English 394: Young Adult Literature

Spring 2000

Iowa State University

Donna Niday

Office: Ross 431 (O) 515-294-9981

(H) 515-292-4622

Office Hours: 11:00-12:30; 2:00-3:30 T, TH


Young Adult Literature Annotated Bibliography--Course Pack

If books could be more, could show more, could own more, this book would have smells . . . . If books could be more and own more and give more, this book would have sound . . . . And finally if books could be more, give more, show more, this book wou ld have light . . . If books could have more, give more, be more, show more, they would still need readers, who bring to them sound and smell and light and all the rest that can't be in books. The book needs you.

Paulsen, Gary. The Winter Room. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989.

ISU Catalog Course Description

Literature for and about the young adult. Critical study and evaluation of the genre; examination of modes and themes found in the literature; study of the relationship of the genre to literature for children and adult s. Selection of literature for use in school programs.

Course Goals

In taking this course, you will become more competent and confident in understanding the theory underlying the teaching of literature to young adults, in assessing reading materials for young adults, and in implemen ting the use of literature with young adults. We will make critical evaluations of the literature, explore a broad range of young adult literature, investigate strategies for encouraging student reading, and consider how young adult literature can be use d to promote both life-long reading and critical thinking.

The course is taught using John Dewey’s theoretical concept of experiential learning. We will experience a reading strategy and then analyze it. For instance, we will participate in whole class readings, small group readings (literature c ircles), and individualized reading (student choice) and then compare and contrast the various forms. I would encourage you to set a goal for yourself of reading as much and as widely as possible.


Definition of Young Adult (YA) Literature

Definition of Young Adult

The Young Adult Service Division of the American Library Association defines the age range of an adolescent or young adult as ages 10-19.

Early adolescence (Elementary or Middle School or grades 5, 6, 7)

Middle adolescence (Junior High or grades 8, 9, 10)

Later adolescence (High school or grades 11, 12)

Definition of a Young Adult Literature: Literature written for and marketed to young adults. Young adult literature is usually given the birth date of 1968 with the advent of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. Other forms of l iterature prior to this date may have had young adult protagonists (such as Huck Finn), but it was usually intended for an adult audience. Characteristics of a young adult novel usually include several of the following:

(1) a teenage (or young adult) protagonist

(2) first-person perspective

(3) adult characters in the background

(4) a limited number of characters

(5) a compressed time span and familiar setting

(6) current slang

(7) detailed descriptions of appearance and dress

(8) positive resolution

(9) few, if any, subplots

(10) an approximate length of 125 to 250 pages

What Is Not Young Adult (YA) Literature:

"While young adults . . . will read 'classics' with teen protagonists--such as Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn . . . or Louisa May Alcott's Little Women or even William Golding's Lord of the Flies--such novels are not str ictly considered YA literature. Similarly, contemporary novels popular with adults and young people, such as those written by Danielle Steel, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King, are also not in the category of YA literature." (Christenbury, Leila. Making t he Journey: Being and Becoming a Teacher of English Language Arts. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann, 1994.)

The "classics" mentioned above do not fit into the young adult literature category because they were intended for adult audiences. The popular fiction of Steele, Clancy, and King usually have adult characters. Remember the two-part definition for young adult literature: written for and marketed to young adults.


Required Texts

(The following books can be purchased at the University Book Store in the Memorial Union or at Campus Book Store.)

Large Group Discussion


Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Bantam Books, 1993. On Jonas' twelfth birthday, he is chosen to be trained to be The Giver, the individual who holds all of the memories of both pain and pleasure. He mu st decide how he will use this new gift.


Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963. New York: Dell Publishing, 1995. Kenny and his family enjoy a close relationship in Flint, Michigan, but when they decide to visit Grandma in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, they encounter racial prejudice.

Panel Presentations

Creech, Sharon. Walk Two Moons. Harper Collins, 1994. This book features a story within a story as a young Native American girl, with her grandparents' help, comes to terms with her mother's leaving. (Recipient of five awards)

Draper, Sharon M. Tears of a Tiger. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1994. After a night of drinking, Andy gets behind the wheel and ends up killing his best friend, a passenger in the car. Ridden with guil t, he has trouble coping. (Draper is the 1997 National Teacher of the Year.)


