top ten books that should be required reading

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 |
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where we all get to exercise our OCD tendencies and come up with bookish lists.  If you’d like to play along, check out this post.

top ten tuesday

The first batch of five books is what you’d expect from this topic – they’re for the most part contemporary ‘issues’ books, with a mystery or magnetic main character at their core to carry the action.  Of course, Ness’ title is borderline fantasy, but it fits the grouping.  The second five books would make for an extremely interesting, non-traditional unit on WWII.  A few are set in Europe, some at home in America, and there’s even a first-person nonfiction narrative (an alternative to Anne Frank?).

Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Reading

1. The Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen D. Randle – A bit of a contemporary mystery that confronts stereotypes, asks questions about what ‘normal’ behavior looks like, and when it is okay to step into a situation you know nothing about.

2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – My sister (who teaches 9th grade English) recommended this title for a thematic study of social interaction, integrity, and coming of age.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Another great book that asks its readers to parse cultural identity, racism, death and poverty.  It’s also darkly funny and intensely human.

4. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach – Parental neglect, coming of age, family issues and a weird, wonderful narrator come together to make this title a fantastic read for anyone.

5. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – Grief, terminal illness, violence, moving on and growing up are all themes of this beautifully written and illustrated novel.  Bonus: it’s short! 

6. The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger – On the face of things, this is a book about baseball and growing up in the city.  Underneath it’s a portrait of family life during a pivotal point in world history, and the war touches home in interesting ways.

7. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – Wein wrote an emotion-wringing gem of a novel that portrayed the work of women pilots during the Second World War.  Not only is it gripping, much of the derring-do is based on actual accounts.

8. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen – Yolen wrote another famous WWII classroom book, The Devil’s Arithmetic, but this lesser-known one will appeal to fans of fantasy and fairy tale, too, while telling an equally chilling tale.

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I still haven’t read this title, but I’ve heard unfailingly good things about it, and Zusak is a master storyteller.  I know he’d do the material proud, in an unconventional and unforgettable way.

10. Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America by Joan Wehlen Morrison, edited by Susan Signe Morrison – This selection of entries from Joan Wehlen Morrison’s adolescent and young adult diary is a window into the American home front during WWII.  Joan’s voice is clear, questioning, bright, and immediate.  I wish I’d read this in school!

What books would you add to a classroom curriculum?


Anne Bennett said...

I can really see some of these books coming along side the Social Studies curriculum.

raindropsandpages said...

I LOVED The Last Days of Summer, and I think it would be interesting to discuss it in a classroom setting. I'm going to have to check out some of the other books you've listed.


Carrie-Anne said...

The Sherman Alexie book was my pick for the realistic unit in my YA Lit class. It was a fun, quick read, though some of it had me cringing, and there were some storylines that seemed to come out of left field and weren't really resolved well.

The Book Thief was the required historical book in that class, and it was a big fat DNF for me. I was so relieved and validated to see all the well-written 1- and 2-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, backing up my massively disappointing experience and hatred of the narrator with his constant parade of spoilers. It confirmed my commitment to staying far away from books with massive amounts of hype!

chrissireads said...

Great choices. I think The Book Thief will be on several lists this week. Such an important book.

Ula (Blog of Erised) said...

I haven't read any of these yet but I plan to, some of them have been on my list for along time.
Nice list!


Caroline said...

Great list! I wish I'd read some fictionalised accounts of WW2 when we were studying it in history - I just got so bored with the whole topic, I think something like Code Name Verity would have helped it come alive more.

I also really need to re-read the Book Thief, I thought it was OK first time around but everyone gushes about it so much that I feel I must have misjudged it!

Here's our TTT: two girls, one suitcase

Juju at Tales of said...

I haven't read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie but I'm all about teaching kids about the struggles of modern day american indians.

Divergent Gryffindor said...

Wow, I actually haven't read any of these books yet, which means, more books to add to my TBR list :)
My Top 10 Tuesday
Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Nicole @ WCW said...

I haven't read any of these, but I like the idea of reading historical fiction to make history come alive. Great list!

Liviania said...

Steven Kluger! He's such a great writer, and so under the radar. Being put on required reading lists would help him a lot.

Heather said...

I really want to read The Book Thief... although, man, I've seen some really harsh comments about it in this Top Ten Tuesday in the comments people have left 0_0

New GFC follower

Sandy J said...

I'm a bit ashamed to say I haven't read any of these. I really want to read Patrick Ness's books and The Book Thief waits on my shelf for months now!


Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

7, 8 and 9 would all make great high school reads!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

7, 8 and 9 would all make great high school reads!

thekams said...

The Book Thief made my list too. I completely forgot about The Chocolate War, but I definitely second that one.

kelley jensen said...

Nice list. I think the book thief will be a classic. I can't wait for the movie. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

Alyce said...

I own a few of these and have some of the others on my wish list but am sad to say that I haven't read any of them yet.

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