Unique among AAR’s Special Titles Listings, the YA list originally depended on the taste of three readers only. Three teenagers with ties to AAR listed their favorite books – both children’s and YA literature – and that was the first published list. Later, a second part was created, this time along the usual pattern, sorted according to subgenre and filled with nominations from AAR’s readers.
We have been unhappy with the divided nature of the YA list for a while, but resorting it took some effort, and it was only during this Christmas season we finally got around to it.
The result is a unified list. We feel that the focus at AAR should be on romances, so the main criterion for the new YA list is that the books are either romances as such, or that they contain strong romantic elements. While it is not necessary that the hero and heroine end up as a couple, we want to limit the list to those books that have a happy ending, even if it’s not a traditional romance ending.
Many of the titles the three teenagers originally listed were kept, but moved to the subgenre they belong to. On the other hand, books that are obviously written for younger readers, and books that do not contain a strong romance element, were removed.
Because YA titles tend to come in series, in many cases we have listed not the individual titles, but the series titles. The grades of AAR reviews added behind the titles mostly refer to one book in the series, and only occasionally to the whole of the series.
We have also altered the traditional division into subgenres, to make the list more accessible. The first change is the introduction of a Classic YA category. Here we have placed all YA books on the list that were published before 1970.
Traditional Regency romances are not very prominent in the YA field, so we have subsumed them under European Historical Romances. We did the same with Medievals, but might give them their own subcategory again – this depends on how many books you will nominate!
For Contemporaries, we decided to divide the list according to how current the books are: Books published from 1970 to 1999, and then books published from 2000 to the present. And given how abundant Alternative Reality is in YA at the moment, leaving the titles in one list would have made it entirely unwieldy. Here, we decided to divide the titles into six subgenres: fantasy; fairy tale retellings; historical paranormals and steampunk; contemporary paranormals; dystopia; and science fiction.
And last but not least: We asked AAR’s staff for their favorite YA books and added even more great titles to the list. The list has probably doubled in numbers, and while we were entering the various deeply fascinating titles that our colleagues (with the assistance of several daughters and nieces – thank you!) recommended, you can be assured our own wishlists grew longer and longer!
We are happy to present our new Young Adult Fiction list to you, and want to invite you to browse through it and nominate all those excellent YA titles that have not found their way onto it yet. We look forward to seeing your submissions for these lists starting today Wednesday, January 29 and going for the next two weeks ending Wednesday, February 12 at midnight. As a reminder, any additions to the list have to be: (1) the best of the best, (2) stand the test of time, and (3) actually fit the list for which they were submitted.
We are using a new mode of submissions for the Special Title Lists starting with the YA list. As we did with the recent AAR Annual Reader Poll, we are using an external site (surveymonkey) for your entries. Instead of one big blank space in which you list everything, we have divided the ballot by the titles you submit. You will enter in separate spaces for each book the title, author, and reason for submitting the book. Then, we ask you to indicate the subgenre of the title. The ballot has space for you to recommend up to 20 new titles for the list. Have more than 20 recommendations? Just fill out a second ballot. Please note that you do not have to recommend 20 titles. If you have only one recommendation, complete the information for it, and then scroll down to the bottom of the ballot and click on the “DONE” button. Once you have clicked on DONE you will be directed to a standard surveymonkey page. Be assured that if you end up on this page, your submission has reached us.
We hope you have read some wonderful YA books and we look forward to your submissions. You will find the criteria and submission ballot here.
– Rike Horstmann, LinnieGayl Kimmel and Cindy Smith