NCTE 2011- Chicago, IL

I attended the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention in Chicago from last Thrusday through this Sunday and I had the time of my life! I had no idea what to expect when attending but I ended up geeking out like an awkward fangirl for the majority of the conference. Why was I geeking out? I got to hear/meet/see so many awesome authors!

On Thursday at the Secondary Section kick off I heard Chris Crutcher (Whale Talk) speak!

I stood in line for 20 minutes to get a copy of Paper Towns by John Green signed! He was just as quirky and funny in person as I’ve seen on his YouTube videos and heard about! I also saw him speak about using Chicago as a backdrop for at least one of his books.

I saw David Levithan speak twice- once also about using Chicago in his books and once about censorship. I haven’t read anything by him, but my interest is definitely piqued now!

Walter Dean Myers (Monster) was signing books, but unfortunately I had a session to get to. I did see him though!

Katherine Paterson (author of Bridge to Teribethia) and Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak) were also on the panel discussion censorship and were extremely interesting!

Laurie Halse Anderson, Katherine Paterson, David Levithan

And here, is a picture of me meeting Angela Johnson (The First Part Last) and Sharon Draper (Battle of Jericho).  Both ladies were super nice and took at least a minute to listen to me tell them just a few things about my students. I had Draper sign a copy of Battle of Jericho to my students because we just finished reading it in our “book club.”  They thought it was pretty cool when I showed them!

Angela Johnson, Me, Sharon Draper

I came away with approximately 30 books- most of which I got for free and which are ARCs.  So keep your eye peeled here for upcoming reviews!   If anyone teaches English and is on the fence about attending the conference next year you should go!  I learned so much, got tons of free books, met lots of authors and generally enjoyed myself!  And, if those aren’t reason enough- it’s in Las Vegas next November!

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Banned Books Week Part 1

Banned Books Week started on September 25th.  Due to this I decided to start looking at the most frequently challenged books from the past decade to see what I have read, what I haven’t read and if I agree or at least understand the challenging of any of them.  I’m thinking I might get some good titles for my “to-read” list as well!!

Here’s the list:

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 (from the ALA)

Bolded books I have read, links go to my reviews

1 Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4 And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5 Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

7 Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8 His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9 TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11 Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12 It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13 Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

15 The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16 Forever, by Judy Blume
17 The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18 Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19 Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20 King and King, by Linda de Haan
21 To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22 Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23 The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24 In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25 Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26 Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28 Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29 The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney

30 We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32 Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33 Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36 Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37 It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38 Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39 Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40 Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41 Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42 The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43 Blubber, by Judy Blume
44 Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45 Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46 Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48 Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50 The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51 Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52 The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53 You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54 The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55 Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56 When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57 Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58 Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59 Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60 Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61 Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62 The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63 The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64 Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65 The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67 A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68 Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69 Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70 Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71 Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72 Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

73 What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74 The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75 Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76 A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77 Crazy:  A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78 The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79 The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80 A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81 Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82 Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83 Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84 So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86 Cut, by Patricia McCormick

87 Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88 The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89 Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90 A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91 Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Graighead George
92 The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93 Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94 Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95 Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96 Grendel, by John Gardner
97 The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98 I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99 Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100 America: A Novel, by Frank, E.R.

I should note that this is not a list of YA books specifically, though you may notice that MANY of the titles are YA books.

None of the books I read are what I would consider controversial.  I know why most of them were probably challenged, but all in all none of them offended me or gave me much pause! Take this last opportunity to vote in my Book Banning Poll.

A Year in Review: 2008-2009

Well, despite a slow last couple of months, my blog has reached it’s one year anniversary.  And I think the year has been rather successful.  I experimented with different styles of reviews, having polls, and the types of YA lit that I’ve read.  I have plenty more to do, and I am hoping to renew my efforts for year number 2.

 

For now, here’s a recap of all the books I’ve reviewed here on YA Lit, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.

October 2008

Cut- Patricia McCormick

Out of the Dust– Karen Hess

Leaving Fischers- Margaret Haddix

A Hero Ain’t Nothing But A Sandwich– Alice Childress

Whale Talk– Chris Crutcher

Looking For Alaska- John Green

November 2008

Romiette and Julio– Sharon Draper

House of the Scorpion- Nancy Farmer

Seek- Paul Fleischman

Scorpions- Walter Dean Meyers

I am the Cheese- Robert Cormier

Twisted- Laurie Halse Anderson

Monster- Walter Dean Meyers

 

December 2008

Copper Sun– Sharon Draper

 

January 2009

I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak

Slam– Nick Hornby

 

February 2009

Maximum Ride– James Patterson

An Abundance of Katherines– John Green

 

March 2009

Boy Proof- Cecil Castellucci

Room in the Heart- Sonia Levitin

Confessions of an Not it Girl- Melissa Kantor

How Ya Like Me Now?– Brendan Halpin

Cuba 15- Nancy Osa

Bullyville- Francine Prose

Tangerine- Edward Bloor

Wintergirls- Laurie Halse Anderson

Beauty Shop For Rent- Laura Bowers

 

April 2009

The Battle of Jericho- Sharon Draper

Persepolis– Marjane Satrapi

A Step From Heaven– An Na

Kit’s Wilderness- David Almond

The White Darkness- Geraldine McCaughrean

American Born Chinese- Gene Luen Yang

Nation- Terry Pratchett

 

May 2009

The Chocolate War – Robert Cormier

Dead is the New Black- Marlene Perez

Jellicoe Road– Melina Marchetta

Tears of a Tiger– Sharon Draper

Being Nikki- Meg Cabot

 

June 2009

Ghostgirl– Tonya Hurley

Max- James Patterson

 

July 2009

The Hunger Games– Suzanne Collins

So Not The Drama- Paula Chase

Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes- Chris Crutcher

 

August 2009

Ghostgirl:Homecoming- Tonya Hurley

 

September-October 2009

No new book reviews- though I did re-read Tears of A Tiger and Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes during these months.

