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Meet author Jason Reynolds at ALAN Workshop 2015

ALAN Online News - October 2015

The ALAN Workshop is just over a month away. It will be a Reading Revolution indeed, with debut authors Paul Greci, Estelle Laure, Goldy Moldavsky, Leah Thomas, and Nicola Yoon, along with Jack Gantos, Kwame Alexander, Patrick Ness, Sharon Draper, Gene Luen Yang, Laurie Halse Anderson and many others you'll hear from on November 23 and 24 in Minneapolis. Click here for a link to the program (which may yet have last-minute changes). 

ALAN events start with breakfast early Saturday morning on November 21. Chris Crutcher is the featured author, and Lois Lowry will be honored with this year's ALAN Award for her many contributions to literature for young people.  The reception on Sunday evening is a chance to meet up with authors as well as ALAN officers and board members. In fact, if you'd like to take a more active role in the assembly yourself, grab us, introduce yourself, and let us know. We're always on the lookout for volunteers.  The workshop will begin Monday morning with an amazing line-up of panelists. The plan is to end Tuesday at 2:00. Whew! 

Finally, on an editorial and personal note: For the last year, Kacy Tedder has served as co-editor of the newsletter. She is stepping down as co-editor for now but plans to remain a part of ALAN, so I have no doubt you'll be hearing from her again.  Many thanks to Kacy for all her work on the newsletter.  You'll not find a more tireless advocate for teens and for YA literature.

- Anne McLeod, Editor
In This Issue
Unforgettable ALAN
Grant Applications Due
2016 AEW Committee
Gallo Grant Recipients Announced
Speak Loudly
Top Ten Challenged Books of 2014
YA Links in the News
Real Quick Picks
Missing your issue of TAR?
Please email Membership Secretary Karin Perry.


Looking Forward to Unforgettable ALAN

Maybe you're like I was for years. You're a long-distance member of ALAN who hasn't made it to the workshop yet. You love The ALAN Review and recommend it to your colleagues, friends, and every other YA fan you know. You read the newsletter when it hits your inbox. And you're vaguely aware that ALAN has some kind of workshop long about Thanksgiving when you're really, really busy with all those pumpkin pies.  It's not occurred to you yet that this workshop might have something that will rock your world. 

It does, I promise you. 

I finally checked it out just five years ago in Orlando and was stunned by the sheer number of authors and YA fans mingling throughout ALAN events, beginning with the Saturday morning breakfast and continuing into the opening reception. Wait, that's Jack Gantos RIGHT THERE - and I can talk to him. And there's Rita Williams-Garcia and Judy Blundell chatting together. Photo op! 

When the workshop began, I must have actually gone tharn, to borrow a Richard Adams term from Watership Down, because I remember who spoke but was unable to take in much before I came to in time to truly listen to and laugh with Ned Vizzini. Then I was, intensely there, for the duration. And the books! Luckily my friend Melinda and I had driven down and we could stuff the car full for the ride back home. 

By the time that trip was over, I knew I'd found a new Thanksgiving week tradition. Since then I've made many more ALAN memories : scanning the reception crowd for Sarah Dessen, only to have her come up to me and apologize for accidentally hitting me in the face during an animated conversation (it wasn't me she hit, but I know she kept trying to locate her victim); conspiring with Tobin Anderson to deliver a special University of Georgia gymnastics collectible as a Christmas gift for his favorite GymnDawgs fan; hoping that Laurie Halse Anderson wasn't going to actually pass out when she became ill just when the time came for her keynote (She didn't, but she delivered her speech stretched out on the floor of the ballroom while worried committee members hovered nearby); crying over Matt de la Peña 's story of how his father secretly studied for his GED, went to college, and eventually became a teacher; shivering over Derf Beckderf's graphic novel My Friend Dahmer on the red-eye flight home from Las Vegas, wondering how any of us survived the '70s.  

This year will be my fifth ALAN workshop -  yet another chance to listen, to watch, to witness those moments I will carry back home and share with students and friends. A particularly sweet one will be hearing my friend Will Walton speak at his first ALAN workshop on an multigenerational panel about LGBTQ literature, along with David Levithan and Michael Cart. But there will be others, completely unexpected and unscripted, that will likely leave me breathless with laughter or tear-eyed or both at the same time. 

So give ALAN a chance. Sign up for the workshop. The pumpkin pie will still be there when you get home. Here's a link  with instructions for registration. 

