Young-adult books? Or kids’ books?

What Are Your Favorite Young Adult Novels? asks NPR in its summer books poll. Votes are coming in from adults as well as teens, reports Atlantic Wire.

Readers can choose 10 books from a list that includes “Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat series; Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson; Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making; Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy, Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie; the Betsy-Tacy books; the Anne of Green Gables series, Hold Still by Nina LaCour, Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War and I am the Cheese, Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy; and Judy Blume’s Forever.”

In a post, NPR’s Petra Mayer explains she cut A Wrinkle in Time, Little House on the Prairie, many Judy Blume books and Where the Red Fern Grows, as  “too young” for the category, which includes readers 12 through 18 years old. But A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I read in sixth grade, was excluded for being too mature.

The panelists aimed to include books like Catcher in the Rye, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which have been essentially “claimed by teens” but weren’t initially intended for them.

I‘m not sure Catcher and Lord of the Flies have been claimed by teens. They’ve been assigned to teens. (Count me among those who thought Holden Caulfield was a whiny brat, even when I was 16.)

The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter series and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (teens with terminal cancer fall in love) are front-runners in the poll, so far. The top 100 teen books as selected by readers will be posted on Aug. 8.

Is Encyclopedia Brown Young-Adult Literature? asks Ed Week Teacher, responding to a Flavorwire list of the 10 greatest young-adult series of all time.

The cultural news site included The Time Quintet, the Redwall SeriesThe Earthsea Cycle, and the Artemis Fowl books among their top picks, but excluded The Chronicles of NarniaThe Lord of the RingsHarry Potter and The Hunger Games because, according to the editors, they’re already “so well established” and don’t need to be on a “list like this…”

Commenters are debating the line between children’s books and young-adult books.

Old books in sexy, new covers

ht romeo juliet ll 120628 vblog Sexy Covers Lure Twilight Teens to Capital L Literature


Sexy book covers are luring Twilight teens to the classics, according to ABC News. Romeo “sports a white tank top and a three-day stubble” on the new Penguin edition of Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Publishers hope teens who bought the Hunger Games trilogy, the Twilight series and Harry Potter will give the classics a try, if they’re repackaged as teen romances.

Harper Teen’s new edition of  Wuthering Heights, which sports a red rose on the cover, features a Twilight endorsement. It’s “Bella & Edward’s favorite book.”

Via Instapundit.

Teen birth rate falls again

The teen birth rate has fallen by 44 percent from 1991 to 2010, reports the Centers for Disease Control. Births for teens 15 to 17 years old dropped 12 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Birth rates ranged from 10.9 per 1,000 Asian-American teens to 23.5 for non-Hispanic whites, 51.5 for non-Hispanic blacks and 55.7 for Hispanics. Rates are declining for all groups, but the black teen birth rate has fallen the fastest.

Teens are more likely to use contraception “at first initiation of sex” and to use condoms and hormonal methods, reports the CDC.

Years ago, a Rand study said the best birth control for teenage girls was a “realistic” plan to attend college. Now that nearly all teens plan to go to college — not always realistically — they may be more likely to listen to pregnancy prevention advice.

To unify the family, teen sex sleepovers?

Family life would be happier if U.S. parents let their teen-agers have sex with their lovers at home, argues Amy Schalet, a U-Mass sociology professor, in the New York Times.  For her book, Not Under My Roof, Schalet interviewed 130 white, middle-class, not-very-religious American and Dutch parents.

While American parents think they should “steer teenage children away from relationships that will do more harm than good,” Dutch parents regard teenagers “as capable of falling in love, and of reasonably assessing their own readiness for sex.”

Dutch parents are more likely to talk to their children “about sex and its unintended consequences and urge them to use contraceptives and practice safe sex,” Schalet asserts.

Normalizing teenage sex under the family roof opens the way for more responsible sex education. In a national survey, 7 of 10 Dutch girls reported that by the time they were 16, their parents had talked to them about pregnancy and contraception. It seems these conversations helped teenagers prepare, responsibly, for active sex lives: 6 of 10 Dutch girls said they were on the pill when they first had intercourse. Widespread use of oral contraceptives contributes to low teenage pregnancy rates — more than 4 times lower in the Netherlands than in the United States.

However, “sleepovers aren’t a direct route to family happiness.” Good to know.

The op-ed doesn’t compare sex education, contraceptive use or pregnancy rates for white middle-class Americans and Dutch teens. It’s possible to discuss the risks of sex without providing a bedroom, writes Stephen Kruiser on PJ Media.

