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Judy Blume Autograph
Guess Who's Coming to the ALAN Breakfast!
Photo courtesy of the Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature
ALAN Online News - August 2013
It's easy to get star-struck at the ALAN Workshop, with all the high-powered authors around. What you may not realize is that quite a few of the writers whose work we admire so much are also members of ALAN. When I first began editing the newsletter almost two years ago, I had to quit reading the membership list because I was getting just a little intimidated by the names I saw, as in "Whoa! This is going out to Fill-in-the-Blank-with-a-Famous-Author's-Name. Help me." 

My mantra became "Don't look directly at the list. And don't freak out."

Then it happened. At the risk of sounding all NSA here, a while back I was looking at a report that listed the names of members who had opened the newsletter about a recent ALAN Workshop. And there was Judy Blume's name. 

I freaked out. Hyperventilated. Name-dropped. All the rest of it. Anyone would. I mean, Judy Blume!

If you're reading this, Judy, thanks for being part of ALAN and for being part of the lives of generations of young readers. 

In other news, it's that time of year and this is our Help Wanted issue of the newsletter. You probably have a lot to do already, but that saying about how if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it - that's just the way it is. If you've been thinking about getting involved with ALAN, there are opportunities available now. Apply to be TAR editor or serve on next year's AEW committee, send a donation toward our 40th birthday celebration, email a three sentence book rec for Real Quick Picks or a piece about "The Book That Changed My Life." You won't be sorry. We're an appreciative bunch and love to see new members pitch in. Thanks in advance and best wishes for the coming school year. 

Anne McLeod
Editor, ALAN Online News
In This Issue
The Fault in Our Stars AEW Award Winner
Judy Blume Winner of ALAN Award
Election News
Happy 40th!
Applications for AEW Committee
Speak Loudly
Book That Changed My Life
Real Quick Picks
Help Wanted
Grant Deadlines
Missing your issue of TAR?
Please email membership secretary Karin Perry.

2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden 

Book Award 

John Green's The Fault in Our Stars



The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is pleased and proud to announce winner of the 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, published by Dutton. 


The three 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award finalists are: 

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire S´┐Żenz (Simon & Schuster)
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Little Brown and Company)
  • Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)


Established in 2008 to honor the wishes of young adult author Amelia Elizabeth Walden, the award allows for the sum of $5,000 to be presented annually to the author of a young adult title selected by the ALAN Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Committee as demonstrating a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit. 


Walden Award titles will be identified by an award sticker - gold for the winner and silver for the three finalists.  The winner will be announced on Monday, July 29th.  The winning title and finalists will be honored on Monday, November 25th at the 2013 ALAN Workshop in Boston, Massachusetts, and will be invited to participate in a panel discussion.


The 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Committee would like to thank: the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Foundation, the ALAN Executive Council, the ALAN Board of Directors, NCTE, and the thirty publishers who submitted titles for consideration.


The 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Committee considered nearly 300 young adult titles throughout the process.  The committee was comprised of eleven members representing the university, K-12 school, and library communities.  They are:


Lois Buckman, Chair


Caney Creek High School, Conroe, TX


Ricki Ginsberg, Past Chair

Doctoral Student

University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT


Carolyn Angus, Director

George G. Stone Center for Children's Books

Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA


Jonatha Basye


Bryan Elementary, Hampton, VA


Paul Hankins

English Language & Composition

Silver Creek High School, Sellersburg, IN


Suzanne Metcalfe


Dimond High School, Anchorage, Alaska


Mark Letcher

Assistant Professor English Education

Purdue University Calumet Hammond, IN


Kellee Moye

Classroom Teacher

Hunter's Creek Middle School, Orlando, FL


Mindi Rench

Classroom Teacher

Northbrook Junior High School, Northbrook, IL


Lois Stover


St. Mary's College of Maryland, St Mary's City, MD


Diane Tuccillo

Teen Services Librarian

Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO


For more information on the award, please visit ALAN Online: The Official Site of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents


