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Course Materials

Course Objectives

  1. Students will become familiar with a broad range of Young Adult books, authors, and genre.
  2. Students will learn how to select appropriate quality YA books for classroom, school, and personal use.
  3. Students will demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of at least one YA author and his/her work.

I realize this syllabus is lengthy in content, but please read it in its entirety before beginning lesson 1. Pay attention to the course document downloads because you will be using these documents throughout the course.


ENGL 251 (Fundamentals of Literary Interpretation and Criticism) or ENGL 252 (Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism).

Course Materials

The following books are required for this course. Please obtain these titles before starting the first lesson:

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There is a written assignment submitted for grading in each lesson. Each lesson will include documents that you can download and use to complete the lesson assignments (all course documents are also available in the Appendix). Your Portfolio Assignment in lesson 13, which includes your cumulative course projects, is divided into the following components: the author/genre study (600 points), the final book log (500 points), and the potential reading log (100 points).

Digital Submissions

Online assignment submissions are required. You will submit your assignments by attaching your documents and submitting them for grading. Please include your name, course name, and lesson number in each assignment at the top of the page. I want to see well organized assignments.

Remember to submit your assignments as Microsoft Word .DOC or .DOCX files. Name the file using this style—be sure to use your own name: ENGL420_JaneSmith_WritingAssignment1.docx.

You will submit your final essay assignment through Turnitin, a website that lets you (and your instructor) check your work for originality, see which grade level your writing matches, and so on. This tool lets you review your work to avoid plagiarism and improve your writing, as well as see your instructor’s feedback on your work. You will not be allowed to resubmit this assignment.

To submit your final essay assignment,

  1. Click the “Assignment Submission” link for this assignment.
  2. Click the Upload button missing image.
  3. Type a title for your assignment (for example, ENGL420_JaneSmith_FinalEssayAssignment).
  4. Click Select a file to upload, or drag the file onto the Submit File window.
  5. When the submission is complete, preview your file, then click Accept submission-save.

To see your grade on this assignment, click the Grades link at the top of the course screen.

To see your instructor's feedback on your assignment,

  1. Click the “Assignment Submission” link for this assignment.
  2. Click on the assignment you submitted
  3. Look through the course for comment bubbles missing image left by the instructor and click on them to see the notes left for you.
  4. To see the Originality or Grademark feedback for your submission, click the missing image icon in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

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Instead of taking a traditional final exam, you will be submitting a set of final essays. The first section will consist of one essay question. This question will ask you to synthesize all your experiences with this course. The second section will offer five options of essay questions, and you must select and answer two of them. The final essay is worth 10% of your final grade.

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Grades for each lesson will be based on the total number of points accumulated in that lesson. Lessons 1 through 12 will be worth 200 points each (a possible total of 2,400 points, which is 60% of your grade). Your Portfolio Assignment, which includes your cumulative course projects, will be worth 1,200 points (which is 30% of your grade).

Your grade for the course will be based on the total number of points you have accumulated: up to 3,500 points for the lessons and 400 points for your final essay (which is 10% of your grade). The possible total is 4,000 points.

The following is a breakdown of the points and percentages for the various assignments in this course:

Lesson Assignment Total Number of Points Percentage of Final Grade
Lesson 1 200 5%
Lesson 2 200 5%
Lesson 3 200 5%
Lesson 4 200 5%
Lesson 5 200 5%
Lesson 6 200 5%
Lesson 7 200 5%
Lesson 8 200 5%
Lesson 9 200 5%
Lesson 10 200 5%
Lesson 11 200 5%
Lesson 12 200 5%
Lesson 13 1,200 30%
Final Essay 400 10%
Total 4,000 100%

The percentage scale of total points I’ll use to determine your grade for individual lessons and for your final grade is as follows:

Grading Scale
A 100-95
A− 94-90
B+ 89-86
B 85-83
B− 82-80
C+ 79-76
C 75-73
C− 72-70
D+ 69-66
D 65-63
D− 62-60
E (fail) 59 and below

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Tips for Success!

