Fall 2011

MWF 10:00 a.m. to 11:0 a.m.
Simpkins 014

Survey of literature for secondary students grades 7-12. Emphasis on critical analysis, evaluation, and use of books in various genres.

NCTE Standards

3.5 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of, and uses for, an extensive range of literature.

3.6 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of the range and influence of print and nonprint media and technology in contemporary culture.

Dr. Rebekah Buchanan                                                                         Email:

Office: SI 226 B                                                                                      Office Phone: (309) 298-1514

Office Hours: MWF 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.; MW 11 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; and by appointment

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the multiple genres of contemporary young adult literature. You will read a range of YAL texts written by award-winning authors, which we will discuss from the perspectives of genre, theme, representations of adolescence and adulthood, and approaches to interpretation. Further consideration will be given to issues of censorship and canonicity. English Education majors will consider pedagogical approaches while others will consider the texts from a literary or sociocultural perspective.

Required Texts:


Nilsen, Alleen and Kenneth Donelson. Literature for Today’s Young Adults. Eighth edition. Pearson, 2009.

Gallagher, Kelly. Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It. Stenhouse. 2009.

Required Young Adult Novels

*Goto, Hiromi. Half World.

*Green, John & David Levithan. Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

*Halse Anderson, Laurie. Wintergirls.

*Myers, Walter Dean. Monster.

*Yan, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese.

*Zusak, Markus. I am the Messenger.

Additional Reading

*6 more YA books from an approved reading list

*You will also locate and read several scholarly articles on contemporary literature for young adults.


  1. To become acquainted with the characteristics of young adult literature in comparison to children’s literature and adult fiction.
  2. To expand your knowledge of high-quality young adult books by reading new works specifically written for young adults and by hearing the recommendations of others.
  3. To read a variety of genres and authors, including multi-genre and non-traditional genres.
  4. To respond to a variety of YAL books individually and in a group to increase your understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of this literary niche.
  5. To consider productive uses of YAL for professionals who work with young adults.
  6. To develop criteria for choosing YAL texts in accordance with development, aesthetic, and cultural factors.
  7. To explore and critique a variety of YAL resources for professionals.
  8. To become familiar with issues in literary censorship as well as research and scholarship related to YAL.

Rules and Expectations

Attendance at all classes is mandatory.  Missed classes cannot be made up.  I do not differentiate between “excused” and “unexcused” absences.  If you are not in class, you are absent.   Students with perfect attendance will receive 25 points extra credit.  You will receive three (3) absences before points are deducted from your grade.  Absences fours (4), five (5), and six (6) will receive a 50-point deduction from your final grade.  Seven (7) absences result in failure of the course (this is more than 2 weeks of missed class time).


If you arrive more than 10 minutes late or leave more than 10 minutes early you will be marked absent.  Three (3) tardies will be counted as one absence; after the third tardy, each two tardies will count as an absence.  Tardies will count toward perfect attendance extra credit.  You cannot receive extra credit points if you are tardy.

I would appreciate if you cannot attend class you email me ahead of time or as quickly as possible with an explanation.  You are then responsible for contacting a classmate to determine what you have missed.  Your absence will not allow your late work to be marked as “on time.”

Coming Prepared

If you do not bring the required books to class you will be asked to leave.  Class discussion is a major component to this course and materials and texts are needed in order to participate in discussion.  If it is evident that you have not read the texts/readings for the class, you may be asked to leave. It is not fair to fellow classmates if you are not prepared to discuss texts and assignments.

Communication, Emails, and Phone Calls

This course has a WordPress site on Western Online where course changes, and other communication will take place.  Please check it regularly to make sure that you are up to date on any changes.

Any email you receive from me will go to your WIU account.

When emailing please be sure to include a subject line in your email (this could be the course name or something that alerts me to the nature of the email).  Also, include your name and course information in the email.  I will return emails sent Sunday afternoon through Friday morning within 24 hours.   I may return emails sent on the weekend within 24 hours, but do not expect your email sent Friday or Saturday night to be answered before Monday morning.

If you call me, please state your name and number clearly so that I can return your call.


Deadlines are firm.  All assignments are due on time.  Late assignments will be downgraded at the rate of one grade per day.

