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Keep your students asking questions with The Future Will Be BS Free

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The Future Will Be BS Free

The Future Will Be BS Free By Will McIntosh

In a Putin-esque near-future America, the gifted and talented high school has just been eliminated, and Sam and his friends have been using their unexpected free time to work on a tiny, undetectable, utterly reliable lie detector. They’re all in it for the money–except Theo, their visionary. For Theo, it’s about creating a better world. A BS-free world, where no one can lie, and the honest will thrive.

Just when they finish the prototype and turn down an offer to sell their brainchild to a huge corporation, Theo is found dead. Greedy companies, corrupt privatized police, and even the president herself will stop at nothing to steal the Truth App. Sam sets his sights on exposing all lies and holding everyone accountable.

But he and his friends quickly realize the costs of a BS-free world: the lives of loved ones, and political and economic stability. They now face a difficult question: Is the world capable of operating without lies, or are lies what hold it together?

Read to Remember this Holocaust Remembrance Day

Each spring we take the time to commemorate and honor all of the lives lost and affected by the Holocaust. It is a time to reflect and teach the new generation about this horrific part of history in the hope that it will not be repeated and that the lessons of the Holocaust will never be forgotten. As educators, you play a vital role in this effort. Below are titles that can be used to further your readers' understanding of this tragedy.

What the Night Sings by debut author / illustrator Vesper Stamper is a lushly illustrated novel about a teen Holocaust survivor, who must come to terms with who she is and how to rebuild her life.

After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor for whom she might be falling, despite her hardship.  With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.

A breathtaking look at a lesser-known piece of the life of a Holocaust survivor, What the Night Sings dares to question the role of happiness amongst such anguish.  Exploring themes of love and identity in the teenage years, this novel engages young readers in a deeply personal reflection of this historical tragedy.

Teach-Alike:

WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS compliments lessons featuring these titles:

Suggestions for your elementary and middle school readers:

Teach-Alike: Black History Month

Use these contemporary titles paired with your historical texts to encourage your students to celebrate Black History Month.

Of Thee I Sing

Of Thee I Sing By Barack Obama; illustrated by Loren Long

In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

Breathtaking, evocative illustrations by award-winning artist Loren Long at once capture the personalities and achievements of these great Americans and the innocence and promise of childhood.

This beautiful book celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans, from our nation’s founders to generations to come.

Let's Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out!

Let's Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out! By Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Educators will delight in sharing this exuberant book with the children in their lives. Here is a songbook, a storybook, a poetry collection, and much more, all rolled into one. Find a partner for hand claps such as “Eenie, Meenie, Sassafreeny,” or form a circle for games like “Little Sally Walker.” Gather as a family to sing well-loved songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Oh, Freedom,” or to read aloud the poetry of such African American luminaries as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. And snuggle down to enjoy classic stories retold by the author, including Aesop’s fables and tales featuring Br’er Rabbit and Anansi the Spider.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

The Stars Beneath Our Feet By David Barclay Moore

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.

His path isn’t clear—and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape—and an unexpected bridge back to the world.

David Barclay Moore paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge and shows how Lolly’s inventive spirit helps him build a life with firm foundations and open doors.
 

Dear Martin

Dear Martin By Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

December Teach-Alike: Today’s Teen Voices

Holden and Ponyboy, meet Justyce and Natasha.

When we read Ponyboy’s words, “It’s okay…We aren’t in the same class. Just don’t forget that some of us watch the sunset too,” we feel the tension between the greasers and the Socs and understand a bit more about class disadvantages in the 1960s. “From that time on, the world was hers for the reading” shows us a young, hopeful Francie Nolan in her Williamsburg tenement. “All morons hate it when you call them a moron” brings us to an angst-filled teenager trying to cope with death and identity in the 1950s, while “Do I dare disturb the universe? Yes, I do, I do. I think” reminds us that teenagers learn from our history and want to do more, do better.