As this course requires a significant amount of reading, writing, and creating, unless you are a speed-reader it is most likely that you will not be able to complete this course in a short amount of time. If you can read one book a day and complete a lesson every other day, then you can expect to finish this course in about a month. For most people, it will take longer. In addition, as noted, you should “not submit more than three instructor-graded assignments at a time.” If you are working under any deadlines that require you to have a final grade for this course posted by a certain date, be sure to make deadlines for yourself to help you keep up with the material. If you have such a deadline, please ensure that all lessons and your final essay are complete at least three weeks prior to that date. The process of submission, grading, and response takes time and no exceptions can be made; working well in advance of any deadline will ensure that there are no errors or problems that prevent you from having your grades posted when you need them to be.

Keep a Steady Pace: Don't Leave Everything Until the Last Minute

This is a literature course and you will be reading a lot. Because of this you should be continually reading throughout the course. While it will be necessary to complete some readings for certain lessons, other readings will not need to be completed until you are ready to turn in the last lesson. Each lesson will instruct you as to what readings are required for that lesson. During the lesson you will be asked to report on some of your reading. Other exercises will ask you to engage in certain activities related to any of the readings you are doing for this course. The more you read, the more options you will have to complete the lesson assignments, so reading at a steady pace will be very important as you progress though the course. In addition, since some readings will not be used for any specific Lesson Exercises but will only be reported on in the last lesson as you finish the course, it is important to keep reading. It will also be important to keep yourself organized so you can meet all the reading benchmarks. Some of your cumulative course assignments should help you do this, but you should also use whatever processes you need to ensure that you keep up a steady pace and don’t leave all your reading until the last minute.

Do the Lessons in Order

In this course lessons build on one another and several of the topics we discuss span several lessons. Because of this it is very important that you complete the lessons in numerical order as outlined. Skipping around will only cause confusion and make some lesson material incomprehensible.

Important: Complete Each Lesson in Full Before Turning It In

Each lesson will consist of a variety of exercises. Please complete all the exercises for an entire lesson before submitting it. Submitting a lesson with only one or a few of the exercises completed will result in a reduced grade, since the missing exercises will be given no points.

A Note on Weblinks in the Course

Throughout this course I will provide you with a variety of links to websites that should enhance your learning. While every effort has been made to ensure these links are active, the nature of the web is such that the stability of links is not always under our control. If you find that a weblink is no longer active, use an internet search engine to find another link, and please report the problem by adding a note at the end of any lesson submission. In addition, the inclusion of these weblinks in this course does not indicate any endorsement by any organization associated with this course or of a particular site. These sites are just suggestions, and you may choose those sites that best suit your needs and interests.

Information about Course Assignments

The following information is included to help you as you work through the course. You will find information about each major course assignment including grading rubrics for each written assignment and a section on sources for research and finding more information that will help you in your writing assignments.

All of the assignments in this course require one or a combination of four skills: thinking, reading, writing, and creating. Each lesson will contain specific assignments and exercises that you must complete as you work though that lesson; however, there are four assignments that will be integrated into the entire course. These are:

  1. Required Reading
  2. Potential Reading Log
  3. Final Book Log
  4. Author/Genre Study

Required Reading

This is a literature course and as such will require a great deal of reading. There are three types of reading required for this course: 1) textbooks, 2) supplemental sources, and 3) independent choice reading.

  1. The Textbooks. Throughout the course assignments will require you to read chapters or pages from the textbooks. Readings from these textbooks will be clearly outlined in each lesson. The textbooks are:
    • Bucher, K., & Hinton, K. (2010). Young adult literature: Exploration, evaluation, and appreciation. (2nd ed.) Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
    • Chambers, A. (1996). Tell me: Children, reading, and talk. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
    • Gallagher, K. (2009). Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
  2. Supplemental Sources. In addition to the textbook some lessons will require you to read additional materials. These materials will include such things as websites, blogs, book reviews, and scholarly articles. Exactly what supplemental reading is required will be outlined in each lesson.
  3. Independent Choice Reading. You will read 34 young adult books in a variety of genres and formats during this course. This may seem daunting at first, but remember that these are young adult books; most readers find these shorter, easier, and much faster to read than other books. Also, remember you have a year to finish this course: students in my live classes only have three to four months to complete the same amount of reading, so you should have plenty of time even if you read very slowly. Beyond a few requirements, the choice of the individual titles you read in each genre and format category is completely up to you.

