I swear I cannot get the simplest of prompts without spending an agonizing amount of time overthinking them. I have decided to take this into the direction of students for a few reasons: 1) I don't have kids 2) I have nieces and nephews but the dynamics are different ('cause I live on a different continent then they do) 3) if I make this list about books I would throw at students then I start to include books that start conversation rather than books for just the squishy feels. #irealizenooneasked #Iamstillexplaining
Brace yourself. This is going to be teachery.
Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver
“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.
But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”
However fluffy and entertaining this novel might seem on the surface ("Groundhog day meets Mean Girls") at it's core it is a book about the choices that we make every day. The small choices that we almost don't notice. The big ones that put a lump in our throats, and everything in between. This books says to the reader: you become these choices. You have to live with these choices. Pay attention. Also, this is just a good read in general.
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
I am not even going to justify this on. This book needs to be in every library and every classroom. Specifically, in the United States but the underlying issues that it deals with are not a purely us phemomenom (look at what happened in Poland this weekend for example). We need to give students texts that help them to ask the difficult questions. The world doesn't need a future with people who can only follow instructions, it doesn't even need people who can solve problems. The world needs people who can identify that there is a problem and them work to change it. #gettingoffeducationalsoapbox
One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
by Katie Smith Milway
"Kojo and his mother live in a village in the Ashanti region of Ghana. None of the twenty families in the village have very much money. But they do have a good idea."
This is actually a picture book. Why not? At what point do we just give up the fight and accept that our books will have no more pictures? I put this book in the classroom when we were doing a unit on Change and the discussions that it prompted about micro-finance, personal responsibility, and sustainability are not to be believed.
The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens
by Brooke Hauser
“She thinks that charm is a form of intelligence, and she respects the intelligence.”
I work in an international school in China. Students come from 56 different countries and most are not native English speakers. This is a book about a school in New York City for students who have lives in the United States for less than four years and who, when they enter the school, have failed a basic English proficiency exam. The author followed eight main students through one school year. It is great to read with my students because there is so much in it they relate to before they have to start unpacking the more difficult ideas such as refugees and homeless which they don't have the same personal connection to.
by R.J. Palacio
“Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.”
I know that there has been some fallout over the film version of the book. Or of the media campaign following the book. I haven't seen any of it (because I live in China) so I can't comment. It seems kind of inevitable. This isn't the sort of book that is going to be made into a movie without being watered down. But moving on from that...
I read Wonder aloud to my class last year. I teach a grade seven learning support class. I push in for most of the day but every other day I have a self contained class with five kids with higher learning needs during a language block. This is a book that moved a group of 12 year old boys, who think that they don't like to read, to tears. There is nothing trite in that.
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
“Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.”
This is a book that in an accessible way tackles the notion of shared guilt, loss, and redemption. And yet it manages to do it in a way that doesn't crush us under the weight of all that.
The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
“I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do.”
One of the awesome things about this book is that you can get different things out of it deppending upon your age and reading level. Which means that this is a great book to give to a class of kids with huge disparities in reading and also that it would be a great book to reread as you grow older. I would love to talk to people about this book in twenty years and see what kind of aha moments they have had.
by Stephen Davies
"Just one more thing, Knight." The headmaster gazed over his spectacles, small eyes shining in his flabby face. "How the devil did you climb a sheer wall more than twice your height?"
I am including this one because I helped a student find it a few weeks ago. Keep in mind this is a dig the heels in non reader, but we have an independent reading program so we had to get him started with something. It took about an hour of sorting through books to get him this one. "This is the best book I have ever read in my life!" He wants to talk to me about it almost every day. Every reader has their book that sparks them off. This one was his.
The Language Inside
by Holly Thompson
“lonely is when the language outside
isn't the language inside
and words are made of just 26 letters”
This is a novel in verse about a white American girl who has lived her whole like in Japan suddenly moving to the US. You have no idea how hard my students relate to this.