English teacher Christine Stock has an interesting article about Young Adult fiction up today over at The Huffington Post. YA doesn’t get much respect in many literary circles. Many teachers or professors consider them to be the pop music of literature — catchy yet lacking in substance. Whether that assertion is specious or not, I’ll leave to you. Stock, the English teacher, seems to have sides with YA crowd.
In her article, she recalls an anecdote in which she tells her shocked students that she hasn’t yet read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a title they consider among “the best ever.” Sure, Fault isn’t Ulysses but who really gets excited over dense, incomprehensible Joyce? English professors, probably. Masochists as well, though those two together are redundant. Green’s novel keeps young readers riveted. The value of that is not to be underestimated.
Her students’ bewildered response taught Stock a lesson about teenagers and the willingness to keep reading beyond the classroom:
“Their insistence was persuasive and I read John Green’s book a few weeks later. I will certainly argue that it is a wonderful book, but what has stayed with me longer than the story is my students’ strong reaction to it. You just can’t teach that kind of enthusiasm.”
Stock explains that Young Adult fiction serves multiple purposes. First, it’s something that teens will read voraciously. Second, it’s a great gateway to the meatier stuff. You can get kids interested in reading something like Brave New World or 1984 by way of The Hunger Games. The Fault in Our Stars can be a lead-in and reference point to works like Romeo and Juliet. The key to getting young readers hooked on reading is to let them pick the books they’re interested in. You can then harness that excitement to teach the canon:
“So talk to your teen about his interests. Consider your kid’s hobbies. In which class does your teen excel? What kind of movies does she typically watch? The answers to these will help you find books that your teen will like. If he likes the topic, he’ll most likely read the book. Yep, teens will actually be enthusiastic about reading, plus maybe learn something while doing it. And that’s what’s so great about Young Adult Literature.”
For the whole piece, be sure to click the link below.
Read more at The Huffington Post
Photo credit: Christine Stock / Shutterstock