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Young Adult Literature History and Characteristics.

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Presentation on theme: "Young Adult Literature History and Characteristics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Young Adult Literature History and Characteristics

2 What is Young Adult Literature? Simple Definition: Literature written for or about young adults Also Called: Literature for Adolescence, Adolescent Literature, Adolescent Fiction, Junior Teen Novels, Juvenile Fiction – why should or shouldn’t it be called by these names?

3 Why is YA Literature Important? Contemporary adult society is a non- reading society In order to form lifelong readers, we need to choose lit that enables students to become emotionally and cognitively involved in what they read Young adults like novels that are realistic (conflicts in which young adults can find themselves and can realistically decide the solution to that conflict) – discuss – such as?

4 Common Characteristics Conflicts consistent with experiences of young adults Themes are of interest to young people Protagonists/most characters are young adults Language parallels that of young people Themes – should speak to readers about universal values and human conditions (such as?) Characters with whom young adults can identify – dynamic/round characters allow readers to appreciate the many levels of growth that take place Effective Beginnings Humor

5 Qualities Specific to YA Lit Which Make it Appealing Existence of characters with whom young adults can relate in situations with which they are familiar Unique people and situations (plot/setting/characters) different from them and their lives but with which they can still make some connections More direct plotline than those often found in classics Stronger Hook/More Dialogue/More Action over a shorter period as opposed to classics Students like neatly tied-up ending with closure and answers, but young adult lit challenges them with a thought- provoking ending More cultural and societal diversity in young adult characters than those in classics Reflect societal changes, as well as current social and environmental issues

6 Common Criticisms of YA Lit Young adults in literature do not relate positively to adults – is this true? Use of profanity/slang – is it appropriate to realistically portray characters? It is not quality literature (poorly written)

7 History of Young Adult Literature Traditionally, literature adults wanted children and young adults to read reflected the social morals/expectations of the time

8 Middle Ages Literature closely tied to religion and mythology; intention was for young adults to emulate; children expected to read to learn to act like adults and take on adult responsibilities if the need arose A Book of Courtesy (1477) – 1st book published specifically for young readers in England Aesop’s Fables (1475-1480) – written for adults, but audience shifted to children and young adults Le Morte d’Arthur (1485) - enjoyed circulation among older children

9 17 th Century Held on to traditions, but attitude towards children changed slightly; primary emphasis on religious publication and faith in Christian word The Visible World in Pictures (1659) – 1st book to convey info to children through pictures of real children King James Bible (1611), Paradise Lost (1667)

10 18 th Century Children still seen as deficient adults; religious/moralistic literature A Token for Children:…Conversion, Holy, and Exemplary Lives & Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children Early Children’s Classics Robinson Crusoe (1719) Gulliver’s Travels (1726) John Newbery – began publishing small books for children – wanted them to read for fun

11 Lit from Middle Ages to mid- 1800s ~Most literature still held high values and morals, coming down on side of what was “right” ~ Major shift – earlier literature written for adults and read by children to model behavior; began to be written specifically for young readers ~ Major shift in characters – realism of boy and girl characters in literature

12 19 th Century 1st age of great children’s books Lit for young women – emphasized home and family values, conforming to societal expectations Lit for boys – largely emphasized that hard work and traditional values would be rewarded by success Tom Sawyer (1876) Huck Finn (1885) Black Beauty (1877) Wind in the Willows (1908) Mason Locke Weems – adventure books about George Washington

13 19 th Century Continued Domestic Novel Genre (traditional values and moral lessons) Dime Novels (sold for 5 cents to young boys – standard characters/plots/values – detectives, western heroes, revolutionary war heroes) Series Books Early realistic fiction - Louisa May Alcott, Little Women Early examples of science fiction - Jules Verne Adventure Stories – Robin Hood, Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes

14 Late 19th Century into 20th Century Formula fiction dominated lit for young adults (Rover Boys, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew) – mystery, excitement, suspense, protagonist triumphing against all odds – stereotyped characters, poorly constructed plots, and lack of relationship to reality; poor quality, but very popular

15 20th Century Formula novels for pure entertainment (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Bobbsey Twins – early 1900’s) 1934 – publishers 1st began to publish lit especially for young adults – called them “Junior Books”: historical fiction, sports stories, career novels (30s/40s) 40s/50s – traditional social behavior, moralistic, superficial: family, jobs, sports, dating, etc; Shift towards more realistic characteristics – 1st “reality novels” appeared (Seventeen 1902, Seventeenth Summer 1942) 1951 – Catcher in the Rye – began the shift to what is called the new realism – reflecting economic, political, and social problems of the era (Others: Miracles on Maple Hill, To Kill a Mockingbird)

16 New Age of Realism Emphasized unsympathetic or incompetent parents (The Pigman, The Outsiders) as well as poor and minority groups (Sounder, Judy Blume novels, etc) As realism genre evolves, lit reflects more conditions of society, told in straightforward stories (Julie of the Wolves, Cormier novels, Crutcher novels) As time progresses, quality of the writing is improving Other Popular YA authors: Cynthia Voigt, Gary Paulsen, Paul Zindel, S.E. Hinton, Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, Walter Dean Myers, Robert Cormier, Chris Crutcher) Role of YA Lit Phenomenons: Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games

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