NPR’s Top 100 Teen Reads

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We’ve all seen them – the lists circling around Facebook and the like challenging us to see how many of a certain thing we have experienced. The “Movie List Challenge,” the “Exotic (read disgusting) Food Challenge,” and the always fun “the BBC thinks you have only read 15 books on this list” list.

It seems we are always being asked to measure our experiences against those of the supposed general public. Then, we can congratulate ourselves when we score better than the BBC thought we would.

Last week, a new list joined the fray. NPR released their list of the 100 Best Ever Teen Novels, as voted on by the 75,220 people who participated in their poll.

Each year, NPR compiles a list of the 100 best novels in a given category. Past genres have included sci-fi and thrillers, and with young adult novels ranking as the fastest growing publishing category, it was a no-brainer that this year’s list would be devoted to teen reads.

Guess who’s No. 1.

About a month prior to the unveiling of the list, the folks at NPR began by accepting nominations of books for possible inclusion. The nominations were then turned over to a panel of expert judges, who removed certain selections from the running due to subject matter and age-appropriateness, then continued on to whittle down the thousands of titles to a list of 235 finalists.

While no one can deny the qualifications of the aforementioned experts – they included the children’s book editor at the New York Times Book Review and the chairman of the committee to select this year’s YALSA list of the best young adult fiction, among others – the “appropriateness” of certain titles has definitely sparked a debate.

Many were shocked to find that the beloved novel “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card was stricken from the running for being too violent, while the more recent “Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, and “Divergent” by Veronica Roth – both of which showcase child-on-child violence — made the list.

The appropriateness of the selection process aside, once the finalists were announced, voters were able to select their Top 10 from the list. Votes were then tallied, and the NPR-endorsed list of the best teen novels of all time was born.

When the list popped up in my news feed, I knew this was it. Top 100 teen novels? I was going to own that list! As I scrolled through the top portion of the list, I felt pretty accomplished. I had either read, in some instances more than once, or was familiar with all the books. As a parent of budding young adults, not to mention a book lover, I tend to pride myself on these things.

As I continued down the list however, my sense of bravado started to falter – I had never even heard of some of these titles, and yet, here they were, bona fide Top 100ers.

While I suspect some dangling chads may have been involved in the voting process, I realized that maybe it was time to explore some new reading material.

Of course, lists such as these are always subjective, and there are many incredible reads not included, as well as several on the list that just don’t appeal to me, but there were also quite a few that have made their way into my reading queue.

And now, the gauntlet has been thrown: How many of these books have you read?

The Top 5:

1. “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling

2. “The Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins

3. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

4. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

5. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien

For a complete listing of the 100 Best Ever Teen Novels, visit npr.org/series/summer-books/

 

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