I’m excited this is my first Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s meme is “Top Ten Books that would be on your syllabus if you taught ______ 101.”
Now, I know I have seriously never wanted to be a teacher (my patience is too short!) But as an English major, the first question out of anyone’s mouth is “So….you plan on teaching right?” You get asked this enough, you do eventually start to wonder what the heck your classes would be like.
No surprise, mine would be definitely Young Adult literature related. (Embrace who you are. Just do it, self). I half debated something paranormal related or Gothic related, and even potentially fantasy related, but if I was going to teach, I would want to teach my favorite book first. So without further ado, see the reading list for my Young Adult Science Fiction 101 class.
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Eagle
This book is one of my oldest and favorite book ever. It was published in 1963, but I believe it has stood the test of time easily. It is about a girl named Meg who father is a governmental scientist that has gone missing while working on the tesseract. She goes searching for her father with her 5 year old brother Charles and friend Calvin, as well as three witches: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. They hop from world to world, experiencing a Utopian and a dark hive like world ruled by “IT.” This book continues in the series called “The Time Quintet.”
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
This book is my first dystopia on the list. Sorry, but not sorry — I love dystopias. In this one, parents are not allowed to have a third child unless under extreme circumstances. Ender is one of those kids, born to have the good qualities of both of his siblings. Because he does, he is sent to learn how to fight the pending war. I debated between this one and Ender’s Shadow, which I technically liked more. Both have great qualities — Ender’s Game focuses more on the political side, while Ender’s Shadow shows more of the poverty of this world. I’m not sure you can understand Ender’s Shadow without Ender’s Game, but if you love the character Bean, read it.
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Again, I love dystopias. And I love this series, which I’m not going to give any summary of as it’s one of the most popular series these days. I know this wasn’t a new or original story, but I love the technology added to this series. The nightmare-ish creatures in and outside of the arena, as well as the insanity of the arenas themselves.
Animorphs by K.A. Applegate
Kids battling parasite aliens? Don’t know who to trust — your own family might be infected? 54 book series, where five teenagers and a teenage alien change from innocent kids to war veterans before they can legally drink? HAVING THE ABILITY TO CHANGE INTO ANY ANIMAL YOU WANT?! Yeah, this was on of my favorite series growing up. (it was also one of the best bonding tactics, leading me to some of my oldest and dearest friends.) It’s also one of the first experiences I had losing a character I loved.
Gone by Michael Grant
Did you know that Michael Grant is K.A. Applegate’s husband? This was enough to sell me on trying this series. The Gone series came out roughly the same time as Stephen King’s Under a Dome (I think before, but I didn’t start the series when it first came out). It has a similar concept – a town has an impenetrable energy barrier around it and everybody over the age of 15 has disappeared. Some of the kids begin to develop powers in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone), causing a rift within those left. The kids try to set up their own community while waiting for adults to save them. But something much darker lurks, and not everyone will survive.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
I was iffy about this book at first — while I enjoyed it, it isn’t necessarily one that I would reread. But I would never, ever teach a class and not teach a zombie book. This is a YA zombie series about a village surrounded by fences and forests filled with zombies. When there is a breach in the fence though, what do you do? Okay, okay, it isn’t overtly Sci-Fi, but zombies alone can be discussed as a science fiction phenomenon.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Would this go before or after Michael Grant’s Gone series? Probably before. Again, is it science fiction? Probably not. Okay, really, probably not. BUT it is a book that led to so many science fiction stories. Plus a nice compare and contrast section on dystopias where teens are left on their own and how they react.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam
Confession: I celebrate Towel Day every May 25th. This book would be a perfect book to counter all the depressing dystopias read during my class. It’s light and hilarious, even if the world does blow up in the beginning. It’s also another book to bring the perfect balance between old and new. Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are wonderful guides to the wacky universe outside of our small planet.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
I begrudgingly loved reading this book in my eighth grade class. Begrudgingly, because I hated my teacher but loved this book. This book was written in the late 50s and early 60s, first as a short story. I’m not 100% I would consider it YA, but since I read it as a teen, why not.
The story revolves around Charlie Gordon, a man with an IQ in the 60s who undergoes an experimental surgery to increase his intelligence. Algernon is the mouse who underwent the procedure prior to Charlie. It is successful for awhile, but at what cost? And what happens when or if the effects wear off?
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Okay, who didn’t read this book in middle school or high school? And of those who read it, is there really anyone who didn’t like it? I am not a biology person at all, but I loved every page of this book. Dinosaurs! Real (kind of) live (sort of) dinosaurs! The kid in all of us should enjoy this series.
Are there any books on this list that a student would hate or refuse to read? Any books that should have been on it? I tried to keep a balance between new and old, especially as dystopias are huge right now. But if there is one that should be on here instead of Hunger Games, I am happy to entertain the ideas. (Don’t say Divergent though, I am still angry at Divergent!)