- Anne McLeod

The ALAN Review is seeking new reviewers. If interested, please
click here .  
Announcing the AEW Award Committee for 2016 

The Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award committee for 2016 was recently announced.   The committee consists of teachers, professors, and librarians and selects one novel for the award, along with as many as four honor books. Next year's committee is:   
  • Mark Letcher, Committee Chair, Assistant Professor of English Education, L ewis University, Romeoville, IL
  • Lois Stover, Past Committee Chair, Dean - School of Education and Human Services, Marymount University, Arlington, VA
  • Cathy Blackler, ELA Teacher, Santana Alternative High School, La Puente, CA
  • Nancy Johnson,  Professor of Children's/YA Literature and English/Language Arts Education,  Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
  • Sara Kajder, Assistant Professor of English Education,  University of Georgia, Athens, GA 
  • Joellen Maples,  Associate Professor, Graduate Literacy Program,  St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
  • Lisa Morris-Wilkey,  Librarian,  Casa Grande Union High School, Casa Grande, AZ
  • Beth Scanlon,  ELA Teacher, Literacy Coach,  Cypress Creek High School, Orlando, FL
  • Lisa Scherff,  ELA Teacher,  Cypress Lake High School, Fort Myers, FL
  • Jessica Lorentz Smith,  Teacher-Librarian,  Bend Senior High School, Bend, OR 
  • Wendy Stephens,  School Librarian,  Cullman High School, Cullman, AL
The Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award recognizes young adult novels that  exemplify literary excellence, widespread appeal, and a positive approach to life. The 2015 AEW Award goes to Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King. Honor books include Diamond Boy  by Michael Williams; Ga bi, A Girl in Pieces  by Isabel Quintero;  The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson; and Revolution (The Sixties Trilogy) by Deborah Wiles. 

ALAN is currently on Facebook and Twitter. If members are interested, we would like to expand our social networking presence. We  would appreciate your feedback on this quick survey
Gallo Grant Winners Announced
ALAN is proud to announce the winners of the 2015 Gallo Grants that will enable two classroom English teachers to the annual ALAN Workshop in November. They are Nicole DeGuzman from the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Kevin Michael English from Wayne Memorial High School in Wayne, Michigan. Both are in their fourth year of teaching.
"The decision was harder than ever this year, because every one of the nine applicants would have been a worthwhile choice," Don Gallo claims. Unfortunately there is funding for only two teachers each year-$500 each from Don Gallo, plus an additional $250 along with free workshop registration from ALAN.
In addition to the winning applicants, the other seven teachers are from states across the nation: from Utah in the Southwest and Florida in the Southeast to Missouri, Michigan, and Indiana in the middle.  The enthusiasm for young adult literature among the applicants is exemplary. But Kevin English said is best: "I want to be a part of the ALAN tribe." Indeed, both of these winning applicants will be warmly welcomed into the ALAN "tribe" in Minneapolis. 
Speak Loudly 
Celebrating the Right to Read 
Each year, the book community celebrates the freedom to read through Banned Books Week. I have mixed emotions as the week approaches and for weeks afterward as I consider the many books that have been challenged and the reasons for those challenges. While I applaud the efforts of activists who create displays, book trailers, and panel discussions on the books' merits, festooning their libraries, businesses and doors with banners and buttons, and urging everyone to SPEAK LOUDLY for the right to read, I also feel saddened by the need to do so. Books and ideas can't speak for themselves so it is up to their readers to speak on their behalf. I find it hard to understand why so many individuals are threatened by the free exchange of ideas or assume that a book that contains salty language is somehow unfit to be read by teens. Although there are those who are convinced that books contain dangerous ideas and that denying someone access to those books will shield them from those ideas, instead, removing books from library shelves and classroom collections often makes someone want to read those books even more.  Even if that doesn't happen, the end result places limits on what ideas are acceptable and which ones are not. I'm troubled by who makes those determinations.

As the dates for Banned Books Week draw near, I wonder if there is no longer a need for this event. "Is it possible that this could be the year when there are few challenges to literature? Could it be that there will be no need for a column about book banning or censorship for the ALAN Newsletter?" I ask myself. Then I receive news of yet another book being challenged for some reason or another. And those are just the challenges with which I am familiar. Who knows how many other materials are attacked quietly or whose challenges never reach the news media?

So fearful are they of being involved in book selection controversy that my college students approach many books with trepidation. Preservice teachers often ask for advice on how to avoid getting in trouble with school administrators by choosing books that are "safe." My response is always the same: "There is no safe book. No matter how inoffensive a book may seem to one person, someone else may find something within it to be offensive." While I understand their fears, I also worry that they have missed part of the point of teaching. Teachers must take risks and take stands; they cannot remain value-free or neutral on some issues. Surely, all the teacher preparation, education, and professionalism that teachers and librarians experience should mean that they are familiar with books and are prepared to make the best choices for their own students by offering a wide variety of materials from which those students can select. Before any parent questions their book choices, I urge them to marshal a case for the books they plan to use in the classroom by collecting book reviews, awards, citations, and listing their reasons for choosing them.

