Anyway, one of the students was one who got a copy of The Book Thief from World Book Night. She already finished the book and was asking for more recommendations. I asked her what she usually liked and all she said was, "No vampires." That made me laugh.
I ended up recommending a mix of things to her. Some of the YA titles I recommended were by John Green, Sarah Dessen, Carrie Ryan (zombies were okay), as well as some standalone titles (I told her to read Zusak's I am the Messenger as well). There were a few other YA titles I pushed, including one of my favorites, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Ben Saenz.
Then she asked for "grown-up" books...which is a whole other post I could go into. But she specifically wanted classics. This led to other students chipping in about classics being boring, old, and not very exciting. So, I had to rack my brain for books I think she would like and that would be "teenager friendly."
Now, I'm not saying that teenagers can' read or understand classics. Because I'm definitely NOT saying that. All I am saying is that some books are more accessible than others. I think she would have run away had I recommended War and Peace as a serious option. But I offered up these 5 titles as options, and promised I would think of more (keep in mind I kept some obvious ones off the list because they are part of our curriculum, or she had read them already).
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: She had already read and loved Pride and Prejudice, so I pushed this one as being similar in theme. I also told her about the great BBC mini-series. ;)
- Silas Marner by George Eliot: She liked the sound of this one, and since it is a simpler story, I thought it might be a good bridge to some of Eliot's other works, as well as other Victorians (I also mentioned The Mill on the Floss because I love it so).
- O Pioneers! by Willa Cather: Again, I thought this would be a good bridge into some other great work by the same author.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: I firmly believe that this should be a book for a course. I think teens would really get into the story and the "horrid" part of Dorian.
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: She asked for a mystery (not Sherlock Holmes) and this was the first one that popped into my head.
But I thought you all might help me think of other "teenager friendly" classics. What would you recommend to a 15 or 16 year old who wanted to get their feet wet in classic literature?