- Lois Buckman, AEW Award Committee

2013 ALAN Award Winner: Judy Blume

You do not want to miss the ALAN Breakfast on November 23. Judy Blume, winner of this year's ALAN Award, will be there to receive the award, joining featured author Walter Dean Myers for a morning session you won't forget. For those of us who came of age along with YA literature in the early 1970s, Judy Blume was known as the author who was funny, edgy, and unafraid to tackle tough topics. Her books are among the most frequently challenged in schools and libraries, something I can attest to from my months as a bookseller thirty years ago, when one mama after another returned her daughter's copy of Forever. Judy Blume writes from the heart, no matter the topic, with a voice that speaks to young readers. Thanks to Jennifer Buehler, whose nomination of Judy Blume for the 2013 ALAN Award appears below. 


Many of us can tell stories of when we first encountered Judy Blume's books; I still own the paperback copies of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Blubber that I bought at my 5th grade school book fair, as well as the copy of Tiger Eyes that my 6th grade math teacher took from me when I was reading instead of listening to her lesson. I learned about scoliosis from Deenie, the New York Times from It's Not the End of the World, and sex from Forever. When I was growing up, I sometimes hid the Judy Blume books I was reading (Wifey comes to mind), but I always read those books with intense curiosity and passion.


As a high school teacher, I was excited to discover Judy's short story anthology Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers (Simon & Schuster, 1999). The stories were wonderful, and they were well-received in my 9th grade classroom, but I was more interested in the fact that Judy had taken a stance on censorship and rallied writers to join this project to benefit the National Coalition Against Censorship. Reading individual authors' statements about their experiences being challenged or censored was as interesting to me as the stories themselves. Though I grew up unaware of the sheer number of censorship battles Judy fought in the 1980s, when I found her name on this book, it seemed fitting that the project was hers. Judy's introduction to Places I Never Meant to Be, which functions as a short history of her experiences with censorship,is available as a link on her website. Playing the video commentary she recorded a couple of years ago for the National Banned Books Week Virtual Read Out gives me chills. Listening to her talk is listening to a legend. 


In recent years I've been struck by the number of contemporary YA authors who mention Judy Blume as a source of inspiration. I've heard Judy's name in vlog posts by John Green, interviews with Coe Booth, and in-person talks by Sara Zarr. I've also been struck by the support Judy Blume has given YA authors on Twitter. Last year she praised John for The Fault in Our Stars and sent encouragement to Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler for their Future of Us book tour. It seems fitting that she is now a mentor to the newest generation of YA writers. That role as an elder in the field, it seems to me, makes it all the more appropriate for us to honor her with the ALAN Award.


Judy won the ALA's Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1996. She was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000. She received an honorary National Book Award for her contributions to American letters in 2004, and she received an honorary doctorate from Rutgers University in 2010. ALAN would join numerous other distinguished organizations in honoring Judy with the ALAN Award. I feel no other living author deserves this award more than Judy. She truly is a living legend.


- Jennnifer Buehler



ALAN Election News
Electronic Voting Opens August 1


ALAN is pleased to announce the slate of candidates for the 2013 election.  Thanks to Ricki Ginsberg and her committee for all their hard work putting this excellent slate together.  Biographical statements from each candidate are posted at the ALAN website.  


Balloting will be done electronically this year for the first time, but members can request a paper ballot by emailing Teri Lesesne, the Executive Director of ALAN at before September 1, 2013.   


Voting will open on August 1 and remain open until September 30, 2013, at this site.    


In order to vote, you will need to include your ALAN Membership number.  That number is on the mailing label of any issue of THE ALAN REVIEW just to the left of your name.    This information is simply to ensure that each member gets a single vote and that they are eligible to vote because their membership is current.  


Reminders about voting will be placed on Facebook, Twitter, and the ALAN web site.  Make your voice heard by casting your ballot! Here are the candidates running for President and ALAN Board of Director positions.  


