Using YA Lit in School

Oh hey, you like to read, right?

And you may or not be in school, right?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the two questions above, then this post is for you!

I’ve been a fan of reading for as long as I’m able to remember. I read picture books, then chapter books, then middle grade, and now I’m finally at young adult. I do have to say that adult books have been thrown in here and there, so I’ve technically gone out of order of my ‘age level’ of reading (but that’s beside the point). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to incorporate the books I read more and more into my school work. Although education is important to me, it can be grueling sometimes; why not bring some fun into by connecting it to YA lit?

In 8th grade, I wrote my research paper on Stephenie Meyer and her influence on the vampire myth. As a freshman, I started my book blog. In my sophomore year, I made a speech about my disagreement with book censorship after the #speakloudly explosion. This year, I’ve used multiple YA book examples in my essays on the HSPAs, the SATs and even my AP test.

For the most part, I read for fun. And even though I read for fun, that doesn’t mean I can’t get anything out of the books I read. You don’t have to read closely to notice the character development, the self-discovery and the hero’s journey. A lot of YA novels are full of irony, foreshadowing and symbolism. In Literature /Language Arts class, kids learn to look more closely into the author’s words because there is always more than meets the eye; YA literature is full of all of that.

I’ve heard that the YA genre is a joke to a lot of ‘professionals.’ What professionals? People need to realize that young adult has A LOT of substance to it if they just gave it a try. These novels are not only wonderful stories; they also have important themes and motifs. They are also filled with plenty of literary devices and vocabulary words. (I’ve learned a lot of definitions by having to look up words I didn’t know-like ostentatious and copious -which saved me from learning them for the SATs.)

I don’t believe that a lot of people look down at YA, and if they do, they should change their perspective. I received a decent score on the essay I wrote for the SAT I took back in March (which was a 9 if you were wondering) by using the protagonists from How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr and Delirium by Lauren Oliver as examples. If the examples you are using fit the question you have to answer, I say use anything that comes to mind as long as you can incorporate it well.

I use YA in my school work because it’s important in my life. I’ve learned a lot through this genre of literature and it reflects through the work I hand in. If you are an avid reader like me, I suggest you begin using YA examples in school too! It’s something you and I are familiar with; the closer you are to something, the better you will most likely do.

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2 thoughts on “Using YA Lit in School

  1. Hi Alison,

    I actually have never come across people making their contempt for YA obvious in real life and I find that majorly surprising since I did spend four years studying English Lit (especially Brit Lit). I guess it helped that most of my profs were pop junkies and cool like that but the prevalence of this attitude in online publications is a bit astonishing – especially when it comes from authors who are writing YA and are careful to point out that they are just “slumming” it. I think it’s ridiculous how some people think YA is synonymous with shoddy writing/plotting/craft etc. I’m pursuing a Masters in Children’s Lit and you’ll be splendidly surprised to note that YA is fun and very much serious business to certain “professionals.” I think the people who will persist in their attitude about YA novels are those who like to cling to preconceived notions of superiority that arise from a person’s choice in literature. In fact, recently there were a spate of articles stemming from a person’s comments that Harry Potter isn’t literature. O.O

    • Really? I’ve never had someone express his/her contempt to my face, but sometimes it’s really obvious when you listen to the comments an someone makes. Many of my peers have also told me that I shouldn’t be using YA as examples because adults do not consider that ‘real’ writing. I disagree, though (obviously).

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