Poll #4: YA Lit in High School Classrooms

This is a question that we discussed at length in my Advanced Adolescent Literature class at Ohio State.  So I’m curious as to what you all think.  I’d love if you could comment and tell me whether you are a teacher, librarian, teen, parent, or just someone with an interest in YA lit.  I’ll tally the results on Sunday, so be sure to check back.


5 Responses

  1. I’m a former HS teacher and mother of two. I remember in HS, other students HATING to read, and even I (who loved to read) saw little in common with my life/interests and the books we read for class. Using YA books as teaching tools will allow this gap to be bridged. Additionally, it could help to encourage kids to actually read rather than hunting up Cliff Notes.

  2. I cringe at the prejudice I’ve seen against “non-classic” YA fic among some teachers/gatekeepers. Even the fluffiest YA book has value and offers a variety of topics to explore. Not saying they’re all book report material, but they all merit the opportunity for exploration in a class room setting. Even if it’s one of the unofficial books the teacher has in the classroom vs. required reading.

  3. I graduated from Ohio State in 05, and this was a hot topic then as well! 🙂 As a future English teacher, I strongly believe that non-classic ya fiction has a place in the classroom. Getting students to read (gasp, for fun!) can be like pulling teeth, and incorporating novels on topics they are interested in is a much more effective way to get them reading than assigning chapters of The Scarlet Letter. I plan to employ a 50-50 reading ratio, where 50% of the reading my students do is for pleasure and includes novels of their own choosing. My first step in doing this is to build an up-to-date in-classroom library where students can choose from a wide variety of ya fiction that is relevant to their lives. Another effective strategy is to draw parallels between the classics and modern ya lit, for instance Melinda Sordino and Hester Prynn to explore the concept of “outcast” etc…The only way to become a better reader is to READ so anything I can get my students interested in is welcome in my classroom! 🙂

  4. I remember in my advanced/gifted English classes in middle and high school, we were allowed to choose which books we read for various reports and projects. Our teachers had to approve them, but they were pretty generous in allowing us to read what suited our tastes as long as it wasn’t a picture book. We did have certain classic texts that were a mandatory part of the curriculum, but we didn’t mind reading them because our teachers’ approach had taught us to love reading for its own sake (well, those of us who didn’t already).

    Too many students learn to hate reading early on because in their first experience with literature, they’re subjected to things they can’t relate to or really enjoy. It’s homework, nothing else, rather than an enjoyable learning experience. I think if more students were introduced to modern YA literature (with some exceptions) early on, it would broaden their education, broaden their experiences, and open them to new possibilities they might never have considered before.

  5. As an educator, I’m all for anything that will engage students in reading. That said, YA books can do a lot more than just get kids interested. My master’s project was on using YA lit to introduce social issues into the classroom. Books like Speak, Make Lemonade, Whirligig and others can get students talking about the issues they’re facing everyday and confronting the sterotypes and myths associated with these issues.

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