Monday, February 26, 2018

LGBTQA+ YA (due before class NEXT week; that is, March 8 or 9)

Students are to post one response (min 350 words) to the readings linked belowStudents are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

A New Way for Gay Characters in YA by Jenn Doll: Scholastic Publisher and Editorial Director David Leviathan (the same Levithan behind Two Boys Kissing, Invisibility, and 2003's Boy Meets Boy) told me that the environment for gay characters in Y.A. literature has indeed changed remarkably in the past 10 years. "For so many years, so many characters have been defined by their sexuality—they're 'gay'; we don't have to give them any other characteristics," he says. "But gay characters and gay kids have lots of other things going on. No one is just this one thing." In these new books, being gay or bi or lesbian or transgendered is wrapped up in conversations of identity that often transcend sexuality, and ask what happens beyond acknowledgment, coming out, and even generalized acceptance of one's choices."

A Graphic Guide to LGBTQ YA Literature (from coming out stories to sci-fi adventures). These books aren’t necessarily right for every reader, and don’t constitute the best, or the only, LGBTQIA+ fiction for young adults available. But it is a good starting off point for those interested in exploring the way these identities are portrayed in YA fiction. Click HERE to visit the page.

Malinda Lo is the author of the young adult novels Ash, Huntress, Adaptation, and Inheritance. Ash was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and was a Kirkus Best Book for Children and Teens. She has been a three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Malinda’s nonfiction has been published by The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Huffington Post, The Toast, The Horn Book, and AfterEllen. Malinda is co-founder with Cindy Pon of Diversity in YA, a project that celebrates diversity in young adult books. Over the past several years she's written a lot about YA with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters or issues. Click here for the index of her LGBT posts. Read two.
Pick one author/book highlighted in any of the above posts/articles/etc. and read an excerpt (excerpts can be had by Googling the book title and the word "excerpt," or finding the book on Amazon and clicking "Look Inside.")

Monday, February 19, 2018


Students are to post reactions (minimum 250 words each) to the assigned listening/reading linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

KELLY LINK Interview:  Kelly Link is the author of the young adult collection Pretty Monsters. She has written two other collections, Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners. Her novellas and short stories have won a variety of awards. Neil Gaiman called her "the best short story writer out there, in any genre." She co-founded Small Beer Press with her husband, Gavin Grant, and edits the fantasy zine Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. Click heading to read the interview.

KELLY LINK NPR: Author Kelly Link says her short stories are inspired by what she calls "night time logic." In fiction that strives for realism, she says, everything has a place. Everything makes sense. It's kind of like dream logic, she tells NPR's Audie Cornish, "except that when you wake up from a dream, you think, well, that didn't make sense. Night time logic in stories, you think, I don't understand why that made sense, but I feel there was a kind of emotional truth to it." Click heading to listen to NPR interview.

UNFILMABLE: "Let us speak, first, of first sentences. The doorway into the house, or, if you prefer, the view of the door. Perhaps even the glimpse of the rooftop from the road. Here are some of Kelly Link’s first sentences over a long and fruitful career..." Click heading to read essay.

THE SPECIALIST'S HAT by KELLY LINK: "When you're Dead," Samantha says, "you don't have to brush your teeth." "When you're Dead," Claire says, "you live in a box, and it's always dark, but you're not ever afraid." Claire and Samantha are identical twins. Their combined age is twenty years, four months, and six days. Claire is better at being Dead than Samantha. Click heading to read the rest of the story.

Monday, February 5, 2018


Students are to post reactions (minimum 350 words) to the assigned reading linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Middle Grade: A Conversation w. Editor Molly O'Neill: "As you know, I have a marketing background, which means that whether or not I intend it, one of the first things my brain starts thinking about for a book is its readership: who is a book FOR? What kind of reader is it going to reach, and how? Maybe instead of asking “What is middle grade?” it’s easier to think about “Who is the middle grade reader, and what is he/she looking for in a book?” I think that a middle grade reader is often (and note, I’m speaking BROADLY, here) reading for one of two reasons: to understand, or to escape. Middle grade readers who read to understand look for stories that help them piece together the truths that seem to be opening up all around them, about the world and their place in it, and the connections between themselves and their family, their community, their friends, etc. Or they’re reading to understand about a different time/ place and what it was/would be like to be a kid then. Or they’re reading to just understand how stuff works, period—from the everyday mundane stuff to big concepts like justice and honesty and friendship and happiness and love. Click heading to read the rest of the interview.

 "A Definition of YA" by Brooklyn Arden: "So I've been thinking off and on about a practical definition of YA literature -- something I could look at to help me decide whether a manuscript is an adult novel or a middle-grade novel or, indeed, a YA. Such delineations don't matter to me as a reader -- a good book is a good book -- but they do matter to me as an editor and publisher, because I want every book I publish to find the audience that is right for it, and sometimes, despite a child or teenage protagonist, a manuscript is meant for an adult audience

An SFWA Introduction to Middle Grade & Young Adult: "For writers who are interested in writing middle grade or young adult fantasy or science fiction, the first step is puzzling out what exactly those categories mean. Science fiction and fantasy, after all, has a long tradition of featuring young protagonists — including such classics as Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, and Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey — even if those novels weren’t originally published as middle grade or young adult books." Click heading to read the rest of the article.

"Middle Grade and YA: Where to Draw the Line?" by Judith Rosen: "Since Harry Potter first hit these shores in 1998, there’s been confusion over where best to shelve it: put it where most kids look for it, in middle grade (ages 8–12), or where the later, darker novels belong, in young adult (ages 12–up)? But J.K. Rowling’s books aren’t the only ones that fall into a gray area, especially as more kids aspire to “read up” because of popular films like Divergent and The Hunger Games. At the same time, adults have begun reading down, not just YA but also reaching for middle-grade books like Wonder and Out of My Mind, because they don’t want to miss out, either." Click heading to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the combined assigned viewing AND reading(s) linked below. Students need only post ONE comment addressing BOTH the viewing and the fictional excerpts. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

Neil Gaiman at the 2008 National Book Festival
Click link to watch the video.


What the (very bad swear word) is a children's book, anyway?" by Neil Gaiman. Click link to read essay.


The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman:"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately. The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet." Click heading to read the rest of the first chapter.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman: "I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult. Today they gave me comfort, of a kind. I was wearing the right clothes for a hard day." Click heading to read the rest of the excerpt.