This book offers readers opportunities to explore the most common universal themes taught in secondary English Language Arts classrooms using contemporary young adult literature. Authors discuss adolescence and adolescent readers, young adult literature and its possibilities in the classroom, and ways to teach thematic analysis. The book provides context, traditional approaches to teaching and examples of thematic explorations of each of the chosen themes. Chapters include developed teaching instructional units to study three universal themes: a journey of self-discovery; good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, and making difficult choices, and developing positive self-perception. Each instructional unit includes rationale, essential questions and objectives, calendar plans for up to six weeks, examples of introductory, reading and discussing, and enrichment activities and assessments. The activities target academic skills for ELA curricula and create safe spaces for exploring topics of identity struggles and personal growth complicated by social issues, all of which adolescents face today. Each instructional chapter suggests a wide range of additional texts and resources for theme explorations.
Leilya A. Pitre is assistant professor of English education at Southeastern Louisiana University. She works with secondary English education majors teaching methods courses, literary analysis, and young adult literature.
Mike P. Cook is associate professor of English education at Auburn University, where he works with pre-service teachers and graduate students. He teaches courses across the undergraduate and graduate ELA degree programs.
Chapter One. Adolescence, Young Adult Literature, and Thematic Explorations
Chapter Two. From the Hero’s Quest to a Journey of Self-Discovery
Chapter Three. Conceptual Teaching Unit: Identity Exploration on the Way to Self-Discovery
Chapter Four. Good vs. Bad, Right vs. Wrong, and Other Choices
Chapter Five. Conceptual Teaching Unit: Examination of Good vs. Bad, Right vs. Wrong, and Other Choices
Chapter Six. Self-Perception and Being Oneself
Chapter Seven. Conceptual Teaching Unit: Developing a Positive Self-Perception
About the Authors
Pitre and Cook have significantly added to the body of texts that discuss the value of using YA in the secondary English Language Arts classroom. These authors realize that two debates will continue: 1) Are universal themes universal? and 2) Does YA Literature belong in the classroom? Discussing both issues, they provide rationales for continuing to explore universal themes in the classroom through the inclusion of relevant, quality YA literature. Hurrah!
This book helps me envision readers actively engaged in grappling with important literary themes through activities involving art, poetry, performance, media production, and creative writing. It offers a consistent structure complete with weekly calendars, while also offering students freedom of thought and expression as they apply what they learn from characters to their own identity construction, as well as to decisions about what and how they want to be in the world.