Stacey Loscalzo

Apr 30

Why I Am Mad at the New York Times Best Seller List

by Stacey

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Anyone who knows me or has read even a tiny bit of this blogs knows that I am big fan of reading and books. I read all sorts of things from fiction to memoir to chick lit. I am especially fond of children’s books. I love picture books, easy readers, early chapter books and middle grade. Typically when friends (or in the past, clients) talked to me about their children’s reading preferences, I would celebrate any book. “As long as they are reading”, I would say.

Therefore, I find it a bit ironic that lately, I have been having a very strong reaction to the New York Times Best Seller list. My anger is directed toward the middle grade list. I love middle grade books. For those of you who have been reading along with me, think recently to The Riverman, A Snicker of Magic, Under the Egg, Counting by 7s, The Real Boy and Paperboy. And think back to Wonder, Because of Mr. Terrupt, See You at Harry’s and Out of My Mind. There are some really amazing middle grade books out there right now.

So now, enter the New York Times Middle Grade Best Seller List. First, the good. Wonder, The One and Only Ivan and Flora and Ulysses are on the list and they’ve been on the list for a long time.  There are a few titles that I have not read like Ever After High and A World Without Princes. I don’t read a lot of fantasy so I don’t know a lot about these books but I’ll just throw out there that a little research did reveal that Matel has a line of Ever After High dolls that look a tad scary. There’s also The Finisher by David Baldacci who is best selling adult author. Could be interesting. I wonder about the two books by Rush Limbaugh that are on the list. I have not read them and admit that I am letting pre-conceived notions impact my thoughts a bit but I do know that Rush is not a children’s author.

And then there is the number one best selling middle grade book. Frozen by RH Disney. And just in case you think that Walt Disney has a relative who is has brought the imaginative gene to literature don’t get too excited. The RH stands for Random House.

With all the amazing literature out there right now for middle grade readers, the number one selling book is a movie adaptation written by a publishing house. I have lots of goals in my life right now but I am starting to think that one of them needs to rise to the top. I have to find a way to connect parents and children to the remarkable children’s literature that exists today. There has to be a way to fight the commercialization of everything but most importantly literature. We wonder why children are not reading the way ‘they used to.’ Maybe it’s because they aren’t getting to the good stuff. Maybe it’s because the big money machines are putting books that are really movies in to their hands.

It’s hard to resist the joke that is sitting right in my hand so I’ve got to do it. I really don’t think this is a time when I should say “Let it Go”. I think this is a time to act. If you are a parent of a middle grade reader, please go out and buy some of the really good books that I listed above. Let’s change the current truth and celebrate the literature.

 

10 Comments

  1. Kristen says:

    I’m right there with you on this one. Mine’s only 6.5 so still not quite a middle grade reader, but certainly the media-influenced “books” are in her face already. A few years ago I fired off a very terse email to the president of Scholastic, admonishing their company for these purported book sales at the schools (and, at the time, at my daughter’s preschool) that are chock full of books that come with toys, books that are essentially print versions of TV shows/movies, and the like. I want my daughter to enjoy the book fairs as much as I did when I was a child, but unfortunately it’s come to me having a “No [Barbie/My Little Pony/Frozen/???] Books” policy when I send her in with money for the fair. She gets it and understands (and believe me, she gets these kinds of books anyway as gifts from well-meaning, but uninitiated loved ones outside our home) but the point is she shouldn’t have to. She should be able to access quality reading from a publisher’s book fair, right? It’s increasingly like that at our local Barnes & Noble, pretty much the only bookstore within a 20 drive right now. It’s honestly enough that I am going to start driving further/taking the subway into the local booksellers that seem to do a better job at ferreting out (or at least minimizing) the kinds of books you rally against here. I am so with you on this. What can we do!!??? There must be something other than drop in the bucket boycotting…

    • Melinda Sohval says:

      I am long past the mother of middle school kids, but I love your courage and message, you go girl!

    • Stacey says:

      Oh Kristen… I really am thinking and scheming and planning. There has to be something we can do, right? I feel so lucky to have a very high quality children’s bookstore in a neighboring town and the time to invest is researching great literature for our girls. My goal is to try to find a way to get the good books out and visible and easy to find for those who don’t have the time and experience that I have. Really thinking hard on this one… Let me know if you have any ideas!!!

  2. Oh that’s frustrating! I adored books growing up, still do – that’s never going to change. Am so grateful my girls (4.5 and 2.5 years) love reading / sharing books too, and I really hope this will continue. I’m sure book selection will have a lot to do with them continuing to read, and being inspired by the written word too. Great post Stacey xx

  3. Sandy Sullivan says:

    I didn’t see you there but I hope you went to the Julie Andrews and Emma Hamilton book event. They seemed so knowledgable about children literature and have many resources to devote to the cause. As I was watching their open discussion on stage, I was thinking “Stacey Loscalzo would have been the perfect moderator!” So I’m sensing a return to your original calling? 🙂

    • Stacey says:

      Sandy- I’m sad to say, I wasn’t there. Not sure I knew if was open to the public? Wish I had been there- it sounds amazing! Hope you are well- it’s been too long since I’ve seen you!

  4. I’m having the same problem with finding chapter books for my 6 year old. It seems like the really good stuff is hidden behind all the promotional content…my background in libraries means I know how to find that good stuff, but not everyone does 🙁 I’ll rally with you when you decide what to do!

  5. Nina says:

    Right there with you!

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