Pub Rants

State Reading Lists

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STATUS: Snowing like crazy in Denver right now. What a concept. Snow in Denver. I thought that only happened on the East Coast. Grin.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WALKING IN MEMPHIS by Marc Cohn

My authors love it when I have to eat my words. And today I had to do just that.

So let me tell you the context for today’s entry. Two years ago when I sold PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles, I actually agreed with the publisher that a trade paperback edition was the perfect format. We pretty much envisioned that it would be teens shelling out their own hard-earned dollars for the novel.

After all, given the uh, rather salty language (all in Spanish!) and the rather um, shall I say realistic content of the novel, there was no way I could see state reading lists picking up this title.

For those of you who don’t know, individual states vote on reading lists that will be required (sometimes just suggested) reading for all school librarians, teachers, and students in the state. As you can imagine, this can be a huge factor for long-term sales success for any titles that land on these reading lists.

Well, given what I mentioned above, I didn’t see it happening for this novel. Well, I’m eating my words because PERFECT CHEMISTRY has been nominated for the Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award.

Silly me. I won’t underestimate our educational system again.


27 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    I loved this book too! Everything about it felt real, and sometimes, reality is just what teenagers need to learn about.

  2. Kristi said:

    Congratulations — you’re having quite the celebratory week! I wish the educational system in Colorado was as progressive as Pennsylvania’s. 🙂

  3. Stephanie Thornton said:

    Ohhh… I’m going to have to check this one out!

    It’s pretty nifty what schools will let kids read these days- my students just finished Angela’s Ashes. My English teachers never would have let me read that when I was in school!

  4. ~kate said:

    I always find when I make those generalized statements that it comes back to bite me. You know like:

    “No, I’m not going to have another baby.” or “My kid would never do that.”

    At least yours has a happy ending. Well, mine too, mostly.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Snow in Denver?! There was no snow when I was there a couple weeks ago. I’ve seen more snow down here in Texas than I have up there!

    Anyways, congrats. This book sounds fabulous! I’m glad more people will be getting the chance to read it now that it’s been nominated. 🙂


  6. kathy said:

    I teach freshman English, and I showed the book trailer for PERFECT CHEMISTRY early in the year. There has been a long hold list in the library ever since, and the librarian had to order additional copies. The kids love this.

  7. Angie said:

    That’s really cool! And weird that I read this entry right after I decided I would go pick it up after work today. I was already soooo looking forward to reading it because of your blog and your bloggers who have talked it up.

  8. Anonymous said:

    I love your blog, and I’ve learned a lot from reading it, but I have to point out a few inaccuracies in this post.

    First, the Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award isn’t administered by the state of Pennsylvania. It’s run by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, which is an independent organization (check out The list of nominees isn’t even close to required reading; it’s simply a list of books that a PSLA committee publishes each year. Students (public, private, and homeschooled) who have read at least 3 of the books on the list are invited to vote. (But there’s no way to ensure that the voting students have read the book they vote for, let alone any of the others on the list.)

    While the PSLA encourages school libraries to purchase the books on the list, participation doesn’t require that they purchase every title; in fact, the PSLA emphasizes the need to check that each books fits the particular school’s guidelines for acceptable materials. Based on my experience with Pennsylvania schools, many won’t purchase that particular book, especially the Catholic and Christian schools (which serve a notable fraction of Pennsylvania students). Most of the homeschoolers won’t, either.

    There is, in fact, no required reading list anywhere in the US that applies to all students. Private schools and homeschoolers have the freedom to select their own materials in every state. I’m actually not even sure there’s a single state with a required reading list for public schools.

    Also, I’m a little uncomfortable saying this, but…I assume you’re referring to the 2010-2011 year, because it’s not on the list for the current year. However, the 2010-2011 list hasn’t been released yet, and the nomination form for YA titles is still active on the PSLA website, so I wonder whether the list is final. And even if it is, should this be mentioned publicly before the official announcement?

  9. Miss Tammy said:

    This week the public library where I work and the local high school had a program that involved a bunch of small book discussions. PERFECT CHEMISTRY was one of the titles that had the best turn-out and most impassioned discussions. (Girls love Alex.)

  10. Stina Lindenblatt said:

    I’m excited to hear this since I love the book. A lot. And word is definitely getting around about the book. I just can’t wait for the sequel. Counting down the days. 🙂

  11. Clarity said:

    I just bought this title today as a direct result of you featuring the opening pages here in January. Yay for Simone, and double yay for for the Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award nominations committee for confounding expectations! Whee!!!

  12. Stephanie said:

    I have to say, it surprised me to hear this.
    I just LOVE this book. I’ve read it twice now. But I can’t hoenstly see it sitting on a book shelf in a school’s library.

  13. Angie said:

    I got delayed on my way to starting this book after I picked it up (funny how kids, work, dogs, housework, and writing get in the way). I started reading it last night about 8pm and refused to go to bed until it was done, which may I say was a little past 3 am.
    LOOOOOOOOOOOVED it. Was totally worth the minimal sleep hangover I woke up with.
    So, where is my Alex?