Kids/Teens Book Club discussion

Recommendations > For a teacher of 7/8th grade english...

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message 1: by Amy (new)

Amy Faulhaber | 2 comments Hi! My name is Amy and I am currently getting my English Teaching Credential. I'll be teaching 7th/8th grade English in the fall, and was wondering what books you, as preteens and teenagers, LOVE! Also, what assigned reading have you loved or hated?

Basically, what books do you think are important for your teachers to know about, and which assigned books do you wish you didn't have to read?


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

One of the coolest things we did in my 7th and 8th grade english class, was reading plays. You know, Cyrano de Burgeac, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, etc. We had to finnish the book by a certain date, and so many pages had to be read each night. After every reading assignment, we had to write a one paragraph summary over what we had just read. We were told that if we finished all of our work by the end of the semester, we would be allowed to reinact the play in class. It gave us initiative to work hard to get the rest of our work done, and doing the play during class was so much fun!

message 3: by Amber (new)

Amber | 15 comments I'll never forget when we were assigned to read The Outsiders. That book changed my life and made me want to read. Before that I didn't read too much.

message 4: by Rose (new)

Rose (rose_b) | 330 comments I'm going into seventh grade this year, and I hate being assigned books that are classics. Science fiction is always good for assigned books. I really enjoyed being assigned 21 Balloons, The Hunger Games, and Incarceron. I hated having to read books like Jonny Tremain. If I were you, I would keep the worksheets minimal, because when you are getting quized on each chapter, it's hard to really like the book.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Ah come on Rose, Jonny Tremain was a great book! I think I read it in 5 th grade. It was awesome! But I do agree on the worksheets thing. A few are okay and for those who don't understand certain parts of the book, they can be helpful, but too many worksheets, and reading is no longer fun.

message 6: by Frank (new)

Frank If you are assigning a book to read, make sure it's something everyone will enjoy.

I had freshman teacher who only assigned books about war that the girls hated. Then I had a teacher my sophmore year that had us read books geared towards girls.

So, make sure you are picking something everyone will like to read. Books I remember reading in school that I enjoyed were: The Outsiders, Othello, and Brave New World. You could give The Hobbit a try, but some younger readers may not retain the details.

message 7: by ★ Jess (new)

★ Jess  | 4295 comments Mod
Have an attitude that the students will appreciate. Dont go on and on about how amazing it is if you think its crap.
My english teacher last year DESPISED the book we had to read, and made it clear. Yet she explained to us why she hated it-themes and characters and writing style. It was like she was viewing it from a 9th grade perspective.
I know that doesnt help with what to read, but have an appropriate attitude to it.

message 8: by Rose (new)

Rose (rose_b) | 330 comments Cassie wrote: "Ah come on Rose, Jonny Tremain was a great book! I think I read it in 5 th grade. It was awesome! But I do agree on the worksheets thing. A few are okay and for those who don't understand certain p..."

Come on, really? That was the most boring book I've ever read!

message 9: by Adam (new)

Adam Of course you don't like it Rose, it's probably not your thing. That doesn't mean someone can't love it.

When I was in the 7th/8th grade, I hated every single book I read. Also hated just about every high school book too. I distinctly remember being forced to read "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck, ever since then I have dreaded this guys name in required reading. I despise everything he wrote. School really did a number on me for "wanting to read" and never made me want to read much.

A lot of schools try to have kids read "classics" like Johnny Tremain, but even though one person here loved it, I think assigning classics is a huge issue. Those classic books were NOT written for young adult readers or even teenagers in some cases. They were written for adults. Why the education system thinks these things are written for pre-teens/teens is beyond me. Even Shakespear is well beyond the average teens understanding. You will have to do considerable leg work if we are speaking of the average student here.

Books that are gender neutral, relevant to their world, etc. are probably a better bet to try and find. Let Universities teach things like MacBeth when someone might get something out of it. Schools should focus on growing someone's interest in reading, not destroying it. I've gone back and read loads of classics and I love them as an adult. I still hate Steinbeck though.

message 10: by Rose (new)

Rose (rose_b) | 330 comments I always like it when we can pick from a few books to read. The teacher picks out 4 or 5 different books and lets us choose which we want to read. That way if one kid wants to read fantasy, and another kid wants to read realistic fiction, they can both get what they want.

message 11: by Adam (new)

Adam Rose wrote: "I always like it when we can pick from a few books to read. The teacher picks out 4 or 5 different books and lets us choose which we want to read. That way if one kid wants to read fantasy, and ano..."

And this method MAY actually encourage kids to read more! Usually when you walk into a book store you have more than one genre to choose from as well as more than one book : P

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with Rose and Adam. Everyone is so different about what they like to read, that almost no matter what one book you pick, some will like it and others hate it. Choosing is much more fun!

message 13: by Kate (new)

Kate | 8205 comments The other thing with having multiple choices is having multiple levels. I know that I, personally, was usually reading at a higher level than the books assigned, because the class average was lower. If you give students options, you can spread it out along the spectrum.