Rowling, J.R. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic Press, 1997. Living with his begrudging aunt and uncle, Harry leads a sad life until he goes to the Hogwarts School for Witch craft and Wizardry, performs a kind of hockey in the sky on broomsticks, and has innumerable adventures with his friends Ron and Hermione.

Staples, S. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989. Shabanu, a young girl of Pakistan, must decide whether to follow the tradition of the arranged marriage established by her family o r the independence she feels in her heart. Either decision means a sacrifice.


Garden, Nancy. Annie on My Mind. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1982. Liza discovers that her feelings for Annie go beyond friendship. Garden sensitively describes the romantic emotions of two you ng girls and the resulting chaos when their school recognizes their relationship.



Theme: CHALLENGES OF PREJUDICE AND "Coming of Age," cont.

Crutcher, Chris. Athletic Shorts. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1989. This collection of short stories features a variety of themes including "coming of age," family relationships, and accept ance of others. The stories include a sports connection, but the stories are also enjoyable to non-sports fans.


Literature Circles/E-Mail Project

Your literature circle will be reading the same novel as a group of eighth graders in Keota, Iowa. During the days that your literature circle meets, you may share and discuss the literature, talk about your e-mail correspondence and its succe sses/problems, compose book reviews to be published in the Iowa Language News, and determine how you will present this book to the class members of English 394.

Individualized Reading

You will also be expected to read a large and wide variety of young adult novels; the expectation is approximately one to two books per week. An annotated bibliography for your individualized reading can be purchased at Copyworks. The reading log sheets and circle graph at the back of the bibliography are to be completed as you read and are to be included in your final course portfolio.

Course Recommendations

1. Attendance and active participation. Because each class period carries a different theme and because many class projects are completed as a group, it is vitally important that you are an active participant every class period. I take attend ance during every class meeting, and I expect that only emergencies would require that you be absent and then only for a maximum of TWO class periods. If you absolutely cannot be present, you are to call me in advance of the class meeting. Office phone: 294-9981

2. Student-teacher conferences. You are required to attend the first conference with me in order for us to discuss your reading interests. You are invited to have a second conference to discuss final projects; this conference is optional but highly recommended.

3. Assignment due dates. It is advisable to maintain a reading schedule and compile the portfolio pages during the course. The attached schedule can aid you in meeting the requirements.


