Kidsbooks, where have you been all my life? When I recently discovered this amazing little bookstore on Vancouver’s West Broadway, it was akin to learning for the first time at 26 that Santa Claus really does exist. A giddy, self-righteous, “holy crap really? This is AWESOME!” kind of feeling.
Within a week I had purchased two tickets to readings hosted by Kidsbooks, one for Scott Westerfeld (author of the Uglies and Leviathan series), and James Dashner, author of the Maze Runner series. Both authors had recently released the final books in these trilogies, and were bringing the YA love to Canada.
-Scott Westerfeld signs books for ravenous fans -James Dashner hams it up
From these two presentations, I learned some juicy little tips and tidbits for speaking to the YA group.
- YA is a helluva big group. Even though the suggested reading age is 12 or 14 for example, there are many kids 4 or even five years younger who will devour the books. This is a good thing to keep in mind when preparing content for discussion.
- SPOILER ALERTS! For the Dashner reading in particular, there was a tendency on the part of the younger kids to excitedly blurt out questions that unintentionally gave away major plot points and surprise endings. Dashner handled this well, pre-empting the questions with urgings to not give things away. I was impressed at how he did this while making the kid feel important and not veering into condescension.
- Visuals—Westerfeld made use of colourful visuals and details about the artwork and its development in the books. Kids really latched on to these descriptions and it kept them engaged throughout.
- A little something for the parents—it wasn’t like these kids were wandering in off the street on their own. Each one was accompanied by at least one parent. If the author can keep the parents and kids entertained and interested, all the better (especially since those parents are the ones with the purse strings). Both of these authors managed to include content of interest to adults very well, interspersed throughout their talks, but not overpowering the kid-centric presentations.
Tips to put in my back pocket for later . . .