New Reads for Adolescents

Many more books to add since last post.
Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. (1999). The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell
Obviously not a new book and yes, I’ve seen the movie, more than once. But my decision to read this book speaks to the adage that it’s important to give readers a purpose for reading. I am about to embark on a process of teaching some willing secondary teachers how to teach reading to very low adolescent readers, readers traumatized by life experiences, convinced they are not able to "do" school, and boiling over with destructive behaviours, to name a few of the challenges. And so this book and its many stories came to mind and I thought, if this teacher could effect change amongst not only intransigent youth, but also with a department head who refused to give her books because "those students" would ruin them and wouldn’t read them anyway, then anything was possible. From one of her students, the first in her family to graduate:
Diary 139:"I have learned that it doesn’t matter if your inspiration in life comes from negative or positive events. The most important thing is to learn and go on."
I hope in four years time, we will have a record of our students’ achievements.

Requiem (2013) by Lauren Oliver
The third in the Delirium series, the battle of the Invalids vs. the "cured" intensifies and grabs our interest by being told from both Lena’s point of view and her former best friend, Hana, now married to the psychopath mayor of Portland. Lots of suspense, if a somewhat inconclusive ending.

Orca books are written by well-established Canadian writers for reluctant adolescent readers. Please visit their website for more information.

Haze (2012) . Erin Thomas, Orca Sports
A very suspenseful story about dangerous hazing practices on a high school swim team, with implications for the teacher in charge.

Boarder Patrol (2010). Erin Thomas, Orca Sports
Sixteen year old Ryan wants nothing more than to be a professional snowboarder, but his beloved cousin is making more money than his job pays. Where is it coming from? When he suspects what is happening, he is dogged by his father’s reputation as a whistleblower.

Th1rteen R3asons Why. (2007). by Jay Asher
A young girl commits suicide, then writes letters to thirteen people who contributed to her decision. Any one of the actions might have been inconsequential if the subsequent actions had not occurred . Heart-wrenching and important for students to reflect on how they treat their peers.

You Against Me. (2010). By Jenny Downham
A date gets out of hand and a young girl is raped; her brother swears revenge. Siblings are pitted against each other – protect my brother or do what’s right? Difficult decisions of right and wrong and how those decisions make you feel, intertwined with a complicated romance.

A Long Walk to Water (2010).by Linda Sue Park
Based on a true story, this simply written book describes the difficult life of a girl, Nya, in the Sudan who must make a long arduous walk daily to fetch water and one of the Sudan’s "lost boys", Salva, who endures dreadful hardships through refugee camps to a new life. How their lives intersect makes for powerful conclusion.

Pamela Hansen
LD/Literacy Consultant


About phansenvsb

I am passionate about teaching reading and writing to a diverse audience from those experiencing challenges in reading and writing to those who seek deep enrichment in literature and its connections to the world in which it was written and to the present day. I also present workshops on assessment for learning, differentiated instruction, literature circles, disciplinary literacy, and inquiry.
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