Make classroom connections with these new sci-fi reads!
Technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality are evergreen topics in the news. Meanwhile, there is a rise in popularity of science-fiction adaptions like The Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451. Consider bringing discussions of these top-of-mind issues into the classroom with new sci-fi reads. Here are some ideas to get the conversation started:
- Oftentimes, science fiction is all too close to reality. Ask students to consider how these types of technology would affect their lives at this moment or how they already have.
- Text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world: encourage students to discuss the science-fiction texts they’re reading with other texts, film, television, or events happening in the world.
- Ask students where else they are having or observing similar conversations. What is being said? Do they agree/disagree?
- Read a classic sci-fi text and a modern sci-fi novel as a class and compare the two.
For students buzzing about artificial intelligence, Black Mirror, Westworld, and Scott Westerfield:
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful By Arwen Elys Dayton
The future is curious.
Today our bodies define us. We color our hair; tattoo our skin; pierce our ears, brows, noses. We lift weights, run miles, break records. We are flesh and blood and bone.
Tomorrow has different rules. The future is no longer about who we are–it’s about who we want to be. If you can dream it, you can be it. Science will make us smarter, healthier, flawless in every way. Our future is boundless.
This is a story that begins tomorrow. It’s a story about us. It’s a story about who comes after us. And it’s a story about perfection. Because perfection has a way of getting ugly.
For students buzzing about virtual reality, Lost, Ready Player One, and Marie Lu:
OtherEarth By Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Simon would have done anything to save his best friend after a mysterious accident almost killed her—including follow her into a virtual world. And what he and Kat discovered there was more terrifying than they could have ever imagined. Unwitting hospital patients are being forced to test a device that lets VR be experienced with all five senses. The technology is so advanced that it’s deadly.
Now the world’s biggest tech corporation is hunting Simon and Kat while war rages in Otherworld, the virtual world it created. Determined to destroy the Company, Simon and Kat must join forces with a hacker, a gangster, and a digital entity. But as they battle to save two worlds, they uncover an all-new threat to our world: the Company’s latest creation, an augmented-reality game called OtherEarth. Not only does OtherEarth kill, it has the power to erase the line between what’s real and what’s fantasy.
For students buzzing about survival, Battlestar Gallactica, Veronica Roth, and ENDER'S GAME:
Skyward By Brandon Sanderson
Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s—a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa’s chances of attending flight school at slim to none.
No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.
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New voices for a new year
The Beauty That Remains By Ashley Woodfolk
Loss pulled Autumn, Shay, and Logan apart. Will music bring them back together?
Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.
But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who’s struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.
Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.
The Go-Between By Veronica Chambers
She is the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City. Her mother is a glamorous telenovela actress. Her father is the go-to voice-over talent for blockbuster films. Hers is a world of private planes, chauffeurs, paparazzi and gossip columnists. Meet Camilla del Valle—Cammi to those who know her best.
When Cammi’s mom gets cast in an American television show and the family moves to LA, things change, and quickly. Her mom’s first role is playing a not-so-glamorous maid in a sitcom. Her dad tries to find work but dreams about returning to Mexico. And at the posh, private Polestar Academy, Cammi’s new friends assume she’s a scholarship kid, the daughter of a domestic.
At first Cammi thinks playing along with the stereotypes will be her way of teaching her new friends a lesson. But the more she lies, the more she wonders: Is she only fooling herself?
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter By Erika L. Sánchez
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.
But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?
My So-Called Bollywood Life By Nisha Sharma
Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.
Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.
Odd One Out By Nic Stone
Courtney Cooper and Jupiter Sanchez (Coop & Jupe!) have been next-door neighbors and best friends since they were seven-years-old. She’s his partner-in-crime and other half. But lately, Cooper can’t ignore he might want something more than friendship from Jupiter.
When Rae Chin moves to town she can’t believe how lucky she is to find Coop and Jupe. Being the new kid is usually synonymous with pariah, but around these two, she finally feels like she belongs. She’s so grateful she wants to kiss him…and her.
Jupiter has always liked girls. But when Rae starts dating Cooper, Jupe realizes that the only girl she ever really imagined by his side was her.
One story. Three sides. No easy answers.
Youngest Graphic Novels
Start a love of graphic novels early with these middle-grade gems!
Babymouse #1: Queen of the World! By Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling, three-time Newbery Honor winning author Jennifer Holm teams up with Matthew Holm to bring you a fully illustrated graphic novel series packed with humor and kid appeal—BABYMOUSE! It’s the same thing every day for Babymouse. Where is the glamour? The excitement? The fame?!? Nothing ever changes, until…Babymouse hears about Felicia Furrypaws’s exclusive slumber party. Will Babymouse get invited? Will her best friend, Wilson, forgive her if she misses their monster movie marathon? Find out in Babymouse #1: Queen of the World!
