Help finding new books for a high school English class.
May 15, 2010 12:26 PM   Subscribe

What books have you read since high school that you wish you had read in high school?

Specifically looking for books that are high school appropriate and that modern students will find relevant to their lives. Also books that have strong female characters and/or characters with Hispanic backgrounds would be especially helpful. But any great books you can think of will be appreciated.
posted by trojanhorse to Education (22 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This is not going to help you a whit, but damn if I don't wish I read The Illuminatus! Trilogy in high school.
posted by griphus at 12:27 PM on May 15, 2010

I didn't read it until I took a Young Adult lit class in college, but Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street is lovely and sounds like it would fit the bill.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:37 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

A little off the beaten path, but written like a novel and with a foreword for the student, linguist, teacher, and curious human, Homegirls: Language and Cultural Practice Among Latina Youth Gangs, by Norma Mendoza-Denton, gives the reader a huge amount of knowledge and insight about language and culture, from a sociolinguistic/anthropological perspective. I can't recommend this book enough. I've felt it should be required high school reading since I first read it, and it could really inspire some wildly interesting discussion in a classroom. Her research involves several years of study of a high school environment in Santa Clara, CA.

Product description: (Amazon)
"In this ground-breaking new book on the Norteña and Sureña (North/South) youth gang dynamic, cultural anthropologist and linguist Norma Mendoza-Denton looks at the daily lives of young Latinas and their innovative use of speech, bodily practices, and symbolic exchanges that signal their gang affiliations and ideologies. Her engrossing ethnographic and sociolinguistic study reveals the connection of language behavior and other symbolic practices among Latina gang girls in California, and their connections to larger social processes of nationalism, racial/ethnic consciousness, and gender identity."
posted by iamkimiam at 12:40 PM on May 15, 2010

Michele Serros How To Be A Chicana Role Model
posted by Sara Anne at 1:03 PM on May 15, 2010

Rats Saw God is a book I wish I'd read in high school.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:20 PM on May 15, 2010

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:30 PM on May 15, 2010

I read Kurt Vonnegut (any of his stuff really) as a freshman in college. I wish that I had encountered it even earlier.
posted by owls at 2:09 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was coming in here to say word-for-word what owls said.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 3:15 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was in highschool the first time I read the Handmaid's Tale and it had a HUGE impact on me - I've read it every year since
posted by Wantok at 3:28 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by zizzle at 6:16 PM on May 15, 2010

Snowcrash, but only because I was and still am into computers, the internet and ass-kicking.
I read some John Steinback when I was in high school but I wish I had read more. Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat both have a diverse collection of characters.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a pretty standard book about strong women for high schoolers. I read it as a senior and generally enjoyed it.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 8:41 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
posted by krikany at 9:07 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

What is your goal for the book and what is your target audience? High school (mostly?) hispanic (mostly?) girls doesn't tell us anything about the attitude of the students. Are they advanced students who need a relevant challenge or uninspired students that you want to become more interested in learning or somewhere in between?
posted by thekiltedwonder at 9:15 PM on May 15, 2010

Obama's Dreams From My Father.
posted by msittig at 11:17 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding The Bean Trees, but also anything else by Barbara Kingsolver. The Poisonwood Bible gets bonus points for multiple strong female characters. If it's any help, it resonated with my all-girls high school students in Pakistan.
posted by bardophile at 2:05 AM on May 16, 2010

Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.
posted by ollyolly at 6:27 AM on May 16, 2010

Books that - when I did read them - gave me different perspectives and different dreams. War for the Oaks. Arrows of the Queen (yes, it's not very good). The Blue Sword. Much of Trollope. All these have strong female characters, but no Hispanic characters as far as I recall.
posted by paduasoy at 7:08 AM on May 16, 2010

PS I think these are appropriate to school age children/young people (don't know off-hand what age range high school covers), but some may find Trollope difficult I guess. But he's very good on feelings, some of which students should find relevant to their lives.
posted by paduasoy at 7:10 AM on May 16, 2010

I can't think of anything less relevant to the group you mentioned, but, personally, Billy Liar, Kes, and The Shoe.
posted by mippy at 11:03 AM on May 16, 2010

Seconding The House on Mango Street.
posted by callmejay at 7:14 AM on May 17, 2010

Seconding Speak, and adding The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I wish I had read Stargirl in middle school, but didn't discover that one until college either.
posted by JannaK at 4:09 PM on May 17, 2010

It would be a tie between Catch-22 and Catcher in the Rye.
posted by gibbsjd77 at 11:25 AM on May 25, 2010

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