Tag Archives: YA Lit

June 2017 #NCTEchat: YA Lit – Complex Texts, Complex Lives

nctechat_grpahic_juneJoin Jennifer Buehler @ProfBuehler and members of #NCTEreads tonight, Sunday, June 25 at 8 pm ET, for a conversation around “YA Lit – Complex Texts, Complex Lives.”

Jennifer Buehler is the author of Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Texts, Complex Lives. In this text, Jennifer Buehler shows how to implement a YA pedagogy—one that revolves around student motivation while upholding the goals of rigor and complexity.

Here’s what we’ll discuss during the chat:

Q1: Why do you teach YA lit?

Q2: How do you engage students in the study of YA as complex literature?

Q3: What are some texts that lend themselves to unpacking and analysis of complexity?

Q4: What classroom tasks do you use to cultivate agency and autonomy in teen readers?

Q5: What forms of assessment blend both personal and analytical responses to YA lit?

Q6: How do you advocate for YA lit in your school and the wider world?

We hope to see you tonight at #NCTEchat!

YA Lit

ya-misconWhile some of us packed up and went home after the NCTE Annual Convention, many people stayed for the 2016 ALAN Workshop. It was hosted at the Georgia World Congress Center and continued the tradition of celebrating the very best of young adult literature. The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) promotes communication and cooperation among teachers, authors, librarians, publishers, teacher-educators and their students, and others who are particularly interested in the area of young adult literature. Members receive three issues annually of The ALAN Review, a journal emphasizing new books, research, and methods of teaching adolescent literature. Many attendees of the 2016 ALAN workshop have been posting on social media about their time there. Interested in Young Adult Literature? See what NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org have to offer!

Text Messages: Recommendations for Adolescent Readers is a podcast providing families, educators, out-of-school practitioners, and tutors reading recommendations they can pass along to teen readers. Each episode will feature in-depth recommendations of titles that will engage and excite teen readers. Text Messages is hosted by current ALAN President, Jennifer Buehler.

With a supporting explication of NCTE’s Policy Research Brief Reading Instruction for All Students and lively vignettes of teachers and students reading with passion and purpose, Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Texts, Complex Lives is designed to help teachers develop their own version of YA pedagogy and a vision for teaching YA lit in the middle and secondary classroom. Visit the Companion Site for more from the author.

Teaching YA Lit through Differentiated Instruction offers suggestions for incorporating YA lit into the high school curriculum. Each chapter opens with an introduction to and description of a different popular genre or award category of YA lit—science fiction, realistic teen fiction, graphic novels, Pura Belpré award winners, nonfiction texts, poetry, historical YA fiction—and then offers suggestions within that genre for whole-class instruction juxtaposed with a young adult novel more suited for independent reading or small-group activities. See more in a web seminar recorded by the authors.

Engaging American Novels: Lessons from the Classroom focuses on ten frequently taught American novels, both classic and contemporary, that can help promote engagement in reading. Texts highlighted include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chocolate War, The Outsiders, and Out of the Dust. Teachers are challenged to think about how students best engage with texts, especially novels. Many of the titles in this book have been challenged or censored. The NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center offers advice, helpful documents, and other support to teachers faced with challenges to texts (e.g. literary works, films and videos, drama productions) or teaching methods used in their classrooms and schools.

How do you incorporate YA Lit in your classroom?

Say His Name!

The following blog is excerpted with permission from Steven Bickmore’s blog Dr. Bickmore’s YA Wednesday. Steven is Associate Professor of English education in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education at the University of  Nevada Las Vegas. 

Steven Bickmore, associate professor of Teaching and Learning for New Faces feature on September 21, 2015. (R. Marsh Starks / UNLV Photo Services)
Steven Bickmore, associate professor of Teaching and Learning at UNLV. (R. Marsh Starks / UNLV Photo Services)

I can’t begin to provide an eloquent eulogy [for what happened in Orlando], but it has been done by others who are closer to the people and the issues. Any senseless death is heartbreaking. The victims deserve to be remembered, not the perpetrator. I appreciated the way that  Anderson Cooper has addressed the loss in Orlando by saying their names. It is a valuable statement.

Reading literature that is vibrant, engaging, and controversial provides adolescents with a place for them to hear the names—even if they are imaginary or vicarious—of those who are neglected, marginalized, abused, discounted, scorned, and bullied. I see the events in Orlando as an ultimate act of hate and bullying from which there is no recovery for those who are gone and no easy recovery for those who survived.
Recently, I have been trying to make the point that scripted curriculum that has students reading fewer books and only snippets of texts has contributed to the language of hate, bigotry, and division that seems to be consuming our political and social conversations. In my opinion, students need longer and more frequent opportunities to discuss complex ideas that might fulfill the promise that Jefferson and other founding fathers offered when they promoted education in the new democracy.
Yes, I know that women, African Americans, and others were denied the vote, an education, and other opportunities [in that early vision], but the idea that an educated populace was essential in the promotion and protection of a secure democracy seems to me to remain a key idea if our democratic republic will continue to flourish. We have made advancements in terms of inclusion, but I fear that current policies have turned us to constant testing instead of promoting and fostering inquiry, critical thinking, and open debate—not just argumentation. (Please listen to Jimmy Fallon‘s short statement.)
The current policies do not prepare our children to participate fully in a democracy. So, while we include more people, it appears to me that we are somewhat short on the quality of education we are providing in many places. Plenty of educators have spoken about this issue more eloquently than I could in a small space. You might consider reading,Jonathan Kozol, Alfie Kohn, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling Hammond, and Peter Smagorinsky. I have highlighted these individuals because they are some who have weathered the educational storm of the last 15 years and can point to the ideals that we should adopt, that we shouldn’t have abandoned, and that we should continue.
To conclude, I would like to point to a recent event that does involve Young Adult Literature. It is the recent banning and bullying of Phil Bildner by Round Rock ISD (a school district in Texas). He was disinvited to speak to school children after several years of having successfully contributed in the past. This week, author R. J. Palacio contributed to the support of Phil Bildner. Her support is admirable and speaks to the way so many young adult authors support each other and the education of children. Much of the action of Round Rock ISD seems to be connected to a discussion of the book George by Alex Gino. All three authors—Phil Bildner, Alex Gino, and R. J. Palacio demonstrate the courage to speak names. They speak their own and the names of their characters. Thank you.
Phil Bildner was disinvited from a recent speaking engagement, allegedly because he was book talking a text with LGBT themes. George, by Alex Gino is under possible censorship challenges right now. Wonder by E. J. Polacio has been under censorship challenges.
By promoting censorship in any form we stifle education. We need to work vigorously to promote reading and critical thinking instead of scripted, routinized instruction.

