A Print Read

Posted on 23 March 2010 Tuesday

Although the pain in my neck tells me I’m living online, I do take the time to do offline, informative reading as well. Sometimes the journals pile up and wait months before I get to them, but this month there have been very informative articles that couldn’t wait. I’ve already mentioned the current School Library Journal. Another good one is the ALAN Review. So many great articles this month! “Similar Literary Quality” and “Scattering Light over the Shadow of Booklessness” both give compelling reasons for including YA literature in the curriculum, the former to support AP curriculum and the latter to keep students engaged in reading. In  “Their Lives are Beautiful, Too”, we learn why Matt de la Pena decided to focus on the lives of urban teens in his books.

For urban teens who feel that their voices have gone unheard and the significance of their lives has gone unrecognized, Matt de la Pena’s novels provide a powerful space of affirmaton. The very existence of Matt’s work is testimony to the fact that these teens’ lives and voices matter. But Matt’s novels don’t just speak to urban teens. They also challenge readers whose lives have been shaped by race and class privilege to consider how the world looks to people who have less and live differently. As Matt reminds us, their lives are beautiful, too.(1)

The Trouble with Normal: Trans Youth and the Desire for Normalcy as Reflected in Young Adult Literature” postulates that while the presence of GLBT sexuality is growing in YA lit, its not enough to give a sense of normalicy to other than heterosexual teens. While the author details three main purposes in GLBT fiction, he states “The third and probably the most important aspect of these novesl is to show trans youths’ need–destire–to engage in the quotidian activities of life, whether going to the mall, dating or simply using the washroom at school.” (2)

“Why Do Chinese People Have Weird Names: The challenges of teaching multicultural adult literature” developed from research conducted right here in Indiana. The authors visited midwestern classrooms to find the best methods for teaching multicultural literature. They had to teach the teachers how to select good books from other cultures.

  • Check the background of the author
  • Look for appealing plots
  • Make sure the characters are positive
  • Select books that are realistic
  • Assess whether the culture is authentic
  • Look for award winning, contemporary books (3)

While this list is necessary, I think it borders almost on the ridiculous that you have to develop it to help teachers find PoC books. When good books were selected (the authors provide a short list with the article), the teacher’s knowledge and comfort will help them develop strategies that work for engaging students in books from different cultures. Several strategies are discussed in the article which would help any teacher expand their repertoire to include books that reflect today’s world.

There are other articles as well as book reviews in this peer reviewed  journal which is published by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English. It’s published 3/year and subscription is provided with a membership to ALAN. ALAN does maintain a blogsite but articles are not available online.

Did I really just review a journal??? LOL”


1.”Their lives are beautiful too: How Matt de la Pena illuminteas the lives of urban teens’ by Jennifer Beuhler; The ALAN Review, Winter, 2010 p. 43

2.  “Why Do Chinese People Have Weird Names: The challenges of teaching multicultural adult literature” by Robert Bittner The ALAN Review, Winter, 2010 p. 35

3.  “Why Do Chinese People Have Weird Names: The challenges of teaching multicultural adult literature” by Nai-Hua Kuo and Janet Alsup, The ALAN Review, Winter, 2010 p. 17-24