The ALAN Review

The ALAN Review (TAR) is a peer-reviewed (refereed) journal published by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ALAN). It is devoted solely to the field of literature for young adults. It is published three times per academic year (fall, winter, and summer) and is sent to all ALAN members, individual and institutional. Members of ALAN need not be members of NCTE.

TAR publishes high quality articles and professional materials that support the learning and development of readers committed to (or wanting to learn more about) young adult literature—its authors, its readers, and its advocates.  TAR publishes scholarship and resource materials that build, expand, and challenge readers’ understandings, as well as support them in the daily work they do with the students in their care. 

Those interested in submitting manuscripts for consideration in The ALAN Review should familiarize themselves with these guidelines for authors. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to Current calls for manuscripts and guidelines for reviewers can be found below.

Archives of The ALAN Review are hosted at Virginia Tech and can be accessed from that web site. Please note that archives run through 2011.

Calls for Manuscript Submissions

Race Matters: The Presence and Representation of Authors and Characters of Color in YA Literature

The ALAN Review 42:2 (Winter 2015)

Submissions due July 1, 2014

Statistics suggest that, by 2019, approximately 49% of students enrolled in U.S. public schools will be Latina/o, Black, Asian/Pacific Island, or American Indian (Hussar & Bailey, 2011).  However, the field has been increasingly criticized for not reflecting these demographics in the literature published for young adult readers. For readers of color, this can result in a sense of disconnect between lived reality and what is described on the page.  For readers from the dominant culture, this can result in a limited perception of reality and affirmation of a singular way of knowing and doing and being.  For all readers, exposure to a variety of ethnically unfamiliar literature can encourage critical reading of text and world, recognition of the limitations of depending upon mainstream depictions of people and their experiences, and the building of background knowledge and expansion of worldview.

In this issue, we invite you to share your experiences, challenges, hesitations, and successes in using or promoting young adult literature that features characters and/or authors of color.  Invite us into your classrooms, libraries, and school communities to better understand the potential value and necessity of broadening the texts we use to capture the imaginations of all readers.

Consider the experiences of Walter Dean Myers: “All the authors I studied, all the historical figures, with the exception of George Washington Carver, and all those figures I looked upon as having importance were white men. I didn't mind that they were men, or even white men. What I did mind was that being white seemed to play so important a part in the assigning of values” (Bad Boy: A Memoir). And ponder Jacqueline Woodson’s words, “Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down” (The Other Side).  What have you done (or might you do) to give that fence a nudge?

As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme. 

(Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past

The ALAN Review 42:3 (Summer 2015)

Submissions due November 1, 2014

Stories are dynamic, told and heard, accepted and revered, rejected and rewritten by readers who draw from their experiences and understandings to garner meaning from the words on the page.  In young adult texts, fiction and nonfiction, historical and contemporary and futuristic, this dynamism can encourage the critique of our collective past, helping us question assumptions about what came before and reconsider our responsibilities to the present and future. These texts can also help us consider the adolescent experience across time and place and explore the similarities and differences that shape reality as young people navigate and draft their own coming of age stories. This universality can foster a connection to others and reinforce our shared existence as members of a human community.  And yet, these texts can give emotional reality to names, dates, and other factual information, letting us imagine the voices of those who lived in other places and times and have sometimes been silenced in official accounts of history, ideally inspiring us honor these voices and generate a better future. Through these stories, we might come to reject a single narrative and develop empathy for individuals we never knew—and those we did and do and will.

In this issue, we welcome articles that explore the relationship between young adult literature, history, stories, and readers.  We acknowledge that “every living soul is a book of their own history, which sits on the ever-growing shelf in the library of human memories” (Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt). And that, “If you stare at the center of the universe, there is coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn't care about us. Time doesn't care about us. That's why we have to care about each other” (David Levithan, Every Day).  Stories matter in this caring: “I leapt eagerly into books. The characters’ lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own” (Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy).

As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.


Guidelines for Reviewers and Sample Review

Thank you for agreeing to serve as a reviewer for The ALAN Review!  We appreciate your expertise and support of our authors. We employ a double-blind referee system: identities of the author(s) and the reviewers are not revealed to one another.  However, we include reviewers' comments (or excerpts) in our responses to submitting author(s).

We ask that you attach and send your completed review form to; you do not need to submit any other notes, comments, or edits, including those you might have made for yourself on the manuscript. The review form asks you to include your evaluation of the assigned manuscript in the form of a response to the author(s), as well as your recommendation regarding publication.

As you craft your response and make your recommendation, please consider the guiding questions below; these are aligned with the criteria included on the review form. You do not need to answer every question or organize your response according to this format.  We simply provide these to aid in your thinking. 

