Using Young Adult (YA) Literature in a Classroom: How Does YA Literature Impact Writing Literacies
While English teachers are working to incorporate various versions of the Common Core State Standards into their curriculum, they are often emphasizing canonical fiction over alternative literature that students may connect with at a higher engagement level. Young Adult (YA) literature may help teachers meet the needs of the whole student as well as local standards. The purposes of this study were (1) to explore how students engaged with reading and writing after reading YA literature, (2) to evaluate whether the YA students’ writing samples differed from the canonical group’s, (3) to determine if students see themselves as better writers after the experience, and (4) to examine the teacher’s perception of reading YA Literature. The research was conducted in a single teacher’s 9th grade classes at an urban high school in the Southwest with a primarily Hispanic population. Two groups worked with canonical literature, and two groups worked with YA literature. All students were given a modified version of the Daly Miller Writing Apprehension Survey before and after they read either a YA short story or a classic short story. They then constructed a writing sample using the same generic prompt for all groups. Several students and the teacher were interviewed after the process. Quantitative results showed that students who read the YA pieces increased their mean score on the modified Daly Miller Survey. Their writing samples had a greater mean score than the canonical group. The qualitative results also indicated greater engagement and understanding of the YA literature, while the teacher expressed enjoyment in teaching both pieces since they were both received well by the students. Finding that students improved in a quantifiable way after using YA literature indicates that there are pedagogical reasons to incorporate YA literature in the classroom, in addition to enhancing enjoyment.
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