We need to say their names, not only the names of those who are lost, but those who continue on by doing good works through their words and actions. I would like to say a few names that have been important to me lately—in the future, I am sure there will be others. Some you will know and some you won’t. It doesn’t matter, but I will say their names. Some of the people are authors, church leaders, scholars, and many of my former students who amaze me. The only family member is my wife, Dana, who is a rock, but all of my kids should be here and many of my current and recent students. Here are their names: David Levithan, Meg Medina, Jason Reynolds, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Paula Meiling Siebers, Matt J. Stannard, Dana Bickmore, Bernie Sanders, Elder Patrick Kearon, Bill KonigsbergJo Knowles, Teri Lesesne, Corey Whaley,Ryan Williams, Kylene Beers and Amy Albritton.

In two short weeks I will return to Steve Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous. It truly is a book where the author dares to speak his name: Daniel Ellsberg.

Say YA to Reading

Say YA to ReadingWe hope you’ll join us this Sunday, September 20th at 8 PM ET for #nctechat on Twitter. Our topic will revolve around young adult literature, which is the theme of this year’s Banned Books Week. The chat will be hosted by celebrated YA author Matt de la Peña and ALAN president-elect, Jennifer Buehler. In the course of our hour-long conversation we’ll explore ideas such as:

  • Building teacher capacity for being proactive about censorship
  • Creating classroom environments where the hunger to read is omnipresent
  • The methods teachers/librarians use for selecting YA lit to put in their classrooms/libraries
  • How censorship is often linked with diversity

Check back in a few days for the full list of questions. Below you’ll find a glimpse into the way our hosts think about the critical role of YA literature in students’ lives:

Matt de la Peña

(The following is an excerpt from the NPR article “Sometimes the ‘Tough Teen’ is Quietly Writing Stories“)

Matt de la Pena“Today when I write my own novels, I try to craft the best possible stories, and I certainly aim to be entertaining, but I’m also conscious of the powerful function literature can serve — especially in the lives of kids growing up the way I did. My goal as a writer is to recede into the background, allowing readers to fully participate. I want them to be able to watch the characters and listen to conversations and be free to form judgments of their own. I believe it’s in this space that young readers acquire experience with complex emotions like empathy and sensitivity, which makes them more likely to be in tune with emotional nuance out in the real world.”

Jennifer Buehler

(The following is an excerpt from the Text Messages podcast, episode 30: Censorship and Your Freedom to Read)

Jennifer Buehler “When we censor kids’ stories, we teach them to go behind our backs.  To restrict access to a controversial book is to guarantee that many young people are going to make a point of tracking down that book.  Adults can welcome conversations that such books might foster, or they can send those conversations underground.”

We hope you’ll take this conversation above ground and join us for #nctechat this Sunday at 8 PM ET.

To learn more about censorship, intellectual freedom, and young adult literature, visit:
Banned Books Week
NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center
NCTE Guideline: The Students’ Right to Read
Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE
ALA Frequently Challenged Books List

An Invitation to the ALAN Workshop

RWT1-small_35Text Messages is a monthly podcast hosted by ReadWriteThink.org focusing on the best of young adult literature. This podcast series provides families, educators, out-of-school practitioners, and tutors reading recommendations they can pass along to teen readers. Each episode will feature in-depth recommendations of titles that will engage and excite teen readers. The most recent podcast, episode 80, is “An Invitation to the ALAN Workshop”. The ALAN Workshop is an event unlike anything else you can experience in the world of young adult literature. Held each year on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the workshop brings together books, authors, and readers in a passionate celebration of all things YA. Sponsored by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE, the program consists of panel discussions, breakout sessions, and keynote speeches by leading authors in our field.

Tune in to hear testimonials from a variety of this year’s attendees. Some are relatively new to ALAN, while others have been involved for years. What they all have in common is a passion for the workshop and a willingness to talk about their experience with others. As one attendee stated about the ALAN Workshop, “I get the strength to do the hard work that we do every day at school.”

Links to resources mentioned in this episode:

For additional information and images from the 2014 ALAN workshop, download this handout.

Jennifer Buehler is the host of Text Messages: Recommendations for Teen Readers. As a teacher consultant with the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, Jennifer led workshops on young adult literature for parents, teachers, and students in university methods classes. Now Assistant Professor of English Education at Saint Louis University, Jennifer teaches classes on young adult literature, English methods, writing pedagogy, content area literacy, and urban education. She was recently elected president of NCTE’s Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN), and she served as a member of ALAN’s first Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Committee.