English 394 – Literature for Young Adults
Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.
Group Service Project Component

 

Wolfgang Iser said that the significance of literature does not lie in the meaning sealed with the text, but in the fact that the meaning brings out what had previously been sealed within us.

 

This semester I want you to share what has been sealed within you with others!In my literature classes, I have always stated that my objectives were to help the students improve their reading skills, their critical thinking skills, and their communication skills.I asked my students for the political, the gender, and the racial implications of a text, and what literary conventions made the literature a work of art, but I have never asked my students, “How does this work transform you (not intellectually or politically) but morally?”How does this literature make you a better person?How will you use this literature to teach your students to respect those who have never won the respect of others?How will you use the literature to help your students include those who have traditionally been excluded?How will you use this literature to teach children to be kind to one another?How will you use this literature to teach peace?

 

This semester you must move outside of your “safety zone” and move into the larger world.I am requiring that all of you participate in a service project of some kind where you can share those things you have read and researched this semester with others.This service project may take the form of:

 

·Create a reading group of dorm floor students to read and discuss three or four of the books listed on the syllabus.Make up your own discussion questions or projects to generate interest in young adult literature.

·Present a dramatic reading of part of a text to an audience of middle school students, and then discuss the book and why it is important.

·Compile an annotated bibliography of young adult books that deal with a particular project.

·Create a reading group of several middle school students at a nearby middle school.Again, plan activities around several of the books to generate interest in the literature or the issues in the literature.

·Read one of the books to residents at a local nursing home.Read to the homebound.

·Create a street display (to place in a dorm hallway) on one of the books or one of the issues we look at during the semester.

·Give a presentation at a local library on one of the books we read and the issues in that book.

·Give a presentation at the Family Resource Center.

·Teach a mini-lesson at one of the nearby middle schools.The mini lesson can be on one of the books we read or on some of the issues we discuss in class.

·Design a bulletin board on young adult literature—or on one of the issues we discuss in class.

·Act as a guest speaker at a literary club.

 

Use your imagination!Think about what type of service connected to young adult literature (or middle school students) you can provide to others.Your project prospectus must be approved by the instructor before the midterm.The project must be completed before final exam week.During final exam week, you must give the instructor a two-to-three page report on your project—the success, the challenges, what you learned, how you would change the project, your resources, your contacts.