Literature shapes lives. History clearly shows the power of the written word and the
importance of literacy, however the youth sector is often overlooked. Books truly have the power to impact people, especially children, but our society as a whole quickly looks past that. The goal of this project is to better understand the depth and purpose of young adult and children’s literature.
After taking ENG 304, International Literature for Children and Young Adults with Professor Bloem during the fall semester, my eyes opened to the rich, wonderful world of young adult literature. It contrasted sharply with much of the work that I see proliferating the popular market and I wondered why such an incredible distinction existed. Why were these books so well done and maturely put together and yet unknown to an average teenager? Our society grooms poor readers; I thought that a veritable wasteland existed between low-quality, poorly written novels and the seemingly stodgy, canonized literature that is taught in high school classrooms across the countries. In ENG 304, I learned that this is far from true, but that there is difficulty in making the current, quality literature accessible to the youth.
As an individual with career aspirations in the publishing industry, I want to know what is available and what is being published to close this gap. For this project, I intend to read the quality, award-winning young adult literature, as well as some of the current best sellers that perhaps have less literary merit. I want to analyze what makes the books work, what defines their quality, and I will create a blog to report on each book on my list. At the end of the semester, I want to compile my findings and my essays from the blogs into a larger, more sustained paper of 15-20 pages. I will look at similarities and differences from the books and try to create a list of criteria by which to define “good” young adult and children’s literature.
The Working Reading List:
Kit’s Wilderness, by David Almond.
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very
Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall.
This Book Is Not Good For You, by Psedudonymous Bosch.
Postcards from No Man’s Land, by Aiden Chambers.
The Magician’s Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo.
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman.
Looking for Alaska, by John Greene.
The First Last Part, by Angela Johnson.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueiene Kelly.
The White Darkness, by Geraldine McCaughrean.
The Twilight Saga, by Stephanie Meyer.
Monsters, by Walter Dean Myers.
Step From Heaven, by An Na.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan.
how i live now, by Meg Rosoff.
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket.
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang.
Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel.
The Uglies Series, by Scott Westerfeld.
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.
The Absolutely True Confessions of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.