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I’m still looking for a book for this year.  I frame the year around stories and storytelling and why we tell stories. I have a bunch already:

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

(here is my hole in the list)

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Inherit the Wind by Lawrence and Lee

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

All of these books pose a problem for the reader that we, as a class, wrestle with.

Here is my burma-shave style tweets in response to a friend and librarian at the Newberry:

tabor330 I like to choose books that are complicated so we can talk about how to read them. If you will excuse a list of tweets,…

Haroun and the Sea of Stories: it’s an allegory! it’s an adventure story. It’s full of (Hindustani) puns!

Inherit the Wind – killer vocabulary, even for an adult in 2009 contemporary society, great look at rhetorical styles

To Kill A Mockingbird: A deceptively difficult narrative structure, lots of inference and indirectly stated relationships

All these books need a community of seventh graders (with my help) to read. It is a rare student that can do it on their own.

The Hobbit: lots of characters, great narrative voice, long boring bit in the middle, (what?) the dragon gets killed by who?

Each book poses a reader problem: tough words, confusing timeline, boring bits, inference. No Hobbit this year. What to add?

So, I’ve been thinking about The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I need to reread it to see what kind of problem it poses to the reader.  It’s like Kipling’s The Jungle Book or Burrough’s Tarzan.  There is definitely the story tradition here. But is that enough? It’s won an armful of awards (Newbery, Hugo) so I know that they will enjoy it. It’s not a “good for you” book or a lifetime achievement award that so often is the Newbery medal. I really liked it when I read it.
Any suggestions?

photo by flickr member dweekly

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul C says:

    My most enthusiastic recommendation is Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. It’s riveting, creative, funny, and unforgettable for Grade 9 students. The main character harbours a terrible secret until it is revealed in the climax. It has potential for fairly intensive study with creative projects, or as an independent text for stronger readers.

    Best wishes for the new school year!

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      I loved Speak. I should read it again and see. What an interesting suggestion. There is a lot to be said on the topic of the silencing of girls (boys, too) and not just because of a terrible event. A compliment to Haroun in a way…
      Thanks, Paul – and I hope that the rest of your Chicago sojourn was wonderful.

  2. diane says:

    I finally read – and thoroughly enjoyed – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. You might consider comparing/contrasting the elements of technology, morality, and the growth of personal awareness with a more modern book, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Now, you see, I have been evangelizing Little Brother but I’ve been worried that they might struggle with it. Curiously, I’m looking for a book that they will struggle with a bit. So what am I worried about? They read Ender in 8th grade, so it might be just the right book at the right time. There is an annotated version on the web now – I’d have to go back to Cory Doctorow’s tweets and bookmark it on Diigo. You are encouraging my book impulses.

      I did start Un Lun Dun, by the way, and then got sidetracked. I should get back to it.

  3. Wendi says:

    I tried to remember what I read back when I was that age, but all I came up with was Jackie Collins books that I smuggled from my “fast” friend Kristi.

    But I did read “Speak” recently & loved the writing.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Hi Wendi! Thanks for stopping by. The Name Game made me laugh!

      There were those fabulous Kathleen Woodiwiss novels… so much fun. In seventh grade for school I read Across Five Aprils and Great Expectations. That was it. I, of course, read a Harlequin romance a day at 13. But they were those great British writers who used phrases like “halcyon summer days.” That was where I learned that there were alternate meanings for ladder (a run in your stockings), boot (car trunk), lorry (truck), and tea (early dinner, really). “Sisters” are nurses and of course step-mothers are always beautiful and helpless. It was an education for sure. No physical contact between hero and heroine except perhaps an appropriately chaste kiss with the exchange of rings. My, how old I am.

  4. Frounette says:

    I’d like to second the Little Brother suggestion. It’s the kind of book I wish we’d read when I was in school.

    Also, I’d suggest the Plague trilogy by Jean Ure (very short books which altogether really amount to one) though I’m not sure that today’s children will relate too well.

    Or Tomorrow When the War Began, which I read while I was in school, and wish we had studied so that I had people to discuss it with. First in a long series of books, but just that one on its own is great.

    Or the Chrysalids, by John Wyndham.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Hello Frounette!
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave these excellent suggestions.

      Little Brother is such a great book. And I not thought about the Marsden (Tomorrow When the World Began) as a classroom text, but I recommended it to a seventh grader just the other day, so why the heck not? So many interesting things to think about and talk about with that one.

      I have not read the Ure or the Wyndham – so it seems that a trip to the library is in order. I hope to spend more time at your blog and hope to see you here. Nice to meet another bookworm.

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