Canonical Literature and Young Adult Literature: Bridging the Gaps


Sarah Cowdell

Date of Award


Degree Type

Archival Copy

First Advisor

Kelly Matthews


The purpose of my Senior Honors Thesis is to reveal the benefits of incorporating Young Adult literature into the secondary-level classroom. Through a review of the literature, I plan to highlight the advantages of using Young Adult literature in the classroom that have already been thoroughly researched, such as motivation and engagement benefits. My thesis will advocate for the benefits of implementing Young Adult literature in the secondary-level classroom for the sake of conveying social issues to the students. The presentation of this topic will include the use of primary and secondary sources, my individual analysis, and the presentation of multiple literary theories, specifically the reader response and reception theories. In addition, my thesis will compare Young Adult texts to canonical texts that are typically used in the secondary-level classroom. I will argue that Young Adult literature should be used as a bridge to canonical literature in order to make these texts more relevant and accessible. Young Adult texts that will be addressed for their literary merits, as well as for their conveyance of social issues, are The Giver by Lois Lowry and Monster by Walter Dean Myers. Canonical texts that will be addressed are Lord of the Flies by William Golding and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I will argue that the incorporation of Young Adult literature in the secondary-level classroom is not only beneficial for the students, but extremely valuable and advantageous for the shaping of life-long readers and well-rounded, informed citizens.

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