Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday's Five - Young Adult Books



Friday's Five is a feature every week where I pick a new topic and list five items that I think fit best.  Then I ask you, my readers, to share your thoughts in the comment section.  For an archive of past topics, check the Friday's Five Page.  If you'd like to make suggestions about future topics or discuss topics I bring up on the blog with others, make sure you click the "like" button on the right hand side of the page to join A Teacher's Life for Me on Facebook.  Don't be shy about sharing the blog and Facebook Page with others.  Each post has a "Tweet" button on top and buttons on the bottom that allow you to share in several ways, including e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.


Photo: Lina Menazzi
In my fifth-grade classroom the fifteen minutes after lunch every day are set aside for a read aloud.  I try and choose books to read that my students will find interesting, challenge some of the preconceptions they may have, and make them think.  I wanted to write about some of these books in today's post for two reasons.  In addition to being resources you can use in your classroom, these books are short enough that you can read them in an hour or two.  They are perfect for taking out on the beach, reading in your hammock, or enjoying with a glass of iced tea in your backyard on a sunny day.

  1. Incantation by Alice Hoffman - This story takes place during the Spanish Inquisition, about 600 years ago.  Estrella is aware and saddened by some of the horrible events taking place around her, but doesn't think that they will effect her.  Her opinion, and her views on everything she has ever known, begin to change as she learns a secret that her family has kept for generations.  Every year I worry about the content in this book being too mature for my 5th graders, and every year they prove to me that they are able to handle it.  
  2. The Giver by Lois Lowry - Jonas lives in a time of "sameness" when everyone has their lives planned out for them and feels little emotion.  When Jonas begins to receive memories of real emotion during his training as the one Receiver of Memory, he begins to understand the hypocritical nature of the life being lived by everyone he knows.  
  3. The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau - This book is the second in a series after The City of Ember.  Both books follow the adventures of Lina and Doon, two young adults who find ways of overcoming difficult situations to help others.  While both books are excellent, I find that the message my students are left with after reading Sparks is a bit more powerful:  Even one person can change the world if they have the courage to do what is right when it is most difficult.  
  4. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan - Esperanza is the daughter of a rich plantation owner in Mexico.  Almost overnight her world is thrown into chaos as her father is killed and she has to flee to America with her mother, losing everything in the process.  The book shows her inner struggle as she tries to survive in her new situation.
  5. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry - Annemarie and Ellen are best friends in Denmark during World War II.  When the Danes learn that the occupying Nazis are going to start "relocating" the Jewish population, Annemarie must overcome her fears, find inner strength, and grow up quickly to help her Jewish friend.
Now it's your turn.  Please share your favorite young adult book in the comment section below, or let us know what you think of the five books I listed.  As always, if you enjoy the blog, please pass it along to your friends or colleagues.  I'd love to hear their opinions as well!

18 comments:

  1. My favorite is "The View From Saturday" by E.L. Konigsburg. Its the story of 4 very different students (and one teacher) who are each dealing with personal issues and come together to become a team.

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  2. ksquirkyreacher,
    I've never read that, but many of my students have and they've raved about it. Thanks for reminding me that I want to read it! -Mike

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  3. I love "Number the Stars" and "Esperanza Rising." I'd also add "A Wrinkle in Time."

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  4. I love to read "On My Honor" by Marion Dane Bauer. It is a great book for end-of-year fourth graders as they begin to venture off and do things independently. It allows for great decisions ala "What would you do?"

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  5. I've not read or heard of the five you have listed. I don't have any to add that are quick reads but I've met quite a few authors of some interesting sounding books as a member of the SCBWI. John Claude Bemis (The 9 Pound Hammer), Alan Gratz (Fantasy Baseball), Max Anderson (not from SCBWI but some forums I belong to; writes mysteries and adventure stories), are a few that pop out to me as they write things that are geared mostly toward boys but girls like them too and they are fun.

    My books are short but really are geared to supplement a social studies course but are fun as the reader is learning something about the states they would have never found in a textbook. Thanks for sharing with us - E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering (The Travelin' Maven, Ma America)
    Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series

    Where will the adventure take you next?

    http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com
    http://jgdsseries.weebly.com

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  6. I would also check out the SCBWI listing of published and listed (PAL) authors to see what is available from new authors. You never know what treasure you will discover by checking out lesser known authors. - E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering (The Travelin' Maven, Ma America)
    Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series

    Where will the adventure take you next?

    http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com
    http://jgdsseries.weebly.com

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  7. Mindy, I read A Wrinkle in Time to my class every year as well. It's a classic. Thanks for sharing.

    Meg, I've never heard of that one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'll definitely be getting my hands on it before next school year.

    Elysabeth, Great points! Using literature to supplement other subjects like social studies is proven to be highly effective in teaching kids both reading and the other subjects. Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

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  8. Ooh. I love these! I like the idea of using "People of Sparks."

    One of my favorites for lots of ages is Sandra Cisneros's "House on Mango Street".

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  9. Emily, I've never heard of that one, either. Thanks for sharing. It's great to learn about all these new books I can use in my classroom!

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  10. Wednesday Wars by by Gary D. Schmidt is a great read aloud.

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  11. Maggie, Another great suggestion!

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  12. I really like last year's Newbery Medal winner "When you Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead. The main character's favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time. I think it has many possibilities for classroom use.
    I also like Suzanne Collin's "Gregor the Overlander." It is the first in a series and each one is a winner.
    For the under 5th grade crowd I like Emily Rodda's "Rowan of Rin." It also is the first in a series and each book in the series is better than the last!
    All of the above are great read alouds!

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  13. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and Avi's Crispin, the Cross of Lead.

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  14. Jan, I'm so happy you commented. As one of my favorite librarians, I value your opinion highly. Those sound great.

    Lona, I've read a couple of Avi's books with my kids and thought they were great. I'll have to get my hands on Crispin, the Cross of the Lead.

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  15. My contemporary favorites for teaching are: 1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; 2) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 3) Exodus by Julie Bertagna 4) The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan created a teaching curriculum for this book, he is an English teacher) How rare is that?
    MelissaeKae from Plurk

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  16. Looking for Alaska, by John Green. It's a Printz award winner, and a first novel. I had my high school class read it a couple of years ago, and everyone really enjoyed it. We had some good discussions from it, too, both in class and via our Moodle page.
    lovesfabric from Plurk

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  17. Melissae, The Lightning Thief is the only one of those that I have in my classroom. Thanks for the selections. I'll have to get my hands on them.

    Tracy, I'm not familiar with John Green, or Looking for Alaska. Thanks for sharing!

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