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Dear Bully

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Publication Information
Editor(s): Megan Kelley Hall & Carrie Jones 
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Release Date: September 6, 2011

Genre: Non-Fiction

Reading Level: Easy

Target Age: 12+

Grade Levels: 7-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
Dear Bully is a non-fictional novel, done by 70 children’s and young-adult authors who recall their own childhood memories about bullying. The book is made up of many short pieces and is divided into 9 sections. It begins with “Dear Bully”, in which writers wrote directly to the person(s) who bullied them. The next section, “Just Kidding” looks at humor as a mask for bullying, as well as it being a method of self-preservation. Other sections include “Survival,” “Regret,” “Thank You, Friends,” “Insight,” “Speak,” “Write It,” and “It Gets Better.”

The stories are real, and this makes this novel all the more relatable for teens. The main theme/point in this novel is to let teens know that they are not alone, and that there are people in the world, and notable people at that, that understand them and what they are going through.

On top of there being letters and short stories, the novel also has poems and graphic pieces, which makes this a valuable resource in the classroom. Because of its varied writing styles, this novel could also be paired, as a teacher’s resource, with another novel that addresses the theme of bullying, and the teacher could just pull individual stories, poems, or graphic pieces as additional sources for a unit. The possibilities are all there with this book.

Cautions
Violence – However, it is a critical component of this book in order for the book to accomplish what it aims to accomplish.
Minor Sexual Content – Again it is necessary and an actually account of the harassment the authors went through
Minor Language

Classroom Use
Core Curriculum/Bookshelf – This book has lots of uses in the curriculum. A teacher could just use the individual poems, short stories, graphics, and letters as resources throughout the year, or they could use it to do an entire unit on bullying. This would be a good book to do leading up to an anti-bullying week. It would also be a good idea to have this book laying on the bookshelf so that a student could get their hands on it if need be. It has an extremely powerful message and really should be brought into the classroom in anyway possible.

Other Suggested Readings
Pair with Chronicles of Nick

Uglies

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Publication Information
Author(s): Scott Westerfield  
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: June 26, 2006

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian Literature

Reading Level: Moderate

Target Age: 12+

Grade Levels: 7-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
This novel is set in a post-apocalyptic future world, where at the age of 16 everyone is given an operation that makes them physically perfect. It follows Tally, a young girl who at the start of the novel is 3 months shy of turning 16, and she just recently lost her best friend to the “pretties’” world. Tally is not 16 yet she still lives in the “uglies’” world because she is still an ugly.

The book, which celebrates beauty above all else, deals with our culture’s current obsession with physical perfection and hedonism. It has many educational values strung throughout it, such as characters who stand up to an oppressive regime, and resist becoming “perfect”, this highlights the importance of individual freedoms are and what people are willing to do for them.

This novel has the potential to start some great discussions in class about what beauty really is, what conformity is, and whether this is a utopia or dystopia. It also addresses the environmental cost of our lifestyle today. It raises issues about what making everyone “pretty” would do to society. Would it lessen discrimination, jealousy, racism, war, etc.

There is not a lot of violence or sex in this novel, and drinking is very minimal. There is also absolutely no language, which is nice to see in a young adult novel.

Cautions
None

Classroom Use
Core Curriculum/Bookshelf – This book has all kinds of opportunities for learning. If it were no I would take out Fahrenheit 451 and put this book in its place. Like I stated before the novel addresses our cultures current obsession with physical perfection and hedonism. It has characters who stand up to an oppressive regime, and resist becoming “perfect”, which highlights the importance of individual freedoms. These are all important concepts to teach in the classroom, not to mention the opportunity that this book presents for discussions on beauty, discrimination, racism, and war. It also has the potential to open up discussions on utopian and dystopian literature, environmental issues, and much more. As a plus it also has little risk when teaching it because there is very little violence, sex, and drinking and there is absolutely no language in it.

Other Suggested Readings
The other novels in the Uglies Quartet

Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Publication Information
Author(s): Stephen Chbosky 
Publisher: MTV Books/Pocket Books
Release Date: February 1, 1999

Genre: Coming of Age/Fiction

Reading Level: Moderate

Target Age: 14+

Grade Levels: 9-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
This book really wasn’t my type of book, but I can see how teens can relate to it. The novel addresses a lot of mature themes that are relatable to teens that go anywhere from abortion, to suicide, to homosexuality, to Charlie’s repressed memories of being sexually abused, and all kinds of things in-between. The novel is about Charlie coming of age, and with that comes lots of sex, drugs, and alcohol. In the novel Charlie drinks, smokes, and does some drugs, however, he still has many redeeming qualities. He is always honest about his feelings, and he stick by his friends Sam and Patrick when they fall apart.

It was a short and fairly quick read, which alone would make this an appealing book for some teens. The book follows the letters of Charlie, a misfit who, after his friend commits suicide, is trying to learn how to fit into life. His letters deal with everything from his family, to his friends, and his complicated feelings about growing up.

The novel also deals with physical and sexual abuse in relationships, such as when Charlie’s sister is hit by her boyfriend but continues to secretly date him, as well as Charlie remembering being sexually molested as a small child. He also remembers his dad hitting him and recounts a history of physical abuse in his family.

Sex is also a huge part of this novel. Sex “pops up” multiple times in this novel, such as when Charlie overhears his crush having sex with her boyfriend, or when he walks in on his sister naked with her boyfriend. He also learns that a friend is having a secret homosexual romance. He also goes with his gay friend to pick up guys for anonymous sex, and this same friend kisses Charlie. There are other scenes where people are making out and descriptions of people having sex, and toward the end, there is a very descriptive scene where Charlie stops a girl from touching him when he remembers being abused.

