THE BEST OF YA AND YOUR FAVORITES

For our final class, we’ll discuss individualized reading programs and your favorite reading from the semester. To prepare for class, please read the article titled “Collected Wisdom: The Best Articles Ever Written on Young Adult Literature and Teen Reading.” (This link takes you to JSTOR, so you’ll either need to be on the university wireless, or you’ll need to sign in.) Then choose one of the 25 articles that are listed to read and be prepare to discuss it in class. You’ll see that we’ve read a few of the pieces listed in this article, so please don’t select one of those. Be sure you read one that you haven’t read, or at least one I know you haven’t read (keep in mind that we read some in the methods class, and in case you’ve forgotten, I’m also the teacher of record for that class).

We’re also going to talk about individualized reading programs and how to best implement them in a secondary classroom. This will include starting with interest surveys and ending with ideas for assessments (ones that don’t include a book report). What I would like for you to think about is how you would like to be assessed for reading your independent reading book if you were in high school. Don’t tell me that you want to write a literary analysis. Think like a 15-year old who just read a book that he or she couldn’t put down. How would you want to let your teacher know that you read it? Then, come to the class with ideas for implementing an assessment that would achieve this.

Finally, I’d like to end the final class (before the big exam, so don’t think I’m canceling the final) discussing the highs and lows of what we read throughout the summer. I want to hear from you (yes, on this blog first) about which books I should keep on the list and why. Or tell me which ones have turned you on to a specific author or genre. Or maybe you have suggestions of novels and/or authors that might better represent the genres we covered (Lisa, I’m thinking of you).

So, you have 3 action items to complete before our next class:

1. Read one of the 25 articles listed in the above piece and be prepared to discuss what the article is about and share your general thoughts.

2. Bring an assessment idea for independent reading that you think captures how you’d like your teacher to know that you read a book of your choosing.

3. Respond to this blog post with what your favorite novel is from this semester and why. If you’re feeling up to it, let me know which one you disliked the most (other than Period 8–I don’t want to have this conversation any more) and why.

I look forward to our last class.

 

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10 thoughts on “THE BEST OF YA AND YOUR FAVORITES

  1. I was surprised by what ended up being my favorite novel this semester. *Crank* by Ellen Hopkins has been a longstanding favorite of mine and has did not disappoint when I read it again for this class. I never enjoyed poetry in high school, probably because I was forced to read Shakespeare. When I was introduced to *Crank* by my high school English teacher, I fell in love with it in a way that I did not think was possible for poetry and myself. I loved it then for the same reasons I enjoyed it now- the flow of the words within each poem tells the story in a way that wouldn’t be accomplished through a full-sentence novel. I also love the way Hopkins writes just enough to keep the reader informed of what is going on, but without too many details. Her story allows readers to use their imaginations because she is descriptive enough in her setting details. However, she is never overly descriptive, such as Roth in *Divergent*.

    The second book that is tied for first place is *The Fault in Our Stars* by John Green. I also love the way that he writes in a descriptive but not overbearing way. There were many times that I earmarked pages to remember quotes from later. In addition, the way he uses metaphors throughout the novel makes it captivating for adults to read as well as young adults. My favorite metaphor was the one where Hazel and Augustus try to synchronize their movies on the plane to Amsterdam so that they can watch it together. However, they are never able to get it and Augustus’ movie always starts and ends before Hazel’s movie, foreshadowing the end of the novel. Finally, the real reason I loved Green’s book was how compelling the story was and how likable the protagonist is. Although Green has never been a teenage girl, he writes in a way that perfectly captures the emotions of a teenage girl.

    My least favorite book (more than *Period 8!) was *Bomb! The Race to Build-and Steal- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon*. I will admit that I’m not a fan of nonfiction; however I think a better nonfiction book could have been used. The book was long and mundane, with multiple paragraphs that could have been deleted without affecting the story. I read *The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi* by Neal Bascomb. It’s still a nonfiction YA novel about a historical event but I found it much more interesting than *Bomb*.

  2. At the beginning of the semester, I was most looking forward to reading Divergent. I do not read much YA literature but I was a pretty big fan of the Hunger Games series, which I read in an Adolescent Lit class, so I thought it would be similar and that I would most likely enjoy it the most. I did find it to be a quick, easy read, but I did not find it to be as intriguing as the Hunger Games. I think my main problem was that I was not rooting for the protagonist in Divergent as much.

    Copper Sun was definitely my favorite. I do typically enjoy reading historical fiction but I think I enjoyed it the most because of Draper’s style of writing. I also feel that most YA literature is often cliche and the dialogue often seems forced and unnatural. I did not feel this way at all when reading Copper Sun. I’m not allowed to discuss Period 8, so I suppose I won’t make any comparisons. I also feel that this novel was the most beneficial for students. I can see so much potential for discussion for Copper Sun.

