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Young Adult Literature

ASU English Education
PO Box 870302
Tempe, AZ 85287-0302
Phone: 480.965.3224
Fax: 480.965.0605
Language & Literature Building Rm 215

Photo Above Right: The ASU English Education Young Adult Literature Class proudly announces its presence at the April 5, 2003 Arizona Book Festival. Photos (above right & below right): Alleen Nilsen

Young Adult Literature


The Arizona State University Young Adult Literature program is nationally known. Professor Emeritus Ken Donelson and Professor Alleen Pace Nilsen are authors of the leading textbook in the field, Literature for Today's Young Adult. It is now in its 7th edition, and is used throughout the country in Schools of Library Science, Colleges of Education, and Departments of English.

James Blasingame, Jr. is coeditor of The ALAN Review, a journal devoted entirely to young adult literature and sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English. He is also the Young Adult Book Review Editor for JAAL, the Journal of Adult and Adolescent Literacy.

We put together an annual Honor List of best books, which is published in the English Journal. Click on the above Honor List link for abbreviated reviews of selections for the past five years.

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On a fairly regular basis, we are able to get authors of young adult books to visit with our students. Right Top: Students pose with author Christopher Paul Curtis, who visited ASU in December 2002.


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Top Ten YA Web Resources
(Thanks to Marie Hardenbrook, former Librarian at McClintock High School in Tempe and now a faculty member at Vanderbilt University, for helping find some of these sources.)

1. ALAN: The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents
ALAN is a special interest group of the National Council of Teachers of English founded in 1973. It sponsors The ALAN Review and an annual two-day workshop featuring YA authors and their books, along with presentations by editors, teachers, and librarians. The ALAN workshops are held in conjunction with National Council of Teachers of English annual conferences which meet in different parts of the country every November.

2. The ALAN Review
The Digital Library and Archives: Formerly the Scholarly Communications Project at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, sponsors this site, which includes reprints of complete articles from The ALAN Review since 1994.

This commercial site is the most useful source I’ve found for knowing what books are currently in print and available. It also provides space for reader comments so that it’s a good place for teenagers to recommend books to each other.

4. The Children’s Literature Web Guide
David K. Brown from the University of Calgary manages this helpful site, which offers links to book news including the winners of awards and news about upcoming conferences; children’s and YA literature discussion groups; professional organizations; book reviews, and other educational resources. Especially useful is his “Best Books of the Year: A Roundup of Annual Book Lists Published on the Web.”

5. Free Expression Clearinghouse—A Guide to Free Speech and the First Amendment
This is an efficient way to keep up on censorship news. Headlines and summaries are given with many news items printed in full.

6. The International Reading Association
IRA’s website presents information about the organization’s goals, activities, publications, and book lists. The organization’s focus used to be on the teaching of reading in elementary schools, but members’ interests have extended upwards now that reading is being taught more in junior and senior high schools high schools.

7. The Internet Public Library: Teenspace
Links are provided to nearly 20 recommended resources, some aimed at adults but most aimed directly at teenagers. Topics include drug and health education, conflict resolution, youth advocacy, political involvement, emotional health, and current news of interest to young people.

8. Multnomah County Library Outernet for Young Adults
While some of the links on this site go to information about local library events, most of them are of national interest. It is especially good at providing information to aspiring writers and presenting such “offbrand” reading recommendations as “Reader’s Robot,” which promises to search a database of 2000 titles to find the one that fits the user’s profile; “Reading Rants! Out of the Ordinary Teen Booklists,” and Cathy Young’s irreverent reviews of “Favorite Teenage Angst Books.”

9. New York Public Library Teen Link
A standard reference for young adult librarians has been the New York Public Library’s annual Books for the Teen Age. Excerpts are now available immediately, as well as information about the Teen Age Cover Contest, and links to Internet sites for fun, sports, homework help, hotlines, media news, teen writings, and information on colleges.

10. Teen Hoopla: An Internet Guide for Teens
The parent organization for this website is YALSA (Young Adult Library Service Association) of the American Library Association. Links invite readers to submit book reviews, nominate books for YALSA’s booklists, get information on Teen Read Week, see what books were voted as Teens Top Ten, and visit other sites which review books for young readers.

Other Recommended Links

Arizona Book Festival 2003
Official site for the 2003 book fair gathering at the Phoenix Carnegie Library.

Arizona Reads
Website provides Arizona secondary students with an opportunity to cast their votes for what they like to read and help build a database English language arts and reading teachers can use to inform their instruction.

One Book Arizona
What if everyone in Arizona read the same book at the same time?

One Book Arizona for Kids
What if every kid in Arizona read the same book at the same time?

Poetry Zone
This link contains renowned author and poet Nikki Grimes' suggestions for teachers, including student writing prompts, recommended lists of poetry for grades K-12 (one for elementary schools, and a second list of YA titles), and ideas for presenting poetry to students. The list changes from time to time.

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For the past twenty years, Ken Donelson and Alleen Pace Nilsen have gathered all the “best book” lists they could find and have put together what they call their “Honor List.” Each year's list includes the ten to twelve books that have appeared on the most lists and won the most prizes. They use the Honor List in the introductory chapter to their textbook Literature for Today’s Young Adults, and also with their own students to help focus these students' reading on books that are likely to last.

For the last several years, this Honor List has also been printed each year in the English Journal. Here are the 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 winners accompanied by a few sentences excerpted from the fuller reviews. Jim Blasingame, Jr. has helped write the reviews for books since 2000.

2006 Honor List

2005 Honor List

2004 Honor List
2003 Honor List
2002 Honor List
2001 Honor List
2000 Honor List
1999 Honor List

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1. Course: "Literature for Adolescents" (ENG 471/540)
Professor: James Blasingame, Jr.
Term: Spring 2004
Click below for a syllabus:

MS Word [41 K]
[107 K]

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updated: October 10, 2008