To guide you in book selection you may use:

  1. the genre and format lists in your textbook
  2. the lists of instructor-recommended books
  3. recommendations from other instructors, colleagues, students you teach, teens you know, family members, or friends
  4. titles listed on reputable websites such as www.teenreads.com, www.goodreads.com, or www.ala.org/yalsa/bookawards/booklists/members
  5. lists of award-winning titles from reputable awarding agencies, such as the American Library Association or the International Reading Association; for a list of the major awards for young adult literature, see the Young Adult Book Awards in the Appendix.
  6. any other source that you can think of

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask for help in selecting titles. The instructor can assist you, any good librarian at a school or public library can help you, and even sometimes the staff at bookstores can help you.

Book selection is entirely up to you; however, you must follow these required guidelines as you select your 34 independent choice readings.

Requirements for Book Selections

  1. You must read a specific number of books in specific genres and formats as outlined in the chart below. You will be required to read 34 books for this course. You may select whichever books you like; however, to ensure that you read a variety you must fulfill the required number of readings in the specific genre and format categories listed in the chart below. Certain readings will be required for certain lessons and these requirements are noted below. For example, of your 34 total books, you must read one book that is fantasy, one that is science fiction, and one that is horror. One of these titles must be read by the time you start lesson 7, and the remaining ones must be read by the time you complete your Portfolio Assignment.
  2. Do not reread books you have read before this class. All the books you select to read for this class should be new to you. Even if you don’t remember anything about a book, if you have already read it, do not select it. If you begin a book and then remember that you have already read it, do not finish it: select another book for the assignment. This requirement will largely be fulfilled on your honor, but I hope you will show enough integrity to follow it. If I catch you not fulfilling this requirement, your grade will be severely affected.
  3. Read only Young Adult books. The focus of this course is young adult books and so you should be reading only young adult books. While there are a wide variety of books that teens read and enjoy, please limit your focus here to books that fall under the definition of young adult literature, which we will talk about more in our first lesson. In general books published for adults or for young children should be excluded. With this said, the reality is that the categories of adult and children’s literature will overlap into our definition of young adult literature, and you may find that books that fall into these other categories will also be appropriate for this class. Your textbooks will include some adult and children’s titles in its suggestions and other lists and websites you will encounter will as well. So, choosing these types of books is valid. However, be prepared to defend your choices regarding why teens would enjoy the books you chose and how they fit the criteria for young adult books. Also note that while many classics are read and studied in middle school and high school English or literature classes, most of these books are not considered young adult books and really are not the best choices for study in this class. For example, works like The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros are not young adult books; while they are read by teens, they are not appropriate for this class.
  4. Read only books published after 1960. As young adult literature really did not come into being until the 1960s, only books published after this date are truly considered young adult. Therefore, as we are reading only young adult books for this class, no book published before 1960 will fall under the definition we are working with.

Other Suggestions

The following statements are caveats to help you select books. While the above four statements are required, and your grade will fall if you do not follow those guidelines, the below statements are just strong suggestions that you may choose to follow or not, depending upon your interests.

  1. Read books published within the last 15 years. The field of young adult literature is changing and growing. While books published more than 15 years ago still have a valid place in the canon and history of young adult literature, most have become irrelevant to today’s young adults. As you are going to working with and interacting with modern young adults, you should focus on those books that will be best suited to their current interests, and these types of books will almost always be those published within the last 15 years.
  2. Read a variety of books, including those that have applications for use in the classroom and also those that will be read just for pleasure. As with all types of books there is a great variety out there. There are some that are well written and have a good fit to classroom study, others that hold great pleasure only, and others that are poorly written and hold appeal for only a certain audience. Our study in this class covers all these types of books, so do not feel that you must choose only the best literary works of the canon. Feel free to choose those books that have been highly acclaimed, as well as those books that bring the reader pleasure.

