ALAN v21n3 - From The Editors

Volume 21, Number 3
Spring 1994


As English language arts teachers and lovers of fiction who like nothing more than losing ourselves in a long novel, we sometimes view plays, films, and short stories as "the competition," the genres that seductively draw our students in and away from literature. Of course, the curriculum is filled with the drama and short story classics, but we may be tempted to use, if at all, the plays and short stories written by young adult writers as "supplementary aids" to accompany the teaching of longer, "serious" literature. Or we may watch the film version of a novel as a reward for having read and discussed it in class, perhaps sending to students negative messages about each genre: novels are the hard stuff to be endured; films are fluff not to be taken seriously.

In this issue we offer some thoughtful views and helpful suggestions for using plays, films, and short stories written by and/or for young adults. Sandy Asher, a playwright as well as a novelist, discusses her own work and offers extensive resources for teachers wishing to include more drama in their curriculums. Among the articles on film, Alan Teasley and Ann Wilder review fifty films that might be used as young adult "literature" study and describe their criteria for selecting films as well as their teaching process for film study.

Secondly, we feature varied perspectives of some women writers of young adult novels -- Sue Ellen Bridgers, Maureen Daly, Lois Duncan, Lynn Hall, Katherine Paterson, and Cynthia Voigt. The analyses draw rich portraits of characters developed by these women writers; they explore complex relationships and ways of growing; they propose some new views of some common themes; and they hold up a different mirror for re-seeing some familiar characters. Because the media stereotypically portrays females as helpless, ineffectual victims and because the suspense novel is a favorite of teen readers, Deborah Overstreet's analysis of Lois Duncan's female victims should be of particular interest to teachers who may want to include some of the information in their reading workshop letters to students.

The field of literature for young adults has been expanding beyond the novel to include noticeably more nonfiction, informational writing, more plays and short stories, and more of an emphasis on film as worthy of literary study. At this point, however, the novel no doubt reigns supreme; and adolescent literature and its readers owe much to the featured women writers in this issue and to others who have contributed so much toward moving the genre forward during the last twenty-five years.