Those of you who are familiar with my writings know I work on implementing the Common Core as much as possible. Some of you have also realized I LOVE YA literature! Today I would like to share the books that just jump off my shelves and into students’ hands, books that are easy to use with the CCSS and books that challenge readers across ability levels without them realizing they are growing as readers.
- Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. I love this book year after year. Some teachers pass it by because of the young-ish theme of Peter Pan but DON’T! This book is packed with Barry’s cutting wit that will have students laughing at many different levels of humour. Every time I read it I find some new bit of funny that might set me into those embarrassing chuckles when no one else is laughing. This book crosses easily into the CCSS because of the literature but also because of the side, non-fictional aspects. This is why I used it as one of my first Moore’s Common Core Guide books. Imagine exploring with your class Victorian England, Pirates, Trade Routes and Meteors. Good fantasy/historical fiction.
- Circle – E.M. Demourt. MANY supporters of STEM education are turning to Science Fiction novels to accompany the science fact. This is a new novel that fits well into that arena. Circle is set sometime in the future. No vampires or werewolves but the main character is questionable. It is engaging text with many SAT level words randomly sprinkled in context. Murder, romance, revenge, and adventure. This book has many of the classic SciFi elements (time travel, cool vehicles, a science lab) but is tightly written into an almost video game style. Teenagers, especially gamer guys, will love it. And just maybe it will be a good gateway into more SciFi/Fantasy books.
- Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher. Ok, here is your chance to be the cool teacher! This novel is currently in production as a movie with Selena Gomez. This will definitely be a break-out role for this young actress. This book is about teenage suicide and bullying and many other issues we sometimes forget about in students’ lives. At times this book is difficult to read because of the subject matter but you do continue on. Jay dares his readers to read the next page as they discover the 13 reasons why. This crosses well with CCSS as you would also read and discuss texts and information about teen suicide, bullying and the many other social/psychological issues that face teens today.
- The Seeing Stone – Kevin Crossley-Holland. How about a book that investigates Middles Ages, has soap-opera-like story lines, and helps students learn about Arthurian myths/legends? This is it. This book is recommended by CommonCore.org for it exemplary text and for the content which easily blends into non-fictional texts. But here’s the catch: This book is currently Out of Print! Scholastic was printing it here in the US but has stopped. My advice- Grab these books and horde them. Great historical fiction for medieval times.
- The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon – Stephen King. Sometimes the horror genre is a difficult genre to teach, especially to lower YA readers. This book is CLASSIC King but teen/school friendly. It comes in at least 2 forms: the traditional book form and a pop-up book! Remember pop-up books? So for non-fiction tie-ins you could look at baseball, the Appalachian Trail, and book making/paper folding while diving into the whole survivalist theme and safely reading from the horror genre.
- The Fault in Our Stars – John Green. This book deals with teenage cancer. Cancer will affect every student in some way in their lifetime. This book allows them to put their feelings and thoughts about cancer into the fictional characters. The characters deal with their normal teen problems but also chemo, misplaced sympathy, friend awkwardness, and death from cancer. This is told from a teenage girl’s perspective but guys will also appreciate this book. The parent characters’ actions and reactions are an interesting side story. As you might guess, this story does not have a happy ending, but here again; it makes for a good opportunity for students to safely have that experience through fiction.
So, if you are looking for some great YA novels to work into you curriculum as you head into the Common Core, I highly suggest these. Be sure to pre-read these books before jumping in and buying a class set to make sure they are appropriate for your teaching community.