Every semester I start my new classes by giving my students independent reading books. We ease into reading by selecting something they enjoy (before I give them a whole bunch of books/stories that I pick!).
We're nearing the end of our independent book unit right now, and I'm sorry to put an end to it, because my second semester students are racing through their young adult books right now. I can't get them to put the books down and many of them are finishing multiple books (instead of the required one book). There are times in class where I have to take away their books, so they can get other classwork done. I've also had other teachers comment that all their students are doing is reading books.
What's my secret?
I think it's the secret that's been in bookstores for the last year or two. My librarian extraordinaire and I have been keeping them fed with an endless supply of honest, raw and sometimes heart breaking young adult literature. Books that aren't full of rainbows and butterflies, but instead, mimic real life show some truths about what it means to be a teenager.
The favorites I have been passing on are Wintergirls/Speak (Anderson), If I Stay (Forman), Break (Moskowitz), Some Girls Are/Cracked Up to Be (Summers), The Hate List (Brown), 13 Reasons Why (Asher) The Secret Year (Hubbard) andThe Hunger Games (Collins), among others. My students are loving these books and some are getting their parents to take them to the bookstore to buy more books to read (yay!).
The Wall Street Journal published a great article last spring about the rise of these novels (which they classify as edgy), which is great news on my part because Canary deals with some tough situations. If you have a minute to read it, please check it out. I think the author does a good job trying to explain the allure of books like this.
Kids want the truth. They want books about life, mistakes and redemption. They don't always want an author to sugar coat things, and as a writer, I make sure I am always honest with my readers. While I love a good fantasy, I'm ecstatic that books like this are pushing their way forward and into the hands of my readers.
What about you? Do you like these novels? What are some of your favorites? Any good recommendations? Please share!
And....today is the last day for my contest! You have until midnight to enter! I'll choose a winner tomorrow...woo-hoo!