Opening the Gate: YA Books to “Hook” Adult Readers

One of my favorite parts of working at my new school has been exposing some of my colleagues to the great YA literature being published today.  Back in October, my AP biology colleague asked for a book recommendation because she loved my vast classroom library.  She listed a few books she enjoyed reading and I started thinking about great, literary historical fiction in YA.  Within a day or so I was handing her Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief. She read it and loved it, passing it on to a few others to read, too!  A new YA fan was born.

I have also shared books with our guidance counselor, including Emma Donoghue’s Room: A Novel. My freshman biology colleague has been borrowing books since the school year started.  So far he has read the Hunger Games series and Bumped. He reads my blog and when a review catches his interest, I can count on a book request the next day. 🙂

Before spring break I received an email from one of our Spanish teachers. She was looking for some books to bring on her spring break road trip. Moments later, I ran into our AP biology teacher and she also asked for some books. I spent a few minutes during my prep gathering books and then acted as the “traveling librarian”, walking around the school and delivering books to that who requested them. The Spanish teacher received Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light and Judy Blundell’s Strings Attached. My AP Biology colleague took home Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution and Judy Blundell’s What I Saw And How I Lied.  I am so looking forward to hearing their thoughts after break!

My students love knowing that their teachers are reading and enjoying some of the same books they love.  Reading is a social activity, and students don’t just want to talk to their peers about the books they read.  They love having conversations about the ending of Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) with myself and their biology teacher.  They love knowing that they can recommend a book they enjoyed to their Spanish teacher or the teacher in charge of their free period.  That’s why my freshman colleagues and I decided to completely integrate our summer reading this summer.  All of the choices on the list touch on our various subject specialties and we also noted our own favorites.  I want to build this reading community from the beginning, with common texts and student choice.  I also want to continue exposing my colleagues to the fantastic YA literature that is being published today.

What YA books do you find yourself recommending to adults?

11 Responses

  1. I love recommending books to colleagues, too. There are a few teachers who claim not to love reading, but I just keep trying new and different books.

  2. Adolescent readers deserve teachers that love adolescent lit!
    There’s nothing better for me than to see a science or math teacher discussing books with our students. It means so much to the students.
    “The Hunger Games” is always a hit with adults, so are “Feed” and “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks”.

    • it’s funny because i AM the math teacher at our middle school and I am the one the kids come to for books! like you say, i think it does mean a lot to the students and we enjoy discussing what we are reading! BTW TDHoFLB is my absolute fave 🙂

  3. I’ve gotten a few adults hooked on Orson Scott Card after giving them copies of ENDER’S GAME. Not really sure that genre sci-fi counts as “adult” reading, but it’s a start …

  4. I am always recommending YA books to my adult friends. Recently: Recovery Road by Blake Nelson and So Shelly by Ty Roth. But there are so many great teen novels that I think lots of adults would enjoy if they gave them a chance. 🙂

  5. I am challenging my staff to complete our Summer Reading Club goals this year and post their reading logs so the kids at the library can see that we’re reading all summer, too!

    I always recommend A NORTHERN LIGHT and I have also recommended Ellen Klage’s THE GREEN GLASS SEA and Laura Amy Schlitz’s A DROWNED MAIDEN’S HAIR with great success. 🙂

  6. I’ve been doing the same thing! I’ve passed a whole bunch of dystopian and post-apocalypic novels on to the science teachers, especially because they have their students read science-based stories for class. But besides them, it’s hard to convince people to pick up YA because they think it’s for teens. SOOO untrue. (Actually, there may be more adults who read YA than teens!)
    Great post!

  7. Before I Fall, Unwind, Dairy Queen, North of Beautiful all books that are popular with other educators in my school and so great for the kids to hear and see this interaction with their literature. I have kids that overhear the discussion and want to read it.

  8. Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. Also, Susan Campbell Baroletti’s They Call Themselves the KKK.

  9. I was going to offer Alexie’s book, as good as his published for adults, too. But anyone who teaches adolescents should be reading books by Laurie Halse Anderson, too, especially Speak and a recent one, Wintergirls. But her history-based books like Forge are also excellent.

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