Monday, April 2, 2012


This week is my spring break and I'm using the time to launch my new initiative to help readers to better enjoy this year's "IT" genre -- dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction!   Fueled by the wild success of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, lots of readers are getting into speculating about what the future will hold. Take a look at my list of activities that I have available for teachers to use with students. 

The above image is from my new literature unit that gets kids talking about books while having them be accountable for independent reading. It also does not force them to all read the same exact book. By using these universal questions as discussion starters, you can have a productive mixed book discussion group with several titles in it.  It is called FUTURISTIC FICTION: Independent Reading and Book Club Support
There are also resources for several futuristic fiction titles. For each title, there is a 10 to 20 question multiple choice comprehension quiz so that a teacher can ensure that students have read and understood the details of their book. There are also 8 to 11 discussion questions that are specific to one title. And then there is a core collection of universal questions to use.

Additionally, there is some background information on the genre of science fiction and the sub genres of post-apocalyptic fiction and dystopian fiction as well as some discussion of the themes that are often contained in these books.

Lately, I've been having a few conversations with parents who are concerned about the themes of these books.  Parents have been reporting that their students are having nightmares.  They are tracing back the nightmares to the dystopian fiction that they are reading and are requesting that the son or daughter be given gentler suggestions of books to read.  I am always willing to do this but I watched students gravitate right back to futuristic fiction.  

When I think back to my own young adult and tweenhood, I remember being scared out of my MIND by the idea that the USSR was going to bomb us to bits.  I was a YA at the time when the made-for-tv movie "Threads" came out.  That movie stuck with me for some time.  I also remember being frightened of "Special Reports" that would cut into regular programming.  I always thought that they would contain reports of imminent doom. 

I remember reading John Hersey's Hiroshima as well as a non-fiction book that told the story of the Hiroshima "maidens" who came to the United States for plastic surgery in the 1950s.   I remembering loving the The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson when I read it.  (Really excited about the fact that a manga version of it is coming out!!!) 

I think that it is more likely that my fear was created not by the books I chose to read when I was a YA but more from the media and the world at-large. 

What I want to do for my students is give them a chance to read what they want but in a more supportive, "you are not alone with your thoughts and fears" way.  I'm hoping to use what I'm creating to provide this support for my students.

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