YALSA 2008 Young Adult Literature Symposium

While this blog posting is at least a week overdue, I wanted to share what a rejuvenating experience the first YALSA conference was last weekend in Nashville. There was an energy and an eagerness in the air that was palpable – a welcome refresher at a stressful time of year, a time when day-to-day operations can make us forget why we do what we do.


We spent the majority of the weekend talking about teens and what they are reading now. Rollie Welch did a presentation about urban/street lit that was as entertaining and informative as it was heartfelt. Linda Braun was so excited about all the reading going on with new technology that I thought she might actually leap out of her skin. The author of American Born Chinese, the congenial Mr. Gene Luen Yang, spoke artfully about his craft of writing a graphic novel, as well as about how today’s teens interact with a text as well as read it (i.e. fanfiction, etc.). The multitude of authors present (David Lubar, Margaret Haddix, Patrick Jones, to mention a few) had the crowd of librarians star-struck, chuckling, and riveted to their every word.


With that in mind, I humbly encourage you to attend the YALSA conference when it comes back around in two years (or any conference that rejuvenates your passion for books). I was most impressed with all of the presentations I attended and the resources I gleaned from the weekend. And speaking of resources, here are a few for the hands-on folks that find my philosophical ramblings and YALSA-praising tiresome!


  • Wordle.net: Generates very cool “word clouds” from text you dump in. Careful – if you go to this site you will get addicted! I’ve already created new Dewey signs with this one.
  • Wordia.net: Redefining the dictionary with short videos created by anyone. Like YouTube for Scrabble dorks. Some of them are hysterical. Too bad my district blocks this one!
  • YALSA website: A wealth of information, but be sure to click on the booklists links and find the Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers and Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Two excellent resources.
  • YALSA wiki: LOTS of info and links to wonderful resources.
  • Bookmark ideas: If you like Twilight, try these titles…, books under 200 pages, If you liked Gossip Girls…, and so on.


So many moments made this conference a memorable experience. In the course of one presentation someone mentioned having a teen board for as many things as possible and (duh!) that’s what was missing from my website redesign. I found out that zombie books are apparently going to be the next big thing in YA lit. I discovered that Samuel Pepys diary has been turned into a blogand some singing group called the Smittens has a song that begins “I love my librarian….” But mostly I came back with a renewed passion for the thing I love most – getting good books in kids’ hands and providing them (one can hope) with a positive reading experience.


Holly Frilot

Collins Hill High School

Suwanee, GA


About Buffy J. Hamilton

I am a writing and Language Arts teacher who loves learning, literacy, stories, learning, dogs, poetry, fabulous shoes, and good lip gloss. I began my career as a high school English teacher in 1992 and then became a high school librarian and 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker before returning to the classroom in August 2016.

Posted on November 17, 2008, in Conferences, Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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