Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Books I Wish Were Taught In Schools

It's back to school time!  I for one am relieved to not be starting school this fall--while learning is useful and enjoyable, school is stressful, especially when you balance it with a job.  I know that even though many kids across America have been out of school for the summer, they've had books to read for school or have been participating at summer reading programs at their libraries (yeah!).  I love doing readers' advisory at my job--it's so rewarding when you find a book for someone that they wind up adoring.  That said, in addition to picking out books for individual readers, I have a lot of strong opinions on books that would work well in a classroom setting.  If you want to check out my reviews of these books, clicking on the covers of the books should get you there.

1.) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 
Why: There is a lot of great dystopian already being taught in schools, such as The Giver, which is perfect for middle school readers.  However, The Knife of Never Letting Go offers a lot to discuss in terms of gender, symbolism, and many other areas.  A lot of high school students would enjoy this one because it reads so quickly.

 2.) Matilda by Roald Dahl
Why: You could definitely have a worthwhile discussion on satire with this book.  Just look at Matilda's parents!  I'm also inclined to add Matilda because my love of reading stems from this book--and I think that will be the case for other children as well.

3.) Alanna by Tamora Pierce 
Why: Want to talk to your students about gender?  Alanna is definitely an awesome place to start.

4.) This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Why: A great book for discussion when it comes to bullying and being an outsider.  I also think you can use this book to talk to teens about learning what they want to do.  For example, if you hear that someone loves music, you expect them to be a performer. Elise, however, loves music and while she is a performer in a way, it's different than getting up on stage with an instrument.  I'm not sure how lengthy of a discussion that point would create, but it's at least worth pointing out.

5.) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Why: I know most of us can compare North and South to Pride and Prejudice until we are blue in the face.  There's a heavy focus on social class in this story that will make for great discussion.

6.) Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Why: Because it's a moving and fantastic take on Holocaust stories.

7.) Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley 
Why: It's well constructed and well written. It's relatable.  Plus, I got to hang out with Corey at a conference in April and he's lots of fun.

8.) Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol 
 Why: A really fantastic outsider story, but just a really fantastic story overall.  Anya's Ghost is a fantastic way to expose graphic novels to readers who aren't already familiar with the format.

9.) Stardust by Neil Gaiman
 Why: A brilliantly structured story, Stardust provides a lot of opportunity to discuss what power and greed really does to people.

10.) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Why: Septeys's debut novel is brilliantly written, heartbreaking, and deals with a chapter of world history that isn't discussed often enough.

So those are my picks. I could think of many more if I wanted to.  What titles would you add to my list?


1 comment:

  1. Oh, I agree about the Gaskell. Excellent book - and nice break from P&P for those of us who've read it a lot. And Yes, to the Yolen. She's fantastic. I'd add Speak or Chains by Laura Halse Anderson and/or Deerskin or Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley.

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