Course Requirements

  1. Book Talks and Read-Alouds. For one day during the course, you and a partner are asked to give a book talk and read aloud a section of a book. Your book choice is to accompany that day's theme. You will have a time allotment of five minutes . Help us visually see the book title, author, and characters by writing information on the board or overhead transparency and by showing the actual book itself (one visual required). Work on using eye contact and voice inflection so that you r book talk will receive the audience's attention. Think about a creative way to introduce your book--lights off, background music, posters, inviting audience members to perform parts, etc. The purposes of the book talks are to give you ideas of books you may wish to read and to broaden your concept of young adult literature.
  2. E-mail exchange with eighth grader. We will have an e-mail exchange with eighth graders at Keota Middle School in Keota, Iowa (southeastern Iowa) taught by Bonnie Romine. The purposes of this project are for you to (a) extend your literature conversations to a different audience, (b) learn about adolescent interests, needs, and values, and (c) encourage more reading and deeper reading (critical thinking). We will especially examine your use of (1) questioning, (2) modeling how to talk about literature, and (3) assessing student performance. We will correspond at first about the reading interests of the eighth grader (and discover hobbies, etc.) and then discuss particular books that the student is reading. Bonnie's eighth graders are requi red this semester to read one book shared in a group and at least one book of choice. To share the reading experience, you are to read the same literature circle book as your e-mail partner and you may read other books that your e-mail partner rea ds. You are to carbon copy (cc) to me and print your e-mail exchanges (both the ones you send and the ones you receive) and include them in your final portfolio. A minimum of 3 exchanges is required; Bonnie’s students have a similar requirement< /B>.
  3. Reader Sketch (approximately 5 double-spaced pages–there is no maximum length so it can be longer). You are asked to describe your history as a reader from early childhood to today, noting your attitude and experience in reading. Descri be the people who encouraged or discouraged your reading. Tell your reading goals for the future. You are required also to attach a one-page reflection of writing the reader sketch. One or more examples of reader sketches will be shared in class. We will prewrite ideas for the reader sketch during class time, and then you are asked to bring a rough draft of the reader sketch and reflection to class for a PQP (praise, question, polish) workshop time with a small group of class members. A rubric will be provided. See the course pack for the following items: (1) Explanation of reflective writing, (2) Reader Sketch Rubric, (3) PQP Sheets.
  4. Philosophy. Using either a current or future perspective of a parent, teacher, or community member, state your beliefs (and supporting reasons) about young adult literature. You may either write in list form ("I believe that . . . .") or in paragraph form. For instance, you might include how literature is chosen or the guidelines adults might use to encourage young adults to read YA literature. Example: "I believe that young adults should read a variety of young adult literatur e." (We will spend part of a class period brainstorming ideas for your philosophy.) Approximate length: 2/3 page to 1 page
  5. Group panel. Six group panel books are listed on the syllabus. On the Student Choice Sheet, please select your preferences for a book that sounds interesting to you. Your choice of a novel will determine your panel group. We will devote 45-60 minutes from six class periods to these panels, and you will have flexibility in determining how your group would like to present your novel. Possibilities might correspond to methods for teaching this work in the classroom, censorship issues, gendered r eadings, textbook acquisitions, creating activities around the text, or other areas. You are required to involve your audience in the presentation, use at least one visual, and include interesting and learning-filled (critical thinking) activities. You may wish to use handouts, a poster, or overhead transparencies for the visual. See the course pack for instructions on the accompanying reflective piece. (You will be given class time to meet with your group to plan your presentation.)
  6. Literature circle presentation. Your literature circle will read a commonly shared novel, compose a book review together as a group, and give a brief presentation. You will individually write a reflection on the literature circle experience (to be included in your portfolio). You will have class time to meet with your circle.
  7. Book Cards. A book card is required for each book read (required books and individualized reading) and should be helpful to you as a reference.
  1. Write the author, title, place of publication, publisher, copyright, targeted grade levels (the grade level is usually two years younger than the protagonist's age--students like to read about older characters to know what is ahead for them in life), category of the book (similar to the categories in the annotated bibliography), and page numbers for read-aloud sections for classroom use.
  2. Example:

    Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.

    Audience: 5th grade-Adult

    Category: Science fiction

    Read Alouds: pages 59-64

  3. Section 1: Summary. Write a brief plot summary of the book (5-7 lines).
  4. Section 2: Themes. Writing in paragraphs, describe approximately two to four ideas, concerns, themes, or connections with other texts that you consider might be important for yourself or another teacher who might want to teach this particular text.
  5. Section 3: Reader Response. At the bottom third of the book card, write a paragraph expressing your personal reader response to the book. Tell honestly whether or not you liked the book and why.

Book cards should be computer print-outs and one page in length. You will also turn in book cards to me on a periodic basis--minimum of one due each Tuesday (see schedule). When you have completed a book, write a book card, print two< /U> copies, and place them in the red folder. I will respond to one copy with my reader's comments and return it to you. The other copy will be filed in a cumulative file by category; you may use the files to decide which books you would like to read. Because young adult books tend to be short and relatively easy reading, I will expect students who really want to have a solid background in this area to read a large variety of texts. Therefore, to be considered for a(n):

A or A-, you will need to read at least 30 books

B+ or B, at least 26

B-, at least 22

C range, at least 15

The above number of books includes all of the young adult literature for the course (the eight required books, the literature circle book, and the individually chosen books).

8. Final Project

You have a variety of options for fulfilling this final assignment. You should choose a project that will be the most useful for you in the upcoming year; for example, if you are beginning to plan for the student teaching experience, you might us e this as an opportunity to create a (new) unit for use in the upcoming year. If you are still in the preparatory phase of your education or do not wish to enter teaching, you might use this as an opportunity to focus more on a variety of reading or on e ducating yourself as to the many possibilities of young adult literature. Choose one of the following and create either an essay or a unit plan of at least six pages: (If you choose to make a personal choice other than the options given, please share yo ur thoughts before proceeding into your plan.)

