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Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the Classics: Addressing Critical Issues in Today’s Classrooms
  • Joan F. Kaywell, Ph.D, University of South Florida
Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the Classics Addressing: Critical Issues in Today’s Classrooms was written because of the outstanding response received from teachers who have used Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the Classics, Volumes One (1993), Two (1995), Three (1997), and/or Four (2000) in their classrooms. Additionally, since many young adult (YA) books go out of print almost as quickly as they come into print, it was time to update the recommended books and incorporate additional strategies that involve the use of media and technology. Consistent with the series, this text is based on two assumptions: 1) The classics comprise the canon of literature that is mostly taught in our schools; and 2) most teachers are familiar with adolescent literature, or YA novels, but are unsure how to incorporate their use in classrooms. This book provides the necessary information so that teachers may confidently use young adult novels in conjunction with commonly-taught classics. With four volumes of chapters from which to choose, this revised edition was initially constructed with middle school students in mind even though high school students could certainly benefit as well. When choosing the classics most fitting for the middle level student—To Kill a Mockingbird, Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Miracle Worker—the theme of prejudice became glaringly apparent. Now that we live in a post 9/11 society and are currently at war, I decided to complete the book with a chapter on “Building Understanding: Using Young Adult Literature to Develop a Comprehensive World Literature Course.” Each summer for the last 11 years, I have had the good fortune of teaching a world literature course at the University of South Florida. Each summer, my students tell me that they will never be able to see the world the same way again. Not only do they develop a deep appreciation for diversity, but they also realize how lucky they are to live in a free and wealthy country. Unfortunately, they also learn that this is a scary time to be an American given that we are a minority country using a majority of the world’s resources. With increasing population, limited resources, and the Internet, it is imperative that we develop understanding and promote peace among all people residing in this global village. By addressing prejudicial issues involving race, religion, age, class/status, lifestyle, disabilities, and ethnicities at the middle school level while students are developing their ability to think in abstraction, it is hoped that teachers can show that hatred leads to pain and destruction. With knowledge and awareness, students might choose peace instead. Each chapter is written so that each student from the least to the most talented can learn at his or her optimum level. All chapters stand alone, but an experienced teacher can easily adapt the strategies employed in one chapter to fit his or her particular situation. For example, a teacher may not be required to teach The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but may choose to incorporate the multi-text strategy to whatever classic is required. Or, a teacher might be required to teach the aforementioned novel but could choose to approach its teaching under the theme that explores the conflicts of race and family demonstrated by using Crossing Jordan as a bridge to A Raisin in the Sun. In other words, several different approaches are suggested so that a teacher who likes a certain strategy could omit the suggested novels and insert the ones of choice. There are enough suggestions and other resources listed to assist teachers and their students with their search for complementary novels. Although this book is intended for middle and high school English teachers use, university professors who teach preservice teachers and graduate students may also find this text valuable.
  • adolescent literature,
  • young adult literature,
  • pairing classics,
  • teaching English
Publication Date
Christopher Gordon Publishers
Citation Information
Joan F. Kaywell. Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the Classics: Addressing Critical Issues in Today’s Classrooms. Norwood(2010)
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