A Note from the EditorPamela Sissi Carroll
Welcome back to school and to a year with The ALAN Review. Isn't it wonderful to be involved with young adult literature --- as teacher, media specialist, writer, reader, parent-of-a-reader, advocate --- at a time when literature study finds itself in the national media spotlight? It seems to me that we who are advocates of young adult literature have been invited to the podium at center stage, and handed a microphone. It is our turn to enter the discussion (debate?) about what is taught in today's schools under the broad heading of "literature." When Ms. Prose despaired, in a September, 1999, Harper's article that the English curriculum is weak because today's teachers include writers whom we recognize as young adult authors, and when she voiced her views about "why the caged bird can't read" on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation on October 4, 1999, she invited us to state our case. She gave us an opportunity to articulate, for our colleagues, students, students' parents, and others the reasons that we encourage adolescents to read young adult literature. It is up to us to explain that young adult literature opens cages---whether the cages resemble classroom walls and school assignments, or young readers' minds. In this issue of The ALAN Review, you will find help in stating a case in support of young adult literature.
Joan Kaywell's letter to ALAN members, as the 1999 President of ALAN, reminds us of the opportunity for hearing and meeting authors and publishers, learning more about their literary works, and spending time with others who share our enthusiasm for YAL during the November, 1999, NCTE convention and ALAN Workshop in Denver. The Annual ALAN Workshop provides us not only with information and insights, but also with inspiration for taking young adult literature to adolescent readers.
The articles in this issue begin with a focus on the life and literature of Sue Ellen Bridgers, an artist who has brought strength and beauty to young adult literature since the 1976 publication of her first novel, Home Before Dark . Assistant Editor Gail P. Gregg and I had the delightful opportunity to talk with Bridgers at her home during the summer; our interview with her is followed by Susanne Miller's recommendation that teachers include Bridgers' All We Know of Heaven in their high school curriculum. Jinx Watson discusses of issues of "Individual Choice and Family Loyalty," through the books of Suzanne Staples Fisher; Gail Radley explores "Models for Coping with Death," in YAL; Scot Smith considers the "Sense of Self" in Brock Coles' characters, and Mary McNulty focuses on "Music and Truth" in young adult books. Rosemary Chance helps us understand the characteristics of young adult literature that draw readers, while Jim Brewbaker and Dawnelle Hyland demonstrate that young readers can also be writers of literature in "Poets Forever Young..." This collection of articles provides us with widely varied perspectives from which to construct arguments about the place of young adult literature, not only in schools and media centers, but more important, in adolescents' lives.
Our columnists in this issue give us more information and assistance for making our arguments in support of young adult literature. Ann Wilder and Alan Teasley share the voices of student readers, who identify their favorite books, in High School Connections. John N. Moore recounts his own history as a reader, and shares his Library Connections column with Jacob Gapko, who recommends books that feature characters with muscular dystrophy, a condition he knows from first-hand experience. Kathleen Carico's guest in the Professional Connections column, Elaine O'Quinn, describes a recent text by Sharon Stringer that presents "the psychology of young adult literature."
Perhaps the strongest contribution to building an argument for YAL is offered in the regular Clip and File Young Adult Books Reviews section, edited by Lawrence Baines and written by a team of book reviewers from across the United States and in Canada. 29 of the 31 books reviewed have been published in 1999; the two published in 1998 are award winners that deserve special attention. This is the last issue for which Lawrence Baines will serve as editor of the Clip and File section. I am indebted to him for the fine job he has done, and the gracious and positive spirit with which he has done the job since he began to prepare the column for the fall issue, 1998.
As you think of other reasons that young adult literature should be part of adolescents' lives, please share them with us, here in the pages of The ALAN Review. Stand with us at center stage, and grab a mike.
Please note: In the spring 1999 issue, Ben Palmer, co-author with Cynthia Unwin of an article on teaching Paulsen's Hatchet, as incorrectly identified as Brian Palmer. I apologize, sincerely, for the error.
Copyright 1999. The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ISSN #0882-2840). Permission is given to copy any article provided credit is given and the copies are not intended for resale in any form.
Reference Citation: Carroll, Pamela Sissi. (1999) A note from the editor. The ALAN Review, Volume 27, Number 1, 3.