The Benefits of Using Young Adult (YA) Literature in Classrooms

Library Resources | September 10, 2015

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More and more teachers around the world are using Young Adult (YA) literature in their classrooms to engage students and teach them the skills they need to be successful. Learn how new content in EBSCO's Literary Reference Center Plus can help.

As many high school English teachers could tell you, most students don’t jump for joy when they are told to read two chapters in “Great Expectations” for homework. It just doesn’t happen. If we’re being entirely truthful, despite promising titles such as “Crime and Punishment,” “Heart of Darkness” and “The Sound and the Fury,” it is really no surprise that teenagers around the world would rather catch up on sleep than plow through 50 pages of dense text. So, the inevitable question is, “How do we help students learn to love reading?”

The answer, at least in part, lies in Young Adult (YA) literature. More and more teachers around the world are using YA literature in their classrooms to teach the skills that students need to be successful. While the Western canon is full of fantastic reads, YA literature tends to offer students something that the classics cannot: a story to which they can relate.

Now don’t get us wrong; here at EBSCO, we love classic works of literature. (In fact, two of our analysts are currently reading “Ulysses” and “The Brothers Karamozov” for fun!) But, at the same time, we realize that teachers are constantly competing for their students’ attention. With Twitter, Facebook, video games and more, it can be difficult for students to focus on their reading, especially when they can’t connect with a novel’s characters, settings or themes. If teachers use books that students love, we may be able to foster the next generation of bookworms.

Moreover, YA writers have created some truly powerful reads. While many would argue that YA literature doesn’t compare to the literary merits of Henry James and his ilk, critics have lauded YA books for their ability to address the life needs of its their intended audience ― that is, adolescents between the ages of 12-18.

That is why EBSCO is incorporating more young adult literature into Literary Reference CenterPlus. This month, we are adding more than 180 new critical essays devoted to the burgeoning realm of YA literature. From “The Giver” and “Thirteen Reasons Why” to “The Maze Runner” and “Homecoming,” these new essays cover some of the most popular YA titles among teenagers and critics. Each essay falls into one of the following categories:

  • Author Biographies: Essential details of 40 unique YA authors including J.K. Rowling, Orson Scott Card, Lois Lowry and Judy Blume
  • Plot Summaries: 50 plot summaries of both single publication and series titles, such as “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Holes,” “Ender’s Game” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”; each plot summary includes a section on the work’s critical evaluation
  • Themes in Young Adult Literature: 25 essays covering major themes found within YA novels, including bullying, friendship, heroism, love and social problems
  • Genres of Young Adult Literature: 24 essays focusing on a specific genre within YA literature and analyzing the genre’s influence on the work’s overall message; genres include adventure, fantasy, paranormal, romance and steampunk
  • Film Adaptations of Young Adult Literature: New to Literary Reference Center Plus, these essays analyze the film adaptations of more than 40 YA titles, including “The Fault in Our Stars,” Harry Potter (series), “Divergent” and “Eragon” by: comparing and contrasting film adaptations with the original title and discussing the cinematic techniques that complement the work’s literary merits

Written by some of the leading scholars in the field, this collection is both authoritative and accessible. Additionally, these essays are meant to be used within the Common Core framework, making them a perfect resource for use in the classroom.

So, whether you’re hoping to try out a new YA novel in your classroom for the first time or you’re a seasoned veteran of YA literature, these essays will most certainly help your students get the most out of their reading.

Let’s inspire our students by helping them discover the joy that reading can bring.

Download Sample Essay

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