According to Anita Silvey, editor of the Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators and author of the soon-to-be-released 500 Great Books for Teens (Houghton 2006), Holden Caufield's teen hero days are over.
In the most recent issue of School Library Journal, Silvey writes of "amazing shift in teens’ reading habits in the last five years."
According to Silvey:
1. Holden Caufield is out, and Harry Potter is in. Today's teens prefer fantasy, suspense and mystery to the problem novels made popular by J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.
2. Today's teens crave books that feature "characters thrown into extreme circumstances and exhibit amazing heroism" like Harry in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, or Eragon in Christopher Paolini's novel by the same name.
Silvey's findings affirm much of what I've observed about the reading preferences of my two teen daughters and their friends, but have been unable to quantify. Silvey also gives me hope that one day soon, more book award committees will give scifi/fantasy novels a nod.