I’ve been getting a lot of sub days at the high school these last few months and it has been so good to go back to those halls and see all of my kids from my student teaching last year. I think the most rewarding aspect of completing my student teaching was the relationships I developed with my students. It was so important for me to make my classroom a safe place for them to come and to make myself approachable to them. It makes my day when I go back to sub for a teacher and my students see me in the hall and yell: “HEY CARR! WHO ARE YOU SUBBING FOR TODAY? I’LL COME SAY HI AT LUNCH!” or when they don’t even say anything and just run down the hall and tackle me (not really, but kind of) because they are stoked to see me. It makes me think I did something right by them.
Anyway, being back in the high school frequently means my students are asking me for new books to read. Even though Young Adult literature tends to get a lot of flack for being immature, I really think that this genre has really produced some quality work recently and adults can get just as much out of these books as my students can.
Here are Four Young Adults Must Reads that I highly HIGHLY recommend:
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt-
Holling Hoodhood spends every Wednesday afternoon alone with his English teacher, Mrs. Baker, who hates his guts. This story is about their “wars” every Wednesday during the Vietnam War time period.
Not only does this book give a great insight to life in the states during this time period, it is filled with humor, tender moments, friendship and lovely imagery. This book inspired me as a teacher and as a writer.
Hate List by Jennifer Brown-
This book is about the aftermath of a school shooting and follows the story of Valerie who was the girlfriend of the shooter. Valerie is an outcast at school who was bullied along with her boyfriend. One day, she starts a hate list as a way to vent about all of the things that she hates in her life. Her boyfriend uses this list as a way to pick out the targets at the school.
Not going to lie, this book is very real and very dark at times. However, the author does a brilliant job of showing the aftermath of bullying and jokes. Nothing is sugarcoated, which will leave you with a sense of sadness and, at the same time, hope for human kind.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer-
Cinder is a Cyborg (half human, half machine) who belongs as property to an evil step-mother. While Earth struggles to make peace with Luna (the moon colony)and to find a cure for a deadly plague that is sweeping across the nation, Cinder’s fate becomes intertwined with Prince Kai, the Emperor of the Commonwealth. Secrets are exposed, leaving Cinder in danger because of who/what she is.
I loved this modern twist on a classic fairy tale. There were definitely strong connections to Cinderella, but the plot and setting made this original and unpredictable even with the Cinderella references. The plot was well developed and fast paced. I really like the questions this book brought up: what does it mean to be human? Will prejudice ever be eliminated completely from our society? Where is the line between deciding what is right for you and what is right for someone else? When is it okay to lie?
Bruiser by Neal Shusterman–
This literally is in my top five favorite books of all time. This story is about a girl named Bronte who starts dating a boy nicknamed the “Bruiser” and who was voted by the school as “The Guy Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty,” her twin brother gets worried and suspicious. As their relationship progresses, they find out there is more to “The Bruiser” then meets the eye.
Anyone who likes a story about underdogs, slight paranormal ideas, or really thought-provoking ideas about pain and what it is to experience it would love this book. It’s a beautiful story that really tackles what is takes to escape and deal with pain.
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Let me know if you decide to read any of these. Are there any books I should check out this year?