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December 7, 2009

Sure Bet Books: Popular Young Adult Texts

By Justin Lim

    Having taught reading intervention for a few years now, I've come to appreciate the importance of stocking my classroom library with high interest books that I know my students want to read. While I have a good amount of texts that they love, there are a few that rise above the rest year after year. The following books never seem to stay on my shelves for more than a day and would make great additions to any classroom library!

    Forged by Fire


    1. Forged by Fire by Sharon M. Draper - This text is great for kids because for many books, students need to get through the first 50 or 60 pages before they really get interested. Forged by Fire though, is exciting from the get go. I have 4 or 5 copies of this book and I usually have at least three checked out to students at any given time. It's also part of a trilogy, so it's a great way to get kids to read the other books as well.

    Make Lemonade

    2. Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff - This book is a story about teenage motherhood and its struggles. I like to recommend this book to struggling readers because many pages do not have as much script, which essentially drops the word count considerably. As a result, students who have never read a book more than 100 pages feel confident as they quickly move through pages, which is extremely important for below level readers. For those teachers with more resources, there is also an audio book that is available, which reads the story and provides commentary. Also, just like Forged by Fire, Make Lemonade is part of a trilogy.


    Robespierre 3. A Wicked History Series - I actually recently had a few of these given to my class from Scholastic. I was specifically looking for texts that were non-fiction and that were not too long. This series focuses on notorious historical figures, which is great because the students learn about history. The texts are also around 100 pages, which is long enough to have some substance, but not so long that they will intimidate struggling readers. Scholastic gave us four books from this series and in four days all of them had been checked out and finished.

    Monster 

    4. Monster by Walter Dean Meyers - Walter Dean Meyers is extremely popular with my students and Monster is one of their favorites. The story is about a boy who is accused of serving as a lookout during a fatal shooting. While the students like the book because it's exciting, I like it because it's a great confidence booster. The book is nearly 300 pages long, but it's written at a lower level and the script is quite large, making it a very quick read.

    A Child Called It 5. A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer - While this book is emotionally tough to read because it's a ghastly account of child abuse, it really captures the attention of students. It's an autobiographical account, which is nice because students tend to be drawn more to fiction. Also, like some of the other books that I've mentioned, A Child Called "It" is a trilogy, so if kids like it, it's not hard to get them going on a few more books.

    The texts that I've mentioned would be a great addition to any classroom. While some may be easier than what your students are capable of reading, know that research indicates that independently read texts should be easier than the novels that we teach for a class. Also, it's been my experience that for most kids, the toughest part is getting through those first few books and realizing that reading can actually be pretty fun!

    If you have any other books that your kids love, please don't hesitate to share! I would love to know what books you think are always sure bets!

    Warm regards,

    Justin Lim

    Rosemead High School

    El Monte Union High School District

    Having taught reading intervention for a few years now, I've come to appreciate the importance of stocking my classroom library with high interest books that I know my students want to read. While I have a good amount of texts that they love, there are a few that rise above the rest year after year. The following books never seem to stay on my shelves for more than a day and would make great additions to any classroom library!

    Forged by Fire


    1. Forged by Fire by Sharon M. Draper - This text is great for kids because for many books, students need to get through the first 50 or 60 pages before they really get interested. Forged by Fire though, is exciting from the get go. I have 4 or 5 copies of this book and I usually have at least three checked out to students at any given time. It's also part of a trilogy, so it's a great way to get kids to read the other books as well.

    Make Lemonade

    2. Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff - This book is a story about teenage motherhood and its struggles. I like to recommend this book to struggling readers because many pages do not have as much script, which essentially drops the word count considerably. As a result, students who have never read a book more than 100 pages feel confident as they quickly move through pages, which is extremely important for below level readers. For those teachers with more resources, there is also an audio book that is available, which reads the story and provides commentary. Also, just like Forged by Fire, Make Lemonade is part of a trilogy.


    Robespierre 3. A Wicked History Series - I actually recently had a few of these given to my class from Scholastic. I was specifically looking for texts that were non-fiction and that were not too long. This series focuses on notorious historical figures, which is great because the students learn about history. The texts are also around 100 pages, which is long enough to have some substance, but not so long that they will intimidate struggling readers. Scholastic gave us four books from this series and in four days all of them had been checked out and finished.

    Monster 

    4. Monster by Walter Dean Meyers - Walter Dean Meyers is extremely popular with my students and Monster is one of their favorites. The story is about a boy who is accused of serving as a lookout during a fatal shooting. While the students like the book because it's exciting, I like it because it's a great confidence booster. The book is nearly 300 pages long, but it's written at a lower level and the script is quite large, making it a very quick read.

    A Child Called It 5. A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer - While this book is emotionally tough to read because it's a ghastly account of child abuse, it really captures the attention of students. It's an autobiographical account, which is nice because students tend to be drawn more to fiction. Also, like some of the other books that I've mentioned, A Child Called "It" is a trilogy, so if kids like it, it's not hard to get them going on a few more books.

    The texts that I've mentioned would be a great addition to any classroom. While some may be easier than what your students are capable of reading, know that research indicates that independently read texts should be easier than the novels that we teach for a class. Also, it's been my experience that for most kids, the toughest part is getting through those first few books and realizing that reading can actually be pretty fun!

    If you have any other books that your kids love, please don't hesitate to share! I would love to know what books you think are always sure bets!

    Warm regards,

    Justin Lim

    Rosemead High School

    El Monte Union High School District

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