Young Adult Lit/Crit

May 21, 2008

From the Craigs

Filed under: Uncategorized — sunyprof @ 8:11 pm

Please let me know that you’re seen David and Lisa’s note. That way I will know who is reading the blog. I will send the note by email to others. I sent it to everyone on Tuesday, the 20th, but discovered that the Banner Web listserv is no longer active. Administrators must take it down when the course ends. If you’d like me to send the brochure David references, let me know and I’ll do that in an email. Karen

Dear Karen,

Thank you and your class so very much for the generous contribution to Corey’s endowment. We were so overwhelmed when we opened the package and read your letter and the beautiful messages from your teachers in YA Lit. The experience of sitting in with your class and sharing thoughts and feelings is something that we will always remember. Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to learn from each other.

Since our visit, an informational brochure was created for the endowment. I am attaching a copy for you to see.

Thank you once again for inviting us to your class, and for your kindness and generosity.

God Bless you all,
Lisa and David Craig


May 17, 2008

Book Club for Equity

Filed under: Uncategorized — sostrom @ 2:26 pm

Hi Everyone,
I wanted to invite you to participate in the ICSD Book Club for Equity.  We are meeting next Friday at 4:00 to discuss the book Young, Gifted and Black.  It is a short book of three essays discussing the roots and solutions to the achievement gap.  One of Ithaca’s primary goals is eliminating race, class and disability as predictors of success.  If you are interested, let me know and I’ll send you directions.  Next month’s book is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, which we’re all familiar with.  I figured this would be a good opportunity to see a different aspect of a school district than you usually see in a placement or student teaching, possibly make some connections, and discuss an issue that you will undoubtedly encounter in your classrooms.  Let me know if you’re interested!

May 14, 2008

Reflection on Sports Seminar

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mandy @ 4:00 pm

I think that my seminar went incredibly well and it helped that I absolutely loved my topic (sports) and had an abundance of interesting texts to navigate and utilize. For those who weren’t in my seminar, four fantastic YA titles that you MUST read include Raiders Night, Peak, Amazing Grace and Dairy Queen.

The most interesting thing about the reading I did was that my books weren’t just about sports, although sports were a central theme to my books and my seminar. All of the books contained other important topics and issues relevant to teens today– such as drugs, love, sexuality, relationships, trust, loyalty, sacrifice, and most importantly, they contained explorations of moral character. And I think this is a universal theme that is and can be explored in all texts, and which has come up in all of our reading this semester. I am intrigued by moral character, and how some people have it, while others don’t. Further, I think examining character is something that can be done with all texts, and through this, we can reach a better understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. Also, sports is only one of many ways that character can be explored! Although I loved my topic, at the same time, I was repeatedly disappointed with how girls are represented in the majority of sports texts. I want to try and locate several more texts where females are presented as strong athletic individuals, like in the two texts that I used for my seminar. Although I can appreciate cheerleaders and dancers, I don’t think this is solely how female athletes should be portrayed. I am interested in further studying why and how females are so sexualized in sports media, texts, and literature.

I really enjoyed the level of engagement of the participants in my seminar. I had a lot of fun presenting my topic and was glad that everyone was interested and involved. Alison, Erica and Josh asked some great questions and had some good suggestions, and there were immediately things I wanted to add to my seminar, which really revealed how instruction is fluid and constantly changing, and how we have to be open to these changes and learn and grow with our students. Since I have always been a sports buff, I felt like a expert on my topic and therefore, I felt very comfortable in front of my peers, which is definitely something that I have improved on during the course of this program. I also think that I have some fun ideas that I can bring to the classroom to keep my kids engaged and I can’t wait to do so. Finally, I loved this topic so much that if I get any choice during my student teaching, a sequence of instruction on sports is definitely something I am going use with my adolescents.


May 13, 2008

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jwill7 @ 3:13 pm

I want to wish you all a Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!  I’m not sure if this is something that is just happening in my area, but teachers are never appreciated enough so it applies to all.  I sincerely enjoyed working with you all (all y’all) this semester.  I wish you all all the best.  Have a lovely week.  Peace.


May 12, 2008

Reflections on my seminar: YA Music Lit.

Filed under: Uncategorized — scrollman @ 2:26 pm

First of all, I’d like to thank Sarah and Mandy for participating in my seminar on YA Music Literature.  Their contributions were incredibly insightful, and their enthusiasm helped to make the experience both stimulating and enriching.    

My decision to choose this topic for my seminar was inspired by my own experience in the classroom.   In my five years of teaching, the subject of popular music has always been an area which generated an incredible amount of interest and excitement for my students.  Over the years, I’ve purchased countless biographies, autobiographies, lyric collections, and music anthologies, but until this semester, I had not considered using YA Music lit. as an area of focus.  What I discovered, as I read countless novels in this field, was that YA music lit. provides something for students that other books about music and musicians don’t: stories about people like them.  My three focus books: King Dork, by Frank Portman: Hip-hop high school, by Alan Sitomer: and Heavy Metal and You, by Christopher Krovatin, all focus on teen characters who define themselves according to the music they listen to and play.   Music not only helps to shape their identity, but provides an incredible source of comfort and joy during a very difficult time period.  Adolescence can be rough, and very often a song can heal a teenager’s spirit more than any friend or parent.  On a fundamental level, I think students will be drawn to YA Music lit. because the topic is so relevant, and the stories so familiar.

