Photo: Twitter @Jarredamato

Introduction

There was a question I kept asking myself, over and over again when thinking about my thesis project. Why? I must admit, that I entered this graduate program knowing that I wanted to write a young adult novel. Initially, I wasn’t on the creative track with my thesis. But I quickly let those feelings go when I found out that I could do the creative track along with my research thesis work. Now all I had to do is figure out the why. Why is this research important? Why do I want to research this topic? And lastly, why do I feel that this is important. Now this, took me some time to figure out the why?

Before I could answer this question, I had to go back to the beginning. I had to dig deep and think about what brought me to this idea and research track in the first place. Here’s another why question I was faced with. Why did I want to write my book? Why now? Now that, I knew the answer to, my love of reading. My last few years of teaching I’ve been clamoring to find books that my students want to read. In class, there are literary texts that we have to cover. I have to teach them novels from the cannon in order to make sure my students are well versed in literature. It was impossible to get them to read the things they didn’t want to read if I don’t find a way to build their reading stamina.

After reading the novel, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas I knew I had a book that my students would want to read. So I gambled and pulled a veteran teacher move and put the cannon aside (just for a few) to introduce my students to a book they couldn’t put down. This gamble was well worth it because once I got them to read it they wanted more. And that is where my research was born. I literally had to go on a hunt for more books like this. This book was something special because protagonist’s perspective was someone my students could relate to. The main character represented someone from their community in a real way. It wasn’t stories being told about them and they weren’t apart of it, this was different. In my search to find more books like that one, I discovered a hashtag on Twitter #weneeddiversebooks. Diverse books is not limited to an ethnic background. It also has to do with a group of people who have an underrepresented voice such as but not limited to, stories told from the perspective of LGBTQ, disable and disenfranchised voices.  Apparently, my students aren’t the only ones hungry for more books like this. This has been a trending topic on Twitter among the literary industry professionals. The industry has always said that books with the protagonist from diverse backgrounds don’t sell. Or rather they won’t sell. They argue that that demographic of people don’t buy the books and no one wants to read them. Well, I saw first hand that this isn’t true. In fact, I would’ve loved to have had a book like The Hate U Give when I was my students’ age.

In my discovery of this online kid literature world on Twitter I connected with a network of teachers and teen readers that are in search of something that is missing. There is a void that people a want filled. I walked into this conversation at the perfect time. I was able to connect with a network of teachers and young readers through a newly formed book club for the reluctant reader called Project Lit. This book club exposed me to more novels like The Hate U Give. Each and every book they recommended was a hit with my students. We even formed out our Project Lit Book Club.  

This excitement for learning and literature brings me back to the purpose of my MA Thesis. I came into graduate school want to learn how be a better writer for both personal and professional reasons. It was through the reignition of my passion for reading and connecting with my students through their newfound love of books, the research aspect of my thesis came together. I want to make a case for why the need for diverse books written for and by people from diverse backgrounds is needed. If more of these books are made available we’d have less reluctant readers.  I will present my research in conjunction with my young adult novel that falls under this category making a case for why literature of this kind is needed if we want to keep all readers engaged in a text.

 

Literature Review

1.Barr, Margaret J., George S. McClellan, and Arthur Sandeen. Making Change Happen in Student              

Affairs, edited by Margaret J. Barr, et al., John Wiley & Sons,Incorporated, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=1760762.

This text will provide, “Making Change Happen in Student Affairs: Challenges and Strategies for Professionals is a thought-provoking and pragmatic guide to the increasingly complex challenges and expectations that administrators face from both students and the public.” This book can help me examine the responsibilities administrators have to consider when they’re looking at curricula programs that are appropriate to be taught at their school. The studies done in this text were not done in an urban school district setting so I will need to determine how I will be able to apply this information to the demographic of students/

2.Bamber, Philip M. Transformative Education through International Service-Learning, edited

by Philip M Bamber, Taylor and Francis, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=4456345.

Chapter 4: Key concepts and practices in International Service-Learning

Part III: Transformative learning as the process of becoming authentic

Chapter 6: Authenticity as selfhood Becoming oneself [integrity]

This text will allow me to examine the benefits of service learning from a global scale. I am looking to the text to provide answers that detail the way in which the students’ lives have been impacted by this type of work. The idea of authenticity is important as well. The research done here will give me the foundation that I need to have a rationale or basis for why this type of work would be important in an urban similar to my school. I am not sure if this text will have the information I am looking for in terms of the dynamics of the student population because these children are from places in other parts of the world more than likely in communities of privilege.

