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Disabling Characters

Representations of Disability in Young Adult Literature

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Patricia A. Dunn

Disabling Characters provides detailed analyses of selected young adult (YA) novels and short stories. It looks at the relative agency of the disabled character, the behavior of the other characters, the environment in which the character must live, the assumptions that seem to be underlying certain scenes, and the extent to which the book challenges or perpetuates an unsatisfactory status quo. Class discussions about disability-themed literature, however well intentioned, have the potential to reinforce harmful myths or stereotypes about disability. In contrast, discussions informed by a critical disability studies perspective can help readers develop more sophisticated views of disability and contribute to a more just and inclusive society. The book examines discussion questions, lesson plans, study guides, and other supplemental materials aimed at students studying these texts, and it suggests more critical questions to pose about these texts and the positive and/or negative work they do, perhaps subliminally, in our culture. This book is a much-needed addition to college classes in YA literature, literary analysis, methods of teaching literature, disability studies, cultural studies, contemporary criticism, special education, and adolescent literacy.
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Works Cited

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Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007.

Ana. “Book Review: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk.” The Book Smugglers. March 29, 2011.Web. 23 June 2014.

Andrews, Sharon E. “Using Inclusion Literature to Promote Positive Attitudes Toward Disabilities.” Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 41.6 (March 1998): 420–426.

Arastu, Aleema. “Aleema Arastu’s Review.” Rev. of Peeling the Onion, by Wendy Orr. Goodreads. 5 May 2013. Web. 6 Feb. 2014.

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