In a school world where text complexity seems to be all the rage, I am in a bunch of discussions about the place of YA literature in high schools moving forward. My answer is I don’t always know, but I think YA has much potential to promote deep work to make meaning of text.
During the summers at Boston University, we host a group of students from Boston Green Academy (our awesome partner school) for two weeks of summer reading, writing, and learning about college. This past summer was our first to do this program, and in planning the curriculum, we decided to use a YA novel as our anchor to explore an essential question: “What makes a person worthy of respect?”
The team chose the book Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, a story of starting at a new school and dealing with a bully. We read it alongside a text set of poems and articles and other pieces about the idea of respect. And it was really fun — the students, who were diverse in a whole bunch of ways, liked the book, and the deep discussions we were able to have about our question led us to the text over and over as we explored the idea of respect and whether and how people can earn it or lose it.
So it is getting to be summer again, and we are planning for round two of the summer experience. I’m curious to hear from readers — what are some YA books you have used, and what do you think could be good essential questions to go with them?