Finding YA book recommendations through a flow chart

Janene1-150x150By Janene Hill, Young Adult Librarian

More and more I talk to adults who are reading Young Adult literature. A phenomenon which delights me to no end! It is great to see those beyond their teen years read materials aimed at teens. I believe it is a testament to the quality, variety, and pure number of materials now being produced for teen readers. Many times, with teen and adult readers alike, the problem is finding that next title that will truly interest them and keep them coming back.

Earlier this summer, I was sent a link by a colleague for a graphic titled “Are You New to YA?” It was a flow chart plotting recommended books, series, and authors for those who have dipped their toe into the endless pool that is YA fiction but don’t know where to go now. I was so excited to see all of the great recommendations it contained and the possibilities it would open up for readers looking for something new. The chart was posted on the book review blog stackedbooks.org. The site states that it reviews “books for readers while simultaneously enticing non-readers to think about reading in fun and interesting ways.” Founders of the blog include: Kimberly Francisco – “a public librarian with a weakness for genre fiction”; Kelly Jensen – “a compulsive consumer of all things books and blogs”; and Jen Petro-Roy – “a voracious reader and 17 at heart.” The three review a wide variety of genres, styles, and formats, including audio and digital books, videos, music, zines, graphic novels, and more. The “Are You New to YA” chart was featured in a column that runs a few times a month, called “So You Want to Read YA” which is written by guest authors to the blog. This particular post was contributed by the creators of another book blog, www.thereadventurer.com. Below is the introduction to the chart by “The Readventurers,” Catie, Flannery and Tatiana.

The three of us have only been blogging together for a short time and we’ve never actually met in real life, but all of us are around the same age (in the adult years…other than that we’re not commenting) and we all love to read young adult literature.  In fact, that’s pretty much what brought us together – that and an obsessive love of Goodreads.com.

They came to the conclusion, that most adults enter the YA arena through one of three avenues:

a) Harry Potter

b) Twilight

c) The Hunger Games


I also find this to be true. Most often it is because of the pop-culture popularity of these series. All have been among the best-selling books for weeks and even years, they all have movies based on the books, and they all seem to appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests. These three series have helped to break down whatever barriers or stereotypes may have been in place in regards to teen fiction. Catie, Flannery and Tatiana say they wanted to use these three entry points to help readers be able to explore further into YA.

The journey through the chart begins with one simple question – Are You New to YA?

Where you go from there is based on one of three answers:  Yes; I’ve tried one or two but I want to try more!; and No, it’s old hat to me.

From there it is a matter of deciding on what genres, themes, and quirks of books appeal most to the reader. With lots of stand-alone titles, series, and authors on the chart, almost anyone should be able to find something that would appeal to them. More often than not, there are two or more recommendations along the way.

This is a sample of a pathway search I did:

Are You New to YA?
I’ve tried one or two but I want to try more!

Was the one you tried The Hunger Games, Twilight, or Harry Potter?
It was HG.

Do you want to read more dystopian?
No.

Fine, we wanted to work harder anyway! Which of these genres do you prefer?
Historical Fiction

We’re assuming you’ve read The Book Thief?
Yep!

A little sci-fi, romance, mystery, or none of those?
Romanceread authors Eva Ibbotson & Susan Dunlap

Interestingly, I don’t believe I’ve ever read either of these authors! So, even for someone who has read many, many YA books, there is something new to be found.

Click here to see the complete flow-chart. This is such a great tool, I know I will be using it to get recommendation ideas in the future.

Posted in: For Teens, Mercury Column

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