A no-sex-under-my-roof policy is a great way to get adult children to move out of the house, suggests Instapundit.

Raise your hand if it feels weird to have sex in your parent’s house with your spouse.  Yes, I thought so.


Teens prefer texting to talking, study says

Today’s teens would rather text than talk, concludes a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey. From the San Jose Merury News:

Leslie Buentello, 17, was sitting around her house Tuesday evening, more or less doing homework, when a serious case of boredom — compounded by the munchies — set in. So she decided to text her friend Isabel, a classmate at Mount Pleasant High School.

“i bought the marshmallows,” she said, thumbing the keyboard of her cell phone nonchalantly. “hee hee.”

“fersuuuure,” came back the immediate reply. “i m eating my yummy soup.”

“i m eating my chili cheese fries,” Leslie replied. “life is good.”

The survey found that 75 percent of teens own cell phones: 88 percent use their phones to text. One in three texters sends more than 100 text messages a day with girls texting at nearly three times the rate of boys.

The reporter asked Nick Ben, a junior,  if he’d “ever tried to take advantage of his parents’ disdain for texting, asking to stay out late by sending a text he figured they wouldn’t read for hours?”

“Actually, I hadn’t really thought about that,” he said. “But now that you brought it up, it’s a good idea.”

San Jose Unified now lets students carry cell phones but insists that they be turned off in class. That’s hard to enforce as more teens develop the ability to type text messages underneath their desks.

“Not all kids are able to text without looking at their phone,” Nick said sorrowfully, as if he were describing a serious disability. “That’s how some teachers are able to spot texting.”

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I used to read under my desk during class.

Sexting is popular

More than a quarter of young people have been involved in sexting — “sharing sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online” — according to an Associated Press-MTV poll. One third of young adults also say they’ve sent or received explicit photos.

. . . 14 percent said they suspect the pictures were shared without permission, and they may be right: Seventeen percent of those who received naked pictures said they passed them along to someone else, often to more than just one person.

Boys were more likely to say that sexting is “hot,” while most girls called it “slutty.” But they still do it.

Teens just gotta text

Today’s hyper-social teens are compulsive communicators, writes Jeffrey Zaslow in the Wall Street Journal.

A 17-year-old boy, caught sending text messages in class, was recently sent to the vice principal’s office at Millwood High School in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The vice principal, Steve Gallagher, told the boy he needed to focus on the teacher, not his cellphone. The boy listened politely and nodded, and that’s when Mr. Gallagher noticed the student’s fingers moving on his lap.

He was texting while being reprimanded for texting.

“Educators who try to be enlightened” have persuaded themselves that texters, twitterers and Facebook checkers have “attention scope” which is just as good as having an attention span. They’re multi-tasking. Others say they’re wasting time on trivia.

Vice-Principal Gallagher can’t get students to leave their communication devices at home. “It’s like talking to kids about why they don’t need air.”

Devoted dads, less risky teen sex

Devoted dads can reduce risky teen sex, concludes a Boston College study published in Child Development. “Risky” means sex without condoms or contraception.

The more attentive the dad — and the more he knows about his teenage child’s friends — the bigger the impact on the teen’s sexual behavior, the researchers found. While an involved mother can also help stave off a teen’s sexual activity, dads have twice the influence.

. . . Parental knowledge of a teen’s friends and activities was rated on a five point scale. When it came to the dads, each point higher in parental knowledge translated into a 7 percent lower rate of sexual activity in the teen. For the moms, one point higher in knowledge translated to a 3 percent lower rate of teen sexual activity.

The impact of family time overall was even more striking. One additional family activity per week predicted a 9 percent drop in sexual activity.

A young father who’d grown up fatherless once told me he took his little girl to McDonald’s every week for a daddy-daughter meal. He wanted her to feel special long before teen-age boys asked her out and expected something in return.

French teens to get state-funded newspapers

To encourage newspaper reading — and help the struggling press — the French government will offer 18-year-olds a free daily copy of the newspaper of their choice, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday.

“The habit of reading the press takes hold at a very young age,” Sarkozy said, presenting the conclusions of several months of talks to an audience of media executives, journalists and officials in Paris.

Newspaper companies will provide copies for free; the state will cover distribution costs.

When I was on the Mercury News editorial board, I urged my colleagues to call for a law requiring all Americans to read a daily newspaper.  It was a joke then.