LTCY Faculty & Staff

Donna Werderich

Melanie Debra Koss

TITLE: Associate Professor
Literacy Education
AREA: Faculty
OFFICE: Gabel Hall 130A 
PHONE: (815) 753-9260
FAX: (815) 753-8563
E-MAIL: mkoss@niu.edu

EDUCATION

  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
  • M.A., The Ohio State University
  • B.S., Skidmore College

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Dr. Koss teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in children’s literature, young adult literature, multicultural children’s literature, language arts, and content area reading. Her research interests include looking at young adult novels with multiple narrative perspectives, representations of digital communication technology in young adult literature, controversial materials and censorship issues in middle and high school curricula, and representations of special needs characters in children’s and young adult texts. She also examines trends in picture books, representations of diversity in picture books, the use of picture books as mentor texts, and ways of using picture books with English Language Learners.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

  • Koss, M. D. (in press). Diversity in contemporary picture books: A content analysis. Journal of Children’s Literature.
  • Koss, M. D., & Tucker-Raymond, E. (2014). Construction and depiction of identity in young adult novels with digital communication technologies. The ALAN Review 41(2), 34-43.
  • Carger, C. L., & Koss, M. D. (2014). Getting to know you: Using alphabet books to develop vocabulary and exchange cultural information with English language learners. Illinois Reading Council Journal 42(4), 11-18.
  • Wilson, N. S., & Koss, M. D. (2014). Text complexity of popular middle grade texts: How do popular middle grades texts stack up to CCSS standards? AMLE Magazine 2(1), 28-31.
  • Wilson, N. S., & Koss, M. D. (2013). Is there a middle grades canon?  A survey methodology. 2012 American Reading Forum Yearbook.
  • Koss, M. D. (2012). What to look for in children’s book apps. Reading Today. Retrieved from http://www.reading.org/general/Publications/blog/BlogSinglePost/reading-today-online/2012/11/27/what-to-look-for-in-children%27s-book-apps#.UNdQvrbagg8
  • Koss, M. D. (2014, November). Current trends in picture books: A content analysis. The Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English. Washington, D.C.
    Koss, M. D., & Wakefield, D. S. (2014, October). Evaluating children’s book apps for use in educational settings. The Illinois Reading Conference. Springfield, IL.
  • Koss, M. D. & Wilson, N. S. (2014, April). Text complexity, the Common Core State Standards, and the texts teachers use in the middle grades. The 59th Annual Convention of the International Reading Association, New Orleans, LA.
  • Wilson, N. S., & Koss, M. D. (2013, December). Text complexity, the CCSS, and the texts teachers use in the middle grades. 2013 Annual Conference of the American Reading Forum, Sanibel Island, FL.
  • Koss, M. D., & Werderich, D.E. (2013, November). Chester’s Masterpiece: Using a picture book as a mentor text for middle school writers to explore the writing process and develop the trait of voice. The Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English. Boston, MA.
  • Wilson, N. S., & Koss, M. D. (2013, November). Understanding text complexity of the Common Core State Standards. Annual Conference for Middle Level Education, Association for Middle Level Education. Minneapolis, MN.
  • Koss, M. D., & Carger, C. L. (2013, April). Beyond letters: Using high-quality themed ABC picture books to teach cultural connections, vocabulary development, and comprehensible content-area instruction to ELLs linking to Common Core standards. The 58th Annual Convention of the International Reading Association, San Antonio, TX.
  • Wilson, N. S., & Koss, M. D. (2013, April). Evaluating the middle grades canon. The 58th Annual Convention of the International Reading Association, San Antonio, TX.
  • Koss, M. D. (2012). Using YA literature to harness adolescents’ digital media skills. Reading Today 30(1). 39-40.
  • Kelley, M., Wilson, N. S., & Koss, M. D. (2012).  Using young adult literature to motivate and engage the disengaged. In J. A. Hayn & J. S. Kaplan (Eds.) Teaching Young Adult Literature Today:  Insights, Considerations and Perspectives for the Classroom Teacher (77-98). Lanham, MD:  Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Koss, M. D., & Werderich, D. (2012). Chester’s Masterpiece: Using a picture book as a mentor text for middle school writers to develop the trait of voice. Reading in the Middle 4(1), 10-15.
  • Koss, M. D. (2011). “It's all about identity, power, and sex!”: A high school book club's exploration of genre change and characterization in the young adult vampire novel. Signal Journal, 34(2), 13-18.
  • Koss, M. D., Wickens, C. M., Walther, C. S. (2010). Censorship and controversial materials in Chicagoland middle and high schools. Illinois Reading Council Journal, 39(1), 29-46.
  • Koss, M. D. (2010). Representations of digital communication in young adult literature. The ALAN Review, 38(7), 43-52.
  • Koss, M. D. (2009). One new trend in YA literature: Novels with multiple narrative perspectives. Signal, 32(1), 14-21.
  • Koss, M. D., & Teale, W. H. (2009). What's happening in YA literature? Trends in books for adolescents. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 52(7), 563-572.
  • Koss, M. D. (2009). Young adult novels with multiple narrative perspectives: The changing nature of YA literature. The ALAN Review, 36(3), 73-80.
  • Koss, M. D., & Wakefield, D. S. (2008). YA novels that include characters with special needs. Booklist.
  • Koss, M. D. (2008). The Text Generation: Fiction That Incorporates Digital Communication. Book Links, 18 (1).
  • Koss, M. D. (2006). “Don’t forget to email me or IM me later”: Young adult literature that incorporates digital communication technologies. Middle School Newsletter of the International Reading Association.

