Guest Post: Dr. Anne Dyer Stuart from Bloomsbury University Discusses YA Literature in the Education Classroom
In this series of guest posts, a variety of experts in children's and YA literature from state system universities will discuss their perception of the role of children's and YA literature in state system higher education curricula.
This first post in the series is brought to you by Dr. Anne Dyer Stuart of Bloomsbury University in the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
[Views and opinions expressed here are the authors' own, and not those of the Universities or any other organization.]
Anne Dyer Stuart is an Assistant Professor of English at Bloomsburg University, where she teaches young adult literature, creative writing, composition, and contemporary literature. Her poetry was nominated for Best New Poets 2016 and her nonfiction won New South journal’s 2012 prose prize. Past publications of both poetry and prose include AGNI, Fiction Southeast, New World Writing, Third Coast, The Louisville Review, Exit 7, Poet Lore, Lake Effect, The Midwest Quarterly, storySouth, and Pembroke Magazine.
Anne Dyer Stuart
I teach Young Adult Literature (YAL) to future educators at a mid-sized state school. It’s a course that’s meant to act as a bridge between future teachers’ education classes and their literature classes, because in the past, students felt such a course was lacking from the curriculum. They said they were learning wonderful things in their English classes, but wondered how all of it would translate to their future classrooms. What would it look like? What would they actually do with literature? And, can they read YAL like they read the “adult” books assigned in their college courses?
My YAL course focuses mostly on reading strategies, because I learned from my colleagues during Education Career Day, a half day in which our department offers workshops, mock interviews, and roundtables with teachers in the field, that in mock interviews English/Secondary Education majors could explain how they would teach writing but not reading. We figured out that reading strategies are taught in their education classes at the middle level, but not for secondary education. Now each week in my YAL class is devoted to a particular reading strategy, which students are tasked with applying to whatever YA novel we’re reading.
On the first day of class, I share with them an excellent English Journal article by Jeannette Haskins, “Making Magic with YAL,” which describes how her relationship with YAL has evolved over the years, and how important her classroom library has become to her students. She also includes a survey she gives her students, a “Reader’s Profile,” which helps her figure out the kinds of books they like and would probably enjoy. At the end of the survey, she asks students to rank a list of books on a scale of 1-5 if they’ve read them, and this list is a great introduction to teacher candidates who haven’t read widely in YAL. Another thing that my students have found particularly helpful about the article is how Haskins discusses which books have been hits with various students, and how she’s been able to use some as a kind of gateway to deeper, richer, more complex YAL.
Below are some of the weekly topics/reading strategies in my course, along with the assigned article for that week, that others may find helpful, all of which can be applied to any YA book:
Adolescents. 3rd ed., Routledge, 2016, pp. 39-63.
Literature to Adolescents. 3rd ed., Routledge, 2016, pp. 115-132.
Reading Apprenticeship Improves Disciplinary Learning in Secondary and College Classrooms. 2nd ed., Jossey-Bass, 2012, pp. 17-53.
Can Do: A Guide for Teachers, 6-12. Heinemann, 2003, pp. 73-101.
Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers, 6-12. Heinemann, 2003, pp. 73-101.
Comprehending Challenging Texts, 4-12. Stenhouse Publishers, 2004, pp. 79-103.
Challenging Texts, 4-12. Stenhouse Publishers, 2004, pp. 148-166.
and Reflective Reading with Adolescents. 3rd ed., Foreword by Michael W. Smith, Teachers
College Press, 2016, 143-182.
Throughout the course, students are tasked with applying particular strategies to the YA novels we read and then teaching to and learning from their peers. I’m asking them to really think about the kinds of teachers they want to be, and to use our classroom as a lab to practice their ideas.
Haskins, Jeannette. "Making Magic with YAL." English Journal, edited by Mike Roberts, vol. 101, no. 2,
2011, pp. 101-104.
Jen is an Instructor of English at East Stroudsburg University. Views and opinions expressed here are her own, and not those of the University or any other organization.