Young Adult Literature in the Malaysian Secondary School

  •  Mallika V. Govindarajoo    
  •  Jayakaran Mukundan    


This article presents the results of a study on the experience of the Malaysian secondary school student with Young Adult Literature in the English language classroom. The study aimed to determine the extent to which the Malaysian secondary school student identified with the young adult protagonists and issues in the novelswhich have been prescribed as literary texts in the English language classroom. As the study required in-depth knowledge of young adult students’ ‘essence of experience’ in their engagement with the texts, the method used was phenomenological. The sampling for the study was purposeful and data came from participants’ written journal reflections during the reading of the novel and from follow-up qualitative interviews.

In terms of identity and relevance of novels to the young adult participant, the findings revealed a sense of reciprocity, bonding or mediatory role that developed between participant and characters. The identification of participant with familiar issues and characters were significant not only by their presence but also by the absence. Expectations of participants towards adult characters were higher and attitudes tended to be more judgmental and less forgiving compared to young adult protagonists. Participants’ responses also indicated the need for literary texts to provide a realistic portrayal of society.

The study has shown how young adults identify with the elements of YAL in literary texts and thus provides valuable information when text selection for young adults needs to be made particularly in the Malaysian context.

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