Junior Litwits participate in Teens Top Ten, students provide feedback before publication

More stories from Kaeden Thurber

Starting with four students submitting reviews, junior Brooke Petersen, senior Erin Harrington, junior Kyndal Peck, and junior Kaeden Thurber opened the doors for the Junior Litwits club. The Young adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has a service entitled “Teens Top Ten.” Young Adult book clubs may enter the service by application, to review previously released books. Even though only 15 clubs are chosen throughout the nation, the Junior Litwits was selected as one.

“I’m assuming the quality of the reviews would have been one thing [in becoming one of the 15 book clubs chosen] and another thing was that I provided information on the school demographics as far as what our student population looked like,” Henning said. “It’s the fact that we have a diverse student body and I believe that YALSA wanted a lot of diversity and people who are reading are providing reviews.”

The books sent to the clubs are prone to typos, plot holes and bad character development. Therefore, students get the chance to help authors with the development of their books. This gives the clubs a first chance to read the books before they are on the market.

“No one else is able to read them, and the actual product of the book when it’s on sale might be different from when you read it. You might be able to keep the book and if it gets really popular you can say you got to read it first,” Petersen said.

The club will be sent anywhere from 300 to 400 books this year. Each book club participant has the choice to choose which genre they want to read. The books sent from authors are specifically private to the YALSA club.

“They are not mixed in with the other books in the library, they´re on a cart that is back behind the circulation desk, so somebody has to ask to get them,” Henning said.

After reading each book, members are required to write a review that they will eventually record to the YALSA online website. Students practiced writing reviews in last year´s book club and have been waiting for such an opportunity to apply their knowledge.

“[This opportunity requires] reading with a critical mind, paying attention more deeply to what you’re reading rather than scratching across the surface. We’re really looking more closely into what the author is saying, looking for good quality writing,” Henning said. “Being alert to what separates good writing from not so good writing. Being able to organize your own thoughts and develop your own opinions, and to write both concisely and somewhat professionally to provide a response on what you’ve read.”

The Teens Top Ten Project works towards nominating the top ten books YALSA participants have read and voted on. Any book sent to the YALSA groups, or any book published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 are eligible to be nominated.

“The plot has to be put together and everything, the grammar has to make sense, how people act a little bit relatable to how a person would act,” Petersen said.

Henning said the club is still looking to recruit student readers. While Henning wishes for students to express an interest in and visit the library, Henning wants students to be aware of the work that is required.

“I would like for people to be passing all their other classes. It [the program] does require a lot of outside work and I don’t want students to fall behind in anything,” Henning said. “I don’t want this to take away from them getting their schoolwork done.”

While some might view reading as a chore, junior Sarah Fryhover finds great delight in reading.

“I really enjoy meeting people who also love to read like I do, and also getting to read pre released books,” Fryhover said.