Samurai gets the scholarly treatment

>> Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Check out the great review of Samurai Shortstop at The Age of ______? blog written by Tom Philion, and Associate Professor at Roosevelt University in Chicagoland. Inspired by a writing prompt observed during another teacher's lesson that encouraged students to fill in the blank with the one word they thought best defined their age, Tom began to think about ways English teachers could encourage that kind of examination all the time. The answer, he thinks, is in contemporary young adult literature.

I happen to agree.

Here in Tom's words is the motivation for his project:

[T]his project is an effort to explore how young adult literature might be used to encourage deeper, richer, and more critical thinking about the contemporary world in middle school and high school English courses. Like many teachers, librarians, and publishers before me, I believe that young adult literature is a powerful tool for inviting teens to critically examine and take seriously the social roles and responsibilities that they are on the cusp of assuming.

Good stuff. His blog is fascinating. He's working his way through four Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) lists from last year - the 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (which is where he found Samurai Shortstop), the 2007 Alex Award winners (ten adult books recommended for teen readers), the 2007 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and the 2006 Teens Top Ten (a list of outstanding literature selected by teens themselves).

Tom has even returned to Samurai Shortstop in a more recent post, in which he examines the influence of seppuku on suicide rates in contemporary Japan. The whole blog is great reading, and I love the scholarly attention he's giving young adult literature as a whole.

I also can't go without sharing Tom's Video Booktalk for Samurai Shortstop, which he has posted to YouTube and to his blog:

Thanks Tom!


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