Assignments are due at the beginning of class.  You must turn in a hard copy of all papers.  I will not accept papers via email.  DO NOT come to class expecting to be able to print your paper.  Print you paper ahead of time.


Students are expected to review the entire syllabus and become familiar with the course schedule, with weekly assignments, and with deadlines for papers and projects.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  If an assignment is not clear to you, e-mail me or bring it up in class.


Students often report that they learn a lot from each other. Because the content of this class is not fixed but evolving and because students often bring new perspectives and experiences that enrich the content, students are expected to behave as members of a collaborative learning community, listening to and learning from each other as well as from me.

Student Initiative and Participation

Learning requires that the student meet the instructor half way. This course is designed to make the material as interesting as possible and to engage students in hands-on activities to promote active learning and student engagement. However, successful engagement requires students to approach the material and assignments with a positive attitude, an open mind and a desire to learn. I welcome your feedback and will be happy to hear any suggestions you have for improving the course. If you only want to do the minimum work necessary to get by, however, and are not interested in getting the most you can out of it, this course is probably not for you.

Personal Responsibility

This is a college class, and students are responsible for doing the work as assigned and striving to meet the content goals and reach the learning outcomes specified in the syllabus. You will have an opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned through your assignments and papers. If at any point you are unclear about the goals or expectations in this course, you should let me know. If you do not speak up, I will assume that you understand.

Writing Center

The Writing Center is available to help you at any stage in your writing process.  Please feel free to talk with a tutor about larger issues such as organization and clarity or getting help with grammatical problems or other surface level concerns.  The University Writing Center is located in Simpkins Hall 341.  Call 298-2815 for an appointment.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

In accordance with University policy and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), academic accommodations may be made for any student who notifies me of the need for an accommodation.  For me to provide the proper accommodation(s), you must obtain the documentation of the need for an accommodation through Disability Support Services and provide it to me.  It is imperative that you take the initiative to bring such needs to my attention, as I am not legally permitted to inquire about such particular needs.  Students who may require special assistance in emergency evacuations (i.e. fire, tornado, etc.) should contact me as to the most appropriate procedures to follow in such an emergency. Contact Disability Support Services at 298-2512 for additional service.

Cell Phones

Please turn off all cell phones while you are in class.  If you cannot go the class period without texting then you must leave class and take an absence for the period.  There is no reason you would need to text during class that cannot wait until the class period is over.  (Exceptions will be made if we use cell phones during class assignmentsJ)

WIU Student Rights and Responsibilities

WIU Student Rights and Responsibilities are outlined on the web at  You should be familiar with both your rights and responsibilities.

Academic Integrity Policy

Please be aware of WIU’s academic integrity policy found at  Any violation of this policy will result in immediate failure of the course.

Course Requirements and Grades


You should look at the evaluation criteria before you complete an assignment to understand what I am expecting from you. You can also review the criteria after you receive your grade if you are unsure why you received the grade you did.



Book talks (2)                                                                                                                        10%

Book blogs (12)                                                                                                                        10%

One pagers, brief written responses, and quizzes                                                                        10%

Research-based essay                                                                                                            20%

Presentation of research                                                                                                            5%

Author presentation                                                                                                            5%

Exams (mid-term and final)                                                                                                15%

WordPress Site                                                                                                                        25%

I will calculate final grades as follows:

A:  93-100%                                      B :  83-86%                        C :  73-76%                                    D: 63-66%

A-: 90-92%                                        B- : 80-82%                         C- : 70-72%

B+: 87-89%                                        C+ :77-79%                        D+: 67-69%

English Education Majors: Please note that, “In accordance with Illinois State Board of Education certification rules, all candidates seeking teacher certification are required by Western Illinois University to obtain a grade of “C” or better in all directed general education course, all core courses, and all courses in the option.  Note: A “C- ” is below a “C”.”