In addition to the guidelines outlined above, here are the numbers of required books in each genre and format category:

Genre and Format Required Number Due Date
Defining Classics 2 One completed for Lesson 1 / Remainder completed by end of course
Award-Winning Titles 2 One completed for Lesson 2 / Remainder completed by end of course
Curricular Connections:
Novel to Pair With a Classic Work 1 One completed for Lesson 3 / Remainder completed by end of course
Novel to Use Outside an English Class 1
Novel for a Reluctant Reader 1
Censored Titles 2 One completed for Lesson 4 / Remainder completed by end of course
Contemporary Realistic Fiction:
Theme One: Romance 1 One completed for Lesson 5 / Remainder completed by end of course
Theme Two: Sports 1
Theme Three: Self-Selection 1
Adventure 1 One completed for Lesson 6 / Remainder completed by end of course
Mystery 1
Humor 1
Science Fiction 1 One completed for Lesson 7 / Remainder completed by end of course
Fantasy 1
Horror 1
Historical Fiction 2 One completed for Lesson 8 / Remainder completed by end of course
Biography 2 Two completed for Lesson 9
Nonfiction/Informational Book 3 Two completed for Lesson 10 / Remainder completed by end of course
Poetry 1 Two completed for Lesson 11 / Remainder completed by end of course
Drama 1
Short Stories 1
Graphic Novel 1 One completed for Lesson 12
Picture Book 1 One completed for Lesson 12
Works for Your Author or Genre Study 4 All completed for Your Portfolio Assignment

Potential Reading Log

Throughout the course you will keep a potential reading log. This log serves two purposes:

  1. to record ideas of what books you may want to read for this class and in the future
  2. to keep you on track so you can complete all the books you need to have read for this class

This log will be a constantly changing file. To help you get started, a file with the required genres and formats is included in the Course Documents folder in the Appendix called the Potential Reading Log. (Note: The Potential Reading Log, and all other course documents, are available in the Course Documents folder in the Appendix). However, if you feel another style or format would better serve you for this log, please feel free not to use this example and to create a file in whatever form best serves your needs. No matter what your log looks like, every time you come across a book (either in your textbook, in your additional reading, as you explore websites, or as you get recommendations from the instructor or friends), put the title, author, and the book’s genre or format category in your potential reading log. You can then use bold, italics, or other formatting (or you can even add comments to each title), to help mark titles you are especially interested in or the ones you finally read. When you need to read a book in a specific category for a particular lesson, or to fulfill the independent reading requirements, you can then check your log and find all the great titles you were interested in. This log will be turned in when you complete the course so it is very important that you keep it up to date as you work though each lesson. This is not the kind of thing you can fill out at the last minute, so you should take some time before, during, or after each lesson to add, delete, and prioritize all the books you want to read. While your logs will most likely be much longer by the end of the course, here is a brief example of what one might look like:

Defining Classics (Required 2)

The Contender by Robert Lipsyte (textbook / read this for lesson 1)

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt (online)

Something by Laurie Halse Anderson (teacher recommendation—some of her books could also be contemporary realistic?)

Ironman by chris Crutcher (this looked good at first but after reading a review I'm not sure I want to read it)

Contemporary Realistic:

Self-Selection (Required 1)

Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande (textbook—this sounds really funny / read for lesson 3)

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (this could be a romance novel too? Maybe read it for that—moved this to romance and read it)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (online)

Names and titles of books are listed. Bold titles indicate ones that were read. Strike-though titles indicate ones that were “discarded” from the list. Items in parentheses list comments, such as where the student found the book in the first place, or issues that are important to remember.

The file of your completed potential reading log will be turned in with your Portfolio Assignment.

Final Book Log

For each of the 34 books you read for this class you will make an entry in your final book log. This log serves two purposes:

  1. to report and get credit for all the books you will read for this class
  2. to help you to remember and identify any books that you will want to use in the classroom or suggest to teens. Your final book log will become a very useful record of what you read for this class, so you don’t always have to remember a book or try to find it again when you really need it.

For each book you read, you will put an entry into your log. This means that your log will have 34 entries. Each entry must include:

  1. Genre or format category for the book
  2. Title of the book
  3. Author of the book
  4. Illustrator of the book (if applicable for such books as graphic novels, etc.)
  5. Publisher of the book
  6. Date of publication
  7. A brief summary of three to five sentences that includes whatever key ideas you will need to remember the book. This may include a one-sentence overview of the plot, an idea of how you would use it in the classroom, another title or author that you would pair with the book, something you really loved/disliked about the book, or an analysis of what the author did well or did not do well.