In my seminar, I made it a point to connect each of my focus books to their corresponding extension activities.  Although the activity for King Dork (having students form and promote their own bands) might seem somewhat ambitious, I think that our students are capable of more than we give them credit for.  Right now I am actually doing song writing activies with my students, and they find it incredibly rewarding.  We are all creative beings, and given the opportunity, we can produce amazing works of art without even knowing that we ever had talent.

During my seminar, there was also substantial discussion on the opportunities for critical pedagogy using my key texts.  My extension activity for Hip-hop high school involves doing an assignment that the main character was prohibited from doing in the novel: a paper comparing the civil rights movement of the 60’s to the hip-hop movement of the 90’s.  The assignment would involve extensive research into the writings of Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and Cesar Chavez– not to mention Tupac Shakur and Eminem.  Music is very often a form of protest, and students who blast hip-hop out of their cars are protesting in a very blatant way, although they might not be able to express their protest in an academic way.  Discussions in the classroom about the relationship between music, language, and power, are vital to helping our students put the music they know and love into a larger historical context.  My supplementary texts, such as Alexander-Smith’s Feeling the Rhythm of the Critically Consious Mind, all advocate the use of popular music as a way to engage students in discourse that is meaningful to them, and helps them to question many of the institutional structures that would otherwise be invisible.

I hope that Sarah and Mandy enjoyed my seminar as much as I enjoyed facilitating it.  I learned an incredible amount and I will surely be using these texts for years to come.


May 7, 2008

feedback for Mandy and Kate

Filed under: Uncategorized — jwill7 @ 11:51 am

Mandy and Kate both gave great seminars last week.  They were both well prepared, but certainly unique in their choice of topics and the delivery of information.  Mandy really impressed me with the activities she had planned.  Kate also had a variety of mysteries at varying reading levels.  Kate, Mandy, and I have all approached our seminar topic as a pivot point from which to addressed the plethora of themes that are important to young adults.  I’d write more but this studyhall is getting out of hand:( 


May 6, 2008

PUSH, again

Filed under: Uncategorized — jexter1 @ 11:21 pm

The other day, my roommate walked into my room and noticed that I was reading PUSH, by Sapphire. She instantly asked what I thought about it, and told me that she read it a few years ago. My roommate is 18, black, and from Brooklyn. I was not just happy, I was thrilled, to be able to discuss this book with a young girl who is the same race and from a city just like Precious (PUSH’s main character). My roommate said that she read PUSH in 11th grade, after the recommendation of many male and female friends of hers. The novel was not available at her school, so she bought it at Barnes and Noble, and loved it. She surprised me when she said that the graphic and sexual nature of the book did not phase her. Evidently she has read several YA texts that are equally as bawdy AND sexually violent.

My roommate did say that her race and city upbringing did not aide in her pick of the novel or pleasure in reading it. She agreed that being able to relate to characters and the setting of a story are helpful, but not a pre-requisite for success. As a matter of fact, she was glad and grateful that she could not relate to or think of a friend who can relate to Precious – an illiterate, abused, HIV Positive 12-year old who is pregnant for the second time  after being raped by her father.

As depressing and frightening as the novel begins, it ends with a feeling of hope, empowerment, and pride. Precious eventually leaves the hell-hole known as her mother’s home, and embarks on a journey of literacy, companionship, trust, and self-worth.

I stand by my opinion that this novel is too risque for the classroom, but everyone should read it eventually. You would be shocked at what sort of lives some kids endure.


Seminar Feedback for Allison, Erica, and Joyce.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jexter1 @ 10:58 pm


My first seminar, and a powerful one at that. Allison introduced her seminar, Viewing Sept. 11, 2001 and the Aftermath Using YA Literature, with an emotional and touching reflection on our whereabouts and experiences during 9/11. This segued us into a conversation on a multitude of texts discussing 9/11, the aftermath, racism, prejudice, and The War on Terrorism. Allison brought an incredible variety of genres: graphic novels, poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction, etc.

I particularly liked Allison’s extension activity on Zoya’s Story: An Afghan Women’s Struggle for Freedom, because it included modern technology and raised awareness of the many issues that resulted from 9/11. Allison’s activity requires an iSearch to explore Afghanistan and its history. Students discuss their views on sexism, and critically look at the main character’s thoughts on American presence in Afghanistan. I found Allison’s activities applicable for all grades, and highly necessary for today’s and tomorrow’s generations.

Lastly, the article on “Unveiling Students’ Perceptions about Women in Islam” offered a strong argument for the need to increase Islamic female roles in YA literature. I learned from the article, and Allison, that women are often misrepresented and oppressed in literature as well as society. Stereotypes may be reconsidered if younger generations are made aware of them and the truths of Islamic women. Also, the article introduces us with a list of characteristics that describe the objectification of Islamic women. As Allison wrote on the margin, these descriptions are excellent discussion starters. Being a fairly new topic YA literature can explore many angles of 9/11, the aftermath, and The War on Terrorism.


