Benefits of global literature in education & study

News Release Date: 
06.05.14

Ohio State Marion education professor contributes chapter on the lessons learned and benefits derived by exposure to global young adult literature

Ohio State Marion Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning, Linda Parsons recently co-authored a chapter in the English education book, The Critical Merits of Young Adult Literature: Coming of Age, edited by University of Oklahoma Assistant Professor of English Education Crag Hill.

The Critical Merits of Young Adult Literature:  Coming of Age examines the literary effectiveness of young adult literature from a critical, research-oriented perspective and answers two key questions asked by many teachers and scholars in the field: Does young adult literature stand up on its own as literature? Is it worthy of close study?  Each chapter discusses a topical text set of young adult novels in a conceptual framework—how these novels contribute to or deconstruct conventional wisdom about key topics from identity formation to awareness of world issues, while also providing a springboard in secondary and college classrooms for critical discussion of these novels.

Parsons co-authored chapter eight of the book, “The Emigrant, Immigrant and Trafficked Experiences of Adolescents: Young Adult Literature as Window and Mirror,” with former doctoral advisee Angela Rietschlin.

This chapter specifically examines the impact of global young adult literature as a means of “emphasizing the unique experiences of those who constitute the world community, while underscoring the themes that erase international borders:  the basic psychological needs, dreams, and desires through which we are connected.”

Parsons and Rietschlin analyzed young adult novels concerning the global issues of immigration, emigration, and trafficking and associated issues of genocide, xenophobia, and trauma. They propose that these represent, “unfathomable circumstances” for most American adolescents. These books also include universal themes of compassion, wanting an education, the importance of family, and storytelling that may activate “shared emotions” and serve as an entry point to the unfamiliar.  

According to research cited by Parsons and Rietschlin, young readers learn about unique and interesting peoples and cultures they may have not yet been exposed to through connecting with the characters in global young adult literature.  As the reader delves into the story, they begin relating on a human level, gaining empathy for the characters situations, and hence, become more globally conscious without having traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, Katmandu, Nepal, or any other locations around the world.

The two authors explain that the global young adult literature serves a useful purpose in education and continued study.

“Global young adult literature acts as a window, a mirror, a sliding glass door,” a means in which to, “deepen understanding of global issues” that face peers their age.

The book is currently available for purchase though Routledge, Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, Books-A-Million, and IndieBound.