Youth Literature Requirements Blog LIBR 237

1984-bookThe-Giver       Classic/Contemporary Novel Pairing


1984 : a novel / by George Orwell ; with an afterword by Erich Fromm

New York, N.Y. : Signet Classic, c1961.

Lexile: 1090


In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his love Julia, he goes into a deadly match against the powers that be.

Qualitative Text Analysis:

This book is a hard book for some lower level readers to comprehend. While the book is still timely in 2015 without considerable discussion the text of the book might be lost by some students.

Content Area: English

Curriculum Suggestions:

In groups of three of four each chapter can be dissected for its meaning as well as to define any vocabulary that is not familiar or understood in context. Groups can also discuss how the idea of “Big Brother” watching applies to today’s world. Make connections through newspaper or media clips.

Digital Content: Spark Notes to aid understanding of complex text – We are living 1984 Today. CNN Feature

The Giver By Lois Lowry  The Quartet Series Book One

Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
Lexile: 760
Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.
Qualitative Text Analysis:
The Giver is an absolute wonderful pairing and alternative to Orwell’s 1984. The story is captivating and easy for middle or high school students to not only understand but identify with as well. Jonas is a young boy that students can identify with as he struggles with his coming of age and the responsibility that is bestowed on him. The story reads easily and students can easily follow the plot and the characters interactions.
Content Area: English
Curriculum Suggestions:
Research a utopian society. Once there is a clear understanding of the concept have students design their own utopian society. Students can produce a project with Powerpoint, Youtube or any other multi-media program. Students should include a name of their society and clearly outline their project and how it is a utopian society.
Other Books in Series:
The Messenger
Gathering Blue
  • The 1994 Neberry Medal (The John Newbery award (Medal) is given by the Association for Library Service to Children. The award is given for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
  • The 1994 Regina Medal
  • The 1996 William Allen White Award
  • American Library Association listings for “Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Notable Children’s Book and “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000.”
  • A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book
  • Booklist  Editors’ Choice
  • A School Library Journal  Best Book of the Year
Author Website
 Author Interview
Poetry Requirement


My Hippo Has the Hiccups and Other Poems I totally Made Up

By Ken Nesbitt

Illustrated by Ethan Long

Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009.
A funny selection of kids poems ranging in topics such as robots, a fish in a spaceship, parents and Steve the Superhero.
Poetry is a “bad” word to most kids. However Nesbitt offers a funny spin on poetry that kids will love and will be reciting the poems over and over again. Most of the poems are simple to read and simple in subject so children who are just beginning to read can enjoy these poems. Nesbitt connects with subjects that kids relate to such as cleaning their room and having parents who drive them crazy. Through simple rhymes and illustrations children will never think of poetry as a bad word again.
Content Area: Poetry, English
Use Nesbitt’s poetry as a way to introduce a poetry unit. Talk about the different types of poetry and have the kids write their own silly poem. Nesbitt lives in my area and frequently visits schools for a read aloud presentation which I think would be great with this particular set of poems. Students could even share their poetry with the author.
Digital Content:
Animated video of  I Taught My Cat to Clean My Room
Author Awards:
2013 Named Children’s poet Laureate by The Poetry Foundation
Historical Fiction Requirement
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle By Avi
New York : Orchard Books, 2003, c1990.


Charlotte is on an ocean voyage that forever changes her life. As the only passenger and the only female Charlotte is accused of murder,
given a trial and found guilty. However, Charlotte is determined to survive.
Lexile: 740
This is one of those books that I initially saw the cover and was not interested but was urged by a friend to read it. I am so glad I did.
The tale of Charlotte is full of suspense, drama and sorrow. The story reads very quickly and is perfect for middle school students. Issues such as
a woman’s role in society and mutiny on a ship can lead to great classroom discussions. The author Avi is an award winning author who
understands how to tell a story so young readers can use their imaginations to “see” the story in their mind.
Content Area: English, History, Historical Fiction
Curriculum: For this historical fiction work students are asked to create a scrapbook by Charlotte. Students need to think like Scarlett and
design a scrapbook made of paper bags that tells her story. Each group will also present their scrapbook to the class and discuss one character
in the book other than Charlotte herself.