Many bookstores, libraries, schools, and websites approach Banned Book Week in a celebratory fashion, using it to call attention to the problems inherent in censorship and removing books from bookshelves or library collections. This year's Banned Books Week, Sept. 27- Oct. 3, serves as a reminder to be mindful of the intellectual freedoms afforded to us through the wide availability of texts with widely varying points of view. It's worth noting that the very first Banned Books Week was held in 1982 as the result of concern over the increasing number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. But it's dismaying to note that, according to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. During this past year, 2014, the Office of Intellectual Freedom recorded 311 book challenges that were reported. Many more go unreported.

Having read, taught, and defended these titles at some point during my teaching career and  having seen many of the books on the challenged list several times over the years, I  am filled with annoyance and despair that these books need to be defended. Didn't the would-be censors hear book defenders the first time? Then again, lest we become too complacent in our ability to predict which books will spark controversy, 2015 already seems to have been a busy year for book challenges from different directions, as evidenced by stories in this month's YA Links in the News. 

Here's hoping that maybe, just maybe, we have seen the last of the book challenges, and that things will die down as calm heads prevail and we continue to read books that unsettle us or challenge our assumptions and then find spaces in which to discuss why they make us so uncomfortable. Wouldn't that be far more valuable in a society such as ours than simply removing books from the shelves, therefore making them even more alluring yet harder to find since they would become essentially forbidden fruit? I hope you will join me in standing up for freedom of expression and SPEAK LOUDLY on behalf of books and intellectual freedom. 

- Barb Ward, on behalf of ALAN's Anti-Censorship 
Top Ten Challenged Books of 2014
The American Liibrary Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom reports that the 10 most challenged titles of 2014 were:
1.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It was challenged because of elements that were considered to be anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Others were concerned about its "depictions of bullying."
2.  Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, which was challenged because of its depiction of gambling, offensive language, and its political viewpoint. Additional reasons were that it was considered to be "politically, racially, and socially offensive."
3. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, which was challenged because it was considered to be anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons cited were that it "promotes the homosexual agenda."
4.  The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, challenged for these reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: "contains controversial issues."
5.  It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris, which was challenged because of nudity, sex education, was sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons for its challenge were that challengers alleges that it was "child pornography."
6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples, which was challenged because of these reasons: anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, challenged for its offensive language, considered to be unsuited to age group, and violence.
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which was challenged due to drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons given were "date rape and masturbation."
9.  A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, which was challenged due to its inclusion of drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, being sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier, which was challenged because it was considered sexually explicit.
YA Links in the News  

Banned Books Week was September 27 through October 3. Banned Books Week started in 1982, launched by schools, libraries, and bookstores to support freedom of speech and information. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Into the River by New Zealand writer Ted Dawe, as well as four graphic novels on a college reading list are among those recently challenged. 

Watch out , Hunger Games! With Tim Burton directing Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, the film version will be a "game changer" for young adult film franchises. Let the games begin! That's not all: Printz Award-winner Jandy Nelson's debut novel, The Sky is Everywhere, is coming to the big screen as well.  

A young adult writes an open letter to young adult writers with some almost-gentle suggestions. 
Find out what Allison has to say about skinny thighs, love triangles, and hipster character names. 

- Thanks to Cynthia Dawn Martelli and Barbara Ward for their contributions. 
ALAN Real Quick Picks

Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2015)
"I AM MARY Iris Malone, and I am not okay" starts the first sentence and the first chapter of David Arnold's first young adult novel. Mary Iris Malone, nicknamed Mim, is uprooted from her home in northern Ohio to Jackson, Mississippi - a town she refers to as "Mosquitoland" - where she lives with her dad and new stepmom, miles away from her ill mother whose long awaited letters become fewer and far between until they stop without explanation. Mim hops on the northbound Greyhound bus where she meets several quirky travelers who play a part in discovering whom exactly Mary Iris Malone really is and how she is loved, and deserves love more than she knows.
- Cynthia Dawn Martelli

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2015)
Syndney has always lived in her brother Peyton's shadow, watching as he steals the family's attention with his charismatic but troublesome ways. After a drunk-driving accident cripples a boy, Peyton must serve jail time, leaving Sydney to find her own place in the family and the world. Switching from a private school to a public high school due to finances, Sydney meets a warm yet chaotic family, the Chathams, that accepts her unconditionally for who she is. Layla and Mac, sister and brother, are fellow students at Sydney's new school, and although she finds a deep friendship with Layla, it is with Mac whom Sidney finally feels noticed and really seen.
- Cynthia Dawn Martelli

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster books For Young Readers, 2014)
Lara Jean Song's most prize possession is five love letters that she wrote to five boys that she's loved. The secret letters, where she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, are for her eyes only and they are kept safe in a blue hatbox that her mother has given her. The letters will never be sent. Until one day someone does it for her and now Lara Jean's love life seems out of control. 
- Cynthia Dawn Martelli

