It was so much fun to be the guest speaker recently for a school celebrating the joy of reading. What better person to talk about it than a local lady who has been known to hug a few books and generally get quite excited about them? I alternate my reading between adult and teen books, always on the prowl for a good one. The teen authors have much to offer, if you can weed through the dark themes that seem to dominate the industry. Thankfully, there are authors out there who write good stories that are well-told. I shared these titles with the group and so many moms wanted the list that here it is.
Kathryn Erskine has written an important book here that helps us all understand those with Asperger’s Syndrome. Hearing Katelyn filter her experiences through her eyes is funny and heartbreaking at the same time. She’s incredibly honest about life yet her honesty isn’t always appreciated or understood by her peers. Meanwhile, her dad is grieving the loss of his son at a random school shooting. In Mockingbird, Katelyn needs to navigate school and dad’s confusing (to her) grief but her school counselor and others come alongside her to teach her the nuances that other children know naturally. A great book that makes kids sensitive to those kids who might seem ‘different’ but they don’t know why.
Bluefish is another winner because it’s simple to read but you just love the characters! Travis lost his parents and his dog. Velveeta has a dysfunctional mother but a sensational personality. When she notices that quiet Travis can’t read, she sets out to help him, but both of these kids need help in other ways, too, and they find true friendship and healing in each other. It’s sweet but not trite. My 7th graders love this book as much as I do.
I’ve read The Outsiders more than twenty times and I never tire of it. Sometimes parents have questioned my choice, but after they read it and their teen raves about it, their mind is changed. This novel simply changes how we look at people. Do we judge by appearances? We don’t like to think we do, but…we do! I encourage my students to read it with their Christian eyeballs. Life is harder for the Greasers, but they have solid friendships and a thoughtful boy who narrates the story. He longs for people to get along and to understand why others can treat those who are so different from them as poorly as the Socs do. Readers ‘get’ how they also judge others and they’re inspired to see them as people, not as a stereotype.
I read Wonder in two days. Three teens I recommended the book to read it in two days and my hubbie read it in an afternoon. It’s not because it’s simple or brief, it’s because it’s so good! Once you have it in your hands, you want to just keep going! Auggie enters fifth grade as a first time public schooler because he’s had so many facial surgeries. A number of voices tell the story of his school year and how his face might be different but his rockin’ personality totally wins people over.
The Wednesday Wars is part of my reading curriculum and I recommend it to everyone. Holling begins 7th grade thinking his teacher hates his guts, but as the year goes on, he and she bond through a variety of experiences and she becomes just who needs to grow into a wise and thoughtful young man. Along the way, Holling has hilarious adventures and learns not just about himself but also about his friends and family, all with their unique quirks. This has a beautiful message but kids are so busy laughing and commiserating with Holling that they’re more than happy to read it.
Happy Reading!! If you have a recommendation for me, please let me know! I love to find great fiction.