Multiple Intelligence Theory and Young Adult Literature
June 10, 2005 7:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions for Young Adult literature (of all levels, from upper-elementary to adult-for-young-adults) that would appeal to the different "intelligences" of Gardner's theory.

Gardner claims there are seven (maybe eight, or more) intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. I'm looking for examples of YA Lit that appeal to each of those, and possibly to the eighth, naturalist intelligence

There are lots of books, especially YA Lit, that appeal to interpersonal/intrapersonal because these hit on what educators tend to think of as "teen issues". I'm having a hard time finding some of the others.

I'm finding it hard to find any books that appeal to musical intelligence at all. In logical-mathematical I can think of some great mysteries that are big logic puzzles, but nothing else. In terms of spatial intelligence, there are probably some great graphic novels, but anything else? Linguistic intelligence also seems like it would be well covered, but I don't think it is, maybe because of the pressure to write for average reading levels in YA lit. And so on.

So if you know of any good YA lit that should really appeal to any of those groups, I'd be happy to hear about it.
posted by dagnyscott to Education (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For Linguistic Ingelligence, maybe something that's very playful stylistically, like John Thurber's 13 Clocks, White Stag, etc. Other ideas - Norton Juster's Phantom Tollbooth, Terry Pratchett, William Shakespeare...

Logical-mathematical: It's not strictly YA, but I think that Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time would be great (although the ending's bad). Which isn't to imply that logical-math people are autistic! :)

Spatial: My bet idea is something like Flatland... But comics are a good bet, really.

Musical: Yikes. It feels almost antithetical! What about something they could sing along to - a musical or opera score? Or perhaps very rhythmic/ordered writing, like the Iliad or Beat poets?
posted by Marquis at 8:07 AM on June 10, 2005

How about Philip Pullman's Golden Compass and its sequels? Not exactly sure it meets all the criteria, but I think it might.
posted by Doohickie at 8:16 AM on June 10, 2005

Daniel Pinkwater's magisterial Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars (AMtBfM and Lizard Music are the Tender is the Night and The Great Gatsby of young adult novels) features, as a key plot point, the challenge of rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time; this might work in the bodily-kinesthetic direction.

For some reason the strange and upsetting YA novels of William Sleator also come to mind here: House of Stairs for interpersonal and spatial, The Green Futures of Tycho for logical-mathematical.
posted by escabeche at 8:37 AM on June 10, 2005

I was also going to suggest The Dog In the Nighttime and Phantom Tollbooth.

What about Summerland by Chabon?

Also, I think Holes might work across several.

There must be something for music.... do you want books about music, so that people relate that way, or... something else? What about poetry?
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:16 AM on June 10, 2005

If you wanted to hit several at once, many children's books that have multiple main characters have them have complementary types of intelligence. A Series of Unfortunate Events, for example, has Klaus as linguistic, Violet as logical-mathematical, and interpersonal, I guess? (Where does culinary talent fall in this theory?)
posted by emyd at 11:44 AM on June 10, 2005

For naturalist: "My Family and Other Animals" -- my daughter read that a couple of years ago and loved it, then read all the other books by him, so they can still strike a chord. Its non-fiction so maybe doesn't meet your criteria.

For linguistic, and also non-fiction, Espy's "An Almanac of Words at Play" and also the Book of Nonsense. For older teenagers, "Orwell's 1984" is good from the language perspective.

Spatial and Linguistic: teenagers can have a good read from Winterston's "Sexing the Cherry"

Logical - well I grew up with the Encyclopedia Brown stories, which might seem a bit lame these days.
posted by Rumple at 12:42 PM on June 10, 2005

Stephen Gould's Jumper and Reflex are about a teenager who discovers he can teleport himself at will. I think they would appeal to kinesthetic learners (in that he is learning to use his body in a new exciting way), as well as logical thinkers (the character is very logical in his approach to life).

Also, I strongly second the William Sleator recommendation. His Interstellar Pig is about an incredibly complex board game, and really appealed to my love of games and rules when I read it. Also, which of his books is about the group of kids kidnapped and forced into this creepy Pavlovian experiment where they must do an increasingly intricate dance to get food? Is that House of Stairs? I think that one would be great for kinesthetes, too.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:06 PM on June 10, 2005

Yes, Rock Steady, that's House of Stairs. Brrrr. While I'm here, I second Espy's Almanac of Words at Play; I read the spine off that thing when I was a kid.
posted by escabeche at 7:18 PM on June 10, 2005

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