RECENT PRESENTATIONS

  • Wilson, N. S., & Koss, M. D.  (2012, December) Is there a middle school canon? 2012 Annual Conference of the American Reading Forum. Sanibel Island, FL.
  • Koss, M. D. (2012, November). Other-worldly page turners: Young adult novels that keep you guessing as you race to the end. The Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, Las Vegas, NV.
  • Koss, M. D. (2012, November). Overcoming obstacles: Middle grade and young adult novels with special needs characters. The Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, Las Vegas, NV.
  • Koss, M. D. & Wakefield, D. S. (2012, November). Evaluating children’s book apps for use in educational settings. The Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, Las Vegas, NV.
  • Koss, M. D. (2012, June). Evaluating children’s book iPad apps. 39th Annual Northern Illinois University Summer Literacy Conference. Sugar Grove, IL., & Grayslake, IL.
  • Koss, M. D., & Wakefield, D. S. (2012, January). Children's book apps: What to look for in educational settings. The Assistive Technology Industry Association Annual Conference, Orlando, FL
  • Koss, M. D., & Tucker-Raymond, E. (2011, December). Identity constructions and depictions in recent young adult novels that incorporate digital communication technologies. The 61st Annual Conference of the Literacy Research Association, Jacksonville, FL.
  • Koss, M. D. (2011, November). Young adult fiction set in Chicago over time: Exploring setting as character. The Annual Conference Workshop of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English, Chicago, IL.
  • Koss, M. D. (2011, November). Societal commentary in young adult novels with dystopian technological themes. The Annual Convention of the National Council for Teachers of English, Chicago, IL.
  • Koss, M. D. (2011, November). The streets of the windy city in young adult fiction. The Annual Conference of the National Council of Teachers of English, Chicago, IL.
  • Wakefield, D. S., & Koss, M.D. (2011, November). Children's book apps: What to look for in educational settings. The Assistive Technology Industry Association Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.
  • Koss, M. D., & Wakefield, D. S. (2011, May). Did you read the one about?: Representation of disability in children’s and young adult literature. The 11th Annual Second City Conference on Disability Studies in Education: Rethinking Accessibility for the Next Decade of DSE. Chicago, IL.
  • Wickens, C., Koss, M. D., & Walther, C. S. (2010, December). Challenges, choices, & curricular leeway: Issues of inclusion/ exclusion of controversial materials in greater Chicago middle & high schools. The 60th Annual Conference of the Literacy Research Association, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.
  • Koss, M. D. (2010, November). An evolution of vampire novels in young adult literature and their appeal to high school students. The Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, Orlando, FL.
  • Koss, M. D., Wickens, C. M., & Walther, C. S. (2010, November). Censorship and controversial materials in Chicagoland middle and high schools. The Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, Orlando, FL.
  • Koss, M. D., Wong, J., Warman, J., & Turner, M. W. (2010, November). Liar, Cheat, and Thief: Ethics in Children's Literature. The Annual Convention of the National Council of Teacher’s of English, Orlando, FL.
  • Wickens, C. M., Koss, M. D., & Walther, C. S. (2010, October). The right to literacy, the right to teach, and the need to protect: An investigation of controversial materials and curricular changes. The 11th Annual Curriculum and Pedagogy Conference, Akron, OH.  
  • Wakefield, D. S., & Koss, M. D. (October 2010). Disability in children's and young adult literature. Presented at the Teaching With Diversity in Mind: 3rd Annual National-Louis University / Fox Valley Reading Council Conference
  • Walther, C. S., Wickens, C. M., & Koss, M. D. (September 2010). “I wouldn’t bring in anything that COULD be challenged”: Educators acting as moral entrepreneurs. Presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting.
  • Koss, M. D., & Tucker-Raymond, E. (June 2010). Construction and depiction of identity in young adult novels with digital communication technologies. The 37th Annual International Conference of the Children’s Literature Association, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • Koss, M. D. (April 2010). Construction and depiction of identity in young adult novels with digital communication technologies.  Midwestern Conference on Literature, Language, and Media, Dekalb, IL 

CLASSES CURRENTLY BEING TAUGHT

  • LTLA 341 Language Arts in the Elementary School
  • LTLA 361: Literature for the Young Child
  • LTLA 362: Children’s Literature in a Multicultural World
  • LTLA 539: Children’s Literature in a Multicultural World
  • LTLA 541: Teaching Young Adult Literature
  • LTLA 590: Workshop in Literacy Education
  • LTRE 311: Content Area Literacy Instruction

NOTABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • 2013 Alyce Kramer Marcus Outstanding Educator Award Winner
  • ALA/GLBT/SRRT Rainbow List Committee 2013-2015
  • The YALSA National Guidelines Oversight Committee 2013-Present
  • The Randolph Caldecott Award Committee 2013
  • International Reading Association's Position Statement Committee 2012-2013
  • International Reading Association Research Division Elva Knight Research Grant Judge 2013
  • The William C. Morris YA Debut Award Committee 2010.
  • The ALAN Award Committee 2008 – 2009 (Chair 2009)
  • Quicklists Consulting Committee – Association for Library Service to Children/American Library Association
  • President – Illinois Language and Literacy Council of the Illinois Reading Association, October 2009-October 2010
  • State Representative, Illinois – Assembly on Literature for Adolescents, November 2008-Present
  • Editorial Review Board – Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, September 2007-Present
  • Editorial Review Board – Journal of Children’s Literature, May 2007-Present    
  • Editorial Review Board – Reading in the Middle, September 2009-Present
  • Editorial Reviewer – The ALAN Review, 2010-Present
  • Editorial Reviewer – IRA Books Program
  • Column Writer - Reading in the Middle: Middle School Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association, December 2008-Present