Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Texts, Complex Lives
Jennifer Buehler knows young adult literature. A teacher educator, former high school teacher, and host of ReadWriteThink.org’s Text Messages podcast, she has shared her enthusiasm for this vibrant literature with thousands of teachers and adolescents. She knows that middle and high school students run the gamut as readers, from nonreaders to struggling readers to reluctant readers to dutiful readers to enthusiastic readers. And in a culture where technological distractions are constant, finding a way to engage all of these different kinds of readers is challenging, no matter the form of delivery.
More and more, literacy educators are turning to YA lit as a way to transform all teens into enthusiastic readers. If we want to meet the needs of all students as readers, we have to offer books they can–and want to–read. Today’s YA lit provides the books that speak to the world of teens even as they draw them out into the larger world.
But we have to do more than put YA titles in front of students and teach these books as we’ve traditionally taught more canonical works. Instead, we can implement a YA pedagogy–one that revolves around student motivation while upholding the goals of rigor and complexity. Buehler explores the three core elements of a YA pedagogy with proven success in practice: (1) a classroom that cultivates reading community; (2) a teacher who serves as book matchmaker and guide; and (3) tasks that foster complexity, agency, and autonomy in teen readers.
With a supporting explication of NCTE’s Policy Research Brief Reading Instruction for All Students and lively vignettes of teachers and students reading with passion and purpose, this book is designed to help teachers develop their own version of YA pedagogy and a vision for teaching YA lit in the middle and secondary classroom.