Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE
ALAN Online News - March 2012
Literature for young adults speaks to issues in the headlines today - immigration, sexual identity, the environment, racism, gender, disability, religion, language, economic values and social class. When books take on complex issues, they often end up on the firing line themselves.

ALAN's Committee on Censorship offers support and resources for teachers and librarians dealing with book challenges and censorship in general. You can find out more about the committee in this and future issues of the newsletter.

Another recurring feature in the newsletter will be Spotlight on a Member, which begins this month with Jack Gantos whose Dead End in Norvelt received the Newbery in January. Congratulations to Jack! His smart, funny characters with the best intentions who often end up in over their heads resonate with anyone dealing with adolescents on a regular basis.

Anne McLeod, Editor

ALAN Online News 


In This Issue
Committee on Censorship
Vote Online Now
George Nicholson Winner of ALAN Award
Jack Gantos Wins Newbery 2012
ALAN Merchandise Committee
Making Connections
Like us on Facebook
Recruitment for ALAN
Don't forget to encourage your colleagues to join.  Membership Form

SpeakLoudly: ALAN Committee on Censorship

ALAN has always promoted and supported authors, the stories they tell, and the educators who place these stories in the hands of students.  Given persistent threats to this process that emerge in the form of censorial attacks, ALAN has also defended these constituents to preserve the necessary freedom to read.  In an attempt to unite efforts and encourage an organizational response to censorship, ALAN President, cj Bott, has reinstated the ALAN Censorship Committee. Appointed committee members include David Gill, Wendy Glenn (Chair), Jeff Kaplan, Teri Lesesne (Ex officio), Reagan Mauk, and Barbara Ward.  

Over the past several weeks, this group has collaborated to determine how to best serve the young adult literature community in the attempt to educate, connect, and advocate for members in anti-censorship matters.  To that end, you can expect to see this column as a regular feature in the ALAN Newsletter.  As Chair of the Censorship Committee, I'll write and/or facilitate the writing of the column, but I encourage you to send along any suggestions for topics or recommended guest contributors.  Content will vary, but, in each issue, we'll try to include descriptions of and connections to helpful resources that have applicability to you and your work.  

Additionally, the committee will utilize the newly created ALAN Online Community by building, under the guidance of Webmaster, David Gill, a public SpeakLoudly microsite.  In a central location, you'll find a forum and discussion space in which to post your stories, thus building upon the power and potential of shared experience.  Additionally, the microsite will provide access to resources to head off and better understand attempts at censorship and support the continued presence and use of various YA titles in classrooms and libraries.  
Finally, to aid teachers, librarians, and other educators facing challenges in their classrooms, schools, or communities, the committee is working to create and maintain an outreach team tasked with offering personalized support to those in need.

Committee members recognize that there is strength in numbers and that several of our companion organizations offer useful resources and support.  Our aim is to enhance these efforts, generate some of our own, and ensure that we are working toward shared goals, honoring attempts to speak the truth, a truth that "screams to be told in its native tongue" (Chris Crutcher).

 - Wendy Glenn, Chair

ALAN's Online Vote on Constitution Revisions
Cast Your Vote This Month

As Executive Secretary Teri Lesesne
describes on the new ALAN website, the organization has made the switch to paperless balloting on issues requiring members' votes. The first time we use paperless, or online, voting will be for the approval of proposed revisions to ALAN's constitution. Vote by logging into the ALAN site, and clicking on the Survey Monkey link in the Announcements column on the left side of the page.  David Gill has the proposed changes posted on the site.

Log in with your email address as your user name and your last name as password.

ALAN Award Winner 2012: George Nicholson

Editors and agents, confronted with thousands of manuscripts in a lifetime, inevitably end up with at least a few stories of the ones that got away, books that go on to become bestsellers for other publishing houses, garner praise from critics, and establish their authors as forces to be reckoned with.

This is not one of those stories.

George Nicholson was the young editor at Viking who, in the mid 1960s, read a manuscript submitted by a sixteen-year-old girl, a novel that was both raw and rich, violent and hopeful. S.E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders, was just one of many young adult authors George Nicholson nurtured over his long career in publishing. He will be honored at the ALAN Breakfast in November. For more information about this year's ALAN Award, go to the ALAN website.

