An English Teacher shares his top 30 YA authors (with a very biased number one)

Okay, I need to put a disclaimer on this post. The English teacher who produced this top thirty list is … my dad.

Hence the number one!

I was tempted to ask Dad to redo the list, WITHOUT me in the top spot but I’m actually really touched by how proud he is – and it is probably the only time in my life I’ll be in a “best of” list ABOVE the other amazing authors features here!

Apart from the very biased number one, I think Dad has produced an incredible list. Dad’s a teacher with over thirty years experience working with young people. He also manages his school library, along with his wonderful technician, Julie. I spent many, many hours in that library as a kid devouring novels by almost all the authors on this list and I agree with every selection he’s made.

That said, Dad is a firm believer in “the right book for the right reader”. He acknowledges that not every child will find all writers accessible. Dad is a champion of the “reluctant reader” (I am using this term … reluctantly) and never tries to force his students to read “literary” fiction. Many of the authors on this list are award winners. Some of them are authors I believe SHOULD be award winners, if awards recognised books that turn kids on to reading, thrill them, excite them and entertain them without necessarily being “Great Works Of Literature”.

Dad believes, like I do, that what’s important is that kids read and love it. It’s less important that they read books that adults deem “quality” and “worthy”. Dad instilled in me a love of reading for pleasure that has stayed with me to this day and means I am just as comfortable on the bus reading Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging, Twilight or Hocus Pocus and the Stinky Pong as I am reading the latest Geraldine Brooks or a Thomas Hardy classic. Reading should be fun, not a chore. I’m grateful that Dad taught me that, and I know his current students are thankful for that attitude, too.

My “right books” ranged from Tamora Pierce to Steven Herrick to Ann M Martin to Nick Earls to Judy Blume to Robin Klein. I loved The Babysitters Club just as fervently as I loved Sonya Hartnett and Jane Austen. Who says you have to choose? Dad never forced me to, and I’m so grateful.

But what do you think? Who was your favourite author as a teenager? What writers would you recommend to teenagers? Do you believe there is a “right” book for every reader?

Here is Dad’s list. Numbers two to thirty are all writers I adore. Number one is a daughter very grateful for her inspiring father.

Steven Herrick
  1. Kate Gordon
  2. Steven Herrick
  3. Nick Earls
  4. Nan Chauncey
  5. Tim Winton
  6. Colin Thiele
  7. John Marsden
  8. Ivan Southall
  9. Maureen McCarthy
  10. Sonya Hartnett
  11. Morris Gleitzman
  12. David Metzenthen
  13. Kathryn Lomer
  14. Anthony Hill
  15. Meme McDonald
  16. Melina Marchetta
  17. Colin Bowles
  18. Doug McLeod
  19. Libby Gleeson
  20. Thurley Fowler
  21. Brian Caswell
  22. James Maloney
  23. James Aldridge
  24. Simon French
  25. Victor Kelleher
  26. Robin Klein
  27. Mary K Pershall
  28. Maureen Stewart
  29. David McRobbie
  30. Patricia Wrightson

What do you think of Dad’s list?

10 thoughts on “An English Teacher shares his top 30 YA authors (with a very biased number one)

  1. Thanks for the update, Kate. I’m impressed that they’re all Australian writers. (Michael Grant won’t fit! – but Paul Jennings and Garth Nix will). We have so many great writers here, but I haven’t heard of all the ones listed – I’ll have to hop to it myself. More books to read? Oh dear, how sad, never mind. Next one please.
    lol šŸ™‚


  2. Sounds like a great list I need to get into – I’ll admit there are quite a lot I haven’t heard of. And there are a heap of really good writers now, for all age groups.
    But I have to admit confusion – I thought YA fiction was looking at older high school age kids, year 9 and up, and often dealing with the issues facing or near them as they grow towards adulthood and start dealing with life on a broader spectrum. Of the list I know Robin Klein wrote these sorts of books, and John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, but his other books are for much younger kids, as are the other familiar authors – Tim Winton, Morris Gleitzman, Nan Chauncey… I would have thought authors like Matthew Reilley (who got teenage boys reading in the way JK Rowling did for littler kids), Michael Grant with the Gone series, and Looking for Alibrandi…. were more of what I thought YA fiction was.
    I can only figure I’ve got it mixed up somewhere down the track. Can you set me straight? Are there a list of categories? And what ages do they apply to?
    Sally, lol šŸ™‚


  3. This is Kate’s Mum! Good list, Steve, but I have something controversial to say. I reckon children’s writers today are, in general, doing a much better job than they were doing 20 or 30 years ago. And publishers are being brave and publishing some truly wonderful stuff. Yes, Kate, not all kids are going to read the literary stuff, but I reckon the literary stuff these days is pretty spot on, not airy-fairy and way out of kids’ experience. I think this is a great time to be into kids’ fiction. The quality is pretty high!


  4. Wonderful list! But he left off Margaret Mahy… she did YA too… very spooky YA. Is this an NZ/Aus rivalry thing?


    1. This was a “my bad”. The list is of Dad’s top Australian YA authors – I just somehow neglected to put that in the header. There’s no NZ/Aus rivalry in our family! My husband is a Kiwi!


  5. Hi Kate,
    the accompanying picture is appropriate – I’m shocked at your Dad’s choice of number two! šŸ™‚



  6. Some wonderful names on that list and some I”m ashamed to admit I’ve never heard of. Looks like I’ve got some reading to do!


Comments are closed.