Say YA to Reading: #nctechat Preview - National Council of Teachers of English
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Say YA to Reading: #nctechat Preview

Say YA to ReadingBack in 2013, we began our monthly #nctechat  on Banned Books Week with guest hosts Laurie Halse Anderson and Teri Lesesne. We hope you’ll help us continue this tradition by joining us tomorrow, September 20th at 8 PM ET for #nctechat on Twitter. Our topic will revolve around young adult literature, which is the theme of this year’s Banned Books Week. The chat will be hosted by celebrated YA author Matt de la Peña and ALAN president-elect, Jennifer Buehler. Here’s a preview of the questions we’ll be discussing over the course of our hour together:

  • What do teens gain from reading YA in contrast to other kinds of literature?
  • Why do you think YA is so frequently challenged and often given less respect in schools than canonical literature?
  • Given the possibility of censorship, what factors do you consider when selecting YA titles for your classroom?
  • How do you attend to your biases and potential blind spots when selecting YA titles for classroom use?
  • What do you do to reach out to parents, colleagues, and administrators BEFORE a YA book challenge occurs?
  • How do we spread the message about the value of YA to parents, colleagues, and administrators?

We are honored to have both Matt and Jennifer as hosts for this important chat. Both are fierce advocates for young adult literature, as evidenced by the following excerpts:

Matt de la Peña

(The following is an excerpt from an interview on The Rumpus with Lilliam Rivera where Matt talks about visiting a school where his book, Mexican White Boy, had been banned.)

Matt de la PenaThe New York Times followed me into the school. And it was a crazy experience, because I thought I would find a bunch of Mexican American students who were deflated because this program, that was so innovative and proven to be helpful to many of those students, was taken away. But when I got there, what I found was that what this situation had done had created a generation of activists. They were picketing the school. They were going to board meetings. Chaining themselves to desks. They were really fighting for this program. And it was cool to see that it has given them something to fight for. But the thing that is crushing is that it is purely politically motivated. These kids were the ones affected.”

Jennifer Buehler

“Rather than simply waiting for criticism of YAJennifer and responding from a defensive stance, we can look for ways to educate our colleagues and communities about YA before criticism comes. We can engage in outreach that highlights what YA has to offer, why it’s so important in the lives of teens, and how a thoughtful YA pedagogy can help students break new ground as readers…I’ve come to believe that the way forward in conversations about YA is to offer a new vision for how we should be teaching reading and teens. While we have to begin this conversation with the books themselves and their inherent complexity and value, we need to talk as well about what we want our students to be able to do as readers and how they might accomplish these goals through YA books and YA pedagogy. In this way, the focus shifts from debates about the merits and drawbacks of specific books and toward the purposes and processes of reading. That shift in focus allows us to share with parents, colleagues, and administrators what students can do as readers of YA lit when they are given tools for finding and making complexity. When we explain the kind of work that’s possible with YA within this paradigm, we create an opportunity to get others thinking in new ways about the books and how we might teach them.”

We hope you’ll join us to start exploring the possibilities with YA in your own schools, libraries, and classrooms.

To learn more about censorship, intellectual freedom, and young adult literature, visit:
Banned Books Week
NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center
NCTE Guideline: The Students’ Right to Read
Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE
ALA Frequently Challenged Books List