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How to Use and Find Young Adult Literature For The ELA Classroom

It is important that our classrooms and curriculum engage students with both classic and current literature. By incorporating more young adult literature in your classroom through book clubs, lit circles, classroom library options and curriculum students can maintain or gain a love of reading from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

It is important that our classrooms and curriculum engage students with both classic and current literature. By incorporating more young adult literature in your classroom through book clubs, lit circles, classroom library options and curriculum students can maintain or gain a love of reading.

This week’s #2ndaryELA Twitter chat provided great suggestions on how to find and use YA Lit in your secondary ELA classroom. Read the curated summary below to gain some new ideas for your classroom.

Q1: Do you include young adult literature in your curriculum or just your classroom library? Explain

  • No classroom library (going to start one). YA lit is on my class reading lists 
  • 11th grade curriculum focuses on Early American Lit, so it’s difficult to include YA lit. Looking to add paired texts this year 
  • My classroom is brimming and students read self-selected YA titles for a good portion of our curriculum
  • Both! MS ELA classes do themed units around a novel, i.e. 7th grade will start with diversity theme & The Misfits by James Howe
  • YA Lit is everywhere in my program – curriculum planning and classroom library
  • I use #yalit for lit circle units, but mostly in my #classroomlibrary for #independentreading
  • YA mostly for lit circles & self-selected reading in high school but I have a nice collection
  • I teach mostly nonfiction, but I will have my students do book groups with YA
  • We are required to use Springboard – the novel with it is Walk Two Moons but there are tons of other lit in the room 
  • Yes, I have my future teachers read YA lit in my courses, & I used to have my own classroom library when I was still in classroom 
  • New curriculum doesn’t include much fiction but hoping to supplement and increase via independent reading assignments 
  • In my curriculum, I teach thematic units with YA lit as anchor texts
  • I include YA in my curriculum and I have a class library of YA. I’m also putting together a library for my TEA partner from Mali 
  • As much as I can – hard to get district to adopt new teaching materials Use #histFiction with ALit8 class
  • I’ve had luck with paired texts in 11th grade! River Rats with Huck Finn, Jake Reinvented with The GG and so on
  • The 7th grade curriculum is mostly middle grade or younger YA but our class library runs the spectrum
  • I supplement with excerpts and talk about what I’m reading.  We have required books at district level *yuck*
  • I’ve incorporated @Sherman_Alexie in a course like that to make a connection between the past and present 
  • YA literature is just in my classroom library. My curriculum is pretty crowded as it is
  • Our English teachers do include YA literature in classroom
  • I love this idea. My district gives us 350 a year and I’m hoping to expand my classroom library and this inspired me
  • I am trying to find the time to include it at the end of the year, but it’s so difficult to fit in with other required texts
  • My YA literature is now middle-aged. Class library is outdated. Looking for ways to improve that and curriculum
  • Curious about role of OER in classroom libraries…what online resources are folks leaning on? 
  • Grade 9 independent project on YA. Grade 10 classics, Grade 11 has one YA Literature selection as a class text. Not happy with this set up AT ALL 
  • I do use some YA sentences as mentor texts when teaching writing (sent. structure, diction, parts of speech, etc.)
  • 6th grade A1: 2 whole class novels, independent reading. and book clubs
  • Curriculum should mirror class library. Like a supermarket & restaurant duo: you know it’s fresh when you see them pull it off the shelf
  • Both! We read 3 novels throughout the year as a class and as many read aloud as I can fit in!


Q2: What are your students’ favorite young adult titles? 

