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Round 2 of modern fiction for the modern classroom

By Claire W. Staley

Earlier posts have discussed why incorporating modern fiction into the modern classroom is essential for promoting reading among today’s teens and the beginning of a list of novels that every teacher should consider (starting with John Green, The Hunger Games, and Divergent).  Today’s post focuses on three more books that teachers should consider adding to their required reading lists and classroom discussions.

  1. Crank by Ellen Hopkins. A good girl gone drug addict? This is totally relevant to teenagers today. Going beyond the physical and mental effects of addiction, this book could open discussions of rape, sexual assault, and their effects on a person. Discussions of how parental influence affects children, how and why a person chooses to love the people he or she does, and how to look forward again, can be used in classrooms. This book reminds me to take a look at where I want to be in the future and really think about how each of my choices are going to get me there.
  2. Uglies by Scott Westerfield. In a universe where a medical procedure makes everyone beautiful when they turn sixteen, two teenagers will figure out their place in the world. Corrupt governments, outlaws, and insiders collide to provide a cast of characters that are inspiring and different in a world of perfection. This is a roller coast dystopian YA novel that tests the characters strengths, fortitude, and courage constantly.
  3. Maximum Ride by James Patterson. This book attacks the whole “scientists were so preoccupied with if they could they didn’t think about if they should” problem. A group of kids go on daring quests to discover their pasts, their futures, and their purposes. Since beginning to read this series, I’ve convinced myself that the main character, Max, is a wonderful role model and her qualities of compassion, courage, and never giving up are a large part of deciding who I will be in the future.

I like to pick the first book in a series because if a student loves the first book they immediately know where to go for another one like it. If we would like children and teenagers to read more, perhaps starting them off with a first book in a series will help. If they liked the first, they have more to read, and from those books they can look for more. The domino effect is powerful, and in this case it might lead to a revolution in reading. For someone to read a complicated piece of literature, they must first enjoy the act of reading itself.

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