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This week’s question: Back to School time! Create a reading list for the imaginary English Lit class you’ll be teaching this semester.
1. I would be pretty damn surprised if this doesn’t show up on half the lists for this week’s prompt. If you’re a YA fan, you’ve probably read Speak and understand why it’s an incredibly important book. If not, READ IT. This is one of the most authentic YA novels ever.
2. A perspective that doesn’t get a lot of attention – seriously, I can’t think of any other YA books I’ve read with a Native American protagonist (no, chick from House of Night, you don’t count, go home.) Besides that, it’s hilarious and exactly the right book to get “reluctant readers” hooked.
3. Tell your students this is “like Mean Girls but real.” Ask them to relate certain chapters or scenes to their own experiences and write about it. Someone might cry. Oh my god, I’d be a terrible teacher. I do think that Some Girls Are would get students thinking, though.
4. Aristole and Dante is an absolutely perfect novel. Ari is an incredibly relatable narrator and it’s not hard at all to put yourself in his shoes, whatever your own race or sexual orientation is. You might not get every homophobic student in the classroom to reconsider their ideas, but if it changes even one person’s view, it’s still worth it, in my opinion.
5. Yes, it’s manga. Yes, it’s still absolutely worth teaching. I was torn between this and Ai Yazawa’s Nana, both of which I consider absolute masterpieces of the medium, but there’s a lot of stuff in that series that would be considered objectionable for high schoolers (even more than the other books on this list, haha.) The comedy and action in this would make it a hell of a lot of fun for students, but the story goes some very dark and serious places.