Jack Gantos
Photo by Anne Lower

Jack Gantos Wins 2012 Newbery 
Spotlight on an ALAN member


The membership of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE includes hundred of YA-loving teachers, librarians, writers, publishers, and professors. A new column for the newsletter will showcase one of our membership. This month we'll focus on Jack Gantos who had a very happy start to his year when he learned that his latest novel, Dead End in Norvelt, had won the 2012 Newbery Medal. 


Your books have won many awards over the years, and this was the big one. Can you tell us what it was like getting the call? Do authors do happy dances when the phone rings early in the morning that Monday?
    I was feeding my cat treats and glancing at my cell phone as if it were an object I despised or loved. I was dressed to go to the library and write so I had fully assembled my book bag for a day of writing, and steeled myself for a day of not receiving a call. And then the phone rang. "Steady," I said to myself. "It could be your mother wanting to discuss the weather." I let it ring once or twice then picked it up and it was Viki Ash, the chair of the Newbery committee and with great enthusiasm she told me that DEAD END IN NORVELT had been awarded the Newbery. I could hear the committee members cheering in the background and then we had a short chat in which I hoped I properly thanked her and the committee and then she swore me to secrecy because the formal announcement was to be made in several hours. Then we hung up. At that moment my wife walked into the kitchen and I said, "I think I just won the Newbery award."
    "The gold or the silver?" she asked.
    "I don't know," I replied, suddenly puzzled. "I forgot to ask."
    "You didn't ask?" she said.
    "I thought it would be rude," I replied.
    "Think about it," she said. "If it was the silver they would have told you."
    "Yeah," I said. But honestly, it wasn't until two hours later when the Newbery was announced in Dallas that I was certain I had won.

Dead End in Norvelt won the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction as well. Your enthusiasm and affection for history come through in the story. Is there a particular period of history you've always wished you'd been born in?
    There are a lot of historic periods I wish I was born in. But like Woody Allen's MIDNIGHT IN PARIS there is a moment when you think I'd love to live in Paris between the wars but then you also think, 'oh yeah, they didn't have antibiotics and polio vaccine and allergy tablets' and ...  I think I'd like to be able to change history in certain ways. I'd love to be able to tip the Incas off and tell Atahualpa that Pizarro was up to no good. As a kid I just couldn't fathom how the Trojans could fall for the Greek trick of the wooden horse. I guess I'd like to travel through history trying to right all the wrongs.

 Throughout Dead End in Norvelt there's a lot of tension between the parents. One of the things they debate is an ethic of mutuality in which friends and neighbors look out for one another versus individualism. The book is set in the summer of 1962. How do you think that argument is playing out in American society now, 50 years later?

    I think the country is still divided over the role of government (local and national). Some people feel strongly that government should give people a helping hand to step up to a better standard of living and better health and education for their children and so forth. And some people seem to think that government just gets in the way and that going out and earning what you can in a competitive dog-eat-dog world is the best approach. I lean toward the 'helping hand' approach as that is the way I was raised, but I also am aware that I have to work hard for what I deserve and I expect the same from others. One thing I know for sure is that I feel a lot better at the end of a day if I believe I have been a cog in the wheel of positive change in the world.


What are you working on now? Or trying to work on, in this post-Newbery craziness?
    I think I'll keep that under my hat. Of course I'm working on a novel. But until I have it properly dressed I won't let it stroll around the park.

