Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 18, 2008

Filed under: Book Clubs--O'Donnell-Allen, Making the Match — Mandy @ 9:07 pm

I finished the Lesesne and O’Donnell-Allen readings and I found many significant points in both texts. In many of my readings this semester and last semester, there has been a reoccurring theme of the use of student surveys, which shows up in Lesesne‘s chapter four. I think these are a great idea and an invaluable tool to use in order to get to know our students. I also like this text, because the survey in chapter four could easily be replicated and put to actual use. This survey is thorough, yet not intimidating and with this one questionnaire, teachers are able to assess the reading abilities and preferences of students. I also appreciate a section in chapter five, when Lesesne highlights the different ways to go about choosing texts. As a pre-service teacher, I am proud to say that I use all of these tools and feel like this is an area where I have, or will have, some expertise before entering the classroom, which is a good feeling, since I am nervous about almost everything else. Also, the end of this chapter had some really good questions to consider when selecting texts, which will continue to be helpful in selecting YA texts. Finally, in chapter six, Lesesne talks about the different genres for adolescents and an idea she discussed has stuck with me. She wrote about the importance of accessibility and while she was specifically talking about poetry, I think this applies to everything we want our students to read. The texts have to be accessible, either because they are interesting, or because they are age-appropriate or because kids can relate to them, but accessibility is key!

There were many parallels between the two readings for this week. Both discuss the selection of texts, genres, etc. My favorite part of the O’Donnell-Allen reading is definitely the sections in chapter five that focus on the “Top 10 Response Tools.” The chart is awesome and I can see myself using these various strategies with kids. I like the punctuation prompt and sticky notes, because these are strategies that I often use, but I also like the quotation response strategy and the real book letters. I can’t wait to use some of these in class, and I hope that over the course of my semester observing that I witness some of these cool activities in action. In general, I have concluded that many of the O’Donnell-Allen readings are excellent for professional development.




  1. Mandy,

    I think your point about accesibility is extremely important. I’m so baffled by the way Shakespeare is pushed in high school (even though I happen to love Shakespeare and have read most of his works). This type of pedagogy seems more and more absurd in light of all the new and exciting texts we have been exposed to this semester. And I’m not saying that Shakespeare shouldn’t be taught, or that he shouldn’t be taught because the language is “too dificult” for high school students. As Lesesne points out, accesibility means more than simply decoding and deconstructing texts. In my experience, high interest will trump just about any accesibility issues that exist. If students have the desire to read a text, they will do so with both enthusiasm and commitment (even “reluctant readers”).


    Comment by scrollman — February 19, 2008 @ 5:42 pm

  2. Mandy,
    I also found some great points in each text. I liked the charts of “Top 10 Response Tools” too. I have seen some variation of a few of these in various workshops I have participated in and I have seen them really work for students. I really like the punctuation prompt and have done a slight varation with my students. I am also anxious to try the 1-2-3 predict with my kids. While my kids never have problems making predictions, they often forget to use what they have read in the text to help them with this. By having to sketch out the events first, they could see how this is an important step to predicting.

    I like the guidelines Lesesne present for chosing a text too. One particular piece that made me stop and think was when she stated, “Do not discount a book simply becaues it is too predictable, however, as some kids enjoy reading books that make it easy for them to predict the outcome,” (56). I hadn’t thought too much about this, but now it seems so common sense. Of course some readers are going to want to read something they can predict the outcome of, even if many of their classmates are looking for something with unpredictable twists. This seems to be another of her tips that will be useful in the classroom.

    Comment by katefrazer — February 19, 2008 @ 10:39 pm

  3. We’re all reluctant readers–aren’t we–depending on the context? We must reconsider teaching all students as if they were going to be English majors/teachers and a few “sacred” texts (Shakespeare?) are going to make them better people or open important “gates” (James Gee) for them.

    There are many pathways to happiness and a fulfilling life. Students will, thankfully, continue to pursue their own interests/passions/intellectual projects with us or without us. When we offer them so few “roads” to literacy they figure it’s easier to do it without us. Why do we choose to exclude when we could include, to label (“reluctant readers”) when we could embrace, to learn new things WITH/FROM our kids, rather than tell them what “they need to know,” which is what we often do when we “teach” particular books as if they embody some intrinsic “good.”

    Lesesne–yes! KES

    Comment by sunyprof — February 19, 2008 @ 10:45 pm

  4. Mandy,
    Thanks for your comments about the readings. I agree that Lesesne was particularly useful. I think my favorite chapter was ch. 6, about genres. After taking professor Kennedy’s 504/505, I’ve come to appreciate genre studies. I was particularly interested to read the section on short storys, because there is so much repetition of the short stories used in English classes. It was nice to consider some alternatives to the norm. I think these contemporary stories are usedful when paired with the classics. In college, I took a class called short stories past and present, taught my Mary Gaitskill, author of Veronica and a few acclaimed collections of short stories. It was SUCH a great experience. It was enlightening to see how contemporary authors can build from the classics. I think high school students would benefit from a similar class. If only they could have Mary teach it!!
    The other thing I loved about the Lesesne reading was the survey, as we have already discussed. I agree that it is SO important to know your students- how else will we reach them?? Of course, we must keep in mind the experiences of Lelia Christenbury and remember that we will not always be able to connect with them. But if we are ever to try, we must try to know and understand what it is that they care about!

    Comment by allison — February 20, 2008 @ 8:56 am

  5. Allison, is Gaitskill still at Syracuse?? How fortunate you were to have had a class with her. I’m jealous!!! I haven’t read VERONICA but it’s been on my list for a long time. Do you have a copy I could borrow?

    There are tons of good YA collections with short stories sure to engage young readers. I agree that we certainly do not need to keep rolling out “The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Lottery,” and a few others I could name. We have so many options.

    Are you planning to write a short story or? KES

    Comment by sunyprof — February 20, 2008 @ 10:43 am

  6. Mandy, et. al.,

    I share in your feelings about distributing surveys to students, as discussed in Lesesne. It appears that surveys are flexible in the sense that the students are not limited to multiple choice answers or concrete yes/no responses, and they have the freedom to speak their minds. Finally, they are feel a sense of autonomy in their learning experience. The students’ thoughts and the current pop culture should have a bearing on literature choices in the classroom. What better way to reach young adults than to ask them directly? After the surveys are completed, we must make the texts accessible, as Mandy said! If the school does not have the book(s) or will not obtain them for the class, then the class can write to the author, publisher, editor or raise money for the books. Putting an effort into getting the books would increase the likelihood of the students valuing the books. If time is of the essence, then of course order the books. 🙂


    Comment by jexter1 — February 20, 2008 @ 11:14 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: