access YA button you can choose to get only the YA posts.  But let’s not kid ourselves, teens read adult fiction too.  Go Book Yourself has appeared on several posts about Tumblrs for book lovers recently, including over at Buzzfeed.

The posts end up looking something like this; this is a screen shot of their Top 5 YA Novels of 2013 (out of 34 that they read).  Then there is a brief description of each book in the text below the graphic.

The posts are easy to share, making this is a great tool.  And sometimes they put together books that I wouldn’t think to recommend (and sometimes I don’t agree with, but that’s just me).  It’s also a good reminder that we can be using the digital tools available to us to be doing fast, easy and VISUAL reader’s advisory with our teens.