President-Elect (select ONE)

  • Pam B. Cole
  • Daria Plumb

Board of Directors (select up to THREE)

  •  Marshall George
  • Susan Groenke
  • Danieille King
  • Katie Mason
  • Lisa Muller
  • Cleo Rahmy

 - Teri Lesesne, ALAN Executive Secretary


Happy 40th Birthday, ALAN!
Donations Accepted for This Fall's Celebration 

It's not too late too send a donation to help celebrate ALAN's big 4-0 at the workshop in Boston. Any excess funds received will be given to the ALAN Research Grant program.  Please send checks made out to ALAN to treasurer Marge Ford at ALAN, attn: 40th Celebration, PO Box 234, Campbell, OH 44405-0234. 

- Connie Zitllow, for the ALAN 40th Birthday Celebration Committee

Call for Applications for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Committee of ALAN

Do you love reading YA books?  Have a keen understanding of YA literature?  Can you make time to read MANY books?  If you answered YES to these questions, we invite you to apply to serve on the 2014 AEWA Committee.   


The committee is filling three vacancies. We need one teacher, one librarian, and one university educator for these positions. 


The application form is located on the ALAN website, and the deadline is September 15, 2013.  Applications may be sent to Teri Lesesne, the ALAN Executive Director at

Speak Loudly

Lines in the Sand


Lines.  We suspect we all have them-those sometimes inconsistent, sometimes shifting, sometimes contradictory markers that we use to define "acceptable" under certain conditions at certain times for certain audiences.  In these final days of summer, we embrace the quiet calm and channel our inner philosophers to wonder about these lines, where we as individuals and as a profession choose to draw them, and the implications of such actions.


Would you...

  • Cancel a school library magazine subscription if the publisher included a cover image that offended you?
  • Store a potentially controversial independent reading title in a classroom filing cabinet and share it only with students you feel are mature enough to read it?
  • Order classroom or school library titles that are less likely to result in disapproval on behalf of the parents or guardians of your students, colleagues, or administrators?
  • Avoid eating at a restaurant that publicly promotes social or moral views that run counter to your own?
  • Limit student access to an approved list of safe Internet sites for a research project?
  • Limit student research projects to an approved list of safe topics?
  • Label books as most appropriate for particular readers, dependent upon their age or grade level?
  • Write a letter to the local newspaper editor opposing the opening of an adult bookshop in close proximity to your child's neighborhood elementary school?

We wonder which, if any, of the above scenarios represent censorship and whether any "yes" responses are justifiable or warranted (or just easily rationalized). We wonder if schools and libraries fall under a different set of considerations given the age of students involved. We wonder if answers to these questions differ when we explore them through philosophical versus practical lenses.


Assuming these lines exist, we must then wonder (and perhaps question) whose lines are privileged, challenged, ignored, or denied within the school and library communities in which we work.  If individual perspectives can be plotted at variant points along the continuum of acceptability, where in the sand do we draw our collective lines as we consider policy issues, materials selection, curriculum development, etc.?  What is gained and lost in having to mediate our differences?


We raise these questions as a reminder of the complicated nature of censorship, the way it is tightly intertwined with deeply seated beliefs, morals, values, and ways of thinking and doing that define our identities, and the heightened emotions it inspires when we disagree.  We encourage you to engage in thought and conversation about your lines and those of others in your communities. Where do you stand?


