Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi. Miles and his dad are new to NOLA when Hurricane Katrina hits and father and son must evacuate to the Superdome. Important to class: shows the complexities of father-son relationships. Important to me: reminds/teaches students about Hurricane Katrina and life in NOLA.
Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall. Selina is a Barbadian immigrant to NYC whose mother craves the American dream and whose father longs for Barbados. Important to class: Caribbean voices are seldom heard in an English classroom. Important to me: for the above reason.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Mia was in a terrible accident and must piece her life back together bit by bit after the accident, which she has no memory of. Importance to class: speaks to the purpose of life and important priorities in life. Important to me: talks about the fragility and shortness of life; personal connection of a friend in a similar circumstance in high school.
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. Pat has a theory that everyone gets a "silver-lining" and firmly believe that his is getting back his estranged wife, Nikki. Throughout the book, Pat realizes that maybe life has a different silver lining for him. Important to class: gets at the difficulty of mental illness or psychological disorders. Importance to me: the possibilities that life works out in mysterious ways and we aren't 100% in charge of our futures.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson find out that he is a demigod son of Poseidon and must fight with his new friends from Camp Half-Blood to save Earth and Olympus. Importance to class: brings Greek mythology to life while showing that dyslexia and ADHD don't hold you back. Importance to me: all of the above reasons, while also discussing other Classical motifs and themes
Slam by Nick Hornby. 16-year-old Sam's ex-girlfriend is pregnant with his baby, forcing Sam to confront fatherhood and the pains of growing up. Important to class: allows for a view of teen pregnancy and how it can dramatically change the lives of teens. Important to me: allows me to connect with a phenomenon I am very unfamiliar with