A lot of the books on this list are books that are taught, but books I have never taught. These books are definitely on my teacher wishlist because they have themes and characters and situations that my students can relate to. These aren’t in any type of order, just here.
This is a book about a teenager who is severely overweight. He becomes popular after he releases his plan to eat himself to death. As the date looms closer, though, his life gets better. Does he go through with it? I would love to teach this book. It is a glaring look at bullying and not understanding what other people could be going through. Kids call each other fat all the time, but it could be a medical condition. Or something worse. I devoured this book in one sitting.
I finished this book this past weekend. I had grading I needed to do, but instead, I finished this in 8 hours. The language and situations are kind of mature, but this book is about a girl who commits suicide. However, it’s told from the point of view of the girl who bullies her: Sara. Sara is the worst person, ever. I hated her more than I’ve ever hated a fantasy villain. This book was so good. I know I’m supposed to hate this character, and I never found any redeeming qualities. This was a fantastic look at bullying and the repercussions that come with it. *gazes longingly*
DUH. I took a college course in community college called Themes of Literature. The theme was magic in the Harry Potter books. The first section of the course was books 1-4; the second, 5-7. THIS. CLASS. WAS. AWESOME. I would spend an entire YEAR teaching these books. Because, duh.
I love fairy tale retellings. This one is fantastic because it blends Cinderella with a cyborg! How cool is that! There are a lot of themes of extreme rulers and balances of power. This is also an underdog story, which teenagers tend to LOVE. They all feel like their their own story’s underdog. There is a ton of cool technology, a swoon-worthy prince, and average people rising above to defeat an evil ruler. Perfect.
Recently, my students and I wrapped up our Greek mythology unit. A ton of them had already read Percy Jackson, but those who hadn’t RUSHED to the library to get the first book. Which is insane, because a lot of my kids are not avid readers. Not only is this a good series for reluctant readers, but it teaches a LOT of mythology, to the point where kids don’t realize they’re learning! Yes, please!
This is a book that IS taught in schools, but I haven’t had a chance to teach it yet. This is a book about an alternate universe where there is no color and no emotion. Judas is chosen as the next Giver – the keeper of the memories of the past – and gets to see the world as it really is. The themes in this book are perfect for teenagers, since they tend to see the world as others see it. There is a very clear message about sticking to who you are, and never apologizing for it.
I took a class in college called Teaching Young Adult Literature. In this class, we got to choose our own books, but we had two that were assigned. One was The Giver and the other was The Chocolate War. When I finished this book, I was wrecked. Floored, flabbergasted, in love. This is a book about a boy who is supposed to sell chocolate. He refuses. The end isn’t an end. You have to decide what happens to him. Again, there are themes of being an individual, resisting the status quo, going against the grain and sticking to your guns. Kids need this type of literature in their lives. They need to be the kid in this book. I need them to be the kid in this book.
I loved this book so much more than I ever thought I would. Ponyboy is a wannabe thug. I have a lot of students like this. They come from rich neighborhoods and believe that they want this kind of life. Ponyboy is the same way. This book is extremely important for young people to read. The lessons this book teaches are lessons I could never hope to teach to them myself. I simply do not have enough wisdom.
I know I’m kind of cheating here. This is a play. But, it is my FAVORITE Shakespeare play. This one has the highest body count, mythology come to life, an evil queen complete with evil sons and an evil lover, and a man broken by an emperor. I always describe this play as Shakespeare’s Michael Bay film. He wrote it for money, it is extremely bloody, not to mention extremely messed up. I could never, ever teach this in a public school setting. Sigh.
Yes, another book about bullying. I know people think that if we just raise our kids to “stand up for themselves,” then bullying would be nonexistent. That simply isn’t true. People are extremely mean, not just kids. This book is told from multiple different viewpoints, but focuses around one girl: Alice. Alice is a slut, and everyone knows it. This entire book is told in gossip…until the last chapter, when you hear from Alice. This book is incredibly moving. It’s phenomenally written with such a great message. I think all kids need this in their lives, even if it’s only to feel like they’re not alone.