My iGeneration: great reads for the cyber-obsessed
By Lauren on July 28th, 2011
I was in sixth grade when my parents installed America Online on our family computer. Given a screenname too embarrassing to mention on this blog (or anywhere else. Ever) a world of new opportunities suddenly opened up. I could easily search articles I was interested in, read synopses of new books, and preview short clips of new music. How times have changed. In days since AOL and dial-up (I can still here the modem connection sound in my head), people today are sharing, streaming and remixing music while staying updated on the news as it gets delivered to RSS feeds or twitter in real time. They’re seeing book reviews and downloading novels to their e-readers simultaneously And while all this is going on, they’ve probably cleared more than a handful of levels of Angry Birds. It’s an iPad, iPad world and authors are constantly coming up with innovative ways to stay plugged into the cultural trends. From multiplatform books to novels that focus on the fun and pitfalls of cyberspace, there’s something for every young reader in the iGeneration.
If fast-paced multimedia adventures are your thing, join fourteen-year-old-Amy Cahill and her eleven-year-old brother Dan, members of the most powerful family the world has ever known, as they race around the world on the hunt for the 39 Clues that lead to the source of the family’s power. The series highlights famous historical figures kicking off with Benjamin Franklin in The Maze of Bones, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in One False Note, Toyotomi Hideyoshi in The Sword Thief, Howard Carter in Beyond the Grave, Anastasia Romanov in The Black Circle, and Amelia Earhart in In Too Deep. And when I say join them. I really mean it. I’m not telling you to go hop a plane, but you can go the 39 clues website and play the online game, become part of the story, and search for clues. All ten books in the first part of the series are available now, and The 39 Clues Part 2: Book 1: The Medusa Plot, will be available on August 30, 2011. (The 39 Clues, ages 8-12).
Author and innovator Patrick Carman has harnessed the powers of the web for greatness and has taken reading to the next level with his book-video hybrid series Skeleton Creek and Trackers, which capture the essence of where and how today’s tech-savvy children are reading. During the hunt for Wikileaks and the ongoing search for rogue group Lulz-Sec, the government sure could use the help of Adam, Finn, Lewis and Emily, also known as the Trackers. In Trackers: Book One, follow four tech-savvy kids armed with high-tech video cameras and esoteric coding skills. The Trackers can find almost anyone, anywhere. Read and watch as the story unfolds through a collage of videos, text, and websites. The most recent book in the series, Trackers Book Two: Shantorian, Adam, Finn, Lewis and Emily move closer to Shantorian, the world’s most dangerous hacker. Or at least that’s who they think they’re tracking. As the four move deeper into the path they’ve found online, they need to find out if they’re the ones tracking down a hacker or being hunted themselves. For Patrick Carman’s thoughts on reading in the digital age, you can read the awesome essay he wrote for Publishers Weekly. (Skeleton Creek and Trackers, ages 9-12).
As you get older, the internet gets a little bit more complicated, especially if you’re a teen/tween navigating all the new social networking sites. Katie Finn’s Top 8 series is geared to the twitter/facebook generation. Focusing on everything from status updates, to cyberbullying, to cyberpranking, the Top 8 books follows seventeen year old Madison MacDonald, her friends, and their adventures involving the facebook-like social networking site, friendverse. In Unfriended, the latest Top 8 novel, Madison finds herself the victim of a cyberprank. It was supposed to be the BSE (Best Summer Ever) for Madison. School’s out, and she has three months of iced-latte-drinking freedom ahead of her. That is, until she discovers that someone is intent on making sure she has the WSE (Worst Summer Ever). Soon, Mad and her boyfriend are broken up, and Mad has been unfriended by her entire Top 8! Mad is determined to make things right again. But it’s not going to be easy. And in order to get her friends—and boyfriend—back, she’s going to have to turn to the last person she can trust. School Library Journal calls Top 8, “Smartly written and totally accessible…wonderfully fun. The author has her finger on the pulse of teens today and is certain to please many of them.” (Unfriended: A Top 8 Novel, ages 12 and up)
When my parents gave me the privilege of my own email account, I was immediately drawn to instant messaging. Despite the fact that my parents put our computer in the family room, where it was in full view, and we had long talks about internet safety—sitting in the security of my house with the computer monitor as a protective barrier, it was easy to forget boundaries—easy to get sucked into giving out too much information. My mistake was small—revealing the name of my crush to a so-called-friend, only to find out later, this friend had about eight other people looking over his shoulder. Ask how quick that spread around school. Lesson learned. I was lucky that was the worst of it. Award-winning author Sarah Darer Littman takes an unflinching look at what happens when an online relationship goes too far. Want to Go Private? is the chilling tale of Abby, a high school freshman who meets kind, funny “Luke” in an online chatroom. Soon Luke becomes Abby’s world as he takes the place of studying, after school activities and real friends. Luke suggests they meet in person, and Abby agrees. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don’t, they may never see Abby again. The Los Angeles Times calls it “…[C]hillingly real…Want to Go Private? is a bold investigation of a potentially lethal, if common, mixture for teen girls: emotional immaturity, technology and emerging sexuality.” (Ages 14 and up).