- Wendy Glenn, on behalf of ALAN's Anti-Censorship Committee


The Book That Changed My Life
If you've been to the ALAN Workshop or have had just had conversations with many of the people deeply involved in young adult literature, you've heard it: "Books change lives." Or "Books save lives." Here we invite you, the reader, to tell how a book changed your life. Write a short piece (3-4 paragraphs) about how a book profoundly affected your life. Send via email as an MS Word attachment or share a Google Doc with  The deadline for the next newsletter is September 1. 
Catherine Balkin: 
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

I can't remember a time when I didn't love reading, but when I was about twelve and read The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel for the first time, I felt it had profoundly changed my life, though at the time, I couldn't have explained how. But it did. It changed something in me. Back then all I knew was that Tillie was able to look beyond the darkness in her life to see something beautiful. That idea moved me and sent me back to the play again and again.
Less than a decade later, I made my way to New York to break into publishing or at least advertising. I ended up in an insurance company. But it was the beginning, and from there, I did eventually maneuver my way into international advertising and finally into children's book publishing -- and then an incredible thing happened. I was arranging school visits for HarperCollins' children's book authors when I met Paul Zindel, and he wanted to start doing school visits again! Working with him was so much fun, and it's my privilege to be able to say he became a good friend.
I told him about my 13 year old self reading his books and how The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds affected me. He was touched and didn't really know what to say, but I wanted him to know that he had made a difference in my life. I was the daughter of blue collar parents in a declining city, but without his book, I may never have had the courage to go off to New York on my own and navigate my way into the publishing world. And I most certainly wouldn't be here, a member of ALAN. I was the introvert who was not expected to leave the neighborhood I grew up in, the just barely average student who was not expected to get further than a high school degree. But I was obstinate and a dreamer - a combination that has served me well when it wasn't getting me in trouble. These are the words that still resonate within that twelve year old girl inside me: "But most important, I suppose, my experiment has made me feel important -- every atom in me, in everybody, has come from the sun -- from places beyond our dreams."
 - Catherine Balkin 

ALAN Real Quick Picks

ALAN Real Quick Picks features three-sentence reviews of readers' recommended titles. Send a short blurb for your most recent favorite to to share in ALAN Online News. 

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013.

Georgie, Agatha, Billy, pigeons (and more pigeons) and a dadgum mule complete the characters of Amy Timberlake's historical novel. Both a mystery and a journey of truth, One Came Home is the story of a young girl who sets off on a journey to prove that the woman her family just buried is not her sister, despite the fact that she was brought home wearing the dress made by Georgie's mother. Will Georgie find her sister alive or have to face a truth she can not believe is possible?

 - Helene Halstead


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, Putnam Juvenile, 2013.
Cassie has survived four waves of alien invasions which took her friends, family, and seven billion other human beings. At the start of this sci-fi thriller, the fourth wave has ravaged Earth, and only the unlucky remain. If she wants to survive, Cassie can trust no one. 
- Ricki Ginsberg
More Than This by Patrick Ness, Candlewick Press, Expected Publication: September 10th, 2013.
After he drowns, Seth wakes up naked, alone, and in an English town from his traumatic childhood. The town looks very different from the way he remembers it--as if no one has lived there for over a decade. As he sets out to discover where he is, he hopes the world hasn't ended and he hasn't just arrived in his personal hell.
- Ricki Ginsberg  
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, St. Martin's Griffin, 2013. 
Eleanor lives with her 4 younger siblings, her screwed up mom, and her mother's abusive and dangerous current husband. Park lives with his Korean mom, his veteran-who-served-in--Korea dad, and a younger but taller brother. The two meet on the school bus, sit next to each other and quietly avoid the bullies, stay silent for weeks, share Park's comic books, fall in love, and touch each others lives forever.
- cj Bott
Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2013.
 Rafe  has decided to leave his Boulder Colorado home where he is openly gay and completely supported by his family to go to an all boys boarding high school in New England, entering as a straight guy. He just wants to be known as something other than that "gay kid." It works -- for awhile.
cj Bott

True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp by Kathi Appelt,  Atheneum, 2013.  

Fall in love with some raccoons, a cousin to the Yeti, and the giant snake named Gertrude that guards him.  Sweet, funny, and perfect for reading aloud, too.

 -Teri Lesesne


Mira in the Present Tense by Sita Brahmachari, Whitman, September 1, 2013.  

