YA Supplemental Texts Brochure

English teacher Kim Herzog on why young adult literature matters in the classroom:

As a veteran English teacher, I have watched my students change with the world around them. Given their evolution, I have found it more and more important to find texts that mirror their voices and diversity. It is through young adult literature that my students find protagonists who are reflections of themselves, both physically and metaphorically. That is not to say that I have given up teaching the canon in favor of more contemporary voices. Instead, I have realized the necessity of pairing classics with newer young adult titles. Through the creative integration of these texts into my curriculum, I have seen the engagement of my students surpass my expectations.

Pairing core texts with books featuring YA voices through book clubs, literature circles, and independent reading provides chances for contemporary voices to enter the classroom conversation, allowing for comparative analyses in writing, sketch notes, and other creative assignments that explore thematic landscapes. Students can also apply critical lenses while reading YA texts to see, for instance, the social and historical effects of the time in which the books were written on their messages. Textual comparisons can allow you and your students to explore what it means for a book to be timeless, which books should be included in the canon, and whether these newer texts will stand the test of time. Integrating YA breathes new life into curricula, allowing for added opportunities to engage even the most reticent learners.

Art, Music & Theater

Historical Figures & Historical Moments

English & Social Studies Classes with a Focus on Social Justice

Holocaust & Jewish Studies

Science Fiction, Dystopia & Artificial Intelligence

Short Stories & Anthologies


Activists of All Ages

Read, discuss, and march with the young activists in your life

The Pink Hat

The Pink Hat By Andrew Joyner

Here is a clever story that follows the journey of a pink hat that is swiped out of a knitting basket by a pesky kitten, blown into a tree by a strong wind, and used as a cozy blanket for a new baby, then finally makes its way onto the head of a young girl marching for women’s equality.

Inspired by the 5 million people (many of them children) in 82 countries who participated in the 2017 Women’s March, Andrew Joyner has given us a book that celebrates girls and women and equal rights for all!

With themes of empathy, equality, and solidarity, The Pink Hat is a timeless and timely story that will empower readers and promote strength in the diverse and active feminist community.

The Sad Little Fact

The Sad Little Fact By Jonah Winter; illustrated by Pete Oswald

There once was a fact who could not lie.

But no one believed him.

When the Authorities lock the sad little fact away, along with other facts, the world goes dark. But facts are stubborn things. With the help of a few skillful fact finders, they make a daring escape and bring truth back to brighten the world. Because after all, “a fact is a fact” and that’s that!

Truth be told, this spare, ingenious story reads like a modern-day parable. Bestselling author, Jonah Winter, and the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of The Good Egg, Pete Oswald, pair together to remind us of the importance of honesty and truth during a time of lies and fake news.

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices By Edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists.

Featuring poems, letters, personal essays, art, and other works from such industry leaders as Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Jason Reynolds (All American Boys), Kwame Alexander (The Crossover),Andrea Pippins (I Love My Hair), Sharon Draper (Out of My Mind), Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer), Ellen Oh (cofounder of We Need Diverse Books), and artists Ekua Holmes, Rafael Lopez, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, and more, this anthology empowers the nation’s youth to listen, learn, and build a better tomorrow.

Just Mercy (Movie Tie-In Edition, Adapted for Young Adults)

Just Mercy (Movie Tie-In Edition, Adapted for Young Adults) By Bryan Stevenson

In this very personal work–adapted from the original #1 bestseller, which the New York Times calls “as compelling as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so”–acclaimed lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson offers a glimpse into the lives of the wrongfully imprisoned and his efforts to fight for their freedom.

Stevenson’s story is one of working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society–the poor, the wrongly convicted, and those whose lives have been marked by discrimination and marginalization. Through this adaptation, young people of today will find themselves called to action and compassion in the pursuit of justice.

Proceeds of this book will go to charity to help in Stevenson’s important work to benefit the voiceless and the vulnerable as they attempt to navigate the broken U.S. justice system.

Nevertheless, We Persisted

Nevertheless, We Persisted By Foreword by Senator Amy Klobuchar

“Aren’t you a terrorist?” “There are no roles for people who look like you.” “That’s a sin.” “No girls allowed.” They’ve heard it all. Actress Alia Shawkat reflects on all the parts she was told she was too “ethnic” to play. Former NFL player Wade Davis recalls his bullying of gay classmates in an attempt to hide his own sexuality. Teen Gavin Grimm shares the story that led to the infamous “bathroom bill,” and how he’s fighting it. Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr tells of her harrowing time in Aushwitz, where she watched her family disappear, one by one.

What made them rise up through the hate? What made them overcome the obstacles of their childhood to achieve extraordinary success? How did they break out of society’s limited view of who they are and find their way to the beautiful and hard-won lives they live today? With a foreword by Minnesota senator and up-and-coming Democratic party leader Amy Klobuchar, these essays share deeply personal stories of resilience, faith, love, and, yes, persistence.

A Small Zombie Problem Teach Alike

A Small Zombie Problem

A Small Zombie Problem By K.G. Campbell

Celebrated illustrator K. G. Campbell (Flora and Ulysses) brings a touch of Tim Burton to this delightfully spooky new series about a boy who can't help but attract zombies. . . .

August DuPont has spent his whole life inside a dilapidated house with his aunt Hydrangea. His lonely existence ends abruptly with a surprise invitation to meet an aunt and cousins he didn't even know existed. When newfound Aunt Orchid suggests that August attend school with his cousins, it's a dream come true. But August has scarcely begun to celebrate his good fortune when he is confronted by a small problem on his way home. A small, very undead problem.

