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The Boys Club

Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature


Wendy Rountree

The Boys Club: Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature is a study of prominent issues and themes such as education, identity, and racism in contemporary (i.e., post-Civil Rights era) young adult novels written primarily for African American boys by African American men and women writers. Representative works by writers Candy Dawson Boyd, Curtis Paul Curtis, Sharon G. Flake, Kenji Jasper, Kekla Magoon, Williams McDaniels, Walter Dean Meyers, and Jacqueline Woodson are analyzed. Ultimately, this book illustrates how men and women writers of young adult literature for African American boys reveal and validate the difficulties of growing up young, Black, and male in modern-day American society, and thereby seek to improve the lives of their readers.


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Notes 119


Notes Introduction 1. In a National Public Radio (NPA) interview, “Walter Dean Myers, A ‘Bad Boy’ Makes Good, with Juan Williams,” the interviewer asks Myers whether or not he read Richard Wright’s Black Boy. Myers replies: “I got to Richard Wright through James Baldwin. James Baldwin and Richard Wright had this clash. And I met James Baldwin, and I asked him about that clash. And he was saying that when he read Black Boy, he was both pleased with it because it mirrored some of the things that happened to him, but he was upset with it because he felt that Wright had glamorized in a sort of a negative way his earlier upbringing.” Myers goes on to say that he was conscious not to “glamorize” his early life experiences in Bad Boy. Still, this comment clearly connects Myers to the Afri- can American male writer’s literary history. 2. See, Gurian, Michael and Kathy Stevens. “How Boys Learn.” Educational Horizons 84.2 (Winter 2006): 87-93. Print.; James, Abigail Norfleet. Teaching the Male Brain: How Boys Think, Feel, and Learn in School. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2007. 3. See, Dianne Johnson’s Telling Tales: The Pedagogy and Promise of African American Literature for Youth (1990) for more details. 4. See, Washington, Mary Helen. Forward. Their Eyes Were Watching God. By Zora Neale Hurston. 1937. New York: Harper & Row, 1990. Chapter One 1. The concept of “ritual grounds” is a concept theorized by the Africa American scholar, Robert Stepto in his seminal work,...

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