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I work primarily with older teens. We have reluctant readers, readers below grade level or non-readers. Topics they're drawn to, would likely to want to explore but not necessarily talk about would include topics such as rape, molestation, drugs, incarceration, dysfunctional families, mental illness, domestic violence, abandoment, body image, low-self esteem, sexual orientation and sexuality.
What would you recommend? I'll list what I've read shortly.
I've heard good things about The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman. Also there are several by Paul Volponi that would fit what you are looking for.
Last Edited on: 11/20/08 3:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Probably the darkest YA book I've read is the Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos. It's pretty short (well under 200 pages). It's defininitely not for everyone.
I'd also recommend No Choirboy: Murder, Violence and Teens on Death Row by Susan Kuklin. It's non-fiction, but is not dry. It's also fairly short.
Have you tried the Bluford series published by Townsend? It's a 15 book series targeted towards reluctant readers and is set in an urban environment. I highly recommend them. More info: http://www.townsendpress.com/product/97.aspx
Last Edited on: 11/26/08 4:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
We have a few of them. Personally, I'm not initially impressed but I can be a book snob. I will be adding them though because my priority is to get them reading not getting them to read what I think is good. lol
Which have you read? What do you like about them? Which are favorites?
Jacqueline Woodson. Hands down, favorite YA author
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun ( issues or sexuality, race, coming of age)
Lena (sexual abuse, coming of age, race, friendship)
The House You Pass On the Way (sexuality, sexual orientation, coming of age, friendship, race)
If You Come Softly (interracial relationships, race, diversity, coming of age, teen romance)
The Dear One (teen pregnancy, alternative families, race, biracial issues, sexual orientation)
Burn by Black Artemis (hip-hop, race, grafiti writers diversity, transgendered, sexual orientation, family, H.I.V)
No Laughter Here (female genital multilation, multicultural, coming of age, friendship)
Everytime A Rainbow Dies (multicultural, rape, coming of age, teen romance)
Lori A. Williams
When Kambia Elaine Flew In From Neptune (sexual abuse, coming of age, friendship)
Shayla's Double Browns
First Part Last by Angela Johnson (teen pregnancy, adoption, family)
Sold (sex slave trade in India)
Life is Funny by E.R. Frank (Series of short stories with recurring characters; molestation, cultural assimilation, abandoment, adoption, loss)
Parable of Sower & Parable of Talents by Octavia butlter (dytopia fiction)
Crank and Glass (both by Ellen Hopkins), deal with mostly drugs and running away from your problems. Lots of pages, but only probably 30 or so words per page. Very easy reads. You could check out Burned and Impulse also by ellen hopkins. They aren't sequels, but they deal with different problems teens have.
Fantasy that meets above criteria:
Deerskin by Robin McKinley
The Armless Maiden ed by Terri Windling (short stories)
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Dreams Underfoot (short stories) and Someplace To Be Flying by Charles de Lint
De Lint has recently written some very good YA that your students might like a lot:
The Blue Girl
Waifs and Strays
Have you read the Francesca Lia Block Wetzie Bat books?