For the award-winning books you are also required to state what award(s) they won. For the Novel to Pair With a Classic Work, you are also required to state the title of the classic you would pair it with. For the Novel to Use Outside an English Class, you are also required to state the subject in which you would use the title (i.e., science, math, history, art, etc.). Here is an example of what an entry in the final book log will look like:

GENRE: Fantasy
TITLE: The Hollow
AUTHOR: Verday, Jessica
ILLUSTRATOR: not applicable
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
DATE: 2009
SUMMARY: A ghost story with connections to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I liked the premise, but in the end there were too many plot elements and the author did not do justice to any of them. At the end there were sudden revelations that left lots of plot elements and character resolutions hanging. Ultimately, it was unsatisfying because it relies on a sequel by leaving too many unanswered questions.

To help you get started, a file with the required genres and formats is included in the Appendix. However, if you feel another style or format would better serve you for this log, please feel free not to use this example, and instead create a file in whatever form best serves your needs. The file of your completed final book log will be turned in with your Portfolio Assignment. The file Final Reading Log is located in the Course Documents folder in the appendix.

Author or Genre Study

As part of your final portfolio for this class you will complete an author or genre study that will revolve around four books. All of these four books will either be by the same author or of the same genre. If you choose to do a genre study, I suggest you select a subgenre within a larger genre. So, for example, instead of picking science fiction you could pick dystopian novels or steampunk; or, instead of picking romance you could pick paranormal romance with vampires. After reading these four books, you will write an 8–12 page paper. This paper will contain four sections:

  1. Introduction.
    • For an author study the introduction will include biographical information about the author and any other general information about the author himself or herself that you feel is pertinent. Also, the introduction will include a brief explanation of why this author’s work is appealing to teens.
    • For the genre study the introduction will include a summary of the genre itself and its characteristics, as well as information on how the characteristics of the subgenre or more specific area you picked connects to the genre as a whole. Also, the introduction will include a brief explanation of why this genre is appealing to teens.
  2. Body. In the body of the paper you will discuss each of the four books. This discussion may take the shape of any format you like. Because of variations in authors or genres you will need to decide what is important to discuss. However, here are some suggestions. Throughout this discussion you can address common threads in books. The common threads you find and discuss in the books will depend upon what you bring to the book and the approach you wish to take in your paper. So, for example, you could point out commonalities in plot, character, setting, or style. For an author study you might want to discuss how the author uses the same style of language in each of the four books. In a genre study you may want to discuss how the main characters in each of the four books exhibit similar traits. In the body you may also discuss why the books you read were personally appealing to you and why they might be popular or personally appealing to teens. As noted, the overall approach you take to the body will be your own; however, at the minimum, you should discuss each of the four books.
  3. Conclusion. In the conclusion you should summarize the findings, issues, ideas, or concepts you brought up in the body of the paper. You should also connect the body to the introduction by telling us what each of these four books shows us or tells us about the author or the genre you are looking at.
  4. Bibliography. Include citations for all information resources you use for your paper. This should include citations for the four books as well as citations for outside sources such as articles, websites, etc. that you used to get information about your author or genre. You may use whatever citation format you are most comfortable with (i.e. APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

Your 8–12 double-spaced page author or genre study will be turned in for your Portfolio Assignment. Halfway through the course, in Lesson 7, I will ask you to report on the name of the author or the genre you are doing. I will also ask for the titles of the four books you are going to be using. While you will not have to have read the books by then, you will have to note which ones they are. After this point, if you change your mind and wish to use another author or genre, you must get my approval. You can do this by noting the change at the end of any lesson that you submit.

Since I do not want to limit the authors or genres you can use by giving you an example of what a paper might look like, I hope these instructions have served to help you understand this project. If they have not, please ask any questions you may have at the end of any lesson you submit. You may also look in any web search engine under “Author Study” or “Genre Study,” where you will find many lesson plans and thoughts about these types of studies. While many of these will not be focused on college-level courses or will include other projects than a written paper, these examples may help you to get a better idea of what you can do for this project.

Lesson Exercises Techniques

We will be doing a variety of exercises during this course. Each type of exercise will be specially discussed in each lesson. However, there are four general topics that will be important to a great majority of the exercises, so we will discuss those here.