Erica’s seminar piece on Pregnant and Parenting Teens in YA Literature was informative and intriguing. She demonstrated a great deal of preparation by introducing the seminar with statistics and a discussion on the topic of teen pregnancy. In order to bring relevance into the room, Erica disclosed the connections she has to others who have dealt with teen pregnancy. I found Erica’s candidness with us and respect for those who have had to grow up quicker than other teenagers both astounding and admirable.

The most important and memorable part of Erica’s seminar was her discussion of today’s statistics on teen pregnancy and parenting, and her book selection. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the books! “Annie’s’ Baby,” is the first book on Erica’s Extension Activities list and the book I borrowed afterwards for Book Club. Erica implements journal/reflective writing into this exercise, which is a powerful way to receive honest responses from the students.

I particularly enjoyed reading the article titled “Facts and Fictions: Teen Pregnancy in Young Adult Literature.” The article presents the topic of abortion in YA literature, and how it comes hand-in-hand with teen pregnancy issues. The article explains that abortion is too much a personal, familial, and religious topic that it has been avoided in literature. Erica, as well as I, pointed out that with teen pregnancy comes the question of how one will deal with the situation. Abortion, adoption, and motherhood are the options that come to mind in the case of teen pregnancy, and need to be part of the text if YA literature does in fact mirror reality.


Autism, a disability that hits close to home after six years of working with children and teens struggling with it, was a challenging topic for someone to tackle; yet, Joyce demonstrated extensive knowledge, research, and care for the topic. We all shared our experiences with Autism, as well as Joyce’s connection to it. The fact that Joyce received others’ input with open arms, even if it was a fact or statistic that she was unaware of, allowed us to see a glimpse of the supportive, warm, non-superficial teacher Joyce will be.

We began with a New York Times article titled “Autism as Metaphor.” I particularly liked this article because it identifies Autism as a condition that once disabled, but now can create intellectual, talented, profound human beings. Characters with Autism in YA literature from years back were characterized as “animalistic” and occasionally violent. Now, it has turned into an exploration of the human psyche, unconventional thought processes, and brilliant people (known as Savants to many), which has expanded the options for storylines and characters. Can Autism be a metaphor and not always a medical term? Yes. For young adults to want to learn about Autism, it needs to be translated into the language and interests of teenagers.

Joyce’s extension exercise titled “Thinking in Image and Language” is my personally favorite. She parallels this exercise with the novel “Rules,” a story about a young boy with Autism who in non-verbal. This exercise practices non-verbal communication, which forces the students to explore the point of view and life of a non-verbal Autistic child for a class period. Students must translate their thoughts and words on a particular topic into pictures on an index card. Finding pictures that equate to words will be a challenge, but comprehending a message written in the form of pictures teaches a whole new language. I would love to use this in future classes, because I envision the students having fun while simultaneously learning and empathizing with non-verbal people with Autism.

Great job, ladies! ~Jessica

Joyce’s Seminar!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — erinlbowman @ 8:44 pm

This seminar was such a great experience. I absolutely loved that we opened with talking about our own experiences with Autism in our lives, and then we tied it all into literature and discussed how and if it’s viable to work with this topic and these titles in the classroom. I think what was particularly interesting for me was the fact that we all had Autism touch our lives at some point along the way.

I think that we all agreed by the end that this is an extremely important and prevalent topic for young adults and one that is not brought up a lot because it is a touchy one. In the seminar we talked about how many people don’t understand Autism, and this is why we need to use more of the literature that is available. This as we discussed however, is not an easy thing, especially in inclusive classrooms. You don’t want to single people out, yet you want to inform everyone.

Joyce compiled a rich list of titles, and brought many of them to class to share with us. I think that the novels that she chose were great, and they are all on my summer reading list. Because this is a topic that is really being brought to light in the media recently, and 1 in 150 people will be diagnosed with Autism in their lifetime, I think that it is very important that we all read these titles and have them available.  If you haven’t already, you are guaranteed at some point in your life to come into contact with someone or many affected by Autism.

Joyce did an outstanding job putting the folders together, giving us a broad range of articles that were great to read, and very informative. She also facilitated the discussion very well, I have to say that we could have stayed there and talked all night with the information and books that she provided us with. We were all really engaged, and excited to learn more. She also provided us with wonderful ideas and tools to use in our classrooms, and I am very excited to use them in the future!

Thank you Joyce for all of your work and preparation for this seminar. It was wonderful!

Erin 🙂

May 5, 2008

Feedback, please?

Filed under: Uncategorized — sostrom @ 10:50 pm

I was wondering if anyone would be willing and able to look at my article on how to teach about war using YA lit (my seminar inspired article).   I know many of us are incredibly busy, but if you are able to take a look and offer some feedback, send me your email address and I’ll email you my draft.  Thanks a lot.


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