Papers and Assignments

  1.  Book Talks:  You will give two 8- to 10- minute book talks. (One will be in-class, the other posted on WordPress.) Each talk will present one of your six independent choice novels. This will include a brief read-aloud from the book. The purpose is to create interest in the author and the book so that class members may become familiar with a variety of YAL novels in addition to the ones they read themselves. The book talks will also allow you to practice your oral delivery and read-aloud skills. Book talks must adhere to the guidelines on the book talk rubric. They will be spaced out throughout the semester. You will sign up for book talk dates sometime during the first three weeks of class.
  2. Book blog: A book blog is required for each book you read for the course, including the six required books and your six choice books. Book blogs are all completed on-line on your WordPress site and follow a prescribe format. The format will be handed out and discussed in class and can be found on the course WordPress site. Due dates for book blogs are indicated on the attached course schedule. You may blog your individual choice book blogs as you complete them throughout the semester, but the first three must be blogged by the first due date shown on the syllabus, and all six are due by the final due date shown on the syllabus. Book blogs on individual choice novels blogged after the due dates will receive the same deduction in grades as other late work.
  3.  One-pagers: I will periodically assign one-page response papers over the assigned reading. One-pagers should be single-spaced.  These one-pagers must move beyond summarizing reading (1/2 page). They must respond to the content in terms of connections with other course readings or class discussions. One-pagers are not personal narratives, rants, or digressions; they should demonstrate your comprehension of the text and your ability to analyze, synthesize, and/or evaluate its content. One-pagers are due no later than the end of the class on the day for which they are assigned. One-pagers turned in within the next 24 hours after which they are due will receive a letter-grade deduction. After 24 hours they will no longer be accepted, and a 0 will be recorded as your grade for that assignment.
  4. Quizzes: I will periodically give in-class quizzes over the assigned reading. These may be announced or unannounced. They might also be given the same day a one-pager or other written response is due. You will not be able to make up quizzes missed due to absences from class except for official university functions as verified by an official university excuse. When I figure your course grade, I will drop your one lowest quiz grade.  One quiz missed due to an absence will count as a dropped quiz grade, after which each missed quiz will be computed as a 0.
  5. Research-based essay: You will choose a topic for a research-based essay in consultation with me. This essay will be 7-9 pages long and incorporate at least 5 sources. Sources will be limited to professional journal articles or scholarly books. The essay will follow either MLA or APA (English Education Majors) citation style, depending on your major discipline. In preparing for your essay, you will submit a mid-term proposal that includes 1-2 paragraphs describing the topic and scope of your paper and an annotated bibliography of 5 or more possible sources that related to your topic (5%). You will also prepare a working draft of your paper for a peer workshop to be held during the last half of the semester (see due date on course schedule). Your working draft will be worth 5%. The final essay will be scored according to content, focus, use of sources, and correctness; the final draft is worth (10%). English Education students will focus on NCTE Standards 3.5 and 3.6 and upload their essay to Taskstream or WEPAS; the proposal and working draft will count as your artifacts. [Please note, English Education majors MUST receive a B to pass your essay and upload it to WEPAS. Essays not receiving a B must be rewritten until they reach the grade of B.]
  6. Presentation of research: Each student will prepare a 10-minute presentation based on the research paper, followed by a 5-10 minute question-and-answer session. Your presentation should include a visual in the form of PowerPoint, Prezi, or other digital media. You should also have a handout for each class member that includes a synopsis of your paper and your final bibliography. Presentations will be given during the last 6 meetings before the final.
  7. Author presentation: You will work in groups of 2 or 3 to prepare a 15-minute author presentation on one of the seven authors of the required YAL novels. Your presentation should help the class members understand how the novel we read by this author relates to the author’s life experiences, body of work, unique style or themes, and cast of characters. Your presentation should include a one-page handout for each student that combines text and images in a way that represents the author and his/her work. Presentations will be spaced throughout the semester. You will be randomly assigned an author and presentation dates will be near the time of our reading of that author’s work.
  8.  Exams: The midterm and final exams will be based on assigned readings from the textbooks and the required novels. The midterm will include questions over the work of the course up to the date of the exam. The final will include questions over the work of the course between the midterm and the end of the course. Items on the exam will be a combination of short-answer and essay. A portion of the exams may be given as take-home essays. You must be present for the final exam in order to pass the class.
  9. WordPress: A large portion of course assignments will be created online and uploaded to WordPress. You are all required to create a WordPress site by the second week of class. All of your book blogs will be posted online, as well as one of your book talks. You must also read and respond to your classmates’ book blogs, book talks, and comments. Your site should be interactive. It should be a way to present yourself as a future teacher and something you could use in your block, student teaching, and classroom experiences.

