Sunday, February 28, 2010
Book Review: Dear Author
Dear Author: Letters of Hope, is edited by Joan F. Kaywell, then-president of the 1999 Assembly on Literature for Adolescents. The book is a compilation of correspondence between top young adult authors and kids who have been so moved by a book that they felt compelled to write to the author. It was a wonderful, quick read. I especially appreciated the biographical sketches for each author at the end of the book. In addition to sharing how the authors came to write their books, it also provides brief summaries of their books. I made note of quite a few to add to my endless reading list.
All of the authors included in this selection have written realistic fiction addressing the tough issues teens are facing. Although I haven't read nearly enough of these young adult writers, I was very privileged to work first-hand with one of the authors who participated in this great venture. Nancy Garden was my instructor when I took the writing course via the Institute of Children's Literature. (Side note: The novel I began writing in November - 52K words in, but not yet finished - is a work of realistic fiction and I sincerely believe that it bears a message of hope that some girl out there is needing to read. I long for the day when I might receive a similar letter from a child, explaining how my book was a help to them.)
This book provides an excellent resource, both for teens and the adults who work with them (or who just enjoy YA literature). It covers a wide range of issues that are plaguing our young people today (weight, bullying, racism, prejudice, drug and alcohol addiction, cutting, death, etc.). I believe teens would find this book especially helpful because they can obtain advice and book recommendations for whatever problems they are experiencing.
Moreover, I would consider this a must-read for teachers in the middle-school grades. I don't have as much opportunity to suggest books to students any more (oh how I loved that perk when working at Littlejohn), but I did make note of a book on cutting and plan to suggest it to a young girl I know who is struggling with that. If you care about kids and books that could change their lives, you'll benefit from this great read.