  • All-American Boys is amazing
  • We’re huge #dystopian fans & love the SELECTION series by @kieracass & THE BLACKCOAT REBELLION series by @aimee_carter 
  • Graphic novels are very popular, Lunar Chronicles series, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay & Where She Went
  • LOVE Sharon Creech! One of my favs! 
  • Also use YA titles for whole class study – Touching Spirit Bear in 7th grade. Read aloud of YA titles too.
  • Eleanor and Park, anything by John Green, there is a subset publisher called Panic that is good
  • Some other #dystopian favorites include the MATCHED series by @allycondie & MAZE RUNNER series by @jamesdashner
  • I think most of what we read would be considered YA/middle grade. A few “classics” throughout thrown in
  • Yes, to Eleanor and Park
  • The Perks of Being A Wallflower, The Book Thief, anything by Deborah Ellis & @EricRWalters and the Chanda books by Stratton 
  • Most girls like the notebook or John green. Boys into sci-fi or adventure a lot. Hunger games always a hit 
  • Realistic #yalit is also big in my classroom so anything by @morgan_m & @johngreen fly off the shelves! 
  • We will be reading The Hunger Games as a class novel this year, and perhaps Flipped next year
  • Last year kwame Alexander was hot plus dystopias, believe by Eric le grand, the summer of letting go by @gaepol was a favourite
  • Mostly use YA for independent reading & sometimes lit circles. They like John Green &
  • Finally, over dystopian/HG read-alikes but were big for years. Not sure what’s next? (Not YA but Me Before You very popular.) 
  • Last year my boys LOVED horror novels and girls loved John Green and mysteries. I’ll find out tomorrow what this year’s kids like! 
  • For fantasy, THE YOUNG ELITES series by @Marie_Lu & MISS PEREGRINE’S series by @ransomriggs have been pretty popular
  • The Hunger Games (series), The Outsiders, (resurgence in) Harry Potter,
  • anything John Green, especially because he’s a local here in Indy! Kids are also into Divergent & the 5th Wave
  • Sarah Dessen books, John Green books
  • They always gobble up Lowis Lowry’s sequels to The Giver 


Q3: What titles would you recommend to help diversify a classroom library?

  • CHALLENGER DEEP by @NealShusterman is a fabulous read to help diversify the #classroomlibrary
  • You can find resources here:
  • @coebooth Kinda Like Brother @RodmanPhilbrick Freak the Mighty @LaurieHalse Chains, Monster by @WalterDeanMyer1
  • 7th loves anything Joan Bauer, Bone graphic novel series, Kwame Alexander, James Patterson, anything funny, dystopia still popular
  • Use the YALSA awards for diversity. Like Printz
  • Students have loved Winger, Stupid Fast, any Sarah Desson, the Gone series, Unwind series, 5th Wave, I’ll Give you the Sun 
  • American Born Chinese, Brown Girl Dreaming, Great Greene Heist by @varianjohnson
  • I look for books that have characters that are like my students
  • Sharon Draper & Walter Dean Myers. I also like to add nonfiction
  • Books by @kwamealexander, Into the Beautiful North, In the Time of the Butterflies
  • George by @lxgino is a must-have for any diverse classroom library! Great Wall of Lucy Wu, Liberation of Gabe King, too 
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown swept through my school (I may have started that fire) It’s amazing sci-fi dystopian
  • Brass Ankle Blues, I read it over the summer and it reminded me of Looking for Alaska, female mixed-race protagonist
  • Will Grayson Will Grayson, Persepolis, Time to Dance 
  • Everything, everything. George, Luna, the crossover, finding someplace (hurricane Katrina)
  • Prisoner b-3087 by Alan Gratz was very popular. Chains and Speak by @halseanderson are also popular.
  • Refugee section: Long walk to water, taking flight, I will always write back, brothers in hope, inside out and back again 
  • My students have also loved books in verse – Inside Out & Back Again (set in Vietnam) & Serafina’s Promise (Haiti) are both great 


Q4: Where/how do you find new books for your classroom library or to use in your teaching?

