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Friday, April 30, 2010

Teen Readers- What do YOU Want to Read?

Okay, so here are the first two questions on my survey (there are six total) Enjoy!

1. What type of books do you have the easiest time getting into?

Student 1 Male age 17, 11th grade action packed. Needs to have something new happen in every chapter. Science Fiction.

Student 2 Male 18, (12th grade) science fiction or fantasy.

Student 3 Male 17, (12th grade) fantasy/paranormal

Student 4 Female 16, (10th grade) love stories

Student 5 Female, 16, 11th grade realistic fiction

Student 6 Female 17th, (11th grade) fantasy

Student 7 Female 17, (12th grade) Love stories or sad stories

Student 8 Female 16, (11th grade) stories about friends that hang out and are funny

Student 9 Female 16, (11th grade) romance

Student 10 Female 17, (11th grade) love, mystery books

Student 11 Female 15, (10th grade) horror books and books with edge

Student 12 Female 16, (10th grade) lots of details.

2. Do you think characters should make mistakes?

Student 1 yes, to a certain extent.

Student 2 Obviously, a perfect character is hard to relate to.

Student 3 yes...perfection makes life boring.

Student 4 yes, everyone makes mistakes. We are human, you know.

Student 5 yes, people make mistakes so characters should make mistakes.

Student 6 It depends on the situation.

Student 7 Of course, if they were perfect we couldn't relate.

Student 8 yes, because it causes conflicts.

Student 9 yes, if they didn't it would be boring.

Student 10 yes, because in the end there should be a lesson involved.

Student 11 yes I do

Student 12 yes, or it wouldn't be interesting

Teen Reader Survey Results

Over the next few days I'm going to post the results of a survey that I did of 12 avid readers. The teens will be numbered 1-12 so you can follow which one posted what, and the first three are male, the rest are females.

The questions are:

1. What types of books do you have the easiest time "getting into"
2. Do you think the characters in books should make mistakes?
3. How do you think people learn from literature?
4. What subject matter do you consider pushing the boundaries in YA literature?
5. Do the YA books you read reflect the level of bad language, sexuality, drug use, and peer pressure that exist in teens' real lives?
6. What is the appeal of YA fiction?

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poe...Even Non-Readers Pretend They Like/Appreciate/Understand Poe.

I think about Poe a good bit. What? I'm a high school English teacher, the plant on my desk is named Edgar, and the students decorate him with origami ravens...

I read a lot about Poe last summer to get myself ready for my current writing project. Here's the weird thing, you almost never hear anyone saying that they HATE Poe. Or that they never heard of him. So, the thesis for this blog entry is... even people who don't read Poe like to pretend they read Poe. Which makes one wonder, why> Do people pretend to read Dickens? Shakespeare? Steinbeck? Well, yes, that's called High School English class. (I read all my books, thank you. It was the thing I was best at in school...still upset that I didn't see what everybody else loves about The Great Gatsby, but I do love me some To Kill A Mockingbird).

But Poe is different because it's COOL to read and like Poe. And by cool I mean emo-goth-fantabulous.
I have compiled, for your reading pleasure...some reasons why people who don't read Poe like to act like they read Poe. :)

  • Cool dark ambiance
  • The Collected Tales and Poems can be a really great fashion accessory, it goes great with black plastic glasses, black trench coats, and all sorts of hats.
  • Perfect for pretending to read while pretending to listen to The Cure.
  • It's preferable to read a story by someone who married their cousin, than to actually marry your cousin.
  • Ravens are creeeeepy
  • Nevermore rhymes with Lenore and Annabel Lee rhymes with Sea, and rhyming is fun!
  • Gaily bedight, a gallant knight, who says awesome stuff like that?
  • In theory pre-mature burial is pretty sick.
  • If sick is synonymous with cool, or even if it isn't, Poe is the sickest author around.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Here's a very very short teaser for The Fall. I mostly just wanted everyone to visit my new blog :).

“What is going to happen to me?” I repeat. “Will I go mad?”

Dr. Paul smiles. He is enjoying this. “Like your mother, you will suffer fits. During these spells, your senses will become morbidly acute. The most insipid food will be unendurable, your clothing will be painful to your skin, and the quietest of sounds will inspire you with terror. You will have headaches, and you will lose consciousness.”

“I don’t believe you,” I say.

“You do. You know what happened to your mother. It has already begun.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peer Pressure... How Early Does This Crap Begin?

Students in my YA lit class consistently rate peer pressure as one of the most insidious problems of teen students, and I find that disturbing. But when does peer pressure begin?