Cautions
Minor Violence
Mature Sexual Themes
Language
Drug and Alcohol

Classroom Use
Bookshelf – This book is definitely not something I think I would use in the classroom. There are a lot of controversial things going on in this little book, and while I think, and know, that they are, for the most part, relevant to young adults today, I would think that using this novel in the classroom might ruffle some feathers. I would keep, however, keep this book in my secret stash, and give it to a student who I know this would work for.

Other Suggested Readings
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Every Human has Rights

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Publication Information
Author(s): United Nations Declaration of Human Rights & The Community
Publisher: National Geographic
Release Date: November 25th, 2009

Genre: Informational

Reading Level: Easy

Target Age: 10+

Grade Levels: 5-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
This book won the Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2010, and for due cause. This book is an excellent resource book to use if you were doing a unit on human rights, multiculturalism, diversity and much much more. The book is full of powerful photos, poetry, and short stories written by other kids that students can somewhat relate to. It goes through the 30 rights set down in 1948 by the United Nations. The short but excellent book allows kids to become familiar with these rights. Among some of the images in this book are scenes of a children praying, playing, working, and going to school in multiple countries all over the world. It includes pictures of protests, families displaced by war, a homeless child sleeping on the street, Jewish Holocaust survivors, battered women, and marriage ceremonies. The pictures in this book alone will stimulate classroom discussion, writing opportunities, and much more. The only downfall in this book, is that it can be a bit heavy with details sometimes, which is something the teacher would need to break down and discuss further.

Cautions
None

Classroom Use
Core Curriculum (Resource)/Bookshelf – This book would be an excellent supplement to any social studies curriculum. It could be used for a unit on different lifestyles around the world, multiculturalism, diversity, and human rights. It could also be used to clue up a study of World War II as a more current connection to today’s world. A teacher could also use the pictures in the book as writing prompts, or the poetry to teach poetry in the classroom.

Other Suggested Readings
Holidays Around the World
Other National Geographic Social Studies Resources  

How to Survive Anything

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Publication Information
Author(s): Rachel Buchholz
Illustrations: Chris Philpot
Publisher: National Geographic
Release Date: April 12th, 2011

Genre: Informational

Reading Level: Easy

Target Age: 10+

Grade Levels: 5-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
This book is a laugh out loud how to informational book. While being extremely humorous, it does deal with some serious issues. It offers actual facts and advice on how to survive natural disasters and predators, as well as how to deal with school pressures (teachers, being the new kid, tests, etc.), peer pressures (fights, embarrassing moments, bullying, parties, braces, etc.), parental pressures, and just plain life. It has lots of fun and humorous illustrations, and is sure to draw in a reluctant reader. It a great grab and go type book!

Cautions
None

Classroom Use
Bookshelf – This book would be an excellent book for the bookshelf in a classroom because it would be one of those books that a student could go over and grab when they were finished doing their work or during silent reading time, and it would keep them entertained and quite. In addition, a teacher could also use it as a means to provide some comic relief in the classroom at the beginning or end of class.

Other Suggested Readings
Dummies Guide
Other How to Books

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Publication Information
Author(s): Sherman Alixie
Art: Ellen Forney
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Release Date: September 12th, 2007

Genre: Fiction

Reading Level: Easy

Target Age: 12-14

Grade Levels: 7-9

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
This novel is a powerful look at what life is like for Native Americans living on reservations. It highlights the struggles that one teen (Arnold) faces in an effort to escape his predetermined destiny to find his own identity. The book deals with some serious issues such as, racism and mentions homophobia, as well as what it is like for a teenage boy who is coming of age. Alcoholism is also major theme throughout the novel, however, it does not glorify it in any way. It also deals with the loss of family and friends such as Juniors grandmother, his sister, his dads friend, and his best friend Rowdy, with whom he makes up with in the end.

The book is definitely a page turner, and something that a student could read pretty easily in a few sittings. The novel also has really short chapters, which makes the book feel like it is going by more quickly. The wording is also easy to read, relevant, and relatable.

Cautions
Minor Language
Deals with racism and homophobia
Some references to masturbation and erections
Alcoholism is a major theme.

Classroom Use
Core Content/Bookshelf – This book would be a great book to use as a multicultural text in the classroom. Not only is it an extremely interesting, enjoyable, and easy read for all, but it also highlights some serious issues. It addresses what life is like for a lot (not all) of Native Aboriginals on reserves, as well as highlights serious issue such as substance abuse, child abuse, racism, homophobia, bulimia, death, and the list goes on, you name it and this book probably makes mention of it in some way.

Other Suggested Readings
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

The Joy of Fairy Tales

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Publication Information
Compiler(s): Gill Davies 
Publisher: Worth Press Ltd.
Release Date: September 1st, 2011

Genre: Fairy Tales/Informational/Picture Book

Reading Level: Moderate 

Target Age: 12+

Grade Levels: 7-12

Gender: Male/Female

Description of Novel
This book of fairy tales is the mother of all fairy tale books. It has just about every fairy tale you would ever want to teach in classroom. It also includes poems, plays, folk tales, legends, short stories, excerpts, and some famous illustrations. It has fairy tales from Europe, Asia, the Americas, and much much more. Before each fairy tale, poem, story, etc. it has a short informational section that explain the pieces origins. At the back of the book there is a short biography of all the authors and illustrators. The illustrations in this book are beyond great, and can stimulate some great thoughts. There is also a timeline that follows the evolution of the fairy and folk tales through history. All in all is the learning opportunities in this book is amazing! 

Cautions
Some of the original tales can be disturbing

Classroom Use
Core Content – This book is fantastic to use as the core text for a unit on fairy tales. The illustrations, facts, information, progression, etc. are all extremely useful classroom tools.

Other Suggested Readings
Supplementary information on fairy tales and their authors