Teaching Tools: Tears of a Tiger- Sharon Draper

Full disclosure- this is shameless self promotion.

That being said- I’ve created a packet of vocabulary activities, spelling/vocab tests, and questions to assist teachers with a 4 week long unit on Tears of A Tiger by Sharon Draper.  I’ve used all of the provided information in my own classroom and was met with success.  You can buy just the vocabulary packet, just the comprehension packet, or them all together as a bundle.

 

Vocabulary Packet $2.50 

Comprehension Packet $4.50

Vocabulary + Comprehension BUNDLE! $6.00  <— Your best value!

 

Want to see your own stuff on TPT?  Click HERE and sign up!

 

Check out my review of Tears of A Tiger!

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13 Reasons Why- Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why

Review:

I had so many people suggest this novel to me that when I saw it on a clearance shelf I had to buy it.  I then decided it would be my gym read… this was probably a poor choice as it took me forever to finish, but I am glad I did.  The story follows a teen boy who has found 13 tapes in the mail.  They were recorded immediately prior to a classmates suicide and explain how many different events affected her.  There is interest and intrigue and you find yourself really invested in finding out what happens.  Why does he have the tapes- how did he contribute to her depression, to her ultimate suicide?  I think this would be a great discussion starter.  Too often our students don’t realize the affect that they can have on others.

This book is definitely a high school level book.  There are discussions of alcohol use, sexual encounters, sexual assault and other serious topics.  However, there are CLEAR consequences to these actions that I think are appropriately handled.  I think it would make a great classroom read.  The main character is a male, but the suicide victim is a female so I see it appealing to both genders.

The Lowdown (Via Scholastic)

Interest Level :Grade 9 (I would include 10-12)

Grade Level Equivalent: 3.2

Includes: Scholastic Reading Counts! Quiz , Accelerated Reader Quiz

CLICK HERE FOR A DISCUSSION GUIDE!

Awards: (List from official website)

New York Times Best Seller Publishers Weekly Best Seller

California Book Award Winner

Best Books for Young Adults (YALSA)

Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers (YALSA)

Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults (YALSA)

Borders Original Voices finalist

Barnes & Noble – Top 10 Best for Teens

International Reading Assoc. – Young Adults’ Choices

Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice

Book Sense Pick – Winter

Chicago Public Library Best Books

Association of Booksellers for Children – Best Books

State Awards – Winner (voted on by students): Florida, Kansas, Kentucky

Also, for further reading about using this book in your classroom, and or other resources for dealing with the topic of bullying, check out the July issue of NCTE’s English Journal…

English Journal, Vol. 101, No. 6, July 2012

Happy Reading!

The Mockingbirds- Daisy Whitney

The Mockingbirds

Review:  I downloaded The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney to my Kindle in anticipation of reading the ARC of its sequel The Rivals.  I am so glad I did.  The Mockingbirds seemed to combine some of the best aspects of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War and Knowles’ A Separate Peace.  At times it even reminded me of John Green’s Waiting for Alaska.   But this book stands on its own and has its own merit.  From the first paragraph on the first page you are thrown into the life of the main character Alex, a junior girl at an elite boarding school, who has been date raped.

What I enjoyed about this story is how it dealt with the rape in a very realistic way.  You see Alex attempting to discern where the responsibility for the rape lies and how to move on with her life.  With such a serious subject this book could have become very dark and depressing very fast.  But it isn’t.  There are times where it is graphic, the imagery and the language may make you squirm but that is offset with the very regular interactions the teen characters have.  Crushes, school work, clubs and more.  Whitney also does a great job of examining what happens when schools have a history of caring more for their record than for their students and what types of change students can initiate.

This is definitely a book written for high school aged students.  I think it would appeal more to females than males, but males could get a lot out of it as well.  I think that if I were to teach a book about a subject such a date rape I would be more likely to teach Speak due to some of the graphic nature of this book.  I could however, see myself recommending this book to students or having it on a list (along with most of the other titles I mentioned earlier) to read alongside Speak for some sort of comparison project.  The Mockingbirds is also one of those books that I will be recommending to my friends who don’t read YA the way I do.  I believe this is a crossover book that adults can read and learn from as much as teens.

The Lowdown:

RL: 4-5 grade, lexile rating of HL720L (THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT A BOOK FOR 4th or 5th GRADERS)
Interest Level: High School (I could see 8th graders reading it but it might get a little heavy for younger teens)

Awards:

  • A Romantic Times Best Book of 2010
  • A Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association
  • An NPR Best Book of 2010
  • An Association of Booksellers for Children New Voices Pick for 2010
  • Chicago Public Library Best of Best Books for Teens in 2010
  • Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention
  • An Indie Next List Pick
  • A GoodReads Mover and Shaker for November 2010
  • The Books-A-Million teen book club pick for January 2011

Stay tuned for my upcoming review of The Rivals!

