Friday, April 6, 2012

Talking with the Goddess of Young Adult Literature

It's clear that Teri Lesense is passionate about young adult literature -- and about young adults.  You can hear her excitement and commitment in her voice.  You can also see it in the way she writes about books for younger readers.  Her blog is full of information about new books, about ways of engaging adolescent readers, and last week, about her experiences as a guest speaker at this year's YSU English Festival.  So rather than offering my own comments, I think you should go visit Teri's blog, and see what she has to say for yourself.

Ok, I'll add just one thing:  my favorite idea from Teri is the reading ladder.  I've been frustrated to hear so many of my English Ed students arguing that we shouldn't ever ask high school students to read  anything in which they don't have an intrinsic interest.  They insist that young adult lit is all kids need, telling me that "classic novels have nothing to offer."  It bothers me that future English teachers believe that literature is largely worthless, or that it's only valuable if readers identify with the characters. Yes, I want to engage young adults in reading, and I see the value of YA lit for accomplishing that.  But I'm troubled by the notion that no one should ever be pushed to read something that isn't about someone just like them.  And isn't education about getting us to expand our perspectives, to understand the world far beyond ourselves?  And what about developing stronger reading skills, not just a love for reading?  Lesense's model of the reading ladder offers a smart way of addressing that gap. 

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