You must in some way include at least five young adult books in your project and presentation. You will be expected to give a 5-minute presentation on your project during one of the final class days. You may giv e a handout to your classmates (such as a bibliography) or you may wish to think of ways to make your presentation visual and exciting. The presentation is a requirement to pass the course.

a. Read and analyze all or most of the novels of one young adult writer; prepare a critical paper discussing the writer's continuing popularity, recurring themes, etc.

b. After having read several Y.A. books related to a similar theme (same or different authors), prepare a paper describing how the books contribute to a consideration of the theme, such as "Death and Dying Themes in Young Adult Literature," "Self-Identity Themes in YA Literature," "Parents as Characters in YA Novels Written Since 1990," or others.

c. Conduct an interest survey or critical issue survey regarding censorship, the use of books in the home, or attitudes of students, parents, teachers, or librarians toward young adult literature. You must survey at least ten people and include open- ended as well as multiple choice questions. Prepare a written report of the conclusions you can draw from your investigation.

d. Interview and visit with a teacher or adult working with adolescents and their literature in an uppper elementary school, junior high school, middle school, high school, or public library setting. Plan and use interview questions concerning one of the following topics: selection, censorship, lesson design, individualizing reading, use of reading, writing, listening, speaking and viewing to facilitate student learning, or another area of interest to you. A written paper and a list of your intervi ew questions must be submitted.

e. Scan articles in English Journal, ALAN Review, Voice of Youth Advocate, The New Advocate, Horn Book, and School Library Journal. Review and respond to 5-10 specific articles you feel will be useful in your role working with young adult readers. You may want to select journal articles that you would share with students and explain how they would be beneficial in encouraging reading or helping students better understand and make connections between titles a nd authors they would choose to read.

f. Create a unit of instruction with objectives, materials, activities, and a plan for evaluation on some theme or genre within Young Adult Literature or utilizing Y.A. Literature with a classroom "classic." (Ask me for a packet of instructions and h elpful hints if you choose to compose a teaching unit.)

g. Your choice (talk to me about your ideas).


9. Portfolio

At the end of the course, you will be asked to submit a final portfolio with the following requirements (you may decide what organizational format and order you wish to include):

a. Cover

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Overall reflection on your growth in the course
  3. Philosophy of young adult literature (this could be from a teacher's, parent's, or student's perspective)
  4. Reader sketch and reflection
  5. E-mail correspondence and reflection
  6. Group presentation reflection (if you used handouts, include them)
  7. Literature circle reflection
  8. Book cards, reading log and circle graph
  9. Final project and reflection
  10. Other projects (publication, presentation, etc.)
  11. Goals for future reading of adolescent literature
  12. Your self-assessment and one or more paragraphs explaining what grade you think you deserve in the course with supporting reasons.


Aesthetics (cover, table of contents, overall appearance) 5 points

Overall reflection 10 points

Philosophy and goals 10 points

Book talk 10 pts.

Reader sketch/reflection 50 points

E-mail/reflections 20 points

Panel group presentation/reflection 20 points

Literature circle presentation/reflection 20 points

Book cards 90 points (3 points per book if written well & showing genre variety)

Final project/reflection 50 points

Total Possible 285 points

Optional Projects

Publication in Iowa Language News (review of African American novel) 5 pts.

Presentation of book review(s) at state reading conference 5 pts.


Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change, wind ows on the world, and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind.

Barbara Tuchman, The Book

Class Schedule







Tues. 1/11



Introduction/Complete Student Card

Discuss syllabus and class requirements


Thurs. 1/13


Student Choice


Begin reading required texts

Discuss the question "What is literature?"

Discuss sub-literature (R. L. Stine,

vampire books, etc.)


