One of the most outstanding qualities of the genre of young adult literature today is its ability to offer an opportunity for all teenagers to fit in—to find their place and their story. In our summer issue, with the theme of "Life at My House: Depictions of Family in Young Adult Literature," we provide connections between young adult literature and teens’ daily lives in a world filled with diversity.
Elaine J. O’Quinn kicks off the summer issue with “Where the Girls Are”: Resource and Research,” an examination of the connection between adolescent girls and their world. O’Quinn discusses research involving a deeper exploration of that world, including the literature and the social pressures that exist.
Author Jen Bryant shares how her writing has evolved, as part of Jean E. Brown’s interview. Bryant discusses her novels written in poetry form, including her latest, Ringside, 1925, historical fiction about the Scopes Trial regarding the legality of prohibiting the teaching of evolution. Jen returns to historical fiction to tell the story of the Scopes “Monkey” trial to test the legality of the Butler Act of Tennessee designed to prohibit the teaching of evolution.
“Louis Sachar’s Holes: Palimpsestic Use of the Fairy Tale to Privilege the Reader” by Laura Nicosia encourages scholars to look beyond simplistic and limiting genre classifications and approach Holes and other quality young adult literature through critical inquiry and theoretical exploration. Nicosia asserts that such YA literature is up to the task and ripe for such an examination.
Ruth Caillouet tackles literature censorship in the classroom in “Dixie Chicks, Scrotums, Toni Morrison, and Gay Penguins: Homosexuality and Other Classroom Taboos.” While censorship issues have been raised about various topics, homosexuality remains a lightning rod for such complaints. But, she states that educators must lead the charge in bringing quality literature into the classroom based on their expertise of what the students need.
In a topic more close to home, father/child issues are addressed in Zu Vincent’s “The Tiny Key: Unlocking the Father/Child Relationship in Young Adult Fiction.” The author examines that relationship, as expressed in various young adult novels.
“Stories of Teen Mothers: Fiction and Nonfiction” by Cynthia Miller Coffel shares an update on a previous article regarding teenage mothers. She details a book club that focused on teen parenthood and the responses those attending had to the literature.
In another article, Katherine Mason writes of “Creating a Space for YAL with LGBT Content in Our Personal Reading: Creating a Place for LGBT Students in Our Classrooms.” She emphasizes that such literature in the classroom will not only help those questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, but also provides others an opportunity to understand a new perspective.
Sally Lamping and Brett Beach follow with “Minding the Cover Story: Boys, Workshop, and Real Reading.” Lamping and Beach discuss the use of reading workshops to help students discuss literary works, but also provide an opportunity for dialogue about their own lives.
A panel of authors-Lisa Scherff, Isabel Arteta, Chad McGartlin, Kristin Stults, Elizabeth Welsh, and Charles White-discuss the value of memoirs in the classroom in “Teaching Memoir in English Class: Taking Students to Jesus Land.” They provide an indepth discussion in support of using the memoir Jesus Land in the classroom, despite its controversial issues.
And, finally, M. Jerry Weiss provides “The Sounds of Stories” in his regular Publishers Connection column. He recommends several audiobooks that bring some amazing stories to life.
But that’s not all. Don’t forget the Review regular features, such as 31 book reviews of the latest in young adult literature. We encourage you to become a part of our team of readers. Additionally, be sure to check out the ALAN research grants and Gallo grants which provide a variety of opportunities for professional development. And note the call for manuscripts for upcoming issues, as well as other possibilities for involvement in the ALAN organization.
As summer slips by, we hope you’ll take this opportunity to generate even more connections for young people. Flip through the pages of The ALAN Review, and make note of some ways to help adolescents find that their families—whatever the definition—have a vital place in young adult literature. Enjoy the issue—and, hopefully, restful summer.