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster books For Young Readers, 2015)
In this sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Lara Jean Song still has letters to write. Another boy from Lara Jean's past returns to her life wanting answers from her love letter and a small romance develops. Meanwhile, she was in a "pretend" relationship with Peter, except suddenly they weren't. Now Lara Jean's love life is more confusing than ever. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
- Cynthia Dawn Martelli

Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015)
Nearly everyone in her hometown of St. Francisville, Louisiana, expects seventeen-year-old Olivia to follow her mother's footsteps and commit suicide at an early age. Instead, she heads to New Orleans with her best friend Jamie after he accidentally kills abusive father during a fight. Their other two friends, Max and Maggie, join them as they head to some of the city's seedier spots in search of help. The four friends are in the city only briefly, allowing them to sample some of its rich delights but also to encounter some of its more unsavory places and characters. Ultimately, Olivia realizes that while family and friends are helpful, we must be able to save ourselves. 
- Barbara A. Ward

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2015)
Eighteen-year-old Maddy can see but never experience the world since she has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency and must be protected from all the things that might kill her. But she risks everything for a brief sojourn in Hawaii with Olly, the new boy who moves in next door. The author tells Maddy's story through lists, online chats, diary entries, medical charts, her own brief book review spoilers, medical reports, and plane tickets as well as artwork. While it is easy to understand anyone's wish to remain safe from harm, readers will also grasp the pointlessness of never taking a risk. Teen readers will find Everything, Everything simply irresistible while pondering the costs and gains that come with love.  
- Barbara A. Ward

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015)
After almost fatally injuring James Hampton, a Washington, DC junk collector, thirteen-year-old Arthur T. Owens finds redemption by hunting for the objects the man calls the Seven Most Important Things--glass bottles, foil, wood, cardboard, lightbulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors, materials that turn out to have far more value than he ever imagined. As it turns out, the discards are used by the folk artist in his work, kept hidden in a garage and later installed in the Smithsonian. While searching for the objects, Arthur also examines his own heart for the roots of his anger. 
- Barbara A. Ward

Calls for Papers and Proposals 


The ALAN Review

Summer 2016 Mediating Media in a Digital Age  

Submissions due November 1, 2015

Today's young adult readers access and generate young adult texts in myriad forms. Through multimedia platforms, television and film adaptations, fan fiction, and social media, they engage with stories in ways that extend beyond the originals. These opportunities for connection are rich in potential and complication. Do media enrich our interactions with others and our world-or is there a falseness in this seeming linkage? Consider the perspective of Rainbow Rowell's narrator: "There are other people on the Internet. It's awesome. You get all the benefits of 'other people' without the body odor and the eye contact" (Fangirl, p. 147). We wonder if all readers are inspired by techie texts or if some, in fact, imagine life as "an analog girl, living in a digital world" (Neil Gaiman, American Gods, p. 332). For this issue, we encourage you to ponder and explore the ways in which you use young adult literature to help young people mediate media: How do you foster innovative engagement with media in your professional setting? What are the challenges of teaching and learning in the digital age, and how might they be mediated? How do digital communities invite and/or exclude young people today? What role does/can YA literature play in successfully navigating life in the "digital age"? As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme. All submissions may be sent to prior to November 1, 2015. Please see the ALAN website for submission guidelines.


The ALAN Review

Fall 2016 Rethinking "Normal" and Embracing Differences

In this issue, we invite you to consider how language, woven through story, can invite exploration of difference centered on (dis)ability, sexual identity or orientation, gender, race, nationality, culture, age, and/or physical appearance.  How might young adult literature help readers consider their own and others' uniqueness?  How might it challenge deficit perspectives of the other that are too often forwarded by the dominant narrative?  What difficulties result from such attempts at engagement in educational settings? How can we help adolescent readers understand that "[A] person is so much more than the name of a diagnosis on a chart" (Sharon M. Draper, Out of My Mind, p. 23) and ask themselves, as they grow up in a labels-oriented world: "You're going to spend more time with yourself than with anyone else in your life. You want to spend that whole time fighting who you are?" (Alex Sanchez, The God Box, p. 139)? As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.  All submissions may be sent  prior to March 1, 2016.  Please see the ALAN website for submission guidelines..


ALAN Online News

Items needed for this newsletter: ALAN organizational news items, reflections on next month's ALAN Workshop, 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. Send to Anne McLeodDeadline for the December newsletter is December 1, 2015.  

Reading Revolution Swag Available on CafePress!

Get geared up for the 2015 ALAN Workshop in Minneapolis. Shop the ALAN Marketplace on and show your support for the Reading Revolution. Below are just a few of the items available with this year's workshop logo. 
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