The picture above, is it the cutest child in the world? Why yes, it's my daughter Noel. Who inexplicably decided to get her ears pierced this week. (see red ears in picture).

She is five and has very stubborn ideas and opinions. Once she makes up her mind, don't try to change it...but somebody is changing it.

Let's start with her hair. Last year about this time, I cut off all my hair, very short. Noel was very upset, to the point of crying and saying I wasn't her mommy. (which made me cry). Anyway, though she has very thin hair, over the last year she refused to let us cut it. Since my husband gets the kids ready for school in the morning, we really wanted to push the cute shorter hair, but no, she insisted, she cried, she refused. A few weeks ago the girl next door got a shorter hair cut. When I took Ezra to get his hair cut I told Noel I wanted to get hers trimmed, I was in mid sentence going, "it will make your hair healthier, it won't look any different, we'll just cut the very ends off," When she suddenly decided she wanted to get her hair not just trimmed, but cut!

All that begging, bribery, logic, all the crying when I brushed her hair (the child has the most sensitive head in the world), did nothing, but the girl next door...yeah, sign her up for a hair cut.

And about the earrings...I have a pretty impressive jewelry collection, and she's asked me about the holes in my ears before, and I always told her that we'd have them pierced when she wanted to. Out of nowhere, last week she wanted to go immediately. I know there had to be a catalyst, and I know it wasn't some little-kid-pusher going "get your ears pierced or we won't be friends any more..." though I did have one of those in my class way back when..."wear jelly shoes or I won't be your friend anymore... you can't be in our club..." oh, the nightmares.

So, the thing is, this is my child who I would expect to be less influenced by others because of her natural stubbornness. My other one loves to make people happy, and that worries me a little.

As parents, our biggest concern is how do we instill our kids with enough self esteem that they don't make mistakes because of peer pressure. Making mistakes because of your own curiosity or desires are bad enough... but somehow less reprehensible when you look back on said mistakes (not that I made any, Hi mom!) than making mistakes because someone else wanted you to do something and you just gave in.

But how do you get kids to have that self esteem? I don't even know! We're obviously they coolest parents EVER and our 5 year old doesn't even listen to do parents of teens cope with all this?

I plan to spend this summer going to Chuck E Cheese and the zoo and pretending that the teenage years will never arrive...even if they might be good for my own writerly research. It's okay, I can just use my imagination! I don't need angst in my own house!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The power of a classroom library

I was just thinking what an amazing thing my classroom library is. Before I get started, let me say that my school library is astounding. Really, great books, a librarian who spends money on books rather than just computers or other things (we have a $400 globe purchased by the previous librarian $400!) I give her a list of books several times a year, and she buys them.

But there's something about having books in the classroom that's just so so so awesome. It's pretty expensive to keep up...I go to our local library sale and get some decent books, and I buy a lot of books...

On a daily basis students and former students stop in to see what I'm reading, and to discuss books with me, and to borrow books. It makes me very happy. Being surrounded by books makes me happy. I lose books every year, and I hate that, but I also know that the students who end up with the books probably have less financial ability to buy books than I do.

So a student asked me today to buy her an Ellen Hopkins book that she couldn't get from the library. I'm not really comfortable taking money from students, even to buy them things if they can't get to a book store, so I told her I would buy a copy for the classroom.

Having students value books is so priceless!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another What is a teen paper/response/essay...

I didn't really want to call this an essay because I didn't want to make anyone nauseous. I think you'll find this one refreshingly cynical, even if you don't agree with his assessment of his fellow teens. I love these assignments!

Disrespectful, immature, rebellious, and reckless. What might I be talking about you wonder? Well the answer is easy to see really. I’m talking about teen stereotypes. These stereotypes are how others see teens, but are it really true? I’m going to dive into this and defend or refute these statements.

First let us start with the disrespectful. While it’s no big secret that most teens don’t get along with their parents, there is a myth surrounding teens that they are typically disrespectful. Is it deserved? Or is it just part of the stereotype? The answer? It depends on your perspective. While from the parents perspective it seems that their child is being disrespectful, to the child they are only trying to test new boundaries.

The second stereotype we’ll look at is that teens are immature. I believe that some teens are immature and that some are, but I believe the immature ones outweigh the mature teens. Teens like to cuss, use bad humor, and just play pranks. Well as I said before a few teens don’t like to do that kind of stuff the majority do. So this stereotype is well earned.

Next on the list? It would be rebellious, but seeing as that almost the same thing as disrespectful we’ll move on to reckless. This one has applied to almost every teen I’ve ever known. Most teens tend to act before they speak. Although I’m sure most students wouldn’t call it recklessness. I’m sure they would prefer it thought of as living in the moment. After all if these are “the best days of your life” why not enjoy them to the fullest?

