Monday, October 8, 2012

Top 10 Contemporary Reads for Students

This week’s Top 10 from The Broke and The Bookish is a freebie and I’ve been thinking a lot about the consistency in hearing that people who love to read hated the books assigned in high school.  I do think there is value in the classics, but I also think that the high school curriculum can get bogged down by them and neglect contemporary fiction.  I think if you mix in some contemporary fiction that students enjoy you’ll have an easier time getting them into the classics.  I also like the idea of pairing contemporary books with classics.  

Here are my top 10.  If I could think of a good classic "pair" I included it.

1.  Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne)
2.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger)
3.  A Time to Kill by John Grisham (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
4.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (1984 by George Orwell)
5.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank)
6.  Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
7.  Exile by Richard North Patterson (Mila 18 by Leon Uris)
8.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett  (Beloved by Toni Morrison)
9.  The Kite Runner by Khaled Kossini
10. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Confession time - I haven't read "To Kill a Mockingbird", "1984", "Jane Eyre" or "Beloved".  I paired those based on summaries.  Also I don't know if "Mila 18" or "Beloved" can really be called classics.  I do think they make good discussion books, especially when paired.   Making this list actually made me add a couple classics to my TBR pile.

Anyone have any suggestions for classics to pair with my last 4 contemporary reads?  Any contemporary reads you think would be great additions to curriculum?


  1. I haven't read the last 4 contemp reads, so I no help there, but I really love this idea!
    It's a lot of fun and I think I would have loved it in HS!

    Here's my list this week

  2. Pairing books was something we did in one of my graduate classes (we'd read two books on a similar topic either over the course of two weeks or half the class would read one book and the other half would read the other and we'd teach each other our books) that made for some interesting discussion and analysis.

    I actually haven't read any of these pairs to know if they're appropriate or not, but I know I always had an easier time with reading assignments in high school and college when they were of contemporary fiction. It was less muddling through the language, so it was easier to analyze themes and characters and all that.

    I wish we'd gotten to read The Hunger Games in high school! I knew some people in college who got to read Harry Potter in class and I was SO jealous!

    1. As I've gotten older I think I've learned that some books aren't about the "Oh My God I have to know what happens RIGHT NOW". You can enjoy literature it's just a different time of enjoyment. I think if students were assigned two books and had to write a compare and contrast paper after reading them, it might improve the way they approach the classic. Instead of thinking "what happens" they'll read it looking for elements to compare. Just a thought.

  3. This is a great concept, and some interesting pairings! I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and it is still one of my favorite books. I think how much I loved or hated a book in HS had a lot to do with how a teacher treated it. I really like the pairings you did for 1, 4, 5 and 6. They would certainly make really great discussions! Fabulous TTT.

  4. This is a great list, and I love your pairings! I completely adore A Time to Kill -- I was such a Grisham junkie in high school, and that's my favorite. I can't think of pairings for the last four, but I love the books you've put on here. I definitely thought high school students would benefit from The Book Thief and The Help while I was reading them. And I think there's something to be said for putting action-packed books like Hunger Games on a high school reading list -- it shows kids that reading can be exciting!

  5. Wow, what a great idea for a list!

    My TTT:

  6. I've only read 2 of the classics on your list and 4 of the contemporary. Really liked your suggestions and hope to pick up a few.
    At my school we read 4 classics each year Freshmen year to Junior year.
    As a Senior you can take an English class of your choosing. Contemporary, College English for college credit, or Classic Literature.
    I've never disliked any of the classics we have read in school in fact I was really glad we read them because it made me want to take classic lit. Which has become one of my favorite classes.
    I hope you get around to read To Kill a Mockingbird it was one of my favorite books we have read in school.
    Blessed Reading,