That being said, you will have to read at least some books as a whole class, and there is a lot to gain from having class-wide discussions. I find that I get more out of a class book than a small group or individual one, even if I like the small group book better. If you vary the type of book you read as a class (and yes, you can include classics, just don't overload it), you'll have a good shot at pleasing most people at least once.

Another option is to take the students' choices into account. Either let them give suggestions, and then either listen or not, or let them vote on which book out of five or so to read as a class.

Some teachers also have a policy where you have to be reading an independent book at all times, no matter what you're doing in class. What the book is doesn't matter, just that you read at least x number of pages or minutes every night. I think the theory behind that is good, the only problem being that then you have reading logs. Which everyone hates. I had one teacher who bypassed that by having you write a letter to a classmate about what happened instead, so that you could prove you read in another way.

I'm sorry I couldn't give you actual book suggestions. I never know what grade a book is good for, because I never follow the grade recommendations. I'd suggest talking to a librarian about what is appropriate for that age.

message 14: by Soumya (new)

Soumya I read the Illiad in 7th grade, but we read it as a class. I think that if you assign plays, it should be read in class because it's more fun that way and since alot of the plays are written ages ago, by reading it in class it's easier for students to understand the book better.
I read Antigone in 10th grade, but I think it may be a good play for eight graders. I felt that it wasn't too hard to understand.
Shakespeare plays are pretty good, except I didn't really like Macbeth.
And I think when choosing plays, you should choose one that not many people know about because when I read Romeo and Juliet in class, I had already known the plot before I even got the chance to read it, and it just kind of spoiled it for me. It wasn't as fun to read outloud as it would have been if I had not known the basics of the story.
I'm not sure how much of this was suggestions, sorry.

Amelia, free market Puritan (aeimaginer12) Kate wrote: "The other thing with having multiple choices is having multiple levels. I know that I, personally, was usually reading at a higher level than the books assigned, because the class average was lower..."

That's a REALLY good point, Kate. I'd add to that by mixing it up a little, genre-wise. I remember in 9th PreAP English, our teacher had some overarching unit and we had a choice of Rebecca, A Tale of Two Cities, The Turn of the Screw or Lord of the Flies. Each book was different in its own way and, though all are considered classics, are on different reading levels. For example, Du Maurier is a little easier to get through than Dickens, because they don't call 'em 'Dickensian sentences' for nothing!

Kids love having choices. Also, if they're in charge of their own reading, you don't have to amble on in class about a particular book that EVERYONE has to read (and thus, EVERYONE zones out). Let 'em choose!

message 16: by Amy (new)

Amy Faulhaber | 2 comments I'm loving these suggestions! Keep 'em coming!

An Extremely Avid Reader's Reviews (literarymary) When i was in 8th grade, we read this nonfiction book called The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival. It's about a 14 year old Jewish girl who experienced and survived through WWII. I loved it and definitely recommend it especially if some of the students are into music because that is the biggest symbol in the book.

message 18: by ★ Jess (new)

★ Jess  | 4295 comments Mod
When I was in year 6 my teacher read Dragon Keeper by Carole Wilkinson out loud to all three classes. At that age, so many kids hated reading, but she had us 'eating out of the palm of her hand' when it came time to read. That book, I think, opened up many students to the joys of reading.

message 19: by Rose (new)

Rose (rose_b) | 330 comments Are you planning on doing reading groups? Because that always works really well.

message 20: by Kyle (new)

Kyle LJ (kylelj) My mom is a year 8 English teacher and she asked me to read this book to see if her Year 8's would like it. It's called Jasper Jones, and to be perfectly honest, was quite amazing, very, very good. If you would allow them, I think it would also be quite awesome if you let them read The Hunger Games, by Suzzane Collins. Absolutely brilliant series.

message 21: by Karyn (last edited Dec 27, 2011 02:55PM) (new)

Karyn (msainsworth) | 10 comments My ten year old son just finished Hunger Games, and loved it as much as I did. I think it would be good for both sexes. We do literature circles at our school. The librarian chooses about 8 books per class that we have at least 5 copies of, and tells the grade 8 class about them. These range from Hatchet for reluctant boys to books from Twilight, the John Marsden series and Hunger games.Trash was in there The boy in striped Pyjamas, Where she went, If I stay, 8th grade bites. January. Lockie Leonard. Once the book is chosen the students stick with the group who also chose the book and their task will be to share their thoughts with the rest of the class, via reviews, book trailers, diary entries and literary lunches. They get to not only choose their own book but their favourite way of sharing their thoughts. It seems to go over well, and gets the kids recommending genuine favourites to the other kids in their class. We post the kids reviews to the "Aquinas reads" blog which you could look up and have a browse through to get some ideas.

message 22: by Colby (new)

Colby (colbz) When I was in eighth grade, we read Whirligig by Paul Fleischman and I LOVED it. Also, I've heard middle school teachers are assigning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie which is awesome. I read it as a junior, but, was really easy for me. When I was in middle school, a lot of us guys read and loved the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, so that might be a good thing to keep in your library. I can't really think of many more, but there are a few for you.

message 23: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay This is a newer book and has some excellent themes in it about bullying, friendship, family, etc. Best wishes.

