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Tag: Mal Peet

Victory Day

It’s Victory Day here in Russia, a holiday that commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union during World War II. This is a huge holiday: a shut-down-the-city, parades-with-tanks sort of holiday. Since preparations for the celebration began weeks in advance, WWII has been on my mind quite a bit. I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight some YA fiction based during the war. Please keep in mind that there are a lot of titles that fit this description; I’ve selected only a handful and would love to read your additions in the comments.

Code Name VerityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2013 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, 2013 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, 2013 Readers’ Choice List, 2013 Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults selection, 2013 Teens’ Top Ten nominee)
After her plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France, British spy “Verity” is captured, imprisoned, and forced to confess her mission. She uses these confessions to tell her story, much of which involves her relationship with Maddie, her best friend and the pilot who was flying when the plane crashed.

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Why YA in the Classroom

Recently a report on high school students and reading levels came out with an alarming headline: “High Schoolers Reading at 5th Grade-Level.” Covered previously here at The Hub, the report gathered data suggesting that a majority of high school students are reading below grade level. It also asked an important question: what should kids be reading? One answer to this question is using more young adult literature in high school classes to increase interest and reading levels. YA is more popular than ever thanks to a certain dystopian series being turned into an insanely popular movie. But this strategy is not without its drawbacks.

Last month a teacher in South Carolina was suspended for reading aloud a passage from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, a YA science fiction book considered by many a classic and often taught in schools in units dealing with identity and morality. The Arizona State Legislature passed legislation last year effectively banning YA titles that had previously been used in successful multicultural studies curriculum. John Green recently defended his book Looking For Alaska (the 2006 Printz Award winner) on Twitter after it was removed from a school reading list on the basis it is “pornographic.”

YA books are far from being universally accepted in school classrooms. Their inclusion presents unique challenges (sometimes literally) but also amazing opportunities. A compelling reason to include YA literature in classrooms is content. Teens, like most readers, appreciate characters and situation that are familiar to them and their lives. Readers have a stronger connection to the text when they can see themselves and their struggles in the story. YA literature also offers readers diverse characters, compelling stories, and high quality writing. When incorporated into literature curricula, YA titles can offer a wide spectrum of views on popular themes like identity, conflict, society and survival. YA literature can be easily incorporated into classroom through literature circles, supplemental reading lists, multimedia projects, and of course being paired with canonical texts typically used in classrooms.

Here’s a list of YA titles that would fit into the classroom, organized by theme.

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Lighten Up! Hot Reads for Cold Days

Gray skies got you down? Indulge in a mental vacation with a book set in a sunny spot:

Death by Bikini by Linda GerberDeath by Bikini (2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) by Linda Gerber

Aphra Connolly’s dad owns a secluded tropical island and a resort that caters to the rich and famous. Sounds sweet, but 16-year-old Aphra would like to be back in South Carolina with her friends. Most of all, she’d like to have her mother back; she disappeared four years ago.

Aphra is jolted out of her doldrums when she discovers the body of a rock star’s girlfriend on the beach. Cause of death: strangulation by bikini top. The crime coincides with the arrival of unexpected visitors who put Aphra’s dad on edge, including the Smith family and their cute son. When she investigates, Aphra is plunged into a high-voltage mystery in which no one is who he seems to be, and trusting the wrong person can be deadly. If you’d enjoy swimming near a coral reef or smelling tropical blooms at this time of year, pick up this fun suspense story.

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