Alleen Nilsen’s YA BookPage
to Alleen Nilsen's YA Book Page
Thanks for your interest in books that teenagers choose to read. I define these books as those appealing to young people in grade six through high school (Ages 11 through 18). Obviously, there is a tremendous difference between what an eleven-year-old and an eighteen-year-old will choose to read, but that's what makes our field interesting. While I am excluding textbooks that teachers "force" students to read, I am including the kinds of nonfiction that students enjoy browsing and reading.
When I surfed the Internet looking for Websites to recommend as accompaniments for the sixth edition of Ken Donelson's and my Literature for Today’s Young Adults textbook (Addison Wesley Longman, 2000), I noticed that young adult literature was often subsumed under children’s literature. And the materials I found on books for teenagers were most often lesson plans for such old “classics” as Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird.
It's fine to teach these books and to get ideas from other teachers’ lesson plans. But we’ve been disappointed that when we have assigned our students (future teachers and librarians) to prepare thematic units, they have centered these units on whatever lesson plans they happened to find on the Internet. The ironic result has been that the most modern medium has ended up encouraging the most old fashioned teaching.
I hope to counterbalance this trend by providing links to what I consider to be the Top Ten Internet resources for teachers and librarians working with young people and books. Also, Ken Donelson and I will publish our annual Honor List with brief reviews of the ten or so books that we judge from the previous year to be most deserving of acclaim. And to encourage the incorporation of new books into classrooms and libraries, I will put together an Under Five page, which will include copies of book talks prepared by my students for good YA books published within the last five years. My YA course syllabus is also included as an illustration of one way to balance the reading of YA books with studying a text and preparing materials for use in classrooms and libraries.