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Adolescent lit class begins tomorrow | Class #1, 2018

Lolly’s children’s literature class at the Harvard Graduate School of Education wrapped up in November with lively discussion and debate in their Mock Awards committees, a terrific culminating event. Tomorrow, adolescent lit begins, and we’ll continue to hold our class book discussions out in the open here and invite you all to join the conversation.

Winnowing a list to only six weeks of reading is quite a challenge for both Lolly and me. It’s always difficult to let a favorite book go, but I’m excited about bringing in some outstanding new titles this year.  We start off this week with two books that span the YA age-range: E. Lockhart’s heady and provocative novel We Were Liars and Rachel Vail’s latest, a romantic comedy with her pitch-perfect ear for middle-school humor and angst. We’re delighted that Rachel will visit our class on February 13.

As students sign up for class just a few days before we start, comments on these books are optional, but we invite you to share your own thoughts or classroom experiences. (No spoilers, please :-).)

Here’s the complete reading list for the class. Some weeks they are choosing books from this list rather than reading all of them.

January 23, 2018 (first class, intro to adolescent lit)

  • Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail

  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


January 30 (windows and mirrors)

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


February 6 (historical fiction and information books)

  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

  • The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & The Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

  • No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose

  • Marching For Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don't You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge

  • Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, the Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carol Boston Weatherford; illus. by Ekua Holmes


February 13 (fantasy and sci fi)

  • Feed by M. T. Anderson

  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal


February 27 (illustrated books)

  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan

  • Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by 
Ashley Bryan

  • Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

  • March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illus. by Nate Powell


March 6 (last class, dessert)

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Lauren Adams
Lauren Adams
Lauren Adams teaches English and ELL at Natick High School and adolescent literature at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Formerly a Senior Editor for The Horn Book Magazine, she regularly contributes book reviews.
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Zheala Qayyum

Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail was very funny, real and relatable in the way it was written for young adolescents. It speaks with such compassion about the ghosts that dwell in the unspoken and implied within families. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart simply took my breath away. It was written in an extremely conversational manner, but this book too draws upon the power of secrets, and the process of making sense of traumatic events unfolds in the most extraordinary manner. I truly enjoyed both books and really look forward to the other readings in this course.

Posted : Jan 26, 2018 04:12


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