LightMasters: Number 13

M.G. Wells

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Perhaps the Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. That is an amazing series!!

message 25: by Ethan (new)

Ethan (thetwelfthdoctor) | 3658 comments some books that i really liked were
the hunger games, by suzanne coollins
city of bones by cassandra clare
infinity (for boys,mostly)by sherrilyn kenyon
the enemy bycharlie higson
found by margeret peterson haddix
the mysterious benedict society, i don't remember who wrote this one,
and that's just some. keep in mind that these are just the first books of each series, and don't forget to let them try series like the lord of the rings, which is slightly more advanced.
also, get them to read harry potter.

message 26: by Michelle (last edited Jul 30, 2012 02:25AM) (new)

Michelle (meowchelle7) | 150 comments First of all, I think it is really admirable of you to care about your students and their interests in reading.

The Hunger Games is an unbelievably ah-mazinggg series. However, you said that you are going to be teaching 7th/8th graders. Although it seems quite silly, there ARE in fact kids with so-called "overprotective" parents who might tell their parents about the book they are reading. I don't think parents of this sort would be very happy if they found out that their child was being required to read something that involves death and the maiming of children. Like I said, I am an avid fan of THG, and I would be thrilled to be assigned to read it in English class, but you have to look at it from a parent's point of view. I am a little older than that age range, and I can tell you that some of my classmates have been shielded from reality all of their life and some even wear little kids clothes and watch Veggie Tales. It's not a good idea to risk your reputation like that.

With that being said, I agree that you should assign a more contemporary, of-this-era type of book/books that appeal to both genders. And I completely agree with Rose, Johnny Tremain was not a favorite of mine... and worse still was reading Treasure Island in the 6th grade. (I didn't even finish it... sorry to those who liked it!) However, this past year (9th grade), my high school teacher was super awesome and assigned more modern books that dealt with issues in our everyday life such as Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and House on Mango Street. I really enjoyed reading those books for sure!

As for an example, I would say The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It carries a strong message although it has a teeny tiny bit of sexual content in it (like seriously, 3 pages). The sophomore English teacher at my school is going to have her class read that this coming year, and I'm upset because I'm going into AP English and she's doing Prep. :( Some others include (like I said), Speak by L. Anderson and House on Mango Street (very short read). Try to stray away from the too "adult" books with mind-blowing vocabulary, because let's be honest, that's no fun to read when you're in middle school. Leave that to colleges (as someone said above)!

So pick something that is gender-neutral with little to no violence or sexuality in it, and I think you will do great. We need more caring teachers like you in the world!

Wish you all the best.

message 27: by Jane (new)

Jane Prowse | 7 comments Hi Amy. Your age group is perfect for my YA action ninja series - with a female lead and great philosophy underlying all the physical skills. You can download the first in the series for free right now as part of our global giveaway, trying to reach at least one person in every country in the world. You can also read reviews at - I'd love some feedback if you and your pupils do read it. It goes down well in schools here in the UK as the books use action adventure to discuss peaceful ways of finding solutions to conflict. Hope you enjoy it! Jane Prowse (author)

message 28: by Irene (new)

Irene (wingdesilverii) I had to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak the summer of my 7th grade year and reall throughly enjoyed it.

message 29: by McG (new)

McG I also teach the eighth grade and we still do The Outsiders and the majority love it! I have also done Holes which is good but they were not lovers of The Giver. As for the students it depends. I usually find girls to be much more voracious readers than the boys. As of right now I have boys reading everything from Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson, Invictus, Crackback, and Rot & Ruin. He best thing is always to get to know your students as readers and try and read as much as you can yourself to keep up. Also take recommendations from your students they are your best source of knowledge. Ideally for classroom assignments it would be preferable to do Literature Circles as students like choice, even guided choice. God luck with grade eight, I love it but that age group definitely provides for interesting times.

message 30: by Kate (new)

Kate | 8205 comments Lexusmcg wrote: "I also teach the eighth grade and we still do The Outsiders and the majority love it! I have also done Holes which is good but they were not lovers of The Giver. As for the students it depends. I u..."

I and everyone I know who read the Outsiders hated it. Maybe it was the approach my 7th grade teacher took, but it did not go over well. On the other hand, I think Holes is a wonderful suggestion. And if you were to do it, I would also watch the movie in class, because it is one of few (in my opinion) to be both a good movie and faithful to the book, and it would make for a good discussion.

message 31: by KelseyKES (new)

KelseyKES | 5 comments Hi Amy!

In grade 8, two or three english teachers assigned The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It's a historical fiction book about World War II and Nazis exploring the loss of innocence, friendship, etc of two 9 year old boys. It is very good and I highly recommend it.

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