Assignment Length

There is no pre-imposed length for any assignment in the lessons. You may make your response as long or as short as you need to. Just remember long responses are not always better. If you are rambling, repeating yourself, going outside the topic, or trying to cover too many points, the responses will not be good. Also, remember that short responses are not always better either. If you don’t cover points in depth, don’t cover important details, or don’t answer the questions, then the responses will not be good. Take as much time as you need to sufficiently answer the questions. For most assignments that call for you to answer in-depth questions, the average response should be about half a page (single spaced) to no more than about a page.

Book Analysis

This is an upper-division literature class and as such high levels of critical thinking are required. As we discuss and write about books you will be asked to demonstrate how you are able to connect concepts learned in the textbooks and independent choice readings to your own ideas and experiences; this shows me that you are reading in new ways and that you are thinking like a critical, culturally aware reader who can get past the obvious and apply new concepts in interesting ways. You will be expected to read and talk about books more like a literary critic than a lay reader.

Many think of children’s books or young adult books as lesser and somehow unworthy of enjoyment by anyone but the young, or even as books undeserving of scholarly study. Both of these statements are patently untrue. Young adult books can be enjoyed by a variety of people and age groups. Just like books written for adults, children’s and young adult books run the gamut from the very poorly written to the extremely well written, to the very popular and the not very popular. So, just like adult books, these titles are very worthy of scholarly study. Because I feel strongly that young adult books are worthy of both enjoyment and scholarship, I will expect you to respect not only the books that we read but also the main audience to which these books are addressed. I expect that all of your work will be free of generalizations, biases, and stereotypes. I also expect that you will act sensitively towards adolescents, including their joys and troubles. You should always show that you are competent, human, and open in your relationships and communication with teens and with the books that they read.

Young adult literature covers a wide variety of topics that are important to teens. Some of these topics or the ways that authors address them can make adults feel uncomfortable. Because of the nature of the genre, there may come a time when you encounter a book that takes you out of your comfort zone. If and when you encounter one of these books, I first ask that you keep an open mind. Not everyone is going to have the same experience with a book and not everyone is going to share the exact same moral code. You must be respectful of others’ positions and ideas, especially when they do not coincide with your own. Authors of young adult books strive to tell the very best stories for teens, and while you may not always agree with the stories they tell you have to know that they are trying to represent the world and the people in it with honesty and integrity. I have yet to meet a young adult author who set out to write a book that would corrupt today’s youth. While you may not agree with the authors’ stance, it is their perspective and no matter how rough it is they do have a right to write what they feel needs to be written. You, however, have the right not to read it. No matter the book, I will expect that you will discuss your feelings honestly. However, if these feelings cannot be expressed with integrity, with sensitivity, and with respect for the books and for the teen audience to which they are addressed, or if they cannot be expressed without generalizations, biases, or stereotypes – – please select another book to read and discuss. The field of adolescent literature is vast and there is something out there for everyone of every moral code. Since you are able to select your own books please select those that you can confidently write about.

As you write also remember that depth is better than breadth. I would much rather you discuss one point in detail then try to cover all points. I will also expect that you will write with clarity and confidence. I realize that we may not always agree on things, and my stance as a teacher of literature is that everyone’s opinion is valid. However, I will expect that you will back up your opinion with facts.

With this said, the following are elements of book analysis that are unacceptable in this class:

  1. Plot Summaries. I do not need to know the plot of the book. You may discuss plot elements as needed to make points and clarify issues, but you will never need to do any plot summaries.
  2. Unsubstantiated Opinions. If you make a statement like, “I believe/I think/I feel,” you must state why you believe that. Any statement of opinion should be followed by a statement telling why you feel as you do. Using quotes or passages from the book you read or the textbook helps to back up opinions. You can also use examples from your own experience, from other readings, or from other classes.
  3. Bias. I expect that in all your writings you will show your ability to be impartial, unprejudiced, and objective. Any statement that is influenced by or shows prejudice towards anything, including a book or the adolescents who might read it, will be unacceptable.
  4. Stereotypes. Just as no two books are alike, no two people are alike. While most stereotypes are beliefs about a group of people, they can also be generated towards things as well. I will not accept any comments that include simplified conceptions that are based on prior, unsubstantiated assumptions. Stereotypes are unacceptable when you talk about individual people, cultures, or any other groups, as well as when you talk about young adult books and book genres or formats.
  5. Generalizations. Any broad statement that is unsupportable and not provable is unacceptable. Some words that can signal that you are using a generalization are the following: none, all, always, never, everybody, only, and nobody. If you leave no room for exceptions or differences you are making a generalization. Even though you can back up generalizations with information, observations, and experiences, generalizations should not be confused with opinions. Statements like, “Only boys will like this book,” even though you can say why boys would like it, leave no room for exceptions and as such are generalizations. On the other hand, a statement like, “Boys will enjoy this book,” is an opinion that can then be backed up with examples and quotes. So, while substantiated opinions are acceptable, even substantiated generalizations are not.

