I just published the 2010 revision of my book, What's New in Young Adult Novels? and Ideas for Classroom Use. It includes reviews of over 130 new young adult books, as well as three new units. "Art World Connections" details YA novels, which explore the characters’ connections with the arts, as well as their ability to express themselves through artistic renderings. Many characters in these books escape the conflict in their lives by disappearing into artistic endeavors. Their art work helps them work through problems in a constructive manner. Included in the unit are art related projects that students can create which reflect what they learned from the book. The projects can take many forms, depending on the art form explored in the novel. Some of my favorite books that lend themselves to this project include Masterpiece by Elise Broach, Invisible Lines by Mary Amato, and Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian.
"Cultural Comparisons" is a new unit that focuses on YA novels that involve a foreign or minority culture. Students are asked to compare and contrast their own culture to the one profiled in the book as they read, and ultimately write a comparison/contrast essay as their final project. Graphic organizers are provided for the essay and the initial data gathering. There is also an example essay for Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Other books I would recommend for this unit include Finding My Place by Traci Jones, A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.
The "Amazon Web Page" unit is one I based on Betsey Coleman's "Camazon project" at the Colorado Academy in Denver, Colorado. The “Camazon” project, instructs students in creating a mock Amazon web page for an assigned book. The project not only has students using the latest technology, but also requires them to use higher level thinking skills in reflecting on their reading. For an Amazon web page, students include product details and a list of the author's other books, write spotlight reviews, create a "customers who bought this book also bought/viewed these books," section, and write an email to a friend about the book. Students make connections between the books they have read and the book they are reviewing; they use their own voice to respond, and they provide evidence in their spotlight reviews. Although the Colorado Academy project was technology based, (This year students used Glogster and last year Dreamweaver to create their projects) I think the ideas could be adapted for simpler projects. If access to or knowledge of technology is limited, teachers could assign a print project, rather than a web based product.
As always the hardest part of my revision was to determine a cutoff date for books to include. I still have plenty of 2010 novels sitting on my bookcase which I will have to include in my 2011 revision. I will be blogging about these books throughout the year, as I continue my quest to read and recommend the best YA books available. If you are interested in buying What's New in Young Adult Novels? 2010, there is a link on this web site which will connect you to Lulu.com where it can be purchased for $14.95.