Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Talk: It's the End of the World As We Know It . . . (Part One)

For some reason my students, and probably many like them, like to read about the end of the world. Or if not the end of the world, the end of the world as the characters knew it. There's definitely been a rise in post-apocalyptic, dystopian future books over the last few years. Interestingly enough, it's a type of book that I love too, so here's some examples of my favourites:

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
What, you mean you haven't heard of these books? Well you need to get out from under that rock you've been under! The Hunger Games tells us the story of Katniss, whose family struggles to get by in their post-war life. But, the most horrific part of Katniss' world is The Hunger Games, an annual kill or be killed reality television show in which tributes are forced to participate. Mockingjay, which is coming out soon, is one of the most highly anticipated books in our classroom (and there's a few lately).

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
I only finished this one last week, but I cannot wait to introduce it to my older students. Perfect for those who have finished The Hunger Games, and want a similar book to move on to, this book is the first of a trilogy (the second one is waiting for me to read it). It's the story of Todd, who lives in a different world, and indeed planet to ours. In his world, you can hear the thoughts of men, the noise. Todd, still a boy in his world, struggles to understand what it means to be a member of his community, his town and indeed his world.

Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
I have a confession to make. Despite being an Australian teenager when these were first published, and a rabid fan of So Much to Tell You, Take My Word for It and Letters from the Inside, I had never read, nor even wanted to read Tomorrow When the War Began. My sisters tried to get me to read it, but no go. And this holidays I brought home the whole series from my classroom determined to read them before the movie comes out in September - and I don't know what took me so long! (I can hear my sisters saying 'I told you so' from here).

Tomorrow When the War Began is the first book of a seven book series about Ellie and her friends who were camping in thick bush when their town, and their country was invaded. The group of teenagers set out to see what they can find out, destroy what they can, and evade capture from the invaders. Where this series is strongest (and I'm only up to the fifth book) is in how they haven't aged particularly. They were written with enough differences from Australia of today (public holidays we've never had for example) that you could still see this happening in the future or now. Again, a perfect series for the Hunger Games readers, showing teenagers taking on real, adult responsibilities, although for different reasons.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
This is a deceptively thin book. It tells the story of Jonas, who seems to be living in a great world. Except, slowly you realise that things aren't as nice as they seem in Jonas' world, and that there's a lot bubbling below the surface. This book, like all these books, raises so many interesting questions - rich fodder for book talking and debate. This book has been a bit hit and miss with students, a lot see it as too easy for them because of the thinness of the book. Another one to try to sell this term!

Next blog post, I'll look at Obernewtyn, Uglies, Chasers and a few others that squeeze under the same banner


A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
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