Mira is a talented artist whose life is about to be changed when an author suggests she write about her life in the present tense and see what happens.  Falling in love for the first time, dealing with the impending loss of her beloved grandmother, and living in a chaotic family should give her plenty  to write about. 

-Teri Lesesne


Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look, Lenore, illus. Meilo So, Schwartz and Wade, 2013.
Wu Daozi lived
In China long ago and
Was renowned for art.

-Teri Lesesne


Help Wanted: Editor, The ALAN Review

Call for Applications


ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE, is seeking applicants for the position of editor of their journal, The ALAN Review.  To apply, interested persons should submit the following: a letter of application detailing qualifications for the position and the applicant's vision for the journal, a current vita, one sample of published writing, and a letter of general support from appropriate administrators at the applicant's institution. Classroom teachers are eligible and encouraged to apply.


Applications should be sent via email, using the subject line, ALAN Editor, to Teri Lesesne, Executive Director of ALAN ( 


Please send files as Word attachments. Applications must be received no later than October 1, 2013. Finalist interviews will be conducted at the NCTE conference in Boston. 


Deadlines for ALAN Foundation and Gallo Grants
ALAN Foundation Grant for research in young adult literature: Applications due September 15th.

Gallo Grants for early career educators to attend ALAN Workshop for the first time: Applications due September 1st. 

Find more information about both grant programs on the website at ALAN Foundation Grants and Gallo Grants . 
Calls for Papers and Proposals 


From The ALAN Review

Summer 2014 Theme: How to Teach Young Adult Literature in an Age of Censorship and Common Core?

In a time of extreme criticism and scrutiny of texts that are being used in the classroom, what are proponents of young adult literature to do? This issue seeks to address that question with submissions that offer very practical ways of incorporating (or continuing to incorporate) young adult literature in the classroom. What ways are you teaching young adult literature? How are you using young adult literature to meet or exceed what is being required in the common core? What experiences have you had with censorship, and how have you dealt with them? How can beginning teachers approach the inclusion of YAL in their classrooms to take advantage of the power of young adult literature to improve reading skills and foster a lifelong love of reading? Submission deadline: November 1, 2013.


Fall 2014: Open Call

The last 40 years have seen an explosion of young adult literature novels. From vampires to zombies, biographies to poetry, video games to movies, YAL is a considerable force in the world of publishing and media. This issue is an open call issue so we ask you to consider young adult literature writ large. What is it that we know and can say about this field? Who are the authors and texts that are shaping the current and next generations of readers? What has changed or stayed the same about young adult literature? What are the trends, themes, or topics that capture the attention or imagination of adolescent readers? This theme is meant to be open to interpretation, and we welcome manuscripts addressing pedagogy as well as theoretical concerns. General submissions are also welcome. Submission deadline: March 1, 2014.


Stories from the Field

Editors' Note: Stories from the Field invites readers to share a story about young adult literature. This section features brief vignettes (approximately 300 words) from practicing teachers and librarians who would like to share their interactions with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators around young adult literature. Please send your stories to:


ALAN Online News
Items needed for this newsletter: ALAN organizational news items, YA Links in the News, The Book That Changed My Life, Real Quick Picks, candidates for Spotlight on an ALAN Member, feature articles about programs in your area that promote teen reading or young adult literature. Photographs are welcome as well. Please make sure to have media permission of the subjects and send a photo credit. Send to Deadline for next newsletter is September 1, 2013. 

Call for Abstracts
Teaching Young Adult Literature in the 2000s: A Sampling of Courses and Assignments

You're invited to share your course design, assignments, and current favorite book(s)! Instructors of YA lit courses at any post-secondary level are invited to inquire about sending abstracts for chapter (or smaller pieces) for a possible edited collection book on teaching such courses with the working title Teaching Young Adult Literature in the 2000s: A Sampling of Courses and AssignmentsSend inquiries to Bill Broz at or James Blasingame at Please use the subject line "Abstract Inquiries." 

ALAN Merchandise
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