The Persnickity Snark FIVE Challenge: FIVE Great Miracles that Got Me to Read YA Lit

I've decided to join the Persnickety Snark in her FIVE Challenge. Basically, there she has established a list of categories for each day leading up to the new year. Here are the lists that she has planned:

December 21 - 5 Great Debuts
December 22 - 5 Great Covers
December 23 - 5 Great Series
December 24 - 5 Great Re-Reads (books you've LOVED so much you went back for more)
December 25 - 5 Most Anticipated (2011 titles)
December 26 - 5 Hopes for YA in 2011
December 27 - 5 Great YA Movie Deals
December 28 - 5 Great Author (in the flesh) Moments
December 29 - 5 Great YA Bloggers
December 30 - 5 Great Miracles that Occurred to Get Me Reading More (choose your genre)
December 31 - 5 Best Titles for 2010 (which I double because 5 is too hard)

Today's topic from the Persnickety Snark is "5 great miracles that occurred to get me reading more" of a certain genre. I read all sorts of genres of YA because my whole purpose in reading YA (besides the fact that I love it) is to bring it to my students. So, I read whatever I think the teen boys and girls, aged 13 to 19 that I teach, will love. And that's a whole lot.

What is more interesting to me is how I came to love reading YA at all. When I discovered YA, I was an English major who loved modern, multicultural, and world lit. But, there were a few "miracles" that occurred in my life that changed my focus from reading heady adult books exclusively to reading books for teens. Here they are:

1. Taking a great course on YA lit for my undergrad program. Can you imagine getting to read YA for class? I had to read 15 books, all self-selected. Everyone did. So, each week we gave a "book talk" and got to hear about what everyone had read the previous week. It was awesome to be submerged in all sorts of new titles and authors. (This was about 11 or 12 years ago, though, so many of our current faves weren't published yet).

2. Reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is the one book that made me realize just how important reading actual YA with teens is. I read it before I was a teacher and knew that students needed to read quality books like this one. I have taught this book for several years now, and it still moves the teens in my classroom. It is real and honest and well-written and important.

3. Seeing the excitement of students who grow to love reading. I teach teens who are labeled "at-risk," which basically means that they may drop out of high school. Many students come to me as freshmen having never read a book all the way through. My job, as I see it, is to find the book that will make them readers. Maybe not all-the-time readers, but at least have had that one book that they couldn't put down. That feeling is good enough to last a lifetime.

4. Starting the Chick Lit Book Club at our high school. More than five years ago, a library aide approached me with the idea of starting a book club for teen girls. We're now in our fifth year, have about 20 girls and 7 adult women, and read one book per month. It's amazing. This club has brought together teen girls from a variety of "cliques" in our school and it's considered cool to be part of this club. It's pretty awesome.

5. This blog! This forum is a real help to me. I participate in discussions with all sorts of readers from all over the world. I hear about books before they come out and am better able to decide which books are going to appeal to my teen readers. I started this blog on a bit of a whim last year, after my classroom blog got too crowded with YA stuff. Now, it's a huge part of my life.

Thanks for reading and participating in this blog. You have no idea how great this is for my teaching and for my students. It's great to show them that there are readers all over the globe who come together to chat about books. That's the "miracle" of the blogosphere and YA lit!