Comics Squad: Recess! By Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Dan Santat, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, Gene Yang, Ursula Vernon, Eric Wight, Dav Pilkey
Wowza! Calling all kidz! Do you like comics? Do you like laughing till milk comes out of your nose?! Look no further—do we have the book for you! All your favorite comic creators are right here in this handy-dandy hilarious book! This all-star tribute to classic Sunday comics includes eight sidesplitting, action-packed stories about every kid’s favorite subject—RECESS! With popular characters from Babymouse and Lunch Lady and brand-new soon-to-be favorite characters from superstars including Dav Pilkey! Raina Telgemeier! Gene Yang! and many more! Comics Squad also features Pizza Monsters! Secret ninja clubs! Aliens! Talking desserts! Dinozilla! Death-defying escapes! Bad guys! Good guys! Medium guys! Superheroes! Bullies! Mean girls! Epic battles! True love! Outlandish schemes! Evil plans! Fun! Jokes! Terrible puns! And other surprises that will tickle your funny bone! WARNING: THIS BOOK MAY CAUSE EXCESSIVE LAUGHTER AND POSSIBLE SILLINESS. No assembly required. (Pizzatron 2000 not included.)
The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan By Maxwell Eaton III
Meet Ace and Bub, the flying beaver brothers! Ace loves extreme sports and is always looking for a new adventure. Bub loves napping and, well, napping. But when penguins threaten to freeze Beaver Island for “resort and polar-style living,” the brothers put their talents to work saving their tropical island paradise. Can they save Beaver Island from environmental destruction? And can they do it in time to still win the annual Beaver Island Surfing Competition?
Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown By Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch kids are looking forward to a relaxing summer vacation with no funny business. What evils could befall them at summer camp?
Of course, there is the legendary swamp monster. Stories say he haunts the camp at night. But that’s just a legend. Or is it?
Once again, Dee, Hector, and Terrence must help Lunch Lady prevail against a secret enemy!
Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo By Erik Craddock; illustrated by Erik Craddock
Stone Rabbit is a bored little bunny who lives a humdrum existence in the sleepy town of Happy Glades. But all that changes when he discovers a time portal of doom—right under his bathroom rug! Suddenly, Stone Rabbit finds himself on a Jurassic journey in a prehistoric world, facing off against vicious velociraptors, terrifying T. rexes, and a nefariousNeanderthal bent on world conquest. Will our hero be able to save the past and return to the present—or will he become extinct?BC Mambo is the first book in a full-color series of riotous, rip-roaring graphic novels that chronicles the zany of adventures of a quick-tempered and quick-witted young rabbit.
Squish #1: Super Amoeba By Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Introducing SQUISH—a new graphic novel series about a comic book-loving, twinkie-eating grade school AMOEBA trying to find his place in the world (or at least trying to make it through a school day). Inspired by his favorite comic book hero, SUPER AMOEBA!, Squish has to navigate school (bullies! detention! Principal Planaria!), family (dad: Hates to wear a tie. Secretly listens to heavy metal in the car), and friends (Peggy-rainbows! happy all the time! and Pod… who’s… well, you just have to meet him). Can Squish save the world—and his friends—from the forces of evil lurking in the hallways? Find out in Squish: Super Amoeba—saving the world, one cell at a time!
Magical Books for Transitioning Readers
Sometimes it can be difficult to find books for the student who has outgrown leveled readers, but is not quite ready for full-fledged chapter books. Here are some excellent alternatives to help your students through the transition. These series hit the sweet spot just like magic!
Bella Broomstick #2: School Spells By Lou Kuenzler
Bella Broomstick is back. But she’s no longer in the Magic Realm; she’s now living in the Person World. She loves her new home and her foster parents, Aunty Rose and Uncle Martin. She has a new best friend named Esme—a girl from school, who lives in a windmill! With Esme by her side, Bella is finding Person school to be really fun and not as scary as she thought it would be.
But chaos erupts when Piers Seymour, the biggest bully in school, mocks Esme’s very human (and unsuccessful) magic tricks. Bella secretly casts a real spell (hint: it involves a lot of bunnies), but it doesn’t go the way she had planned. Now she has to use even more magic to restore order in the Person World! And she has to do it all in secret—no one can ever know she’s a witch.
Dragons in a Bag By Zetta Elliott
When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she’s not his grandmother—but she isa witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag, and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?
Fairy Mom and Me #1 By Sophie Kinsella; illustrated by Marta Kissi
Ella Brook can’t wait to grow up, because one day she will become a fairy and have her own sparkly wings and a teacher on Fairy Tube, just like her mom! Until then, Ella has to learn by watching her mom in action.
But sometimes spells go wrong, and Ella’s mom can never seem to remember the right magic codes on her Computawand. A lot of the time, it’s up to Ella to come to the rescue. Does she have what it takes to be a fairy one day? Or will there be more glitches than glitter?
Isadora Moon Has a Birthday By Harriet Muncaster
Isadora Moon might be half-fairy, half-vampire, but she wants to have a totally normal human birthday party. She gives her mom and dad a list—cake, balloons, presents, and games.
But when the invitations arrive on bats’ wings, Isadora worries that maybe her parents don’t know how to throw a human party. Which can mean only one thing: Isadora’s birthday is going to be anything but normal!
Hurricane Heroes in Texas By Mary Pope Osborne; illustrated by AG Ford
Jack and Annie are on a mission! When the magic tree house whisks them back to Galveston, Texas, in 1900, they find out that a big storm is coming. But even though there is rain and wind, no one believes there is any danger. As the storm grows, seawater floods the city. Now everyone needs help! Jack and Annie have a little bit of magic and a lot of hope—but will it be enough?