 

I’ve made it through 45 reviews.  I hope to top that during my second year.  Stay tuned!

 


 


I’ve Returned

Sorry for my long hiatus.  Once I started teaching full time I seemed to lose any extra time to just read for pleasure.  And with it, the time to post about anything I’ve read.  But, I need to find more time for myself, and I am going to make a more concentrated effort to begin posting again.

In the meantime, let me catch you up on what I’ve done with YA Lit in my classroom thus far.

My 9/10 class read Tears of A Tiger by Sharon Draper.  I chose this book because I did not know what reading level the majority of my students were at, and felt it was a high interest book.  It was met with very mixed reactions.  I had a handful of students who read it almost straight through, and one girl who immediately went on to read Forged by Fire and Darkness Before Dawn; the two other books in the trilogy.  I was so happy to see some of the students so interested in the story.  There were several who hated it, they felt it was too low level for them.  I acknowledge that the reading level is low, but explained that the content is appropriate for high school students.  Some really did not like the multi-genre aspect of the story.  The rest of the kids either didn’t attempt to read it at all or read it and were rather indifferent.  I plan on allowing them to choose their own book from my YA lit collection to read for our next assignment.  Currently they are finishing up a research project where they had to choose between teen depression, suicide, underage drinking, and drinking and driving as their topics.  They seem to be enjoying finding out new interesting information for the most part, and I’m hoping that some of the information sticks with them outside of school.

My 11/12 classes “read” Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher.  I put read in quotes, because I am pretty sure that only about 10% of the kids actually read it, a few skimmed, and a few chose to not participate in the unit at all.  The older class has made it clear that they do not want to read young adult books.   They definitely prefer having more control over what they have to do, so I would like to try having them choose between a few classic novels for our next unit.  The few students who did complete the book ended up liking it but felt that it took too long to get to the good parts.  I am not sure if I will use this book again in my teaching.

Yesterday I stopped at Half Price Books and picked up 10 books for just under $25.  Lucky for me it ended up being teacher appreciation weekend and I got 20 percent off.  I found several YA book to purchase for my classroom library.  I’m hoping that I can continue to stock up and build an interesting and varied selection of books for my students to read.  Some of the books that I picked up I have not read yet, so hopefully I will be able to update again soon with new reviews.

July Recap

Sorry this is so late!

I managed to finish 4 books in July, and got most of the way through another so my August is off to a pretty good start as well.  

Books read in July:

33. So Not the Drama– Paula Chase
34. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes– Chris Crutcher
35. The Quickie- James Patterson 
36. Ghostgirl: Homecoming- Tonya Hurley (not reviewed yet)

 

Total YA books read in July- 3

Total adult books read in July- 1

Total books in July- 4

Total books for the year- 36

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes- Chris Crutcher


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Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes was a great read.  The story is told from the perspective of a teenage boy who is overweight.  He tells about his friendship with a girl named Sarah Byrnes, whose face is horribly disfigured due to burns suffered when she was three.  Along with issues of appearance and friendship,  the book also touches on religion, abuse, and trust.  There is mystery and action in the story that keeps you interested till the end.  I rooted for the characters the entire time.  I think this book is definitely classroom appropriate for high school.  It is an easy read, but is great for discussing theme and other elements of literature.  I would recommend this book to any student.  It will appeal to both both teen boys and girls.

Awards:

ALA Best Book for YA
SLJ Best Book for YA
American Booksellers Pick of the List
California Young Reader Medalist
1995 Joan Fassler Memorial Book Award
ALA Best of the Best Books for YA
Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
1994 South Dakota YARP Best Books
Nominee 1995-1996 Iowa Teen Award
Nominee 1995-1996 SC YA Book Award
Nominee 1996 Young Reader’s Choice Award
Nominee 1996-1997 ILF Rosie

Ultimate YA Bookshelf

YALSA has come out with their “Ultimate YA Bookshelf” which has 50 books, 5 magazines, and 5 audiobooks.  The premise behind it and a link to the pdf can be found here.

Here are the 50 books-  I am interested in how many of them I’ve read- and whether most of them are specifically YA lit or just books that Young Adults might enjoy…

Just so I can keep it straight I will BOLD the ones I’ve read and UNDERLINE the one’s I’ve never heard of- as, I’m afraid to admit there are many!

  1. Acceleration by Graham McNamee
  2. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  3. All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
  4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  5. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  6. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  7. Black and White by Paul Volponi
  8. Blizzard! The Storm that Changed America by Jim Murphy
  9. Bone series by Jeff Smith
  10. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
  11. Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  12. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  13. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank
  14. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  15. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  16. Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
  17. Feed by M.T. Anderson
  18. Fruits Basket series by Natsuki Takaya
  19. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
  20. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  21. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  22. The Guinness Book of World Records
  23. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  24. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  25. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  26. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  27. I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
  28. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  29. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
  30. The Killer’s Cousin by Nancy Werlin
  31. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
  32. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  33. Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
  34. My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
  35. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
  36. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  37. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
  38. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  39. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  40. Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer
  41. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
  42. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
  43. Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
  44. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  45. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
  46. Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
  47. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  48. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  49. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
  50. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Wow, I’ve read only 16 out of the 50.  Oh, and I’ve gone through The Guinness Book of World Records, but have not read it cover to cover… has anyone?  That’d put me at 17.  I’m glad that several of the books are already on my to read list!

I’ve never heard of 22 of the books.  I have heard of many of those authors though.

updated: 8/13/09