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Summer Reading: 5 YA Fiction Titles to Help Students with Controversial Issues

This summer, have your students read Young Adult (YA) fiction to help them understand controversial issues.

“Based on our own experience, we believe that emotion — for good or bad — is a key element of how many arguments are made in the world.”–Larry Ferlazzo, “Common Core Writing and ELLs”

Reviewed YA Books Featured on the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog (School Library Journal)

Students struggle to understand and write about controversial issues. This is where the power of story found in YA fiction can help. And summer is a perfect opportunity for students to read. Reading tears down walls by exposing students to the diverse perspectives and emotions of fictional characters who are dealing with controversial issues. After reading a compelling narrative over the summer, students will be better prepared for research and argumentative writing on controversial issues.

Here are five recent YA fiction titles with a narrative related to a SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue:

1. Other Breakable Things by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood
Assisted Suicide Leading Issue

Assisted Suicide Leading Issues in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description: “According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing. Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her. Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again. And now it is. Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn. And she’s not giving up so easily. A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be. Right down to the thousandth paper crane.”

 

2. Internet Famous by Danika Stone
Social Media Leading Issue

Social Media Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description:“Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. And now Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!), has started flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies…Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s ‘real life’ hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything—and everyone—she loves?”

 

3. Factory Girl by Josanne La Valley
Sweatshops Leading Issue

Sweatshops Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description: “In order to save her family’s farm, Roshen, sixteen, must leave her rural home to work in a factory in the south of China. There she finds arduous and degrading conditions and contempt for her minority (Uyghur) background. Sustained by her bond with other Uyghur girls, Roshen is resolved to endure all to help her family and ultimately her people. A workplace survival story, this gritty, poignant account focuses on a courageous teen and illuminates the value—and cost—of freedom. ”

 

4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Police and Body Cameras and Racial Discrimination Leading Issues

Police and Body Cameras Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description: “Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.”

 

5. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Illegal Immigration Leading Issue

Illegal Immigration Leading Issue in SIRS Issues Researcher

Publisher’s Description: “On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?”

All titles are linked to reviews by the Teen Librarian Toolbox blog (School Library Journal).

SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

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