Dystopian Literature and Tweens

As teachers, it is difficult not to share our passions with our students.  Obviously, books and writing are a passion of mine (along with monarch butterflies).  However, my students know that all books are not created equal in my eyes.  No sirree- show me a dystopian novel and I’ll show you a book I can’t put down.  Needless to say, our unit surrounding The Giver is always one of my favorites.  Today my students wrote in-class short essays comparing the themes in The Giver to those in a dystopian short story.   (Old Glory by Bruce Coville, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., or All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury).  They chose one of our 5 essential questions to answer and had to use examples from both pieces of literature to back up their opinions.  I am so proud of the thinking and writing they did!

After they completed their work, I rewarded them by handing out a list of dystopian books.  Sort of “If you like The Giver, then you will love….”  I listed about 15 dystopian novels and they were thrilled.  I will share the list on the blog tomorrow, but for now I am looking for your suggestions.  My students exhausted my collection of dystopian novels, so I need more ideas!  What are some of your favorite dystopian tween or YA novels?

20 Responses

  1. I have a few students who have loved the Uglies/Pretties/Specials/Extras set. I just got The Adoration of Jenna Fox for our classroom library, and the first student who is reading it is really enjoying it.

    It was funny because when I was talking about the book to the class one of my most avid readers said something like, “I hate books like that. I don’t really want to read the book, but I can’t stand not knowing what is really going on.” Now that is what I call a hook! haha

  2. The Green Book by Jill Patton Walsh. This one could probably be classified as a novella.

    Journey Outside by Mary Q. Steele.

    Z for Zachariah by Robert O’Brien

    and for those who enjoyed “Harrison Bergeron”, Player Piano is a nice second step into the world of Vonnegut

  3. Jasper Fforde – “Shades of Grey”

    It’s not YA, but definitely one of the more original dystopian novels.

  4. Among the Hidden by Haddix. I will never forget my introduction to that book. About 8 years ago, I was expecting a fifth grade class and they literally burst into the library and every child was clamoring for the book because their teacher was reading it aloud and they had to have it. It was early in my career and I hadn’t heard of it. I read it in one sitting.

    The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick

    Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson

  5. The Chrysalids is a great book. I read it when I was in middle school and loved it. It was the book that started my love of the dystopic genre. I also liked Pale Invaders and Awakening Water by (I think) J. R. Kesteven when I was about 11. I think they are out of print but can be found on websites like alibris.com. I believe that they are British.

  6. The Hunger Games
    The Maze Runner

  7. The Silenced by James DeVita

    This riveting story is loosely based on Sophie Scholl and the real White Rose movement during the Holocaust. Excellent characterizations and strong action sequences make this story unforgettable and will lead to fantastic discussions.

  8. The Roar, by Emma Clayton, seems to be a winner with tweens.

  9. LOVED The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I haven’t read the sequel yet, but it’s on my TBR list. My sixth graders have read and enjoyed The Atherton Series by Patrick Carman and the Ember series by Jeanne Duprau.

  10. The City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau.
    Me and my mother both read them and liked them. 🙂

    Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve.
    I’ve read the first two in the series and can’t buy any more at any nearby bookstores. The first one isn’t so bad, but I think these ones are really more for (older) teens than tweens. I really enjoyed it, though. (Read when I was just turning fifteen.)

    The Chrysalids by John Whyndam.
    Read this as part of ninth grade curriculum. Imagine the sixties when everyone was paranoid of atom bombs. Okay? Now imagine that bomb went off. Now imagine three thousand years (or so) later and the world is still slowly recovering.

    Marked (first of a series) by ???
    Vampire novel, (recommended to me by a friend) but I think it might count as dystopian since it’s centered around the fact that vampires are known about by all humans (and sort of shunned).

    Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
    This is the best book I have ever read. I’m not completely sure if it counts as dystopian either though. It’s certainly similar… It’s a “what if WWI was more like this…” sort of book. Also the same author of that uglies/pretties/extras/specials series which I’m reading now. (Also recommend that.)

  11. The Shadow Children Series
    The Hunger Games Series

    I’m loving The Chaos Walking books (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and The Answer, and book 3, Monsters of Men comes out in September), but they are for 14 and up.

  12. Hi,
    Could you share the 5 essential questions? I am finishing the Giver and have a copy of Ray Bradbury’s story and would love to do the same writing lesson. We are currently writing journals through Jonas’s perspective. Previously we created 2D and 3D representations of the community. Earlier on in the book, I gave out job Assignments and they researched what their Assignment repsonsibilties would be and responded to having this job chosen for them and whether or not they felt they were suited for this Assignment.

  13. A month ago I posted this question on twitter. Here are some suggestions I got.

    Feed by MT Anderson
    House of Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
    Genesis by Beckett
    The Declaration by Gemma Malley
    The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
    Everlost by Neal Shusterman
    House of Stairs by William Sleator
    Tomorrow When The War Began
    Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

  14. The Bar Code Tattoo…. Not a favorite but it’s another possibility.

  15. I really enjoyed Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody. It’s an older book (1999) and my library has it in adult fiction, but the protagonist is 12. I’m inclined to think that if it were published today, it would be a YA title.

  16. Unwind is a great one by Neal Shusterman.

  17. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff is just wonderful. Probably more appropriate for teens than tweens, though.

  18. I feel the same way about Dystopian literature. I am reading my class The Uglies right now, and they are loving it. The room is dead silent as I read, and if it’s too short of a chapter they complain that ‘it’s not fair’ that I stop. I also always use Among the Hidden for literature circles, and I have some students that have been sucked into that series now too. Thanks for the list of dystopian titles!

  19. Here is a list of books I use for my unit on dystopian literature; The books with the * are ones I use during Lit Circles. Students are required to read 3 others from the list for journaling and class discussions and projects.
    Truesight (similar to The Giver)*
    The Giver*
    Lord of the Flies
    Bar Code Tattoo
    The City of Ember
    The Hunger Games*
    Watership Down
    A Taste for Rabbit
    The Host
    The Declaration
    Little Brother
    Nation (?)
    Doppelganger (?)
    The House of the Scorpion
    The Other Side of the Island
    The Angel Factory
    Ship Breaker
    The Maze Runner
    The Silenced
    The Roar

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