We love best-of book lists, and National Public Radio has just released a great one. After inviting listeners to nominate their favorites, NPR has published a list of the best 100 novels for young adults.
The selection process was an interesting one, inviting ire from NPR fans who couldn't believe that favorites like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret were left off the list. Judges managed to narrow the list of over 1200 nominees down to 235 finalists, in part by holding firm to the idea that “young adult novels” are books intended for readers between the ages of 12 and 18. Therefore the Little House on the Prairie books, all winners of the Newberry Award, and many other much-beloved tomes, were deemed too juvenile for a vote of this nature. Books written for adults but read by many young adults, such as classics like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Jane Eyre, were also given the ax, though it seems that the judges were unable to part with some titles intended for adults; Dune and Catcher in the Rye both made the cut.
The list of finalists is an eclectic blend of timeless and contemporary titles that vary hugely in sophistication, reading level, and theme. Literature snobs may turn up their nose at some of the results (Twilight? The Vampire Academy??), but parents and educators of reluctant readers will rejoice that the list contains books the teenagers in their lives may find more accessible than the oft-recommended classics on the list (like The Giver, A Separate Peace, and Lord of the Flies). The list is also a great place to turn for fresh ideas. We’re willing to bet you've never even heard of the winner of the fourth place slot. Whether teenagers are looking for a way to pass the few weeks left before school begins, or planning ahead so that they’ll have their mandatory recreational selection in place when classes begin, this list is an excellent place to begin.
100 Best-Ever Teen Novels (NPR)