I’ve proved that some of the rumors and stereotypes about teens are true. On the other hand you have quite a few that aren’t. Not that it matters either way. To truly know someone you must get past stereotypes and give the person a chance. Which is what most teens want.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

What is a Teen? from the source (a teen)

What Is a Teen?

By: Joye A. Walton

There is a question that all adults and kids want answered and teenagers don’t know how to answer, what is a teen? We know that teenagers are different, but why? We know that there are activities that we associate with teens, but is it true? All are teens rebellious? Do teens think about only sex? Are teens emotional time bombs? It seems like the world has teenagers figured out, I beg to differ.

Let’s analyze the first stereotype, all are teens rebellious? This is a little bit tricky. Most teens would fit into this category. Teens are in this weird stage in life, they aren’t kids but they aren’t adults, so where do they belong? This longing to belong does make us apt to be rebellious. The textbook parent just wants what is best for their child, however not every parent is the textbook parent, and not every teen is the textbook teen. Even though most teenagers are rebellious not all teens are.

Now for the next stereotype, do teens only think about sex? This stereotype really makes me mad. I believe that adults think about sex just as much if not more as teenagers. The only reason that people seem to believe that teens think about sex so much more is because we are going through puberty. I’m sorry that teenagers are forced to go through a biological cycle, we have no choice. It is true we do think about sex, but who doesn’t. I believe that teenagers don’t think about sex obsessively, unless they have a problem. So, please give us teenagers a break, everyone thinks about sex.

The final stereotype, are teens emotional time bombs? Here we go. This stereotype is mainly aimed at girls. Being a teenage girl I do take some offense to it, however it holds some truth, but not a lot. I myself tend to be over emotional but the mainstream of girls I tend to believe are not. Girls are apt to be dramatic so they just go overboard. Usually what gets them all amped up was something stupid that is totally valid to be mad about. For a second let’s talk about boys. They usually don’t get much hassle and yes for the most part they handle themselves very well, but there are some boys that are just as emotional as girls.

In conclusion don’t put teenagers in a box and label them. Every teen is different. Some teens fit the stereotype but some don’t. Yes, teens are apt to be rebellious, but it doesn’t mean that teens don’t have any sense. Teens think about more things then sex. Teens might be emotional but it doesn’t mean they can’t think. Then next time you go to put teens in a box I challenge you to think about your own teen years. Maybe you were the stereotype, but maybe you weren’t. I can guarantee something though; you were different than everyone else.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Birthday Imagery :)

So, Friday was my birthday, and while the mail guy was delivering my Amazon order,(Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the Dead Tossed Waves, and a new hardcover of The Road) and while I was eating sushi with my irl friends, I got these pictures from my online friends. My musers.

Anyway, we'll see what these pictures say about me...have any ideas?

I think what these say about me is that I have awesome online friends. And not everybody understands that. So, do you know people online who know you as well, or sometimes better than the people who you know irl? I wonder if that's going to be something we see in YA literature in the future? From years ago I remember (not a YA) Tad Williams' Otherworld series, and that some of the characters only knew each other online (and the rest met each other online since they were all trapped there). Anyway...I'm still bursting with birthday happiness, but I'll be back to the world of teens with some great essays on Teen stereotypes written by teens. A few of them might surprise you!

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Friday, April 16, 2010

A Brand New Blog for my Birthday!

So, is a new blog like a fresh, unused piece of paper? A word document that you open for the first time, type the name of your prospective new manuscript/paper/grocery list (yes, I type my grocery lists, so what?) then hit save as, then stare at all the white space for a few minutes?

Today is the day after my birthday, and for me, it's sort of like New Years because a. I have a bit of a headache, and b. this is the point where I reevaluate my goals and what I've done...and decide how well I'm doing.

A blank sheet of paper. My life isn't a blank sheet of paper any more. It has stamps, and diplomas, and a certain two small people that require a degree of non-blank, non-spontaneity in life.

But this blog is a blank sheet of paper.

I've decided that I will go back to my original blog and bring over the best posts, particularly the ones about working with teens. But otherwise, this blog is brand new, and is going to be the first step in getting more dedicated to the art of blogging, which is one that I only halfway understand at this point in my life. In all honesty I never kept a diary for more than a few days, and setting goals for myself as far as posting daily, just makes me want to rebel, run away, hide. But my new blog is so pretty and shiny, and my new resolution...well let's just say I have a wealth of teen opinion and information to share.

So, happy birthday, self, you have a new blog to keep up with!

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