Wednesday, February 16, 2011

YA In The Classroom

For those of you who don't know know me by my day job, I teach high school English. This is our department's review and revise year which means that we get to test and purchase new books! I'm proposing adding some YA novels into my classroom (so my students aren't just reading the classics).

There are a lot of books I would love to add (especially Looking for Alaska, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian), but YA books often cover content that make it more difficult to be accepted into the classroom.

I've been working with our librarian and right now I will be proposing the adding of Stolen (Lucy Christopher), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), Marcelo in the Real World (Francisco Stork) and The Things a Brother Knows (Dana Reinhardt).

These books all connect to other "classics" that we read in my class and social issues that we discuss. They are high interest books and will get my students reading and looking at literature that connects to their current world.

What do you think?

Are there any contemporary YA books that I left out that you would recommend?


Becca C. said...

Laurie Halse Anderson's books, especially Speak and Wintergirls, are awesome for high school kids, especially reluctant readers. Unfortunately they often come under scrutiny for their content. I definitely second The Book Thief.

Kristan said...

Yes! But even if I told you, you couldn't, because it's not out yet… It's my friends manuscript, and it's brilliant.

ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY would be a huge hit in the classroom I think, and a very valuable read. But I can see how it would be difficult to get past a department review board.

THINGS A BROTHER KNOWS is sitting on my bookshelf, and I'm dying to read it. Along with about a dozen other books…

In terms of just recommendations, I think girls would enjoy THE DUFF and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. In terms of teachable books, I think your list is a pretty good one.

Erin said...

I think adding some YA books to the curriculum is a great idea! I stopped reading for fun completely during high school because I was so overwhelmed with and turned off by the classics. Yes, I know they need to be read, but it might be nice to have contemporary stuff thrown in every once in a while.

I second your thought on The Book Thief. Such a wonderful book! I don't have any other recommendations right now, but if I think of any I'll come back to let you know!

Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

Aleeza said...

The Book Thief's a great choice. Have you read Luna by Julie Anne Peters? I think everyone should read that book--it deals with a transgender male, and is oh-so-beautiful.

Constance said...

Hi crusader,

We are in the same crusader group.

I am an ex-high school English teacher. Taught for 4 years before switching to nursing. (which i love)

I agree with The Book Thief. I loved that book.

We also did Tomorrow when the war began because of the possibilities for study topics and activities.

Anyway off to do the grocery shopping now *cries* back later.


Stasia said...

Ellen Hopkins's books are very popular with teens. They deal with tough issues, such as addiction, but are written in verse and accessible to kids who are not necessarily enthusiastic readers. I think your other choices look great, too. Happy Crusading, btw!

Lisa Nowak said...

Can't think of any right off the top of my head, but it cracks me up that we arbitrarily got assigned to the same group in the crusade. :)

digillette said...

It might be a little young for high schoolers, but Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust is so powerful, and written in poetry form. I read it in a college course actually, and it remains one of my favorite books!

Cynthia said...

The Outsiders is always a favorite with high school boys. . What about books that were made into movies the The Blindside. Just ideas.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

Great list- all of those would be good.
I think the book FEED by MT Anderson would be fantastic in a lit class. It deals with a lot of amazing issues in terms of technology and society. It's also not super-controversial in the ways that often get books banned (sex, drugs, etc).

I am using The Butterfly Revolution by William Butler to teach an intro American Government course (college level). It's an old one, but a good one. Much like Lord of the Flies, but different and compelling in its own way. We use it to discuss autocratic regimes.

Lola Sharp said...

Oh I think this is a wonderful mission you're on. The kids will relate to contemporary authors/stories easier thus giving them a lust for reading. If you can tie them in to the classics, literary themes and devices, I think you have a decent shot getting this through the dept.

Good luck!

Also, I'm a fellow crusader and your newest follower/friend. :)

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Hello fellow crusader! *Waving and jumping up and down*
Hmmm, I can't think of any right now, but I sure do enjoy a good YA--I've turned to them the past several years because of the lack of questionable content. I wonder if that's everyone elses motivation for writing it, what do you think?

♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

Carol Riggs said...

Yes to Book Thief, although it depends on the age of the teens; it's definitely a serious subject. I would NOT recommend FEED by MT Anderson, as that would come under fire. Liberal amounts of bad language in that one; they can read that one on their own (I don't think you want to get controversial--which it IS). I liked ARTICHOKE's HEART by Suzanne Supplee; it makes good points about body image and weight in a way that is not so controversial as WINTERGIRLS. Has light humor and a great voice. Girls would like it--and frankly, it would do guys good to examine their perceptions of what's attractive in a girl, too!

So, I'm making the Crusade rounds today. Nice to meet you, and Happy Friday! :) Good luck with your list!

Artzicarol Ramblings

Carolyn Abiad said...

Another crusader here stopping by to say hello, follow, etc. You're in my group, so I'll be back soon! I'd be interested to see what you do choose in the end, especially for the boys. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey crusader...we're in the same group. Nice to meet you. Now following.


Catherine Ensley said...

Hi there fellow crusader. I think you've picked a great list. I'm a children's librarian in a public library, and I buy everything. I feel for school librarians, and teachers, who can't buy or teach from good books, just because of possible "language," and such. We're not in the same small group, but I also write YA contemporary. I'll be back, and I will follow you.

Susan Fields said...

Hello fellow crusader!

You've got some great choices here. My daughter's a freshman in high school and she has to read The Kite Runner for her pre-AP English class next year.

Haley said...

Good for you! I no longer teach whole group novels, but my a colleague asked me to compile a list of new YA novels to teach in grades 6-8. Suggestions for that age level?
I'm thinking The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Belly Up, Turtle in Paradise. I'm having trouble finding an 8 grade book that is not inappropriate.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I've only read Book Thief from your list, but I agree that would be a great teaching tool. You have all the content of the story, and the characters, to drag the students in. While they are involved, there are so many ways you can work in how Zusak crafted the novel: choosing Death as a narrator, giving away the ending but still keeping the tension going, etc.