How do you define the terms “literacy” and “adolescent literature?” Contextualize your response in your teaching, your experiences as a reader, the readings from this week, etc.
To consider how “literacy” and “adolescent literature” work together is important for those of us who are choosing to invest our lives in education. In a broad sense, I would define “literacy” as simply the ability to read and write, but I think realizing and harnessing in the power of literacy is where the real magic happens. By teaching adolescents to engage with literature, we are encouraging students (& ourselves) to dive into worlds unlike our own, and take a lesson from their reading experience and the experience they encounter through literature. Adolescent literature allows for a special of age-appropriate reading matter that is of interest to young adults. Whether it be historically-based fiction or a love story, adolescent literature, to me, is about teaching the reader the joys of reading.
Taking the time to remember myself as an adolescent reader always reminds me of why I have a passionate for English education. The first series I remember picking up and enjoying was The Little House on The Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was in first grade. The feeling of reading a book and feeling as if I was immersed in the scene with the Ingalls family was magical. This enriching feeling was accompanied with the wholesome, moral lessons that I was taught through this series. I think finding a student’s interest and directing them towards literature that they are most likely to enjoy can be a nudge in the right direction for engaging students in reading, and they will not have as many walls up as they face more difficult literature in high school and college. One of our books from this module is American Street by Ibi Zoboi and this book is a prime example of a more difficult style of reading that students could come across in a classroom or through their own literary interests outside of class. This book focuses in on challenging topics that can be especially hard to face as young adults, such as, immigration, drugs, crime, and civil and political unrest in forms of protests and struggles between the characters and the police – not the mention the harsh language presented on every single page of Zoboi’s book. Although I am not sure if I would present this in a classroom or not, I think that it presents a character faced with very difficult decisions that lead to tragedy, which could really be relatable to some students.