Teach-Alike Titles

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • Doll Bones
  • Inkling
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • The Graveyard Book
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles
  • Warren the 13th

Just Mercy Teach-Alike with To Kill a Mockingbird

The New York Times calls Just Mercy “as compelling as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so.” Like in To Kill a Mockingbird,  Bryan Stevenson delves deep into the broken U.S. justice system, detailing from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America’s most rejected and marginalized people.

If your curriculum includes To Kill a Mockingbird, consider reading and discussing Just Mercy as a teach-alike. See below for sample discussion topics and questions, and be sure to check out the Just Mercy Discussion Guide for School- and Community-Wide Reading Programs!

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults)

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults) By Bryan Stevenson

In this very personal work—proceeds of which will go to charity—Bryan Stevenson recounts many and varied stories of his work as a lawyer in the U.S. criminal justice system on behalf of those in society who have experienced some type of discrimination and/or have been wrongly accused of a crime and who deserve a powerful advocate and due justice under the law.

Through the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization Stevenson founded as a young lawyer and for which he currently serves as Executive Director, this important work continues. EJI strives to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

The Meaning of Mockingbird

Discuss the phrase “to kill a Mockingbird” with your students. Since a Mockingbird is neither a pest nor a game bird, killing one is unnecessarily cruel. Who is the “Mockingbird” in each novel? Who or what is responsible for the mistreatment of the “Mockingbird”, and why does it continue to happen?

The Justice System

In To Kill a Mockingbird, the jury finds Tom Robinson guilty, despite compelling evidence that he is not. In Just Mercy, Walter McMillan is just one example of many low-income individuals and/or people of color presumed guilty before presenting their cases. What are other examples Bryan Stevenson shares? Why is a guilty verdict and/or a death sentence more likely if a defendant is black and the victim is white (80 percent of people on death row are convicted of crimes against whites, although 65 percent of homicide victims are black)? Do you think race and class should factor into a court case?

Complicit in Systems of Injustice

Bryan Stevenson writes “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated”? Who participates in and benefits from the systems of injustice in To Kill a Mockingbird? Do you believe that we have personal responsibility for how other people are treated? If yes, how should we be involved? If no, why not? Who does?

Racial Bias

Bryan Stevenson writes that there are four primary institutions that shape the conversation around race and justice today: slavery; racial terror and the threat of violence against people of color; Jim Crow laws, which legalized segregation; and mass incarceration. How do you see these institutions impacting Maycomb and affecting cases throughout the book?  How do we see the history of racial bias in the United States impacting the criminal justice system today?

Take Action

Brainstorm ways to work towards just systems. Use the list of suggestions on how to take action from the Just Mercy Discussion Guide.

Suspenseful Literature Lesson with Neverworld Wake


Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Now–one year after the shocking death of her boyfriend that changed everything–she reunites with her friends, hoping she’ll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions.

Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers . . . and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

Connect modern suspense with classic short stories

Teaching suspenseful literature taps into students’ desire to read scary stories and, at the same time, helps them explore story structure and develop critical thinking skills. Have students examine story elements (e.g., character, setting, plot) through teacher read-alouds and independent reading. Reader-response journals and graphic organizers prepare students for the culminating activity-the creation of their own scary stories.

Try out the following activities with your class. Use the activities with commonly-taught short stories like “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe or “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell, as well as with Neverworld Wake. Examine how the elements of a modern thriller compare and contrast with classic short stories. Then have students try their hand at a thriller of their own!

Setting and Descriptive Words

  1. Tell students that authors of scary stories often use setting and word choice to create a disturbing mood or atmosphere.
  2. Set up a chart paper with two columns. As you come to words or phrases in the text that describe the setting, write “when” words on the left side and “where” words on the right side. How are these words clues about the setting?
  3. On a second sheet of chart paper, start a list of descriptive words and phrases that convey fear in the story. This list may include words and phrases that describe the sounds, places, things, or people in the story. How do these words and phrases add to the mood of the story?
  4. Continue reading aloud, stopping intermittently to identify key descriptive words or phrases that convey a scary setting or mood, and continue to model by thinking aloud how these words contribute to the scariness of the story.

Character Description

  1. Tell students that much of a scary story’s suspense is conveyed through the characters’ thoughts, words, actions, and reactions to events and other characters.
  2. Continue modeling as you read the book, this time focusing on descriptive words about the characters. Have students draw conclusions about the main character and villain by using the thoughts, actions, and words of each character. Have students add these words to the ongoing descriptive words list.
  3. Distribute the Character Descriptions Organizer, and help the class identify the characteristics of the main character and villain on an overhead transparency. Students should keep their copies of the organizer in their folders.
  4. Take the class to the computer lab or have students work at classroom computers. Have students use their completed Character Descriptions Organizers to help them compare and contrast the main character and villain using the interactive Venn Diagram. Remind students to print and place their Venn diagrams in their folders.


  1. Read a section of the book or short story aloud and have the class notice how the plot unfolds and how the author creates suspense.
  2. Distribute The 5 Ws of Scary Story Writing and help students identify the story’s details on an overhead transparency. Have students add the completed 5 Ws organizer to their folders.
  3. Have students use The 5 Ws of Scary Story Writing to identify and describe the story elements (i.e., character, setting, conflict, resolution) and then type their responses into the interactive Story Map. Have students print and place the story maps in their folders.
  4. Before reading the final chapters, have students predict what they think will happen.

Lesson provided by Read Write Think.

Random House Teachers and Librarians