You are here

Teaching Reading with YA Literature


Buehler, Jennifer. Teaching Reading with YA Literature: Complex Texts, Complex Lives. NCTE, 2016.


Jennifer Buehler begins this book by dismantling the binary paradigm related to the classics and young adult (YA) literature. She examines the assumption of YA literature as “bad” and the classics as “good” as obstacles that get in the way of why we read, what we read, and how we read. She analyzes the reasoning behind reading and teaching particular texts and argues for what she calls “YA Pedagogy” in order to do the important work of reading in the classroom, fostering meaningful discussion that incorporates both personal and literary analysis, and showing students that they matter in their classroom communities.

A major part of her journey and classroom research begins with doing outreach about what young adult literature is, why it is important, and what it has to offer our students in academic settings. She emphasizes that, for educators, all of this starts by reading widely. Once we have a solid basis of YA literature, educators can make the connections to matching books with students and fulfill curriculum requirements while building classroom community, respecting social and scholarly ways of reading, and establishing complexity in style and substance.

Classroom Application

Educators may find the actual classroom examples most helpful. The classrooms highlighted are YA elective courses at the high school level, and reading workshop or YA units at the middle school level, along with some examples from Buehler’s college course. She provides an extensive section on where to find good YA literature, how to reinvent academic tasks YA literature, and ideas for assessment. The hardest part of YA pedagogy most likely stems from facilitating the important discussions that need to take place that blend both the personal and literary analysis responses students need to participate and learn. The examples and rationale provided may help guide educators with these experiences.