Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 7, 2008

Chris Crutcher’s visit

Filed under: Uncategorized — sostrom @ 1:50 pm

I wish I had time for a more substantial post, but I just wanted to say that I  thought yesterday’s panel discussion and Chris Crutcher’s visit were fantastic.  There is such value in conversation.  Just listening and talking about experiences with other teachers, administrators, parents and community members gives us such valuable insight into the world of secondary education. 

Dinner with Chris was wonderful.  Thank you to Karen for arranging it, and to Chris for extending his time with us and being so generous of himself.  His stories and way of storytelling were powerful.  I also want to say thank you to the other people who came to dinner.  I loved the opportunity to talk more with you all about teaching, education, books, and kids.  I personally get so much out of the kind of dialogue, argument and sharing of experiences and perspectives that we did last night.  It wouldn’t have been the same without you all there. 

What did others think of the panel?  Were the stories surprising?  Which did you find most compelling?  What would you do as a parent if your kids were reading the books discussed?  Would you recommend some of the books mentioned to your students?  Who do you think books like Chris’ , which deal directly with horrible cases of abuse, are good matches for (what type of student/person)? 




  1. I also want to thank Karen for putting together that wonderful panel and dinner. And many thanks to Chris Crutcher as well, for being so open and sensitive and real.

    Sarah, I wanted to talk a little about your question about letting “your own child” read some of the books discussed. I don’t have any children, so my answers are purely hypothetical, and for that reason, I hope that others who have children will answer this question in more detail–and provide me with more insight.

    The final book discussed in panel, Sister Soulja’s THE COLDEST WINTER EVER, is a book I HAVE TO read now. Not so much because of the passage we heard–> but so that if a student asks to borrow this book I’ll know what I’m getting into. This is just to say that if I were a parent and I picked up COLDEST WINTER to that exact spot and found that my 12-year old child was reading this I would have to take a moment and think about my reaction.

    First, has my child already had that uncomfortable talk about the birds and the bees with me? (at 12, I would hope so.) If not, this would be a good time for that talk. Perhaps leaving this book out is an unconscious question mark directed at a parental figure who has yet to formally address this topic in detail.

    Second, if my child is seeking out literature with passages that could be termed erotica, is there something I should be paying attention to in her/his life a little more closely? This is not to suggest that my hypothetical child is sexually active, but perhaps that I should be aware that being open about health/safety is the most beneficial direction I could take here. The best time to talk about practicing safe sex is before it starts.

    Just my rxn.

    I’d like to hear what other people think….


    Comment by joycehansen — March 7, 2008 @ 8:50 pm

  2. I also thought that the panel was fantastic, but meeting Chris and having the opportunity to hear him speak was unbelievable. He is so insightful and his stories are powerful and important to share with others, since I also believe that “there is no value in ignorance.” Being surrounded by people who just “get it”, when it comes to books/censorship/power and control was comforting and encouraging: we are not alone! Further, dining with Chris was great as well. It was much more intimate and he is such an interesting man and as Joyce writes, very real.

    In terms of the panel, I was most shocked by the first teacher who spoke about her experiences at Liverpool. I always viewed Liverpool as a somewhat liberal school, often ahead of the times. However, I am baffled by the anonymous complaint and re-written ending to the school play… the night before!! Absolutely absurd, but I am very glad that I am going into teaching with some knowledge of these school politics.


    Comment by mandygrl101 — March 10, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  3. I was so excited after the panel discussion.. but I definately wanted to hear more from Melissa (from Canastota)so I was thrilled when she joined us from dinner! We had such a great opportunity to hear more from her and WAY more from Chris- I was thrilled! I mean, I stayed way past my bedtime so I could make sure that I didn’t miss a thing, and I was not disapointed. For me, the highlight was (ok, second highlight to my eggplant 🙂 ) how down-to-earth Chris really was. I loved all the stories he told us about the kids he encountered through therapy, and the engaging conversations that we were able to have.. I know I will never forget that-and I will have a great story to tell my students someday! Also, getting to chat more with Melissa was also a pleasure. I really enjoyed her candor in sharing her story, and she was also very “real”. Perhaps I also could see how relevant her story is, as many of us could soon face a similar situation in our careers, and I am glad that her story seems to have a happy ending.

    Again, Thank you to Karen for allowing us the opportunity to have this experience! It was surreal! I think my friends and family are hoping that I will eventually stop talking about it, but in the meantime I have some of them reading Crutcher 🙂


    Comment by kariredmond — March 10, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

  4. I also would like to thank you Karen for this opportunity. I had an incredible experience, one that has seriously changed my perspective on YA books and helped to open my eyes to what is real literature versus literature written to please parents and administrators.

    Dinner was wonderful! It was so nice to be in a relaxed atmosphere where we could all share our stories and insights about life in relation to Chris’ work. He had some truly powerful stories to chare with all of us and did it in a manner that was so relaxed and as Kari commented “real.” Perhaps that was my favorite part of the whole evening, just how down to earth and easy going Chris Crutcher is. What an incredible man, and awesome opportunity. One that I will be able to talk about and share for a long time!


    Comment by erinlbowman — March 11, 2008 @ 2:56 pm

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