Awards and Honors: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

  • Newbery Honor Book, 1991
    Horn Book-Boston Globe Award, 1991
    Association of Library Service–100 Books Kids Should Read, 2000
    SLJ 100 Most Significant Children’s Books of the 20th  Century, 2000
    Massachusetts Children’s Choice Award, 1996
    Florida Young Reader’s Award, 1994
    Utah, YA Award, 1994
    ALA Notable, 1991
    ALA Notable Recording (Recorded Books, Inc.) 1992
    Best Books for Young Adults 1991, YASD
    Booklist Editors’ Choice 1990
    Fanfare 1991, Horn Book
    School Library Journal Best Books, 1990
    New York Public Library Best Books for Teens, 1990
    NCTE Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Language Arts, 1991
    Lopez Memorial Foundation Award, 1990
    Child Study Association Best Books of 1990
    IRA Children’s Choice, 1990
    Library of Congress 100 Books for Children, 1991
    English Journal’s Honor List, 1991
    Booklist, 1990, starred review
    Horn Book, 1991, starred review
    School Library Journal, 1990, starred review
    Kirkus Reviews, 1990, starred review
Digital Content:
Author Website
Narrative Non-Fiction/Memoir/ Historical Focus
Kennedy’s last days : the assassination that defined a generation / Bill O’Reilly.
O’Reilly, Bill.
Publication Information:
[New York] : Macmillian, 2013.
The fascinating account of the events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Adapted from Bill O’Reilly’s bestselling historical thriller, Killing Kennedy, this audio book will have young readers and grown-ups too, hooked on this fascinating and colorful period of history.
Lexile: 1020
Bill O’Reilly takes history and makes it easy to understand and fun to learn. The text puts the reader into the book and into the history.  The book
takes us step by step through the activities of both the President but also Lee Harvey Oswald. Readers are given a glimpse into Oswald’s life
and a hint of what made him the person he was. This book is a great way to present history in a different way and get students interested and
Content Area: History, U.S. Presidents
The best way to teach history is to present the material in an interactive way. For this book have students in groups present a multi-media project
involving a radio broadcast, evening news broadcast or an online video blog. Each group of three or four students will create a presentation
involving a script with facts from the book, graphics and “first hand” accounts. By getting the kids involved in history they will comprehend and
retain the details of one of the worst days in American History.
Digital Content:

Kennedy’s Last Days Audiobook-Prologue read by Bill O’Reilly

Picture Book
 Golden domes and silver lanterns : a Muslim book of colors
Author: Khan, Hena.
Publication Information: San Francisco : Chronicle Books
Lexile: 660
In simple rhyming text a young Muslim girl and her family guide the reader through the traditions and colors of Islam.
Islam, Muslim, Colors
This book is not only beautiful to look at it is a simple rhyme book that can teach so much. We live in a society full of different
cultures and religions and it is so important that we expose our children to books that emphasis differences. With a full glossary in the
back of the book it is easy to check pronunciation as well as look for additional information. After learning of this book through a
discussion in board post at school I immediately added it to my personal library.
Content Area: Colors, Stories in Rhyme, Civics
In my school district we have several families with different cultures and backgrounds. This book is a great way to introduce a small portion of
the Islam culture. Students can make flashcards with the Muslim color names and practice with one another. Students will also be asked to
pick another vocabulary word from the back of the book to look up and present to the class. I enjoyed this books so much I added it to my
personal library to share with friends and family.
Digital Content:
Author Website-
Historical Picture Book
Barbed Wire Baseball

 Author: Marissa Moss
 Publishing information: New York : Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013.
This book tells of the childhood dream of Japanese-American baseball pioneer Kenichi   Zenimura of playing professionally and his family’s struggles in a World War II internment camp where he introduces baseball to raise hope.
Lexile : 800
Analysis: This book is a wonderful way to not only tell the story of Kenichi Zenimura but also highlight the effects of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Japanese-Americans. The book is beautifully illustrated by Yuko Shimizu and provides the reader with author and illustrator notes, archival photographs and a bibliography for reference.
Content Area: Historical Fiction, Baseball, Pearl Harbor, Internment camps, World War II
The subject of internment camps is a difficult one to teach. With this book you can not only tell the story of the internment camps but also the story of Kenichi Zenimura. Students can trace a timeline of events surrounding the bombing of Pearl Harbor and connect Zenimura’s story. Students could also research other Japanese-American baseball players and how Zenimura might have paved the way for future players.
Digital Content:
You Tube Video- Video concerns story of the events of Pearl Harbor, baseball and internment camps.
Author Website:
Kenichi Zenimura Website:

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