Written Assignments Grading Rubric

The following rubric will be used as a general guideline to grade all written exercises in this course:

Score Levels Content Conventions Organization Presentation
100% (A)
  • Analysis is fresh and exciting
  • Reflects application of critical thinking
  • Ideas are well-developed with significant and persuasive evidence
  • Avoids simplistic description or summary of information, generalizations, or stereotypes
  • No spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors
  • High-level use of vocabulary and word choice
  • Information is clearly focused in an organized and thoughtful manner
  • Content is focused and has purpose
  • Assignment follows designated guidelines
  • Presentation captures audience attention
  • Presentation is organized and well laid out
85% (B)
  • Some description, but mostly analysis
  • Has application of critical thinking that is apparent, though some links perhaps not very clear
  • Ideas are developed with effective evidence and support
  • Few simplistic descriptions or summary of information, generalizations, or stereotypes
  • Few (1 to 3) spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors
  • Good use of vocabulary and word choice
  • Information is clearly focused in an organized and thoughtful manner
  • Content is focused and has purpose, though some ideas are perhaps not very clear
  • Assignment follows designated guidelines
  • Presentation captures audience attention
  • Presentation is well organized
75% (C)
  • Descriptions appear often without analysis
  • Has little application of critical thinking
  • Some ideas may be underdeveloped; some key points may need support
  • Simplistic view of topic; no effort to grasp possible alternative views
  • Minimal (3 to 5) spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors
  • Low-level use of vocabulary and word choice
  • Information appears to have a pattern, but the pattern is not consistently carried out in the project
  • Content lacks focus and purpose
  • Assignment does not follow designated guidelines
  • Presentation does not capture audience attention
  • Presentation is loosely organized
65% (D)
  • No analysis
  • Has no apparent application of critical thinking
  • Ideas are overly generalized, ramble, and lack supporting details
  • Ideas do not flow at all; full of simplistic descriptions or summary of information, generalizations, or stereotypes
  • More than 5 spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors
  • Poor use of vocabulary and word choice
  • Information has no apparent pattern
  • Content is unfocused and haphazard
  • Assignment does not follow designated guidelines
  • Presentation appears sloppy and/or unfinished
  • Presentation has no clear organization

Finding Information

Throughout this course we will be informing our study of adolescent literature with a variety of information from a number of sources. Since this is an independent study course not everyone will have the same access. Here I will describe the various sources where you may find information. Not all of these will be applicable for every person or for every assignment. When I do not give you specific instruction in the assignment, you may choose whatever sources you like. However, I encourage you to try as many different sources as possible. I realize that some of this may be out of your comfort zone, but please try to take the time to discover some new avenues to getting great information. The skills you build in this area will help you to access information better for all other areas of your life.


We will be exploring a number of books in this course. You have been asked to read 34 young adult books. You may also find that books that talk about young adult literature or give critical analyses of works may also be helpful. You can access books from a variety of locations:

  1. From Your Local Library. Look for libraries close to you: public libraries will most likely be your first source, but if you don’t have a nearby public library see if a local school or university has a library that you can use. No matter where you live, you will probably have access to some kind of library. Your local library may provide the books you need. If your local library does not own the books you need, then talk with a librarian and see if your library offers an interlibrary loan service, where they can get books from other libraries for you.
  2. Physical or Online Bookstores. A nearby bookstore can also be a good source of books for you. In both physical and online bookstores you can browse books to see what kinds of information they have. You may also choose to buy books from these sources. Physical bookstores will vary by location, so be on the lookout for local independent stores or chain stores. You can also choose to go online to www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, or www.alibris.com. Your local independent bookstore may also have a website you can use.

