Loving Comes by Understanding

Love

Something I’ve learned during college is relating to someone whose beliefs differ vastly from my own. One of the best ways to do this is by reading. As someone interested in becoming an English teacher, an effective method for relating to someone and learning more about them is by reading books about their perspective.

This is why I am interested in Young Adult Literature. I was not the typical teen. I played the flute, participated in cheerleading for two years, and held lead roles in three separate drama productions. This would be “normal” for a female student, but I was a male student in a small community of about 1,000 people. Having these interests as a man was unheard of in my area.

Because of what I loved as a teen, I don’t know what the “typical” student was interested in. I also cannot directly relate to students who are LGBT, disabled, or from a foreign country. In other words, I do not know what it is like to be 99% of teenagers from the United States.

Therefore I read so I may understand future students better. Young Adult Literature tackles all the issues that teens are interested in, and one of the best ways to draw students into my teaching style is by relating well to them and engaging in their lives. I want to understand what my students may be feeling, thinking, and going through so that I know how to care for and love them as human beings. I want to assist them through their journey of one of the most exciting times in life: adolescence. I want them to know that no matter what, there is someone who cares for them when the rest of the world doesn’t.

I read so they may be loved.

Young Adult Literature has really taken up my fascination. It is a genre relatively new in the novel writing world, and it has exploded into one of the bestselling genres available. I love a quote by Shannon Hale in her blog post “The Young Adult Book Tropes that Ate the World”: “Reading is personal.” It really is. I think YA Lit has brought out how personal reading can be, featuring characters who we cheer for or hate, storylines that make us pause and think about our own lives, and scenes that make us laugh, cry, scream, stay up late at night, and dance in our seats. I love that about teen books.

This semester for my YA Lit class, I am really excited for experiencing a genre I never really engaged with in high school. I want to learn more about developing relationships with students through reading books they are interested in. I want to remind myself of how difficult emotionally the high school journey can be. I want to remind myself why I am going into teaching in the first place.

Because I am not very well read in teen books, I do not consider myself an expert at anything within the genre. However, if I have to consider myself an expert in anything, I would have to give the thriller/suspense category my top nod. In middle school I read as much as I could from Caroline B. Cooney and Lois Duncan. Both authors are prominent in writing thriller/suspense books. Plus, they make me think (which always a good thing).

Anyway, my ultimate goal as a teacher is to teach human beings, and to spread love and compassion and caring while I am there. Reading is a wonderful medium to accomplish this, and I look forward to reading a lot more Young Adult Literature.

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9 responses to “Loving Comes by Understanding

  1. Something that is nice is truly there are no “typical” teens. You can stereotype away, but in the end everyone is individual. Which is one thing that helps all of us who read YA because though we are all reading the same book it is read many different ways. Each book holds a totally different open door for all who read it. Though the main points are there which everyone can see everyone connects to the story for different reasons. It is one of the best ways for anyone to connect with teens, because chances are while you are reading it the feelings you feel may not be the same as when I read it we will still have something to discuss and have an understanding of what literature has done.

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  2. There really isn’t a “typical” teen in that we can describe them in a few sentences. Even grouping students into cliques seems to disregard their personal attributes in exchange for something stereotypical that doesn’t do them justice. That’s why literature is there to break the molds that have long isolated each other from another’s perspective. It’s a wonderful thing.

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  3. Reading your blog post reminded me of all of the reasons that I want to become a teacher as well. “I read so they may be loved.” What an incredibly powerful line! I came from a very small community also, so I completely understand your “normal” comment. It can be hard for students to really feel like they have a fit somewhere, and I truly believe that books can help them (an us as educators) find that place or niche. Books open new paths for readers, and that is something that I absolutely love.

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  4. I think it is great that you try to use YA Lit to explore diversity. It is a great way to use reading. I hope you learned a lot this semester and use it in the future while teaching.

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