3.Berg, Danita, and Lori A. May. Creative Composition, edited by Danita Berg, and Lori A. May,

Channel View Publications, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=2038796.

Chapter 10: Lending the Muse a Hand: Expanding the Role of Social Constructivism and Collaborative Writing in Creative Genres

This text will allow me to conduct my research through my creative lens. It is important to understand that creating a voice in a social construct is a creative act. This type of writing can help to drive the creative parts of this piece. It may provide insight into how I can construct the novel that will go along with with the service project. It may lack the information and/or insight that explains what would be the best way to weave my fiction story and match it to lesson plans and a service project that students would be interested in taking part in changing their communities.

4.Payne-Jackson, Arvilla, Ajeenah Haynes, and Germon Miller-Bey.Service Learning, edited by

Arvilla Payne-Jackson, et al.,Academica Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=3425606.

Chapter 4:A Non-Traditional Approach to Service Learning

Chapter 5: New Directions in Service Learning

This text will provide me with insight into how to approach a service learning curricula. Service learning is not a traditional approach to learning so I will need to understand what steps I need to take in order to create this project. The text will also provide details on the shift in service learning. Where is has been and where is headed next. The information that this text may lack will be in the pragmatic details about funding and how to go about getting these types of projects approved by an underfunded school district.

  1. Verma, Rita Be the change : teacher, activist, global citizen, New York : P. Lang, 2010.

I see this text as the catalyst to kick start the rationale for this work. As an educator I feel that this work is deeply important and it can be beneficial to students if they are given the opportunity to let their voices be heard. I feel that this text will provide a strong justifications as to why students and teachers have a responsibility to be global citizens. The opposing voice and the the other side of the argument may be missing from this text. I don’t think they will provide much information as to what the pushback to doing this work could be.

 

6.Hatcher, Julie A., Robert G. Bringle, and Thomas W. Hahn. Research on Student Civic

Outcomes in Service Learning, edited by Julie A. Hatcher, et al., Stylus Publishing, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=4741216.

Chapter 2.5:Critical Theories and Student Outcomes

Chapter 3.1: Quantitative Research on Service Learning and Student Civic Outcomes

Chapter 3.2:Qualitative Research on Service Learning and Student Civic Outcomes

Chapter 3.5: Documenting and Gathering Evidence of Student Civic Outcomes

This text will produce the data I need to justify this work. This will give me the researched outcomes from people that have done this work. “The first section offers an overview of civic learning and the importance of intentional service learning course design to reach civic outcomes. The next section employs various disciplinary perspectives to identify theories and conceptual frameworks for conducting research on student civic outcomes. The third section focuses on research methods and designs to improve research using quantitative and qualitative approaches, cross-institutional research strategies, longitudinal designs, authentic data, and local and national data sets. Chapters also address implications for practice and future research agendas for scholars.” What this text may lack is the details about the types of students that were able to do this work. I still may need to know if these students had any special needs classifications and/or IEPs and learning disabilities.

7.Witmer, Judith T., and Carolyn S. Anderson. How to Establish a High School Service Learning

Program, edited by Judith T. Witmer, and Carolyn S. Anderson, ASCD, 1994. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=280342.

Chapter 5:Service Learning Program Design Options

Chapter 6: Other Program Design Considerations

This book will explain, “the origins, purpose, goals, and principles of service learning; discusses program design options and factors that need to be considered when establishing a program; offers guidance on starting and operating a program; and discusses how to handle common obstacles and challenges.” I will be able to look at how this work made an impact on the high school level. This book will give me insight into the considerations made for teaching and learning of this sort on a higher level. It will be important to learn about the challenges of doing this work it will give me an insight into considerations that must be made.

8.Cairns, Jo, Roy Gardner, and Denis Lawton. Education for Values, edited by Jo Cairns, et al.,

Taylor and Francis,2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=198426.

This book will discuss, “Values in education – how they are taught, the ethics of teaching itself, plus their role in the education of educators – is an area of lively and passionate debate. This book provides an essential resource of ideas, issues and current practice for all those with an interest in this area of education. Presenting a range of critical writing, this book deals with issues relating to education in values; approaches to teaching values; teacher education and values; research for education in values; and international comparative studies.” Information such as this is important to my work because there may be some pushback about the place for this type of work in schools. Does it have a place and what is the true values already established in education.

9.Whitehead, George I., III, Andrew P. Kitzrow, and Andrew P Kitzrow. A Glorious Revolution

for Youth and Communities, edited by George I., III Whitehead, et al., R&L Education, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=500952.

