When I first read the Young Adult Novel, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, it literally took my breath away. The writing was fresh, edgy and visceral at times. I found my stomach in knots nearly the entire time I was reading. When I came to my senses again, and after much thought, I began writing lesson plans to teach this novel in my classroom.
It is my belief that novels like Speak create bridges or windows to classic literature, and should be used as a vehicle to get our students to tackle the more challenging works of literature.
Having said that, I immediately come to the defense of Young Adult Literature, a genre of writing that has really taken off in recent history, and one, I would argue, attains a level of sophistication that would rival even the pillars of classic literature being taught in today's middle and senior high classrooms.
One of my goals as I read amazing examples of Young Adult Literature is to pair them with the literature typically taught in American schools. Many of the works of classic literature have become dusty, stale, and dried out. Few students believe they have anything to say to them, and would benefit from finding new inroads, such as found in Young Adult Literature. Therefore, I am taking the challenge upon myself to find great examples of both classic literature and Young Adult Literature and pair them up so that my students can engage in reading again, and love the process along the way.
What great pairings would you suggest? Speak easily pairs with Saliger's Catcher in the Rye or Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds pairs wonderfully with To Kill A Mockingbird. What pairs spring to mind for you between classic literature and YA novels?
Please post your ideas in the comments below.