Master of Education (MEd)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



The African American literacy crisis has been well documented. Many researchers have sought to find a remedy for the disparity in literacy rates between African American readers and white American. This study explores the potential role of young adult literature (YAL) in this crisis. More specifically, this study examines the recognition that African American works receive in contemporary YAL. This study also investigates the African American experiences represented in those works receiving national recognition. A list of fifty-one books was compiled from the winners (2000-present) of national awards such as Michael L. Printz award and the Coretta Scott King Book Award. This list was subsequently categorized based on such characteristics as genre and characters represented. These works were then closely scrutinized to determine the scope of the African American characters represented in these award winning novels. After completing a close examination of these works it became evident that very few African American works have received national recognition. Teachers and parents alike look to these lists for classroom worthy texts. If very few African American works receive these prestigious recognitions then it a reasonable assertion that very few African American works are being taught in the classroom. Although the current research calls for cultural relevance as a means of combating the literacy deficit for African Americans, cultural relevance is difficult to achieve because of the lack of African American YAL. Of those works recognized, the African American experiences represented in these works were overwhelmingly urban in nature. This study is a part of a growing body of research on African American literacy and YAL.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Bach, Jacqueline



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