I wanted to take a moment to write a little about the Lesene chapter (6) in Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise into Practice. I must first start by suggesting that everyone read this chapter, as it is jam-packed with useful information and valuable techniques.
First, I wanted to address the suggestion of graphic novels; this is a format that seems to be not only very popular but beneficial to the students. As Lesene will suggest throughout the chapter, we should focus on “multiple ways of knowing.” To clarify this, I will point to a quote that Lesene uses by Schwartz: “Graphic novels offer value, variety, and a new medium for literacy that acknowledges the impact of visuals. These novels appeal to young people, are useful across the curriculum, and offer diverse alternatives to traditional texts as well as other mass media” (67).
Not only is that true, but, as Lesene writes, “current curriculum demands that now include visual and/or media literacy can also be addressed with graphic novels and their variants from other countries. Graphic novels […] can contribute much to students’ understanding of how to go beyond a simple reporting of information to a more creative way of providing explanation” (67).
I did a big project last semester for YA Lit. in which I closely investigated the graphic novel format. I am convinced of it’s usefulness and would highly suggest it. I have a lot of information and books that I would love to share, if people are interested.
There are a lot of other important things in this chapter, some of which will have to be saved for the class discussion; however, I wanted to write briefly about censorship, another main part of this chapter.
Lesene tells us that “the new brutal realism in YA literature causes some to be concerned that these books are somehow not appropriate for adolescents” (75). Well, aren’t these brutally realistic depictions the same things that our students deal with each day. This brings me back to schools blocking the internet. If we block the things that students are going to use anyway, they will not learn how to use them appropriately. What if it is one of those “banned books” that has the ability to change a young adolescents’ life? Aren’t they going to go home and watch television anyway?
At least Lesene talks about the difference between censorship and selection. “Selection occurs when we make decisions about the books we are adding to our library collections. Selection takes into account the needs of the curriculum, the needs and interests of our students, and the need to have a balanced collection that represents all points of view” (76).
Censorship removes certain books from the students, and I know where I stand on that issue, right alongside of Lesene. However, it is important to understand the difference between selection and censorship.