ALAN Merchandise Committee Created

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Gee, I sure wish I had some cool ALAN swag, like a t-shirt or a travel mug or a tote bag, so I could show my pride in being a member of the coolest organization on the planet?"  Well, if this sounds like you, then you may now rejoice...your wish has been granted.  ALAN is pleased to announce the creation of the all-new ALAN Merchandising Committee.  This new committee has been charged with the task of developing and designing a product line that will allow our members to purchase cool ALAN gear via an online store. 
The 2012 ALAN Merchandising Committee members include: Daria Plumb, Chair,Teacher 
Riverside Academy, Dundee, MI; Shanetia Clark, Assistant Professor, Secondary Teacher Education and Graduate Literacy, Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, Middletown, PA;  Jennifer Dail, Assistant Professor, Department of English Education, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA; Barb Dean, Teen & Children's Literature Advocate, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada; Ricki Ginsberg, Teacher Rockville High School, Vernon, CT; and Emily HernbergTeacher, New Canaan High School, New Canaan, CT.  

- Daria Plumb, Chair, Merchandising Committee

Email Update
ALAN's Executive Secretary and Membership Secretary both have new emails.

You can reach Teri Lesesne at  and Karin Perry at

Please be sure to change these emails in your Contacts lists.

Making Connections:
A Visit to the Hipple Collection Yields a Special Story

The Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature at the University of South Florida was named for Ted Hipple, one of ALAN's founders and a vocal supporter of young adult literature. After Ted's death in 2004, his friend Joan Kaywell  proposed this special collection of first editions, out of print books, advance reader's copies, manuscripts, and other texts related to YA literature. Her initial survey of ALAN members received positive responses, and since then, many authors and educators have donated books and personal papers to the library. 

When Edward Bloor was invited to add his books and manuscripts to the collection, his visit to the Hipple Collection resulted in an unexpected opportunity for the author and his family. He and his wife Pamela toured the Hipple and spoke with library directors about other collections and initiatives, and there they heard about USF's Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project.  Pamela volunteered that her mother had escaped Germany in the Kindertransport effort when she was a young girl. The directors immediately extended an invitation to Pamela's mother, Elisabeth Dixon, to have her story become a part of this important archive.

On the Bloors' next visit to the USF Library in June 2011, Pamela's mother accompanied them and spent hours being interviewed and recorded. The USF Library website includes links to  Elisabeth Dixon's story and information about USF's work to preserve firsthand accounts by those who survived genocide in Nazi Germany.  Thanks to Joan Kaywell for passing along this story and for her leadership with the Hipple Collection.  

Viva Las Vegas in November 2012!

The ALAN Workshop is just eight months away, and if you've attended in the past, you know that it's nirvana for YA enthusiasts. If you haven't been to ALAN, let this be the year you see what the rest of us are raving about.

NCTE and ALAN will both be held at the MGM Grand, which is taking reservations now.
Look for details about workshop panels in future newsletters.


Calls for Manuscripts and Proposals


The ALAN Review  


Winter 2013 Theme: Flash Back-Forge Ahead: Dynamism and Transformation in Young Adult Literature

In her Fall 2011 President's Column, Wendy Glenn reflects that our field manages to "successfully shift and sway with time and changing elements, while maintaining a core commitment to young people and the books written for them." For this call, we wonder, like Glenn, what topics, voices, and forms have shaped our field and what we anticipate those future ones will be. What titles endure and why? Which ones are poised to become readers' favorites? As we pursue the next trend in young adult literature, what should we be careful not to lose? What will our future roles as young adult literature advocates be and with whom should we be forging relationships? 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: July 1.



Summer 2013 Theme: 40th Anniversary Issue

While we will be soliciting articles from past ALAN presidents and editors as well as influential young adult authors, we welcome submissions that reflect on the past 40 years of ALAN. Submission deadline: November 1, 2012.   


The ALAN Review: 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:    





Fall 2012/Winter 2013 Theme:  In Defense of Young Adult Texts: Common Core State Standards and the Demand for Increased K-12 Text Complexity - Deadline: September 1, 2012. Contact for more information.   




Proposed anthology - Female Rebellion in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction. Sara K. Day, Miranda Green-Barteet, and Amy L. Montz are seeking papers that consider how female protagonists are represented in contemporary young adult dystopian fiction. Deadline: May 1, 2012.  Contact for more information.  



Moved recently?
Remember to send a change of address to Membership Secretary   Karin Perry. The postal service does not forward bulk mail, and if ALAN does not have your current mailing address, you will miss issues of TAR.