Reading realistic teen voices is an important tool for readers analyzing current social trends and issues and determining what the future may hold. In the modern English classroom, students read and discuss incredible classics that allow great insights into writing and storytelling techniques, events from a particular time period, and artistic variety, including S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, and Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War. Our world is changing, and teens want—and need—to read texts that truly reflect our growth and, even more importantly, our struggles.

The following contemporary young adult novels cover a variety of issues, and their use in conjunction with the above classics can highlight the universality of the human experience.

This is the Part Where You Laugh

This is the Part Where You Laugh By Peter Brown Hoffmeister

One summer in the life of a teenage boy as he navigates first love, addiction, basketball, gang violence, and a reptile infestation in a trailer park in Eugene, Oregon. Use this as a companion text in a unit about coming-of-age stories.

All the Bright Places Movie Tie-In Edition

All the Bright Places Movie Tie-In Edition By Jennifer Niven

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die. Use this as a companion text in a unit about love or mental illness.

Goodbye Days

Goodbye Days By Jeff Zentner

The heartbreaking and at times humorous look at one teen’s life after the death of his best friends and how he navigates the guilt and pain by celebrating their lives and ultimately learning to forgive himself. Use this as a companion text in a unit about friendship or death and grieving.

The Sun Is Also a Star Movie Tie-in Edition

The Sun Is Also a Star Movie Tie-in Edition By Nicola Yoon

In The Sun Is Also a Star, to understand the characters and their love story, we must know about everything around them and everything that came before them that has affected who they are and what they experience. Use this as a companion text in a unit about immigration and familial responsibility.

Dear Martin

Dear Martin By Nic Stone

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, author Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning New York Times bestselling debut. Use this as a companion text in a unit about racism and social injustice.

October Teach-Alike: a graphic-novel and a hero’s journey

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Book 1: The Road to Epoli

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Book 1: The Road to Epoli By James Parks and Ben Costa

What do a skeleton named Rickety Stitch and scholar Joseph Campbell have in common?

“Hero’s journey” refers to the structure of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, is involved in a crisis, is helped by allies, wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. Joseph Campbell, an American mythological researcher and author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, coined the term after studying Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s writing on the myth template.

In classrooms today, students learn about the hero’s journey through a variety of texts, including classic and contemporary novels, poetry, and films. Homer’s The Odyssey is one of the best-known examples, but there are others that may be somewhat surprising. For example, Simba in Disney’s The Lion King and Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games. Yann Martel’s Life of Pi? That’s a hero’s journey. George Lucas had written two drafts of Star Wars when he rediscovered Campbell’s notes. He was then able to successfully finish the film. Even William Goldman’s The Princess Bride is a wonderful example of the outline.

So what does a skeleton named Rickety Stitch have to do with Homer and Simba? James Parks and Ben Costa have created an incredible graphic-novel series about a man (skeleton) on a quest to discover his identity and share his story. Graphic novels are gaining popularity because of their accessibility and the engagement they inspire, and because the format often makes digesting complex topics—like the stages of the hero’s journey—a little easier. Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Book 1: The Road to Epoli is a perfect companion text for students studying the myth template and learning that the hero of a story can be almost anyone: a lion warrior, a teenage girl standing up for her family and community, or a skeleton looking for his identity.

Classroom Lesson: While reading The Odyssey, have students simultaneously read Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Book 1: The Road to Epoli. Discuss the elements of the cycle in both texts, and analyze similarities, differences, and the overall effect on the texts. Then have students find a modern-day story that fits the archetype of a hero’s journey. (They should consider heroes from literature, movies, newspapers, magazines, and comics.)

Praise for Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo Part 1: The Road to Epoli

★ “Don’t be fooled by the cheery illustrations; this is irreverent, bawdy, and lots of fun.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

★ “The art brings the story to life, making the characters believable and adding dimension to personalities. The plot is an exciting blend of creepy and humorous, with a truly amazing amount of world-building and history, making the setting every bit as captivating as the characters.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

★ “There is lots of intertextual cleverness going on that results in this book being both an homage to and spoof of the traditional fantasy hero’s quest, both in the illustrations and in the narration.” —The Bulletin, Starred Review

★ “Parks and Costa impressively evolve their tale into a compelling epic quest.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review