Date: Nov 13th, 2012
There is a group of teens in Saint Paul that will soon be helping to shape the publishing industry. Teens in this group will read and review advance copies of young adult books, and their reviews will be submitted to publishers to help guide publishing decisions.
The group is called Teens Know Best, and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) just named them one of their 16 Teens' Top Ten groups. YALSA gathers feedback from these groups to share with over 30 different publishers of young adult books. The group's feedback also determines the YALSA Teens' Top Ten award nominees.
The Teens Know Best program is a partnership of Metropolitan State University and the Saint Paul Public Library. The group has been meeting for nine years. The teens' monthly meetings feature lively discussion and pizza. Now, as a Teens' Top Ten group, they will be receiving unpublished books from over 30 different publishers. Group members' feedback will help guide the publishers' decisions regarding these books. The books that the group reads are kept in a locked room at Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center; Teens Know Best members get special library cards to allow them access to the collection that library staff isn't even allowed to read.
In addition to having influence in the book world, Teens Know Best members get to hone their abilities to think critically and offer constructive criticism - "I like it" isn't enough to convince a publisher. The group hosts publishers, editors, and authors who come not only to share with the group, but also to learn from them.
"This process is very empowering - for all concerned," says Adela Peskorz, a Metropolitan State University Professor Emerita and Teens Know Best founder. Peskorz coordinates the group along with Marika Staloch, Youth Services Coordinator at Saint Paul Public Library.
Teens Know Best has approximately 45 registered members, with 20-30 teens attending each meeting. Teens often join as soon as they are old enough (12) and remain in the group through their adolescent years.
Teens Know Best is open to all teens interested in reading and evaluating books. The group meets the second Tuesday of every month in room 302 of Metropolitan State University Library, 6:30-8:30 p.m. In order to receive access to advance copies of books, participants must provide identification indicating that they are 12-18 years old.