Main Text Reflections

This course presented a lot of reading of young adult novels  but that was not all we had to read.  There were many chapters, articles, and one professional development text that I could not leave out from my portfolio.  At first I thought these readings might be rather dull but they truly did add to my knowledge of young adult literature.  This paper presents my thoughts on most of the readings that were done throughout the course.

Main Text Reflections

Over the course of the last semester I read many different articles and chapters about young adult literature. There was no official textbook for the class but there was no shortage of reading material. In between reading the novels on the reading list I had the chance to read an abundance of material regarding young adult literature and its status in the world at the current moment. The articles, chapters, and professional development text provided new information about young adult literature, the authors of young adult novels, different peoples perspectives on young adult literature, as well as how it can be utilized to further reading in the classroom.

Of the articles I read throughout the semester, the one that stuck with me the most was definitely Meghan Cox Gurdon’s article for the Wall Street Journal, Darkness Too Visible. It stuck with me for the wrong reasons but it stuck with me. This particular article raised a lot of discussion in the classroom. Meghan Cox Gurdon’s main points were that young adult literature has become way too dark for teens and parents and other adults need to keep the teens from reading these dark novels. While everyone in the class understood that parents have the right to limit what their children read, Meghan Cox Gurdon just went too far. However, the article is a valuable tool and does broaden the understanding of young adult literatures advocates as well as the opposition.

To go along with Meghan Cox Gurdon’s article we also read Dark Materials: Reflecting on Dystopian Themes in Young Adult Literature and Fresh Hell: What’s behind the boom in dystopian fiction for young readers? which go a little more in depth on some of the darkness that Gurdon mentions in her article. Both of these articles present very different perspectives than Meghan Cox Gurdon. While dystopian literature may present darker material for teens and it may seem to be far-fetched, the struggles at the heart of the novels are still ones teens can relate to. These articles are valuable reads because they present a different perspective on dystopian literature as well as the darkness in young adult novels.

While those few articles discuss the darkness in young adult literature, a few of the others presented a nice laugh. Seth Fishman’s article titled How to Write YA talks about the fact that teens aren’t the ones writing the novels that are being written for them. Seth Fishman used his experience writing for young adults to inform others about young adult literature. His main point was that to write honestly for young adults you have to look at your own past as a teen and use your own experiences, no matter how embarrassing. Teens don’t want to read about perfect people who have no problems in life, they want to read about people like themselves. Seth Fishman understands that and recommends authors write those kinds of characters.

The chapters that were to be read for the class were a bit heavier and much longer in length but full of quality information. The chapter from Literature for Today’s Young Adults goes in depth about what young adult literature really is. There were an abundance of examples of not just young adult novels but also movies that share similar qualities. The authors of the text clearly knew more about young adult literature than just the surface information that so many people seem to know. The chapter goes into great detail about what exactly qualifies a novel as young adult and also what some good examples of young adult literature are.

The chapter Illustrated Literature for Young Adults was also a very lengthy but information read. This chapter focused on all types of illustrated literature for young adults as well as the popular genres of the time. While I felt that some of the information regarding the types and styles of artwork might have been a little too much, most of the information presented was truly applicable to the class. The lists of graphic novels presented were very helpful and the author spotlights provided some firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to write graphic novels that are read by young adults. What I found most interesting about this chapter were the ways that illustrated literature can be used to further the reading of young adults. While many people look down upon illustrated literature as being immature and dumbed down, this chapter proved those statements very wrong. Illustrated literature can present wonderful, informational stories in a way that some reluctant readers might be more inclined to check out.

The professional text choice was a great addition to the learning material as well. I chose to read Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We’d Like Them to Be. Even though I am not an education major, I thought this concept was wonderful and I wanted to know more about how reading ladders can be utilized. It’s not just something that has to be done inside a classroom, it can easily be put to use on websites or in libraries. Reading ladders are a simple way to create stepping stones from one book to a more complex book of the same nature. As someone who runs a blog for young adult readers I see the appeal for reading ladders not just inside the classroom. They can very easily be used to recommend similar books to readers who might be looking for something to read next. While this book may have been intended for educational purposes, it presented an idea that was not limited to classrooms and schools.

None of the literature read throughout the course of the class was aimed at one certain type of person. Everything that I read could be applied to some aspect of my career ideas or even my current pursuits. Every article, chapter, or text that was read opened up wonderful discussions inside and outside of the classroom. There was truly no unnecessary reading for this class and every last word I read has led me to have a greater understand of young adult literature.


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