Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks challenge is a ‘Back To School Freebie’ so it was up to us as bloggers to decide our lists. As a teacher myself, I have previously discussed on Twitter why I think it is important that more YA literature is discussed within the classroom, but there are also other books I consider to be important in their educational values, as well as for their entertainment purposes. So here’s my list of 10 books I think should be given a spot on our national curriculum. I would love to hear your thoughts on these choices!
1. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
These are an obvious choice because as well as being one of the most famous series in childern’s literature, J.K. Rowling explores many themes in these books which I think are important: friendship, love, evil, perseverance to name just a few. I think there is a lot of value to this series beyond its entertainment.
2. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
I can not praise this book highly enough. When I read this a few months ago I did not expect to have such strong feelings about this book. It is a wonderful coming-of-age story that explores so many themes such as sexuality and relationships, parental relationships, finding and accepting yourself. Mixed in with a truly diverse set of characters, both in race and sexuality, and I think there is a lot to be learned from this entertaining YA novel.
3. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
I think it goes without saying that Malala is an inspirational young woman and I’ve been in several assemblies at my school where she has been introduced to our pupils as a figure of inspiration. There is so much to learn from her story, for children, teenagers and adults alike. Plus it is important that pupils learn to value non-fiction texts too.
4. George by Alex Gino
George is such an important book. This was the first book I read that truly explored being transgender and I love that it is aimed at a MG/YA audience. It is an emotional read which I think would really spark some thought provoking discussion in the classroom. It could also be an invaluable way to start open talk about transgender within the classroom as a tool for educating.
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
I will never forget the first time I opened this book. A few pages in and I was completely and utterly absorbed into this story and the world of Christopher and his Asperger’s. During my teaching time, I have found that most pupils are able to recognise where others are different to them, but this book would really help them to begin to develop an understanding of how the world around them can be very different to those they share the classroom with.
6. When We Collided by Emery Lord
I read this book very recently and was pleasantly surprised by it. After reading the blurb I thought this would be a nice contemporary romance. By the end I was totally captured by the characters. This book could lead to many discussions on a number of issues that effect pupils on a daily basis: mental health issues and grief. Two things which many adults are unsure of how to cope with, let alone the young people in the world. I think the characters in this book would be very relatable to many of my own pupils.
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I couldn’t possibly create this list without mentioning this incredible book. It is surely a classic of the future, if it’s not already considered to be one. There is so much to learn from this book, both educationally and from a literature view. I can only think this would be an absolute delight to teach in the classroom and I think pupils of all ages would be effected by this book in different ways. It certainly provides a different, emotionally charged point of view of the war in Germany. Although teachers should get the tissues at the ready if this were to be taught.
8. All The Rage by Courteney Summers
This may be a controversial decision but I’m thinking towards the top end of high school, which is 17-18 years old here. I actually think this book would be incredibly important for pupils of this age to read; both males and females. This book isn’t simply a book about a rape victim, it is about how society treats rape victims and there is a lot to learn about society from this book. Some incredibly thought provoking discussions would be guaranteed to take place with mature young adults after reading this book.
9. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
It is quite possible that this book is on a curriculum somewhere or has been. Unlike the other books I have chosen, this is not specifically YA and is more of a literary classic. However, it is one of the most important novels I have ever read. Tackling themes such as racism, oppression, sexism, education, abuse of many kinds and society, there is definitely a lot to be learned from this novel. I think this would be an eye opening read to a lot of the pupils I teach.
10. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The comic book layout of this book would appeal to a lot of younger people and would draw them into this story without them realising how much they are learning. However, the beautiful illustrations would not take away from the oh so important themes of Persepolis. As well as developing an understanding of life under regime in the Middle East, this story explores the status of women in society, sexuality, depression and will provide another platform for discussion.
I probably could have picked about 30-40 books I wanted to list here so I tried to pick a cross-section for different ages. As a high school teacher, the books I have picked are aimed at pupils aged between 11-18. Some of these are suitable for all, whilst others will have an older audience. Each of these books are books that hold a place dear in my heart. I felt that, as an adult, I learned a lot from these books and they all effected me in a way. This is an experience I would love to see shared with young people and I would love to be involved in a discussion with them to see what their take is on each of these.
Which books would you like to see taught in schools? Do you have any other suggestions? Maybe you don’t agree with one of my choices: I would love to hear from you.