1) Does the piece contribute to the field of young adult literature and mission of TAR by exploring, highlighting, and/or complicating theories and/or practices of young adult literature?

  • Is the paper likely to ignite conversation within the profession?
  • Is the paper of potential interest to education professionals across a range of institutional contexts and levels?
  • Are the implications of the paper potentially significant?

2) Does the piece demonstrate scholarly rigor?

  • Is the author's understanding of the subject informed by current scholarship?
  • Does the author employ methods that are appropriate to the question(s) being asked? Are these methods clearly, thoroughly, and appropriately articulated?
  • Does the author provide a clear and well-supported argument for claims made?

3) Does the piece demonstrate clarity of writing?

  • Is the piece written in a tone likely to invite readers’ interest?
  • Is the piece organized in such a way that helps readers navigate the argument made?
  • Is the piece free from errors in language, punctuation, grammar, usage, etc. that impede readers’ understandings?

In your response to the author(s), we encourage you to explain your thinking and comment upon both strengths of the paper and suggestions for revision.  We aim for the review process to be educative and positive for all authors. Below, we include a sample response for your use. Again, your review does not need to follow this format.  We share this as one model to consider.  As always, please don’t hesitate to send any questions our way.


 Dear Author(s),

 Thank you for sharing your thoughtful work on an important topic.  It is clear that you and your participants gained much through the book club experience.  I found particularly relevant the ways in which your study attests to the power of engagement with literature to extend beyond development of readers’ skills and into socio-cultural understandings of the self and others.  This intimates the need for and value of those who engage in literature study with students to actively foster critical reflection that makes transparent the underlying messages of power, privilege, and gendered identities that texts inherently contain.  I appreciate, too, the clarity of your writing.  The subheadings in the Findings section, in particular, help readers follow the progression of your argument from one section to the next.

To make your argument clearer and more compelling to readers, I encourage you to better align the various elements of your piece.  In the Discussion, you state that you conducted a “***” (p.), that your findings “***” (p.), and that your work underpins the value of “***” (p.).  While these are indeed important contributions to the field, I’m not entirely convinced that you’ve created the necessary argument to be able to make these claims in the way you’ve currently presented your study.  I recommend that you consider the following:

1) The Literature section provides important contextual information that grounds your study relative to girls’ literacy, gendered texts, and book clubs.  However, given the emphasis on power and privilege in the Discussion (an important emphasis), I encourage you to describe research that addresses these issues in the field as they relate to your work to more accurately frame your study’s goals. 

2) You provide a strong general statement of summary regarding your work (p.), but how you came to the answer, “***,” is unclear.  I recommend that you explicitly state your research question and then, in the Findings, demonstrate clearly how your data reflect the development of your answer to this question. 

3) I appreciate the level of detail included in your Findings.  Hearing the participants’ voices throughout this section makes your work compelling and engaging; you help us care about them and their resulting perceptions that grow out of examination of the text.  For each finding, however, I’d love to see you focus more intentionally on gender and relate your findings back to your Literature Review.  You touch on this in your discussion of *** when you note, “***” (p.).  How might you develop your analysis of this claim to more clearly address what it means to be a female in this community?  Similarly, in the discussion of ***, you might explore the ways in which the term seems to be gender-specific, often present in female discourse but rarely, if ever, in male discourse.  And in the section on ***, I was fascinated by the ways in which the girls rejected a potentially physical response because it would not be approved and instead suggested a more socially acceptable, passive response.  Again, how might this speak to the roles of girls and boys in the school environment in which they exist?

4) As indicated earlier, your Discussion contains evidence of careful analysis and thinking that moves the conversation forward.  At times, however, this section reads more like literary analysis, particularly when you discuss the representation of girls the selected text (and other literature) contains (p.).  This information might be important but would feel essential to your work if it were more carefully connected to your Findings and an expanded Lit Review that addresses power and privilege.

Beyond the issue of alignment, I encourage you to delineate more clearly (and with examples) the processes of analysis that led to these particular findings.  Perhaps provide examples of your thinking during the analysis process (Why was a particular piece of data categorized in one way and not another? Did your categories change as the analysis progressed? Were any data eliminated given a lack of richness across sources? etc.).

Thank you again for your willingness to submit your study for review.  I appreciate the opportunity to read your important work and wish you all the best.

About ALAN

The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) promotes communication and cooperation among all individuals who have a special interest in adolescent literature, presents programs and conferences on this subject, promotes and increases the number of articles and publications devoted to it and integrates the efforts of all those with an interest in this literature.

You can find a list of officers and directors in the organization at this page.


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