September 14, 2010

Young adult e-book collection honors literature pioneer

Posted: September 14, 2010

With the help of the ASU Parents Association Library Endowment, ASU Libraries are unveiling a first-of-its-kind, electronic book collection composed of Kindle readers and electronic editions of the best young adult novels, 1988-2008. The electronic collection is being given and named in honor of renowned scholar in young adult literature, Alleen Pace Nilsen, professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the English Education Program at ASU.

“ASU Libraries is proud to provide the collection of Kindles and young adult books in honor of Dr. Alleen Nilsen,” said Ann Ewbank, an Education Subject Librarian who earned her doctorate under the direction of Nilsen in 2005. “As we move further into the 21st century, e-readers will become more prolific. From this collaboration, we hope to learn how to best provide digital options to the ASU community.”

Books selected for the collection – to date totaling 41, come from a “YA Lit Honor List,” published by Nilsen each November in the English Journal.

Nilsen, who has been at ASU since 1975, is credited with helping originate young adult literature as a field of scholarly study and as an important knowledge base for middle school and high school teachers. Nilsen was one of the founders of the National Council of Teachers of English Assembly on Literature for Adolescents in 1973 and served as its president in 1978. She was the winner of the 1987 ALAN Award for lifetime contributions in the field of adolescent literature, and the 2006 Ted Hipple Service Award for lifetime service to the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents. In 2005 Nilsen was recognized as the top professor of children’s and young adult literature in the world by the International Reading Association. Her co-written book (with Ken Donelson), "Literature for Today’s Young Adults," now in its eighth edition, is the top-selling college text on the subject in the world.

The annual English Journal Honor List includes eight to 10 of the “best” young adult books from the previous year as chosen by Nilsen, Professor Emeritus Ken Donelson, and Jim Blasingame, associate professor of English. Entries on the list often include winners of the National Book Award, Newbery Medal, Printz and American Library Best Book Awards.

“Providing youth literature on a Kindle format, honoring Professor Nilsen, testifies to the ways an investment can evolve with rapidly changing technology, fulfilling the intentions of the parents that established the endowment more than 20 years ago,” said Robin Okun Hengl, director of the ASU Parents Association.

A wall plaque in ASU’s Hayden Library will read: "ASU Libraries Kindle E-Book Young Adult Literature Collection in honor of Dr. Alleen Nilsen." Funded by the Parents Association Library Endowment. A reception honoring Nilsen will take place today at 10 a.m., in the G. Homer Durham Language and Literature building, room 316. All are welcome.

Media contact:
Kristen LaRue, kristen.larue@asu.edu
Department of English