Now that I’m back at the day job (teaching junior high ELA), I find myself looking at books through my teacher lens, and not my writer lens. This is a different view, since the teacher in me looks for books by other authors (not my own books) that elicit great joy in my students as readers. It’s critical that the books I recommend to my students be ones that inspire them to pick up another book. And then another book. And another. And another. Otherwise, if my recommendations are off, that trust is gone and I might end up creating students who don’t want to read. And that’s not cool.
I’m very well-read when it comes to MG and YA, so it’s often rather easy for me to recommend books to my students. I even offer my own copies as well. Last year I was loaning my copies of HUNGER GAMES and MAZE RUNNER to students. I had more than a few students salivating for future books in the series. That’s pretty darn cool to see: students getting “into” reading based on books I got “into” myself. I just handed off a list of about 20 books that weren’t in our library to our librarian and told her, “These books are ones that hook young readers, so we need them.” Books by my fellow Mayhemers were included on this list, along with books that we’ve reviewed over the last year or so (by the way, I have a book review coming up on September 28th for a book called RETURN TO EXILE, by E.J. Patten, so look for that).
When I recommend books to students, first I’ll ask them for books they enjoyed in the past. That helps me come up with comps that I can recommend. For example, if a student says he liked ARTEMIS FOWL, I can guess he might dig FABLEHAVEN, or perhaps the GREGOR series. If a student says she likes the TWILIGHT books, I might recommend P.C. and Kristin Cast’s books or Heather Brewer’s VLADIMIR TOD books, which I personally favor over Meyer’s books. If a student likes Mike Lupica’s sports books, I might recommend Tim Green’s sports books. Then there are those books that I just recommend to all my students because I love them: like EMERALD ATLAS and the CIRQUE du FREAK series (underrated series, in my opinion).
So now I turn to you to help my students. If you’d be so kind, give me your recommendations, perhaps the top 5 in any MG or YA genre (like your “Top 5 YA Paranormal” or your “Top 5 MG Fantasy”) and I’ll pull these recommendations and pass them along to my students. Make them good, though. My students’ reading future depends on YOU!