Why YA Lit?: YA Lit in the Secondary Language Arts Classroom
Why YA Lit?: YA Lit in the Secondary Language Arts Classroom Anna Nero & Shannon Perry Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School Perceptions and Misconceptions Remedial texts Lacking literary merit Entertainment Sentimental Poorly written
So what is Young Adult Literature? Brief History Before 1960s Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Tom Swift Avoided serious/controversial issues White middle-class audience 1967 The Outsiders, The Contender, The Chosen, Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones Big, Broad Definitions
Any literature that teens read without prodding, poking and threatening by means of quizzes, tests and public humiliation in the form of class discussion Books with teenage protagonists Books written for teenagers Includes books for adults, but read by teens Don Gallos List o Characteristics Focus on teenage characters Average length of 200 pages
Point of view often first person, usually a teenager Narrator most often the main character Usually told in voice of teenager, not adult (as in To Kill a Mockingbird or A Separate Peace) Contemporary language Usually contemporary setting (fantasy, science fiction) Gallos List (cont.) Relatable characters and issues Minor role of parents Outcome dependent on decisions and actions of
main character Tone and outcome usually positive/happy Plot and literary style uncomplicated, not simplistic Possess all traditional literary elements As able to appeal to adults as teens (Herz and Gallo, From Hinton to Hamlet) What our students are saying Carlsen and Sherril (1989) study: Dissection and over analysis of literature Reviewing same material for days Lack of fun / sense of wonder
Meaning without feeling Lack of experience and/or maturity Comprehension difficulty Disconnect for everyday teenage life Unfamiliar words What our students are reading . . . Lack of YA Lit titles in required AND pleasure reading categories Applebees frequent required reading study (1992):
Four Shakespeare plays Adventures of Huckleberry Finn To Kill a Mockingbird The Scarlet Letter Of Mice and Men The Great Gatsby Lord of the Flies
What our students are reading Several studies (Hale & Crowe, Applebee) Little change in required texts Shakespeare dominates Other canonical texts follow Favorite genres:
Romance/love stories Fantasy Mystery Sports Science Fiction Students want . . . To read about relatable and relevant topics and situations To read works written in the language that they speak To read about characters who look, sound
and feel like them Theoretical Support G. Robert Carlsen Stages of Reading Development Unconscious delight Living vicariously Seeing oneself
Philosophical speculations Aesthetic delight Louise Rosenblatt Reader-response theory No meaning in text itself Readers bring meaning to text Ability to relate to text = important So, why Not YA Lit? Many teachers cling to the notion of canonical literature being necessary to a quality ELA curriculum Must be difficult in order to be studied
Students can read without a teacher, then not worth reading The test of time Cultural indoctrination So, why not YA Lit? Teacher perceptions have changed little inferior form of literature Most have never taken a YA Lit class Conference sessions Comfort and familiarity Teachers reading bias
Experience Expertise YA Lit in the Classroom Thematic Links Archetypal Links Writing Links Research Links Miscellaneous Links Dialogue Inferencing Lessons Bibliography
Asher, Sandy. What About Now? What About Here? What About Me? Reading Their World: The Young Adult Novel in the Classroom. Eds. Virginia R. Monseau & Gary M. Salvner. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992. 77-82. Bridgers, Sue Ellen. Creating a Bond Between Writer and Reader. Reading Their World: The Young Adult Novel in the Classroom. Eds. Virginia R. Monseau & Gary M. Salvner. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992. 65-70. Bushman, John H. Young Adult Literature in the ClassroomOr Is It? English Journal 86.3 (1997): 35-40. Gallo, Donald R. How Classics Create an Alliterate Society. English Journal 90.3 (2001): 33-39.
Bibliography (cont.) Gallo, Donald R. Listening to Readers: Attitudes Toward the Young Adult Novel. Reading Their World: The Young Adult Novel in the Classroom. Eds. Virginia R. Monseau & Gary M. Salvner. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992. 17-27. Herz, Sarah K. and Donald R. Gallo. From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges between Young Adult Literature and the Classics. 2nd ed. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2005. Monseau, Virginia R. Students and Teachers as a Community of Readers. Reading Their World: The Young Adult Novel in the Classroom. Eds. Virginia R. Monseau & Gary M. Salvner. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992. 85-98. Peck, Richard. Problem Novels for Readers Without Any. Reading Their
World: The Young Adult Novel in the Classroom. Eds. Virginia R. Monseau & Gary M. Salvner. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992. 71-76. Bibliography (cont.) Salvner, Gary M. Young Adult Novels in the Traditional Literature Class. Reading Their World: The Young Adult Novel in the Classroom. Eds. Virginia R. Monseau & Gary M. Salvner. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992. 99-112. Santoli, Susan P. and Mary Elaine Wagner. Promoting Young Adult Literature: The Other Real Literature. American Secondary Education 33.1 (2004): 65-75.
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