Using the Fantastical to Explore the Critical: More Paranormal YAL & Contemporary Literature

The paranormal presents

difference as “other.”

We marvel over

majestic worlds and beings.

If we open any door,

would it lead

to another realm?

We shudder at thoughts

of what-if, when in fact,

that alternate reality

is our very own.

—By Alexandra Caselle

Image found on Google Images

Image found on Google Images

The paranormal is a genre that is becoming more popular among teens.  It is more than the heartthrob vampires of Twilight & The Vampire Diaries.  The fantastical enthralls us, the new worlds, the new species, the new realities.  May I offer another use for this spectacular genre?  I remember reading an article where Stephen King mentioned that things happening in everyday life are the scariest.  Science fiction/the paranormal is a form of entertainment, but I think a deeper conversation lies underneath, one that calls for a critical examination of the social constructs in our worlds, our cultures, our everyday lives.  We can also explore natural disasters, historical events, and important figures.

The fantastical can help us become more critical, and therefore, leading us into a deeper understanding of ourselves.

Here are some wonderful suggestions:

ninth ward


book of night women




the healing






once again

Teaching Resources

  • Goodreads list of Paranormal YAL

  • Cynthia Leitch Smith’s Gothic Fantasy, Horror, & Urban Fantasy Suggestions

  • Teaching the Epic through Ghost Stories


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