Course Schedule

(This schedule is tentative and may be changed if the needs of the class change.
All changes will be announced in class and online.  Please keep informed about any changes made.)





Week One
M 8/22 Course Overview
W 8/24 What is Young Adult Literature? LTYA Chapter 1
F 8/26 History of Young Adult Literature LTYA Chapter 2 Using the following chart, find your assigned section in Ch. 2 and make a mini-poster (8 ½ x 11) that represents YAL for that historical period. Each person in the group is responsible for making a poster. Be prepared in class to explain your choices for images and texts. Also bring to class one open-ended discussion question for your section.Last initial: A-D—1800-1900




Week Two
M 8/29 Issues in YAL LTYA Chapter 3 Set up WordPress site—Turn in username
W 8/31 Censorship LTYA Chapter 12 Write a one-pagerPick Author Presentations
F 9/2 Critical Approaches Articles found online
Week Three


M 9/5

No Class—Labor Day

W 9/7 Using the Curriculum Library Meet at Curriculum Library (Horrabin 80) for informational session with librarian.
F 9/9 YAL Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction LTYA Chapter 4 One-pagerTurn in individual reading list for 6 choice novels.

(Sign up for book talks)

Week Four
M 9/12 YAL Novel: Will Grayson, Will Grayson First Half Will Grayson Author Presentation: John Greene
W 9/14 Will Grayson, Will Grayson Finish Will Grayson Author Presentation: David LevithanBook Blog Will Grayson, Will Grayson Due
F 9/16 Book Talks (3)
Week Five
M 9/19 YAL Genre: Poetry, Drama, Humor, and New Media LTYA Chapter 5 One Pager
W 9/21 YAL Novel: Monster First half of Monster Author Presentation: Walter Dean Myers
F 9/23 Monster Finish Monster Book Blog Monster Due
Week Six
M 9/26 YAL Genre: Adventure, Sports, Mysteries, and the Supernatural  LYTA Chapter 6 One Pager
W 9/28 YAL Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Utopias, and Dystopias LYTA Chapter 7 One Pager
F 9/30 YAL Novel: Half World First half of Half World Author Presentation: Hiromi Goto
Week Seven
M 10/3 Half World Finish Half World Book Blog Half World Due
W 10/5 Book talks (4)
F 10/7 Book talks (3)
Week Eight
M 10/10

Paper Conferences No Class

W 10/12

Paper Conferences No Class

F 10/14 Midterm Exam 3 Choice Book Blogs Due
Week Nine
M 10/17 YAL Genre: History and History Makers LTYA Chapter 8 One-pager
W 10/19 Book Talks (4)
F 10/21 Book Talks (3)Paper prospectus and annotated bibliography
Week Ten
M 10/24 YAL Novel: I Am the Messenger Read first half of Messenger
W 10/26 Finish Messenger Author Presentation: Marcus ZusakBook Blog for Messenger Due
F 10/28 YAL Genre: Nonfiction LTYA Chapter 9 One-pager
Week Eleven
M 10/31 Paper Workshop Bring TWO COPIES of your first draft to class
W 11/2 YAL Novel: Wintergirls First half of Wintergirls Author Presentation: Laurie Halse Anderson
F 11/4 Finish Wintergirls Book Blog for Wintergirls Due
Week Twelve
M 11/7 YAL in the Classroom Gallagher Chapters 1-2 One Pager 
W 11/9 Gallagher Chapters 3-4 One Pager
F 11/11 Gallagher Chapter 5 Online Book Talk Due
Week Thirteen
M 11/14 YAL Novel: American Born Chinese First half of Chinese Second Paper Draft Due
W 11/16 Finish Chinese Author PresentationBook Blog for Chinese Due
F 11/18

NCTE Conference—No Class


Week Fourteen
M 11/28 Paper Presentations Final Paper Draft Due
W 11/30 Paper Presentations
F 12/2 Paper Presentations
Week Fifteen
M 12/5 Paper Presentations Final three book choice blogs due
W 12/7 Paper Presentations
F 12/9 Paper Presentations

Final Exam: MONDAY December 12th at 10 a.m.


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