Review: Read, Remember, Recommend for Teens

Read, Remember, Recommend for Teens: A Reading Journal for Young Adult Book Lovers by Rachelle Rogers Knight. Sourcebooks. 2010. Copy from publisher. Also by the author: Read, Remember, Recommend: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers

It’s About: A book journal for teens that includes a substantial amount of reference material on teen reading: awards, lists, additional reading resources, as well as suggestions on how to write about the books read.

The Good: I track my reading using journals. A variety of blank books; I started doing this before I began blogging. I continue to do it because I don’t blog about every book I read and I like having someplace to jot notes, thoughts, names, quotes.

I first saw the Read Remember Recommend books while searching on Amazon for whether anyone had cited my blog. Mere amateurs have Google Alerts for themselves; to take the level of navel gazing even further, also search for yourself on Google Book and Amazon! So, the combination of loving journals and me, me, me led me to say “yes” when I was offered a review copy of Read Remember Recommend for Teens. And I think that’s enough disclaimer to make the FTC and you, the reader, happy.

The introduction for Read Remember Recommend for Teens lists two objectives: a resource for young adults and their parents; and to encourage parents to read with their teens. This works two ways; the teen who picks this up on their own or gets it as a present will, of course, ignore whatever is written to their parents. As they should. The parent who picks it up for their teen may read it and be inspired to read some great YA books.

The first half of the book is awards and lists. Beautiful, gorgeous, oh my goodness lists. And Knight knows her audience — it’s not just lists, but lists with space to check off whether you “own,” “recommend,” “to read” or “want.” As someone who usually marks up books with lists, it was refreshing to have the room (and permission!) to mark up written right into the book. C’mon, I’m not the only one who has to mark up any list of books they stumble upon, right? I’m not the only one who spends hours doing that, right?

The lists and awards are primarily from the US and Canada, with some from the UK; they include every state list (most states have some type of “teen readers choice” list) as well as some thematic read alike lists. The lists are diverse; for example, included are the Amelia Bloomer Project lists, the Rainbow Project lists, and Urban Lit. Remember that note up front to parents? Knight tells the parents it’s their job as parents to determine what is or isn’t appropriate for their teens. So, she addresses the concerns of those parents who may be concerned, yet also includes all titles for all teens. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too — well played!

Oh, and another disclaimer. Read Remember Recommend includes three awards and lists I’ve personally been involved with: Printz Award (I was on the Jellicoe Road committee), the Schneider Family Book Award Committee (I was on the most recent committee, so that title is not listed in this book, but Knight left “fill in the blank” room to do so), and I participate in selecting books for the New Jersey Library Association Young Adult Services Garden State Teen Book Award List.

The second half of the book is an actual journal. Knight has structured it for books read and “to be read” lists. For books read, Knight provides suggestions on what to record about the book. For example, what was the reason for reading? Who recommended it? What are your thoughts? There is a separate section for Recommendations as well as a Loaner List, for books lent.

I’ll be honest — when I use book journals, I ignore the “how to fill in the blanks” directions and just write what I want. I’m such a rebel, coloring outside the lines! However, I also know from my own process of how I write and think about books that doing so in an articulate way doesn’t “just happen.” How I write about books is largely self taught: trial and error, reading reviews, reading professional resources. Knight provides excellent tools for anyone who wants to be more focused, who wants to put their emotional reaction to a book into words. While I don’t need that type of guidance now, it would have been helpful when I started.

If I were giving this as a gift, I’d give this book along with a blank journal. Read Remember Recommend Teens is a great starting off point and a great reference for awards and lists; then, once the reader gets comfortable with their own book journaling style, the blank journal could use be used to continue writing about books.

The last part of the book is resources for readers, including teen library sites, teen reading sites, blogs (including me!) and author blogs.

This spiral bound journal isn’t the type of book libraries buy, because anything that says “write in me” is not a good investment. However, teen librarians and educators may want to invest in a copy. The lists and award sections — yes, you can find any individually online or in books just about those lists or awards, but it’s terrific to have them all in one place. Plus, because of the thematic lists, it can be used as inspiration for book displays. Because of the structure Knight has given to writing about the books read, this is also a good resource for any type of “how to write book reviews” workshop.

Links: There was a Traveling to Teens Blog Tour this past April.

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