We have put together a collection of contemporary books with central themes reminiscent of some of the most important classics taught in high school and college literature courses. Recommend them to your readers as they come through your library or classroom. Encourage them to compare the two bodies of work. We know these books will become new classics for your classrooms!
John Green's books have been used in high school classrooms across the nation and around the globe since he first published his Printz-award winning novel Looking for Alaska. Now we have created a comprehensive educator's guide to the works of John Green, aligned to Common Core State Standards and appropriate for English/Language Arts coursework for grades 9-12. Download the guide for lesson plans, discussion questions, and cross-curriculum activities for Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars. And don't miss the moving tribute to This Star Won't Go Out.
Don't forget to read the book before you head to the movies this summer to see the amazingly adapted The Fault in Our Stars! Now there's a new John Green discussion guide to go along with all of his titles.
If we've seen each other in the past year, there's a very good chance I've spent generous time talking about Marilyn Nelson's rich, thought-provoking memoir, How I Discovered Poetry. It feels wrong to talk about Nelson without mentioning her accolades and awards: Newbery Honor winner, multiple National Book Award Finalist, Printz Honor winner, Coretta Scott King Honor winner, and so on.
In How I Discovered Poetry, we take a look back on Marilyn's 1950s childhood. Through fifty eye-opening poems, we observe snapshots of the civil rights movement, the era of the atom bomb, and the stirrings of the feminist movement. The poems serve as a window to one of America's most tumultuous decades.
As a young Marilyn begins to understand the world around her, she discovers language. Her diction, too, grows. And, for me, the discovery and growth made my reading experience complete. Seldom do the words "subtle" or "brilliant" follow "memoir," and in this case they ring entirely true. It's a book to discuss, consider and treasure. I hope your first reading is as memorable as mine.
P.S. If you're in ALA Annual, visit Marilyn Nelson who'll be signing in our booth (#442-443) on Monday, June 30th from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
A Time to Dance
By Padma Venkatraman
Ages 14 and up
4 starred reviews!
"Weaves together several themes so elegantly that they become one: Veda's bodily exertion, learning to dance with her prosthetic leg; her process of changing her dance technique to be emotional and spiritual as well as physical; and all the rest of Veda's life. . . .A beautiful integration of art, religion, compassion and connection." — Kirkus starred review
"The descriptions of contemporary India are beautiful and Venkatraman weaves images so divine that you can see the statues of Shiva, hear the ankle bells in the bharatanatyam dance, and smell the acrid scent of burnt rubber from the accident. Told in verse, this story is magnificently strong as Veda's determination dances off the page and into the reader's heart." — VOYA starred review
By Lisa Graff
4 starred reviews!
"Combining the literary sensibility of E. B. White with the insouciance of Louis Sachar, Graff has written a tangle that should satisfy readers for years to come." —Booklist, starred review
How to Cheer up Dad
By Fred Koehler
3 starred reviews!
"This debut author-illustrator gets the father-son relationship just right in a story that's warm and memorable." —Booklist, Starred Review
The Baby Tree
By Sophie Blackall
3 starred reviews!
"A delightfully age-appropriate way to give young children the facts about conception and birth… Illustrations are beautifully crafted… Each page is adorned with soft colors and crisp, clear pictures that enhance the story." —School Library Journal, starred review
The Secret Hum of a Daisy
By Tracy Holczer
2 starred reviews!
"A lovely and captivating debut…Holczer writes with depth, heart, and a poetic lilt…nuanced characters engage from beginning to end." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
By Maya Van Wagenen
Ages 12 and up
1 starred review!
While completely appropriate for middle school readers, Popular is even more entertaining for adults. Van Wagenen is a uniquely gifted talent with a gem of a first novel — VOYA starred review
Blue Sea Burning: The Chronicles of Egg
By Geoff Rodkey
1 starred review!
High seas adventures start on the first page of the third installment of The Chronicles of Egg. It is a humorous tale packed with action and adventure. Reluctant readers are sure to enjoy this series. While it is meant for younger readers, older teens will still enjoy this pirate-packed tale. — VOYA starred review
Lori Nichols Lori Nichols' enchanting debut features an irresistible, free-spirited, nature-loving little girl who greets the changing seasons and a new sibling with arms wide open.
You can learn more about Maple here.
Learn more about Lori Nichols here.
If you are interested in hosting an appearance by Lori Nichols at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form, send an email to authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.
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