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Secondary educators' attitudes and professional assessment of the place for contemporary young adult series romance novels in the low-end and reluctant readers' curriculum

1 December 1991


Recent educational reform proposals have debated goals and processes in the public school curriculum. In language arts, debates have centered on redefining literature and expanding the traditional canon to more effectively reach a' generation of students who have , logged more hours watching television than reading books. This is a naturalistic, interpretive study designed to explore the attitudes and judgments of professional secondary educators regarding the value of adolescent series romance novels in the low-end and reluctant readers' curriculum. This study is based on ! informal classroom observation 'and informal interviews with twenty secondary language arts educators in a suburban high school. Educators' opinions were sought on the value of romance novels as a bridge to the traditional canon, as weir as how they might affect young women's self-esteem and their perceptions of what literature is. While romance novels are of interest to high school students, the juvenile nature of adolescent series romance novels makes them more appropriate to junior high students. Female educators expressed serious concerns about the effects of romance novels on young women's self-esteem; both genders perceived romances as lower in quality than other popular literature and expressed concern that popular literature genres make it more difficult to interest students in the traditional canon. Educators felt that reading romances was valuable only to the extent that it encouraged reading behavior: romances' value as a bridge to the traditional canon was perceived as being limited.


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