Saturday, December 18, 2010

Books, books and more Books!

This last semester was all about literature. I had one class about 18th century British literature and two classes about teaching literature and writing to middle school and high school students. I had to read a lot of books. Now that I have this break I wanted to share some of the books that I read, the good and the bad. My boys love to read (not sure where they got that - wink, wink) and I am constantly reading what they read and then trying to find new books to engage them in. So here goes my Saturday Book Club slash review.

First I am currently reading book one in a young adult fiction series called 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson. I will let you know next week how it is. Feel free to join me in this exploration of books. They won't all be young adult novels but I am trying to find books that I can use at the middle and high school level.

Now on to a review of a series that I have read. FYI, two of my sons have read this series and my husband is about to start book one. The first book in the series was a required read this past semester as an example of a good book with possibilities for using as a "whole class" read. Meaning I could use this novel to teach literary terms, it has possibilities for teaching writing techniques and with some homework on the teachers part could be used to do a literary analysis.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Let's get the basics out of the way, I liked this series. It was fast paced, easy to read and it kept me hooked until the end. For those of you who care, rumor is they are making these books into a movie. This is a three book series, Mocking Jay (book three) just came out. The premise is a world divided because of war. You have small communities of people with one central government who controls everything (for the good of the people, not so much). Every year they have the Hunger Games. Two people are chosen from every community to go and participate in a game of death, last one standing wins. The story focuses on one particular city and one girl who changes the course of the games and then eventually the course of the world. I think that is as much of a plot summary as I can give without telling everything.

What the book as going for it:

A.     This is not a "mirror" book, this is not written in the way that kids speak everyday. There are new vocabulary words and the dialogue is intelligent.

B.      The author uses description techniques really well, the movie making process in a readers mind needs very little help.

C.      You care about the characters and you can become easily emotionally involved. My boys would tell me that they were upset about how something went down or if they wanted a scene to go a different way.

D.      There is plenty in these books to have discussions about; war, ethics, loyality, decisions, consequences, accountabilty, etc.

Things parents might not like:

A.     Strong violence, battles - group and individual. Children die, sometimes in cruel and visual disturbing ways. Torture, cruel words and hurtful conversations.

B.     There is rebellion, children and adults. There are kids breaking rules and asserting their independence.

C.     There is no sex but there is kissing, though not written in any descriptive ways, just they kissed.

This book is for teens, though I would caution that it should be read by emotionally strong teens. If I were to teach from this book I would use it in 8th or 9th grade. I haven't given it to my 6th grader because I don't think he's ready to process the cruelty that is done, one human to another. This is a book that I would recommend to teens and adults. Happy reading!


  1. have read several reviews on this but yours seems very fair and well detailed...have yet to check it out but will...

  2. I loved the Hunger Games series. I just finished reading them recently. They kept my attention and I was surprised to find out they were young adult books. Very good reading though.