Teaching middle school is not for the faint of heart. But if you're called to do it, you know there's nothing else quite like it. Join us in discussing what works - and what doesn't.

Good YA books for middle schoolers?

John Norton Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

Maybe this is just an English teacher question, but I hope not. I'd love to put together a Top 10 list of YA books that are most likely to get kids reading -- maybe a boys list and a girls list, with full crossover rights (smile) and share it at the middle school website I have fun with in my spare time.

Anybody want to play? If you offer a book, please give me at least 50 words on why you think it deserves a high ranking. And feel free to offer more than one. I know you will anyway!

PS: I've actually been reading some YA books recently to get myself more up to date. Just finished The Lightning Thief, the first in the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (who was teaching eighth grade just a few short years ago!). How does that play in MS? Characters too young?

How about the Adam Canfield series by Michael Winerip (also a NYT columnist) about a crusading middle school reporter?

http://www.michaelwinerip.com/

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Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

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Glad to see an endorsement of The Lightning Thief, which I liked but I confess to having lost my tween perspective in my senior years. Who knew kids would go for Greek mythology if a young hero in sneakers was introduced?

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

Greek Mythology

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I think Greek Mythology has been an underground middle school passion for years. I used to be a "goth" middle schooler, into mythology and fantasy. I was a unicorn girl, myself. But those "valley girls" came and took them from me as my symbol. Darn those pink-clad girls with their woven hair barrettes!

I was always into mythology of any sorts in the pre-Harry Potter decades. Fantasy was getting eaten up by some of my friends as an escape. There were middle schoolers out there looking to read Lord of the Rings and some still cantering around pretending they were centaurs, after all.

Middle Schoolers are born to love genre of mythology. Who didn't dream of being a misunderstood tween with powers and the underestimated wisdom to use them well?

I can't believe it took an author this long to tap into it! In addition, however, 6th graders study ancient myths, so it automatically allows a universal language for middle schoolers who read the series. Nothing like a reading/history cross-over to bring readers over to the literacy dark side!

-Heather WG

Education writer, Founder & co-editor of MiddleWeb.com

Teacher turned author

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Quote:

I can't believe it took an author this long to tap into it! In addition, however, 6th graders study ancient myths, so it automatically allows a universal language for middle schoolers who read the series. Nothing like a reading/history cross-over to bring readers over to the literacy dark side!

-Heather WG

He was busy teaching middle school! Here's a bio snippet from the author of the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan:

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award. http://sn.im/riordan

An inspiration to all MS teachers who harbor a secret desire to write YA novels?

Middle School teacher by day, Tweenteacher by night

I'm hungry for more author info!

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Thanks for sharing a factanoid I can bring back to the classroom. My students'll love it. Looking back at the discussion of lists of books so far which has proven popular with tweens and teens, anybody else know little known facts about the authors we can take back to classroom?

What a great week it would be to have a new fact posted on the board when the kids walked in. I had a two week period last year that had a different quote everyday from a famous YA author on their writing process. I even went to a Neil Gaiman book signing (for his Anansi Boys adult novel) and raised my hand to ask about any advice he could give students who struggle with writing. I'll try to find my notes from that spontaneous unit and post the series of quotes here.

In the meantime, do any of you out there have any facts to share about these YA authors or maybe about their writing process?

Please post!

-Heather WG

Seventh grade language arts teacher from New Hampshire

The Wednesday Wars

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I read The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt over the summer and decided to use it this spring in my 7th grade lit circles. I love the book and know my students will love it, too. It's a hilarious coming-of-age book set in the late 1960s. It has a slow start, but stay with it. I got the book and CD through Scholastic, and the guy who reads it does a great job.

Seventh grade language arts teacher from New Hampshire

The Wednesday Wars

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I read The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt over the summer and decided to use it this spring in my 7th grade lit circles. I love the book and know my students will love it, too. It's a hilarious coming-of-age book set in the late 1960s. It has a slow start, but stay with it. I got the book and CD through Scholastic, and the guy who reads it does a great job.

Heather, If you would like to

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Heather, If you would like to reclaim your unicorns, you should read Rampant by Diana Peterfreund. An ancient race of female huntresses reclaims their role as unicorn killers...more appropriate for high school readers, but WE can enjoy it!

http://www.dianapeterfreund.com/books/unicorns/rampant/

John-- Would you like our

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John-- Would you like our nominations for your list posted here? or sent to you?
-Donalyn

English teacher 8th grade

I am pretty conservative when

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I am pretty conservative when it comes to content, thus there is nothing in these novels dealing with controversial topics such as abortion, rape, incest... however there is some language, beating and berating.It really boils down to the culture of you school's community.

The Thief Lord - Two boys run away and live hand to mouth in Italy G/B
Define Normal- what it's like not being part of the "main stream" G
I Am the Schwa- a boy who feels invisible and coping G/B
Anthem- individualism vs collectivism in society- confusing pronoun use, but worth it. G/B
Call of the Wild- is it nature or nurture- a dog's journey G/B
After the Dancing Days- WWI girl making own decisions as to right and wrong- prejudice G some boys do like it
The Pact- true sory about 3 boys from the Jersy projects who become something G/B
Monster- Written as a screen play- man's journey with justice B
Pigman- coming of age, companionship and taking advantage G/B
Man Who was Poe- turn of the century RI mystery with a subplot. G/B

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