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New book discusses incorporating young adult literature into classrooms

Woman reading book, close up

A new book discussing the use of young adult literature in college classrooms has been published by three people with ties to Illinois State University.

Distinguished Professor of English Roberta Trites, Professor Emerita of English Karen Coats, and Mike Cadden, an alumnus of ISU’s doctoral program in English, edited Teaching Young Adult Literature from the Modern Language Association.

Book cover with the words Teaching Young Adult Literature, edited by Mike Cadden, Karen Coats, and Roberta Seelinger Trites

Cover of the book Teaching Young Adult Literature.

The book is a collection of essays suggesting ways that instructors can utilize these genres in courses on literature, education, library science, or general education. “Young adult literature has been taught in schools since the late 1960s,” said Trites. “But the popularity of franchises like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games have gripped the popular imagination of teenagers and adults alike.”

The first group of essays explores key issues in young adult literature, situates works in cultural contexts, and addresses questions of text selection and censorship. The second section discusses a range of genres within young adult literature, including both realism and speculative fiction, as well as verse narratives, comics, and film. The final section offers ideas for assignments, such as interdisciplinary and digital projects, in a variety of courses.

“Books in the Modern Language Association’s Options for Teaching series are designed as a resource for anyone teaching at the college or university level,” said Trites. “Professors Cadden, Coats, and I all hope that this book will motivate more people to teach YA literature comfortably and in a wide variety of courses.” Cadden now serves as a professor of English at Missouri Western State University.

Trites serves as both a distinguished professor of English and the interim chair of the Department of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State. Trites is also the author of Twenty-First Century Feminisms in Children’s and Adolescent Literature; Twain, Alcott and the Adolescent Reform Novel; Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Children’s Literature; and Waking Sleeping Beauty: Feminist Voices in Children’s Literature.

Coats is a professor emerita of English at Illinois State and currently serves as a professor of children’s literature at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Coats has edited many books, such as The Bloomsbury Introduction to Children’s and Young Adult Literature and The Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature. She is the author of the award-winning Looking Glasses and Neverlands: Lacan, Desire, and Subjectivity in Children’s Literature, and Children’s Literature and the Developing Reader, both written while she was working at Illinois State.

Cadden received his doctorate from Illinois State in 1996 and currently serves as a professor of English and director of Childhood Studies at Missouri Western State University. Cadden has also published Telling Children’s Stories: Narrative Theory and Children’s Literature and Ursula K. Le Guin Beyond Genre: Fiction for Children and Adults, which emerged from the dissertation he wrote at Illinois State.