A lot of us are in a mad rush right now to make sure we have some meaningful gifts for the kids in our lives, or we’re picking out a few items to offer to charities who are collecting gifts for those in our community who have much less than we do. Either way, books are often wonderful options for kids of all ages.
One fun way to find out what young people are reading and enjoying this year is by taking a look at BookTube, which is an enormous community of book enthusiasts on YouTube. BookTubers put out reviews and recommendations of all sorts in the form of vlogs, but YA books are perennial favorites because of the youth of most of the folks doing the vlogging. At this time of year, members of the community are putting together their “Best of 2017” lists, rating everything from science fiction and fantasy to romance to mysteries to how-to and self-help nonfiction books. If you’re looking for recommendations for a particular young person, go to YouTube and try a search of “best books of 2017” or “2017 favorites” and the genre, setting, or types of characters they enjoy. Then watch several of the BookTubers run through their favorites. Right now, BookTubers are voting on their top Young Adult reads of 2017 in a variety of categories via the YA BookTube Awards, so check out those finalists here and follow #YABookTubeAwards on Twitter.
BookTube also includes web series based on books—most famous is the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. BookTubers frequently host read-a-thons in which they challenge themselves and each other to read as many books in a day, weekend, or month as possible. They cheer about their latest book hauls, and they discuss their most anticipated upcoming releases. In general, it’s an enthusiastic group of fans of reading who encourage and support each other.
But in addition to gushing or scathing reviews, BookTubers often delve into political and cultural issues of the moment, including prejudices of all kinds and the lack of diversity on BookTube itself. For example, see mynameismarines’s “Why Is BookTube So White?” Last year (and continuing this year) several BookTubers got together to promote reading diverse literature via a Readathon called #Diverseathon. Like any social media site, there can be hateful and intolerant commenters, and there is a popular category of “Why I Hate BookTube” videos that are worth taking a look at as cautionary tales.
Below is a short list of BookTubers that will give you a taste of what the community has to offer. And if your son or daughter leans in the bookish direction, there are several great tutorials from BookTubers on how to get started creating your own channel, including Little Book Owl’s “How to BookTube.”
- With almost 170,000 subscribers, BooksandQuills is a superstar in the community who lives in London but grew up in the Netherlands. She reads widely in YA and other genres, but also offers interviews about how to organize your library, how literary translators work, and many other topics.
- AWildSanaaAppears is an anime lover as well as a book lover who is especially fond of science fiction and fantasy and has great specific recommendations for kids, including middle grade readers.
- AlessaReads is an 8-year-old BookTuber who is amazingly prolific even though she just started her channel in early 2017.
- BooksandBigHair jumps into wide-ranging discussions of book-related topics, including book conventions and re-reading Harry Potter with questions about class and prejudice in mind.
- If you’d like to feel like a slug when it comes to reading, check out 10-year-old Snazzy Reads and his extraordinary word habit.