Cybils Shortlists Announced
Best of 2006 Recap

YA Considered

The author Justine Larbalestier addresses the question, "What is the difference between young adult literature and plain old adult literature?" Some of her answers made me laugh, including the statement, "YA is never about a middle-aged professor who has affairs with his students."

I've had YA in mind because I'm in the middle of an interesting book by my friend Sarah Herz and another author, Donald R. Gallo, called From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges between Young Adult Literature and the Classics (second edition). It's written for teachers, but parents, librarians, and anyone involved with children's books are likely to enjoy this immensely readable guide, too. In her introduction, Sarah Herz, who taught English for 24 years, writes,

When I accepted and understood the possibilities of YAL [young adult literature], I found a powerful tool to help students take pride in their reading and help them develop into confident, critical readers.

YAL's value lies in its ability to connect students to the story immediately, because it deals with real problems and issues that are central to their lives.

I haven't yet reached the crucial chapter "Building Bridges: Getting Students from Wherever They Are to Where the Curriculum Says They Should Be," but I can tell you that the book is chock full of ideas and resources for "theme connector" young adult titles for frequently taught classics like "Romeo and Juliet," The Scarlet Letter, and The Odyssey.  Herz and Gallo consider books for a wide range of readers, and they list many suggestions for using young adult lit in classes other than just English. Given how much I've enjoyed the book so far, I highly recommend From Hinton to Hamlet.

Hmm, now I'm wondering to which classics the 2006 Cybils YA finalists would be good bridges.  Those shortlisted books are The Book Thief, A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, Hattie Big Sky, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and The Rules of Survival.

Thanks to Shaken & Stirred for the link to Justine's discussion.


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The Book Thief:
The Diary of Anne Frank
Number the Stars
Night trilogy

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life:
Anne of Green Gables
Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye
Some might say David Copperfield or Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Hattie Big Sky:
Little House series
Little Women series
Anne of Green Gables series

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist:
It is difficult to think of a similar classic. Dare I suggest The Great Gatsby? Not highly comparable on the surface, but think about it...

The Rules of Survival:
Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Awesome, LW, and, hey, if you think The Great Gatsby, I believe it! I hope teachers see this post.

A friend once described the AP English reading list and the way it was taught at our local HS as "AR (Accelerated Reader) on steroids." I thought it was an excellent analogy. I wish they would pair a YA novel with "classics." The kids and teachers would get so much more out of the experience.

Since's "Search Inside This Book" is temporarily ignoring me, who is the "Hinton" of the title ?

S.E. Hinton, who wrote "The Outsiders." As I understand it, that was one of the first YA novels.

*sigh* Still trying to understand why everyone loves Nick and Norah...

Me too, Pooja. Sometimes when I try and fail to read something that everyone loves and I wonder what is wrong with me.

I read the occasional YA novel, but have not yet read any of the Cybils Top 5. Maybe I should head over to the library and remedy that.

By the way, Pooja, Rama and the Demon King was a Christmas gift for Junior because he wanted to read it again. (Note to everyone else--it's a picture book that Pooja reviewed here back in October.)

Camille wrote:

"Me too, Pooja. Sometimes when I try and fail to read something that everyone loves and I wonder what is wrong with me."

Nothing's wrong with you - not every book will appeal to every reader !

Susan, thanks. I somehow doubted it was Nigel Hinton, one of whose books I was reading when I asked the question !

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