  • I just blogged about finding books for your library. Look everywhere and look regularly. 
  • I usually check in with our librarian to see what’s trending and what our students are currently checking out of the library 
  • I LOVE the @BNBuzz Teen blog for #yalit news  & their coming soon lists.
  • I often look at @goodreads choice awards for new titles to read
  • Thrift stores, my former students who have done to college, and friends
  • Physically in thrift stores, library sales. Find out about them from my students. 🙂
  • Mainly by asking other ELA teachers, Google, and @ScholasticClub @Scholastic
  • I’m a co-leader for Teachers Choices Awards project for #ILA so we get thousands! Check it out
  • Besides my own children’s bookshelves…I love thrift stores! Scholastic orders, too
  • I stalk local Goodwills and Half Price Books. This teacher is balling on a budget!
  • Oh yes – Scholastic orders are my favorites!!
  • Goodreads, scholastic, and twitter are my sources for new titles
  • I spend too much time/money on Amazon & Goodreads, in bookstores/libraries, and reading/talking about books (but I love it) 
  • Goodreads is pretty helpful. Also, just word of mouth! Ask other ELA teachers at your school (or on Twitter
  • I find recommendations from authors and teachers on Twitter, @nerdybookclub and other blog posts, and @BookRiot
  • I think it is a great idea for students to create a Critic’s Corner to share book preferences
  • Thriftbooks is a HUGE resource for obtaining affordable books for my #classroomlibrary
  • Ask your students. check out YALSA and Epic Reads
  • @ncte#nctechat@theyarnpodcast@colbysharp@MrSchuReads @100scopenotes = invaluable resources for new YA titles
  • I read reviews and check out top sellers with Barnes & Noble. I take suggestions from the students too
  • This!  He reads hundreds of books a year because sometimes we just can’t! 
  • Twitter & blogs! Joining chats #2jennsbookclub. Check out #GRA16. Check out Serpent King & Goodbye Days @jeffzentner
  • I read, read, read. I’m also not the type to stick to just YA picks. Kids like good books, regardless of packaging/marketing
  • Library book sales are my best friends. So many good deals! 
  • I’ve gotten some good recommendations from @literarymaven blog. The Red Queen.
  • Used bookstores, library sales, and garage sales offer great prices
  • I’m also an avid stalker of @goodreads for new titles. Their choice awards (and lists!) are FAB! 
  • I ask my students what they are reading. They love it when I follow up on a suggestion they have made
  • Sometimes I just flat out ask my students if they want to donate a book they’ve finished to the class! They usually say Yes
  • For the thrift store fans, suggest speaking to a manager. I had one hook me up with 100s of free books for years
  • Pinterest, librarian, Amazon lists, Half-priced books, @FirstBook, etc.
  • A fun idea is to create a class shared Google Slide deck where kids create a slide for books they love and all can see 


Q5: Do you or your students do book talks? What other ways do you share what you are reading?

  • My students showcase their reading using these book reports
  • They also journal about their reading using this framework
  • I book talk at least 1x per week. I’m having students submit book talks in 3-4 different ways this year, gives them choice.
  • We have not but I think that would be FAB! We are required to do AR so this would only help!
  • Students do book talks a few times a year and my goal is to book talk at least once a week this year. Any tips?
  • We give book talks weekly but also share our #reads with a reading board: releases, reviews + recs.
  • Book clubs on class novels. Students also speak about books they pick from suggested list.
  • My 5th Graders love presenting independent reading projects. They make trailers, write sequels, create comics & share with class 
  • Main goal this year is more choice & pulling away from texts I “have to” do
  • We display the dust jackets of what we’re #CurrentlyReading to keep them safe & recommended reads! 
  • My future teachers (my students) do book talks once a semester for #histfic books to get others excited
  • We do very informal book talks. “Who’s reading something great? Tell us about it.” Right at their desks.
  • Great idea! 
  • I have done book talks in the past with my book club members during Teen Read Week. It was one of our events
  • I do some book talks. I post on my board what I’m currently reading 
  • The Bookseller’s Day really entices students to read other books and I find some great YA! 
  • Every single day! I log the ones I plan to do on a calendar. They see me do them each day and then start. Short /sweet 
  • Every English class begins with independent reading. Just seeing what the kids sitting nearby are reading can inspire
  • I do pay special attention to titles students bring to class and talk to them about their books
  • Display projects on top of shelves

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1 thought on “How to Use and Find Young Adult Literature For The ELA Classroom”

  1. I have a huge library to which I add newly published titles on a regular basis. Students read 2 chapter books from my collection each year. One is realistic fiction, the other is historical. I have enough books for two classes of 25 kids (I teach English in a French immersion setting) to have their own different book. They regularly meet with their groups to discuss their books. Once they finish reading, they have higher order thinking tasks to complete. I have been doing this for years and it has been very successful.

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