Tues. 1/18


Continue reading

required texts

Discuss book cards

Discuss book talks/meet with partner


Thurs. 1/20


Have read The Giver

Book card--The Giver

Small group/large group discussion of

The Giver


Tues., 1/25

Science Fiction


Discuss censorship and other themes

in The Giver

Walk Two Moons group meets

Do prewriting exercises for reader sketch


Thurs., 1/27


Bring photo ID and

proof of address

Field trip to Ames Public Library


Tues., 2/1


Have read Watsons

Book Card–Watsons

Begin e-mail project

Discuss historical events/characters in

Watsons; see videotape of civil rights


Thurs., 2/3

Historical Fiction

Have read literature

Circle book

Finish discussing Watsons

Panel book groups meet


Tues., 2/8

Holocaust Literature

Book Card–Literature

Circle book

Literature Circles meet–discuss questions,

Book card collaboration, plan presentations


Thurs., 2/10

Emotional Problems


(Walk Two Moons group meets)


Tues., 2/15

Asian American


Book card on individual


Presentations of Literature Circles–Day 1


Thurs., 2/17



Presentations of Literature Circles–Day 2


Tues., 2/22

Latino/a Literature

Book card–book panel


Rough draft of reader’s

sketch and reflection

Book panel groups meet

PQP (Small group peer response) of reader

sketch and reflection–share all or portions

of paper


Thurs., 2/24

Native American


Book card–Walk Two


1st Panel–Walk Two Moons


Tues., 2/29

African American


Book card–Tears of a




2nd Panel–Tear of a Tiger

Reminder: By this point, you should have

turned in 15 book cards if you are working

toward an "A" grade.


Thurs., 3/2



Celebrate Poetry Day!

Choral readings in class

Midterm (in-class essays)


Tues., 3/7


Book card-Harry Potter

& the Sorcerer’s Stone

3rd Panel–Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


Thurs., 3/9

Banned Books


Discuss censorship/philosophy


Tues., 3/21

International Lit.

Book card--Shabanu

4th Panel--Shabanu


Thurs., 3/23




Discuss drama


Tues., 3/28



Book card–Annie on

My Mind

5th Panel–Annie on My Mind


Thurs., 3/30

Short Stories

Be reading books for

final project

Discuss short stories


Tues., 4/4


Book card–Athletic


6th Panel–Athletic Shorts


Thurs., 4/6

Interdisciplinary Lit.



Discuss Cinderella books from another culture;

Choose Cinderella book

Workshop (PQP) final projects (if time permits)


Tues., 4/11


Book card on an

Individual reading bk.

Day 1 of Cinderella summary presentations


Thurs., 4/13

Resource Books


Day 2 of Cinderella summary presentations


Tues., 4/18


Book card--individual

Be prepared for final

project presentation

Open discussion–student choice (if time)


Thurs., 4/20



Project presentations–Day 1 (5 min. each)


Tues., 4/25



Project presentations–Day 2


Thurs., 4/27



Project presentations–Day 3


Finals Week



Bring class to closure



Reflective Writing

Reflection is a way for us to think about our thinking. It allows us to step back and analyze the "hows" and "whys" of our writing and thinking. By thinking about our past practices, we can decide how we wish to maintain or change future practice s. Reflection causes us to examine our own learning, to assess our successes and frustrations, and to make connections between past and present learning, personal writings, and literature responses. Since self-assessment is the highest form of evaluatio n, reflection requires critical thinking. Reflection requires us to "stretch our thinking," and it becomes an invaluable tool in helping us to realize where we have been and where we're going. It also demands that we "grow" in our thinking to become mat ure reviewers of our own thoughts and perceptions. For these reasons, reflection needs to be an ongoing, active practice in our lives.

Some possibilities for reflection in your papers:

*Analyze your writing process--how you arrived at your topic or presentation of that topic; how you used prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, sharing for this piece of writing and in what ways that was linear or recursive (moving back and forth am ong writing stages).

*Determine strengths in your writing piece and provide specific examples.

*Evaluate areas of growth in your writing by explaining which portions of your paper may have been more difficult to write and how you resolved those dilemmas. You may also wish to describe areas that are still of concern for you that are still worki ng on resolving. Remember to provide specific, concrete examples.

*Decide areas of improvement or goals for future writings. Try to make these focused rather than general.

*Make connections to prior writings and compare and contrast your growth.

*Analyze your attitude toward this writing as compared to other writings. Be sure to be specific.

*Define your audience and how you considered your readers as you were writing. You may wish to describe your purpose and whether you obtained that goal.

*Describe your individual writer's voice and provide examples of your use of that voice.

Reflection is often considered in connection with a mirror. It's a way to stand back and take a critical look at ourselves by seeing the past and determining goals for the future. Hopefully, reflection will bring us to new realizations and nudge us toward further professional growth.