Last night, I picked up The Hunger Games because several of my students have read it; and I was curious to know more about this book that is rapidly becoming a cultural touchstone. Somewhere about half way through it, a thought crossed my mind, and I decided to share it with you this morning. Take a look at this list of the best selling books from 2010.
While there are a number of different ways to look at this list, the thing that struck me last night is that I was reading a book intended for young adults. And when that hit me, it got me to thinking about the state of publishing since the advent of the Harry Potter phenomenon that began in 1997. If you look back on the New York Times Best Seller lists dating to that era, the only book oriented towards youth that made the list were the various books in the Potter series.
But now, in the year for which we have the most recent data, over 61% of the top 31 best selling books are written for, published and marketed to adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 to 21. These books include: all three entries in The Hunger Games trilogy, all five books in the Twilight series, six books in the mythologically-based Percy Jackson series, five books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and one stand alone novel.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Maya Angelou, once said: “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
Last night, as I was working my way through The Hunger Games, I couldn’t help but think of Ms. Angelou’s statement; and I found myself wondering: what do you think? Do you think that any book that drives a child to read is a good thing?