    I did also really enjoy American Born Chinese and Make Lemonade. Really, Period 8 was the only novel that I would never think to encourage students to read. Although BOMB! was not my favorite read, I found it rather interesting and informative and I can see where some students may enjoy it. I am not that familiar with YA nonfiction so it is difficult to compare it with anything else.

    • I’m sure you might find some students to whom you’d encourage to read Period 8. You can say, “I didn’t really like it, but since you’re a fan of Crutcher, you might give it a try.”

  3. When thinking back to what we have read this semester, I don’t have a lot of negative comments, because I have enjoyed pretty much all that we have read–even “BOMB!”. I found myself looking forward to reading for this class. If I have to pick my favorite, then I’d have to say it is”The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. While reading “Part-Time Indian” I laughed out loud, I cried, and I even gasped out loud when his grandma got hit by a car. To me, that signifies a good read. I found myself entertained, touched, and inspired after reading it and would recommend it to adults and teenagers. It’s a shame that parents have protested against this book and it has been banned from some schools.

  4. I am also with Krixty–I didn’t dislike any book that we read in class this semester. I had ones that I liked more than others, sure, but I can’t say that I hated any of them. I probably liked BOMB the least because I am not really into reading about history and war stuff, I think I’ll pass that one on to my Grandpa. He’d probably enjoy it. I didn’t dislike Period 8 as much as everybody else did, either. I thought it was a little cheesy, but sometimes with YA Lit (or anything else for that matter) I think that is the point. Sometimes we have to try to just appreciate something for what it is, and not try to make it be something it’s not. I think that was the case with Period 8.
    I really enjoyed the prose poetry stories we read, Crank and Make Lemonade. I’ve always been a fan of poetry and I agree with Maggie that it just tells the story so much more beautifully, in my opinion. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like it leaves more to the imagination, yet somehow says everything it needs to say. The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian was a good read, I’ve always been a fan of Alexie’s work. I liked The Fault in Our Stars, Blankets, Divergent…yeah did I mention that I pretty much liked everything we read? It’s very hard to pick a favorite. I would certainly recommend any of these books to a student or anyone else, even BOMB and Period 8. There’s something out there for everyone.

  5. It’s a real challenge to pick a favorite. I hadn’t read many of the novels, so it was very interesting to approach titles I hadn’t before. Taking The Fault in Our Stars out of the mix because I’m biased towards it as my favorite, I would say that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was my favorite “new” read, with Cooper Sun as a close second. The dialogue within both felt authentic and the stories themselves were just so intriguing. Diary had the added bonus of the drawings, which added such a nice touch to the voice of Junior. I read both quickly and that, to me, says a lot about how I enjoyed the novels.

    As a side note, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Blankets. I like graphic novels, but don’t have a lot of experience reading many. Blankets had really lovely graphics and the story of grappling with adolescence is so universal, it will most definitely be a staple in my classroom library.

    In terms of least favorite, I’d say Bomb! took that one. Maybe I’ll give it another shot over summer, when I can care about taking my time with a story, but I struggled to find interest and that killed any like-ability I may have given the book to begin with.

  6. 1) KEEP DIVINERS ON THE LIST
    2) Replace Period 8 with Miss Perigrines Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs was John Greens roommie in college also)
    3) Replace Bomb! with either Stiff by Mary Roach A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson or Kakapoos Rescue by Sy Montgomery
    4) Find a third book to go with item 2 and do novel groups in the class using one of these two genres

  7. My most favorite piece from this semester was Crank by Ellen Hopkins. This totally surprises me because I am not a fan of poetry at all, but Hopkins created a piece that kept me engaged the whole time. Her story line and poetic format flowed together to create an amazing work that I could not put down. I reached out to Hopkins and actually received a response from her. So I guess you could now say I am an Ellen Hopkins fan! I look forward to reading more of her pieces in the future.

    The work from this semester that I absolutely could not stand is Bomb! It was extremely difficult to work through. The text was not complex, but it was dry and downright boring . However, it is important to experience works such as Bomb! because you never know when you are going to come across a student who may find it interesting and I can suggest that they read it. Surveying many different types of YA literature has only helped me when creating my own classroom library. I now know of numerous authors that will interest the students I am teaching.

  8. I would have to agree with Maggie and Meghan that my favorite read this semester was Crank By Ellen Hopkins. The story creates a powerful picture about how choices can negatively impact the rest of your life. When the protagonist tried Crank for the first time, she didn’t believe it would eventually make here life spiral out of control. This read can influence young adults by seeing that one poor choice can change your life.

    To be honest, I didn’t have one book in particular that I disliked. This class gave me an opportunity to come out of my comfort zone and read books that I would not have read if I was not a part of this class. I enjoyed the opportunity of reading different genres within YA literature.

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