Scholarly Information, Including Journals and Documents

Scholarly information comes from an academic source in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. These sources include journals and scholarly documents.

You can access scholarly information from three main sources:

  1. Your Local Library. Most libraries provide access to databases of scholarly information sources. What library you use will depend upon what types of access you will have. The best way to find out what your library has is to talk to a librarian. A librarian will be able to guide you to the general or specific databases to which your library subscribes. All good librarians will be able to guide you to the proper databases if you tell them the topic you are interested in searching. How to access, search, and retrieve information from these sources will vary, so ask your librarian for help here also. Note that many of these types of databases will give you digital, full-text copies of the information, so you will just have to click on a file and you can get the information. If a digital, full-text copy is not available, talk to your librarian for help about how to access the information you need.
  2. ERIC ERIC, at www.eric.ed.gov, is a database that gives access to scholarly information in the field of education. There is a lot of information in this database on young adult literature. The information in this database comes in two forms. First, there are citations of journal articles. These citations only give you the basic information about the journal article, such as the title, author, source, and abstract. These sources do not give you access to the full text. To access the full text of these sources you will need to contact a librarian and give him or her the citation; he or she should be able to help you get access to the full text. Second, there are ERIC documents. These documents come from various sources, and while some may only be restricted to the citation, as above, others will have free full texts available. These are great sources, especially if you have limited access to a library. To find information in this source, go to www.eric.ed.gov. You can put search terms in the search box right there on the main page and then click “Search” to find the information. This search will give you both citations and full-text documents. If you only want the free full-text documents, click on the words “Advanced Search” to the right of the search box, right there on the main page. When the next page comes up, enter your search terms in the box, then click to put a check in the square box next to the words, “Full-Text Availability,” then click next to the words, “Show only results with free full text directly from ERIC” after it. When you have the terms typed in the box, click the Search box, which is in between where you type the search words and where you clicked the box for full text. This search will give you only the free full text, which you can download by clicking on the PDF link in the citation that will come up on the next page.
  3. Google Scholar. You are probably familiar with Google for searching websites, and its sister site, Google Scholar, searches only scholarly information. To use this go to http://scholar.google.com and search it just as you would search regular Google. This will bring up lots of scholarly information, including books, citations for journals, and free full-text documents. Most citations will include a term in square brackets at the first that tells you what kind of information it is. Free full-text documents you can just download. For books and citations that don’t have full text, you can follow the links to see if your local library has it, or you can take the citation and check with your librarian to see what access you may have.


You can also use the Internet to find great information. To find information on the web use any search engine that you feel comfortable with. Please be aware as you do this that anybody can put anything they want on the Internet. Because of this, information on the web can be inaccurate, biased, or of very poor quality. If you do not feel confident about the best way to evaluate Internet information, please type “evaluating Internet information” into a web search engine and you will see lots of great websites from libraries that will give you instructions on how to critically evaluate information. While there is lots of great information on the web that I will encourage you to use, please be aware that for this class I expect that you will use the very best, most accurate, and unbiased information for your studies. I encourage you to use only the best information, but if you choose to use poor information make sure that it has the proper context and that you recognize the bias or inaccuracy in your exercises. I expect the best in this area and uses of poor information or misrepresentation of information will affect your grade.

This is all the introductory material for this course. Before you begin the course, you should now be aware of:

  1. Course Objectives
  2. Required Materials
  3. Grading and Assessment
  4. Course Policies and Procedures
  5. Whole Course Assignments
  6. Lesson Exercise Techniques

I hope you have studied this material carefully as you will be held responsible for the information and requirements outlined here. If you have any concerns, please review the material. If you have any questions, please submit them by email or include them with your first lesson.

Now welcome to the wonderful world of young adult literature…

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


14 written assignments, 13 may be resubmitted for a fee; the Final Essay Assignment may not be resubmitted.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


There are no exams for this course. You will complete a final essay assignment at the end of the course, may not retake, must pass to earn credit for the course.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514