Tears of A Tiger- Sharon Draper


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Written in 1994 Tears of A Tiger will still resonate with students now, 15 years later.  This story deals with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident that kills a high school student.  The relationships between friends, children and parents, teachers, and counselors are all discussed through transcripts of discussions, newspaper articles, diary entries, and letters.  This is the first book in the Hazelwood High trilogy, but each book stands completely on its own.  I have taught this book to 10th graders before and they ATE IT UP.  Many went on to read the next book in the series, Forged By Fire.  I highly recommend this book for use in a classroom (9-10th grade) and for individual students to read.  

 

Here is a link to Sharon Draper’s Teacher Resources for this book.  As a National Board Certified English teacher, she knows her stuff:  Sharon Draper’s Site

 

Awards:

Winner–1995 American Library Association/Coretta Scott King Genesis Award for an outstanding new book
ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Outstanding book by

-The Children’s Book Council
-The New York City Library
-Bank Street College
-National Council for Social Studies

Best of the Best by YALSA as one of the top 100 books for Young Adults

 

A Step From Heaven- An Na


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This book reminded me of Kira Kira, as they both tell stories of Asian immigrants in America.  I found this book a little hard to get into, perhaps because it doesn’t focus on one time in her life but rather goes from Kindergarten through beginning college.  The story follows a Korean girl from Korea to America and the struggles that her family has adapting to a new culture.  I think that some immigrants will be able to identify to a lot of the story.  It is well written, but just didn’t keep my attention as well as other books do.  I was bothered by the lack of quotation marks- I know that seems silly but it did irk me for some reason.  I think this book could be used in a classroom- middle school most likely.  I would more likely suggest it as an independent reading book.

Awards: (For a full listing go here)

2002 MICHAEL L. PRINTZ AWARD

2001 National Book Award Finalist

2002 Children’s Book Award in YA Fiction – International Reading Association

2005 California Collections Selection

2005 Asian American Booklist, Grades 9 and Up, Read Across America, National Education Association

2002 Notable Children’s Book – American Library Association

2002 Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association

2002 Children’s Books of Distinction Award – Riverbank Review

2002 Fanfare Book – The Horn Book Honor List

2002 Amelia Bloomer Project List

2002 White Ravens – International Youth Library of Munich

2002 Notable Books for the Language Arts – NCTE

2001 Editor’s Choice – Booklist

2001 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

2001 Best Books – School Library Journal

2001 Kiriyama Prize Notable Book Shortlist

2001 Best Children’s Books – Publishers Weekly

2001 Best Book – teenreads.com

2001 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children

2001 Top 10 Youth First Novels – Booklist

Confessions of a Not It Girl- Melissa Kantor


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Confessions of a Not It Girl was a fun light novel that I think provides an alternate idea of what life is like in NYC to that which is presented in Gossip Girl.  While it doesn’t deal with many MAJOR teen issues it deals well with all the little things that teens go through.  I really identified with the way the main character Jan (pronounced Yahn), a senior in high school, was crushing on this boy Josh.  In fact I think teens, young adults, and probably even middle aged women with crushes can see a little bit of themselves in her.  There was some discussion of teenage drinking and the potential for sexual intercourse without any discussion of the consequences which is something that bothered me.  I do not mind those topics being talked about in books for teens, but I think it is important to make some mention of the potential consequences from making those choices.  That being said, nothing was overly explicit or inappropriate and I would not feel out of place recommending it to a student or having it on my bookshelf for students to read.  This book should probably be reserved for 9-12th graders.  I would not use it as required reading for a class.

AWARDS:

2004 A Booklist Top Ten Romance Novel for Youths

Publisher’s Weekly editor’s pick

How Ya Like Me Now- Brendan Halpin

 Eddie, is a sophomore in high school, who has to move out of the suburbs into Boston when his mom enters rehab.  He has to deal with not only his problems at home, but with entering a new school, and making friends.  His cousin, Alex, is also a central part of this book and provides a look at intelligent, yet underachieving students.  The issues that are dealt with in this novel are problems that more students deal with than perhaps we often consider, and they are dealt with in a non-threatening or “preaching” manner.  I think that this book would be best for students in at least 8th grade and up to 10th.  It is not a challenging book to read, but it deals with issues that are important and could provide fodder for great discussions.

 

 

 

AWARDS:

VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers