Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 24, 2008

Seminar Feedback for Kari

Filed under: seminar feedback — sostrom @ 6:22 pm

I am so glad to have attended Kari’s seminar, titled “Teen Suicide:Opening Up with YA Lit.”  Kari provided us with great articles, assignments, book titles and stories about teen suicide.  I was moved by the stories of survivors, especially parents, who lost a child to suicide and depression. 

 Kari was so thoroughly prepared for her seminar with relevant articles that would enhance classroom discussions about the subject of depression and suicide, and an annotated bibliography that will be helpful in as students select books.  I was really impressed with how many books she investigated (and how many books there are on this topic).  The books she focused on were: Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ellen Hopkins’ Impulse and Rachel Cohn’s You Know Where to Find Me.  Each of these books deals with the same topic, but in different ways (using humor, different perspectives to break down stereotypes of what a depressed or suicidal person is like, how to survive the suicide of a close friend).

I also found the discussions of bringing up the topic of suicide and depression in the classroom thoughtful.  One really challenging question that arose from this conversation is: when should you give a kid a book? and when should you not give a kid a book? With many of the difficult subjects addressed by YA lit, there is a fine line between opening up the lines of communication and (at least the fear of) sparking an unhealthy interest.  In other words, if we talk about suicide in our classrooms are we creating an environment in which our students will feel more comfortable, or are we giving them ideas?  Think about it.  Who would you recommend a book about depression and suicide to?  We touched on this in our Luna lit. circle as well.  If we know that part of the benefit of having our students read YA lit is allowing them to see themselves in books, how do we handle a delicate situation like a student who may (or may not) be struggling with being transgender, gay, suicidal, abused or depressed?  What risk do we run in offering that student a book like Luna?  Would Liam (the main character in Luna have appreciated such a recommendation? 

Clearly, Kari’s seminar was extremely thought-provoking and relevant.  Thank you, Kari.


Incidentally, I just saw this article about J.K. Rowling’s struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide.

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the feedback Sarah! I was very impressed with the preparation you guys did for the seminar (meaning you actually read the “stuff” I handed out) and we were able to breeze through the “fluff” and get down to the nitty gritty of the topic. I thought our group had a very provacative discussion, including the one on “which book for which student” that Sarah mentioned. There is definately a large gray area surrounding such serious topics in schools, but those in this seminar know where to start with YA lit at least! Thanks again for your feedback, it is much appreciated!


    Comment by kariredmond — March 25, 2008 @ 11:15 pm

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