touchstones of ya lit

As decreed by the higher authorities of my Masters of Arts program, the following titles create a list of the

Touchstones of Young Adult Literature.

Which can be interpreted as Books You Ought To Have Read, or YA Books Before There Was Such a Genre.

Since I will be enrolling in my YA Lit class in the Spring of 2011, the following books have officially been added to my Required Reading list for the year.

Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly. 1942

The oldest YA book of time… which I haven’t read

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. 1945

Read it in high school, and, (of course) enjoyed it

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. 1954

Slogged through it in high school. Recreated a scene with Legos for a book project.

Brown Girl Brownstones by Paule Marshall. 1959

A Separate Peace by John Knowles. 1960

My Separate Peace story is super long and involved. So I’ll say that I read it in 10th grade, for class, and leave it at that.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. 1961

According to the apocryphal family tale, my father read this book to me when I was in first grade. Which means yes, I need to read it again.

The Contender by Robert Lipsyte. 1967

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. 1967

Read it in 8th grade. Less than impressed. But I was a difficult to impress 8th grader.

The Pigman by Paul Zindel. 1968

My Pigman story is also very long and involved. I read it in undergrad, for my YA class and liked it, but only after actively disliking it as a child due to confusing it with another book with a similar title.

I’ll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan. 1969

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. 1970

Love love love. Listened to it in 2008. Excited to re-read.

The Planet of Junior Brown by Virginia Hamilton. 1971

The Friends by Rosa Guy. 1973

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. 1974

Tried to read it when I was in 6th or 7th grade… failed.

Forever by Judy Blume. 1975


Goldengrove Unleaving by Jill Paton Walsh. 1976

The Language of Goldfish by Zibby Oneal. 1980

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson. 1980

Read it so long ago I can’t remember it…

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. 1982

Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid. 1985

Remembering the Good Times by Richard Peck. 1985

House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. 1991

So my current reading of these Literary Touchstones leaves much to be desired. So we’ll add this list to the ACTUAL syllabus (some 30 more books), plus a summer lit class and a fall lit class…. well… I should probably start reading now, since all I have to read for the next month is picturebooks.


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