Book Selection Policy

As teachers and librarians have long recognized, students who enjoy what they read will read more. And the more they read, the better they read; they develop larger vocabularies, a greater sensitivity to language, and a keener sense of form, all qualities that result in greater effectiveness in writing.

The Festival Committee, therefore, selects books that have not only high literary quality but also an appeal for junior and senior high school students—books that represent the best in young adult literature. The Committee’s aim in selecting its booklist and in planning all Festival activities is neither to have the students accumulate a particular body of knowledge (as they might, for example, by reading the Great Books series), nor to have them study the standard classics of English or American literature, which are ordinarily a part of the regular school curriculum.

The aims are to encourage students to read more, thereby improving all of their communication skills; to enhance their interest and enjoyment in reading, thereby building pleasurable and positive associations with reading as an activity; to indicate to students that “literature” is not merely an academic course but can and should be an integral part of their lives; to introduce students to authors and works of sufficient calibre to lead students to a recognition of and respect for writing of high quality; and to develop a lifelong taste for works of superior literary quality.

To achieve these aims, the Committee chooses contemporary works or seldomtaught “classics’’ of earlier periods that will ordinarily not be encountered in school classrooms. The preponderance of contemporary works is partly dictated by the practical consideration of the availability of inexpensive paperback editions, partly by the desire to impress upon students that “literature” is not composed merely of works from the past but is being created now.

In choosing works that will fulfill the aims of the reading list, the Festival Committee draws upon such standard sources as the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association and the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English and on recommendations made by YSU faculty, area teachers, and students.

Every spring, the English Festival Book Selection Subcommittee recommends a list of 18–20 book to be read by the English Festival Committee for the following year’s Festival. This list includes works by the guest author and by other noted authors in the field of young-adult literature. Factors considered in book selection include literary quality, cultural diversity, gender of authors and protagonists, historical period, genre, reading level, and cost.

English Festival Advisory Board Members are invited to read the books during the summer and to suggest which ones are both valuable and appropriate for young readers. The final selection is made in early September by the Festival committee. The book list is made up of seven books for 7th–9th graders and seven for 10th–12th graders, with some duplication of titles. The Committee informs local bookstores and area libraries of the Festival book list. The Youngstown and Warren public libraries have each year purchased extra copies of the Festival books, as have many school libraries.

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