Good literature lasts a lifetime

Once upon a time‚ there was a mini−conference at Kennesaw State University‚ which featured local authors speaking and working with KSU English and education students. But times change‚ and with the growth of the university‚ has come the growth of this conference into a full−blown‚ two day Children’s Literature Conference featuring nationally recognized authors and teachers from across the state.

Georgia (Apr 15, 2005) — Once upon a time‚ there was a mini−conference at Kennesaw State University‚ which featured local authors speaking and working with KSU English and education students. But times change‚ and with the growth of the university‚ has come the growth of this conference into a full−blown‚ two day Children’s Literature Conference featuring nationally recognized authors and teachers from across the state.

Pam Cole‚ associate professor of middle grades English education‚ led the conference from small to large when she took over as director in 1996. “I had teachers who had attended the conference as KSU students ask me if they could come back for it‚” she said.

Cole‚ who got her Ph.D. in English education with a concentration on adolescent literature from Virginia Tech‚ started at Kennesaw State in 1995. “I just fell in love with the campus‚” she said about her initial visit. “And I liked the people. It seemed like a comfortable place.”

One of the first differences Cole noticed between K−12 teachers in Georgia and the teachers she’d observed in Virginia was that Georgia teachers didn’t use contemporary young adult literature in the classrooms very often. “I came from a community where it was taught‚ and I had seen how teenagers responded to it.”

Most teachers in Georgia were using classic literature‚ which was originally written for adults‚ and many teens didn’t respond well to it. “Contemporary young adult literature is written specifically for a teenage audience. It’s edited in a specific way‚ with a powerful opening‚ to grab teens right away and with short chapters to keep them reading‚” Cole explained. “In a time when teens don’t read much‚ teachers are looking for ways to reach them with literature they like.”

Her belief in the importance of teaching young adult literature‚ coupled with the requests of teachers who had attended earlier conferences and wanted to return‚ led Cole to invite nationally known authors to the expanded Children’s Literature Conference. This year’s conference‚ which Cole did not direct‚ was held March 30 and 31.

The conference had been important in Cole’s life‚ both personally and professionally‚ but the time came for her to concentrate on something else. As co−editor of the academic journal Signal‚ with English professor and program coordinator of undergraduate English education James Cope‚ Cole is still immersed in young adult literature. Signal features articles about and teaching strategies for young adult novels‚ plus articles by and interviews with authors.

Cope and Cole have co−edited the 20−year−old journal for the last two years and plan to continue. “Editing this opens up national connections‚” Cole said. “It enables me to trade emails and information with colleagues on a national level.” Taking her love of young adult literature to the national level seems a natural next step for the woman who first established KSU as the leader on young adult literature in the state.





 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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