Chapter 6: Communities for Youth

Chapter 8: Youth Empowerment

Chapter 9: Community Examples

This book will show me the work already done. What types of power the voice of the youth has already garnered. How can this work be taken and expanded, then I can considered the options for expanding upon the work that has already been done. Taking a look at the examples can give me ideas about the issues that the youth care about. This make lack authentic voices and ideas that come from the ground up. Even though the idea is that this work is done from the ground up but I may still need to search for service learning that can be a nationwide outreach as well as a local one.

10.Sage, Rosemary. Meeting the Needs of Students with Diverse Backgrounds, edited by Rosemary

Sage, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=592459.

 

Chapter 9: A Call to Arms: Developing Diverse Students Through Service Learning

This text is important to my research because I will get to look at how a diverse group of students could do this type of work. “This intelligent collection of case studies tells the stories of individuals coping with diversity in our schools today. The book focuses on real situations that challenge practitioners daily, such as culture and religion and English as an additional language.” This book could be the drill down I need and the closet look into how a curriculum like this could work in a school that is similar to the one that I teach in. I could provide details to explain or map out ways in which I could I find a cause that would bring a diverse demographic together. The text may lack data related information that explain the type of real time impact these projects made on the community.

 

11.Cipolle, Susan Benigni. Service-Learning and Social Justice, edited by Susan Benigni Cipolle,

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=500794.

Chapter 6: K-12 Education: Strategies for Effective Service Learning

It is not only important to do this type of work but to do it effectively. This book could provide me with the insight to plan strategically into how to make the most effective and impactful use of this type of work. “Cipolle describes practical strategies for classroom teachers along with the theoretical framework so readers can deftly move beyond the book to a meaningful program for their schools.” It is important not to try and recreate the wheel and this text can lend me the tools that I need to strategically and purposefully plan to teach students how to be the champion of a their own cause.

 

12.Fletcher, Barry, Ann Bell, and John Buttery. 50 Activities for Achieving Change, edited by Barry

Fletcher, et al., HRD Press, 1992. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=435518.

I can take away ideas for how to do this work. Looking at activities that have already been done I can decide which ones are the most meaningful. The only problems I can see with this is that I don’t think know how detailed the plans will be if I will be able to use them in my implementations because this book was written before the time of the common core standards initiative. It may end up being more of an outline that gives me ideas and places to start with activities that are current and relevant.

13.Cress, Christine M., David M. Donahue, Associates, and, and Thomas Erlich. Democratic

Dilemmas of Teaching Service-Learning, edited by Christine M. Cress, et al., Stylus Publishing, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/kean/detail.action?docID=911887.

Part One:Democratic Dilemmas of Teaching Service Learning

This text will be very important because it will allow me to look at what the critics of this work will try and make objections.Faculty encounter many challenges when teaching service learning courses. These may arise from students’ resistance to the idea of serving; their lack of responsibility, wasting clients’ and community agencies’ time and money; the misalignment of community partner expectations with academic goals; or faculty uncertainty about when to guide students’ experiences and when direct intervention is necessary.” This is important to consider that the students’ may not be willing to do this work. This will allow me to make plans for such occurrences.

 

14.Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give, HarperCollins Publishers, 2017

This text is a YA book that details the life of a teenage girl that was a witness to her friend being shot down in the streets by the police. Thomas’ book will be a mentor text for me. I will use this book to see how the author tells the story. I will also pay close attention to the way in which aspects from historical and social events are woven into the text. I will use this type of contemporary, issue-driven storytelling when I write my fiction piece.

 

Thesis Outline:

 

  • Introduction
  • Discuss The History of Diverse Books
  • In this section I provide the background info of diversity in children’s literature
  • Why Fiction?
  • In this section I will discuss why fiction is the avenue in which to bridge the diversity gap. Why it is through stories that we learn and feel and grow as humans. Which is what will ultimately be more impactful.
  • Why do humans need stories?
  • In this section I will discuss the importance of stories. How they connect us as humans. Why stories reach into our humanity and force us to see the world through different perspectives.
  • Why Misunderstood?How does my work fit among the books that inspire me? Should it?
  • In this section I will discuss how I feel my novel fits within this category. Additionally I will create an argument or show cause why this novel should be published using different comp titles within the young adult genre.
  • Conclusion
  • This is where I will give my final thoughts and include the first chapter of my novel, the synopsis and my query letter. I will also share where I am as far as querying agents and/or editors.