After listening to the MPRnews interview with “Sex and Violence” author Carrie Mesrobian on the issue of adult content in young adult literature, we discussed it in our Adolescent Literature class and brought up some blog-worthy topics.
A concern that came up in Carrie’s interview is whether adult themes such as sex and violence in YA literature would seem more plausible or glamorous to teens because it is in a fictitious depiction. And a conclusion that most of us came to is that fiction novels written for a young adult audience is a safe and easy way to introduce some of these real-life issues to teens and to open up any questions or discussion they might have. It’s a sort of “what not to do” help book rather than an adult just saying “Don’t do drugs; they’re bad for you.”
Some parents that called into the interview with questions or comments for Carrie mentioned their concern for their fourth-grader reading at a mature level and being introduced to this kind of content too early. This is where Middle-Grade novels come into play. Somehow we forget that there isn’t only the choice of children’s literature or young adult literature, and that there is a middle ground between them. We are talking about good quality literature for a child’s development AND reading level! Newbery Medal Winners are a great place to find books of this kind.
Another aspect of this debate that we brought up is something that Carrie mentioned as well… if kids are in the point of their lives where sex and violence is something they want to take part in, chances are they aren’t reading about it, they’re out doing it! And if a child isn’t developmentally ready for a book with this gritty content, they will put it down.
Listen to the interview yourself. What’s your opinion?
… Readers Have Plans!
What is my reading plan or goals for my Adolescent Literature class this semester? Well, if this was the only course I was taking this semester and I didn’t work part time and have somewhat of a social life (somewhat being the key word here), I would absolutely aspire to read at least one young adult novel a day and then blog about it like it was my job!
Unfortunately I do have three other classes this semester that also entail quite a bit of reading as well. So, I have to come up with a more realistic, efficient plan to make all of my required, and not so required reading an achievable goal.
- Read at least three novels from the required reading list a week until…
- I receive my personalized, “Dedicated to Jaycie Cheatham,” customized reading list from Dr. Ellington…
- Then once I have gotten through most of those books I will try to research more novels I might enjoy that are by the same author or include similar content through Pinterest, Goodreads, and Twitter suggestions etc.
- I want to discover more blogs/bloggers not only pertaining to young adult literature
- Make Blogging become a necessary part of my daily life; as much as let’s say eating
I don’t necessarily want to become a teacher, or at least I never thought I wanted to, but after only being in this classroom for two days my career plans are being swayed… Sometimes learning isn’t “fun” for young adults,especially reading and sometimes it’s because the ways they are receiving instruction isn’t “fun.”
I am curious to see what the books on the syllabus have to offer in comparison to typically assigned, classic novels in high schools and what books I can find on my own that teach something that would be important to young adults, or anyone for that matter.
Donald R. Gallo’s article, How Classics Create an Aliterate Society was dead on! I was an avad reader in high school and I did not enjoy many of the classics either. Like Gallo and so many others point out in high school we do not have the same mindset or values or interests as we do once we reach college, if high school hasn’t scared us out of a secondary education. I had no interest in The Scarlet Letter because I could not relate to it in any way. Whether you enjoy reading or not influences whether you believe its an active or passive activity. I also believe that our friends and family have an influence on our reading habits as well, especially from an early age. Obviously if the only book in your house was a dictionary reading wouldn’t be your first choice as a pleasurable past time.
If high school teachers took the time to find literature geared more toward a high school level, that is still rich in content, students might be more apt to read and actually enjoy it. We need to work our way up to classical…
Snap, snap, snap… Snaps for Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes! The entire time I was reading this book (which was only a few hours) I imagined I was sipping a hazelnut cappuccino in a dimly lit, swanky cafe on open mic, slam poetry night. Mr. Ward assigns his high school class to write an essay about their studies on the Harlem Renaissance, but one student thinks a poem is more befitting. After Mr. Ward has Wesley perform his poem in front of the class the rest of the students seem to appreciate his creativity and so does Mr. Ward. Now, one Friday a month has to be dedicated to the class for an open mic session where several students willingly put their stories out there in a rhythm and rhyme that cannot go unnoticed. Soon, every Friday is slam poetry day and even students outside of Mr. Ward’s class are intrigued to join.
During the kids’ confessions many of them come to a new understanding of themselves and of their classmates. Maybe we aren’t all so different… Maybe I do have someone to talk to… Maybe everything will be okay… The stereotyped boxes the students were categorized into for so long are recycled and they all just become friends.
This is a terrific book for students that I would recommend to any teacher to assign. It’s easy to follow, interesting, and addresses issues of stereotypes, bullying, abuse, and finding oneself.