Week 5, Literary Quality: Highlights

16 02 2011

Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, “Feeling Wise” from A Maze Me

The poem ends with a visual image of a child “staring out the window during school/ you become the future/ smooth and round” and this class was devoted to exploring how YA lit can help young adults both “see and shape the future” – both to “see and shape themselves” (Aronson, Calling All Ye Printz and Printzess) and to shape the future of YA lit. Teen book clubs like Eva Perry are making an impact on YA authors and the publishing world.

Essential Question: What does literary quality in Young Adult Literature look like and how can we help young adults with diverse interests and abilities connect with quality YA literature?


 explore what literacy quality means from the official Printz Committee perspective and the issues surrounding that definition
 prepare for his/her role in the Melinda Awards
 be tech-wise for Melindas
 look ahead to Multicultural Genre Book Clubs

Planning (Reversing Order Just Once)

Book Point People – These people have agreed to begin the discussion about a book. Usually the teens will lead off and provide a quick summary and then we need advocates for why the book is distinguished – or not. Everyone is welcomed to join in.

Our nominated books – will not announce the winner in the tie between Finnikin and Nothing until Friday night. PS – I checked on some pronunciations of author names that seemed challenging to me.

Finninkin of the Rock – Micheline *PS – Definitely pronounced “Marketta”
Nothing – Jen *PS – You sound very convincing with Janne Teller.
The Cardturner – Scott (we volunteered you 😉 *PS – I just learned that Sachar rhymes with cracker
The Wager – Maureen *PS – Napoli sounds like monopoly

Others – Please be prepared to chime in.
Numbers – Frederik
Revolver – Micheline, Scott, Karen
Ship Breaker – Shannon *PS — You do a fine job with Bacigalupi 😉
Please Ignore Vera Dietz – Karen
Stolen – Linda read this but she works the Hurricane games so we’ll depend on the teens.
Before I Fall – Maureen and Shannon
Will Grayson, Will Grayson – Frederik, Scott, Jen

Photographer — Karen
Greeter —
Tweeter —
Book Award (our class always donates a copy of the Eva Perry’s pick to the library. I’ll have the copy ready if someone would like to present it to Valerie and the teens)
MCs – Cris and Ezra

* www.teachingbooks.net has a very helpful collection of audio recordings of authors pronouncing their names. You only get one for free but then you have to pay. There is a 14-day free trial though.

Official Printz Committee Criteria

“The following criteria are only suggested guidelines and should in no way be considered as absolutes. They will always be open to change and adaptation. Depending on the book, one or more of these criteria will apply:
Story Voice Style
Setting Accuracy Characters
Theme Illustration Design (including format, organization, etc.)
For each book the questions and answers will be different, the weight of the various criteria will be different.” — Printz Criteria

For each book the questions and answers will be different, the weight of the various criteria will be different.

Discussion of how most prominent words after the perfunctory (criteria, book, award, etc.) were excellence, different, change, and hope. The award is all about recognizing the best exemplars of how YA is evolving.

What does literary quality mean?

Some discussion of how criteria may vary for teens and adults. For us, story, characters, Voice. For teens, we predicted characters and voice. Will be interesting to ask them.

To the usual criteria and Aronson’s criterion of “intimacy” or “space for the reader to enter.” “Does a book have the potential to touch readers deeply so that in the struggle with it, they begin to see and shape themselves?” We added:

“stays with the reader and inspires response” (Jen)
“encourages to interact with text and make connections” (Maureen)
“contributes to a natural journey” and can “change lives” (Frederik and Karen)
“characters who resonate with us” (Scott)
“magnetism” (Micheline)
“je-ne-sais-quoi” that makes a book unforgettable and touches something human deep down in each of us: a book or other literary piece that makes us think about the world and our own lives in a new or deeper way” (Shannon)
“kernel of truth, prompts consideration of social political issues, faith and the human experience”

Examples of books that are have transformed YA lit: Walter Dean Myers’s Monster (first Printz Award winner) and Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese (first graphic novel selected as a Printz Award winner, 2008).



Aronson encourages us to re-examine our assumptions – “to consider that a truly distinguished book is one that evokes intimacy – that provides space where the reader can “add in her own experience, his own insight, to complete the story.” Does a book have the potential to touch readers deeply so that in the struggle with it, they begin to see and to shape themselves?”

On the Printz Award . . .
“Once a winner and honor books have been selected, let the debates begin . . .”

Related Quotes:

I don’t think it takes a direct correlation but if people can’t interweave pieces of what they know and have done into a work then it’ll be dead to them. Seems like it’s up to the teacher to help show how to make those connections and work with students to draw those connections out. – Tom Woodward

“Does it get in the way of a live sense of the literature” — Rosenblatt

Horne: Teens need to be represented on the Printz Committee.

Note: No Printz book from 2010 is also included on the Teens Top Ten chosen by teens.

Books for Every Teen

YALSA’s numerous awards and lists for something for every kind of reader —

Cybil Awards – literary merit and popularity – awarded by the children and teen literature bloggers — http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils/




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