Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rigor

Welcome to Day 18 of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge here at Reading on the F Train. Today's topic is Rigor!

Today, I don't have something to share, so much as a question to ask: I try to use YA novels as much as possible in my teaching, but it's sometimes a hard sell.  The word I hear a lot in those discussions is "rigor"--as in, YA texts aren't rigorous enough.  I should be teaching higher-level texts that stretch students' abilities.  I agree that this is one goal of teaching literature (equally important, to me, is making sure my students leave my class as people who love reading) and I don't think it's necessarily incompatible with YA.  But I'd love to put together a list of "rigorous" texts--text with complex language, texts that require a lot of work from the reader (but ideally also reward that work.) 

So I'm turning to you all--what are some YA novels you love that are challenging, and what about them might a young reader find challenging?


  1. This is such a great question! I hope you'll consider posting about the answers you get. I like a good "rigorous" YA text and could use some recommendations as well.

    I'd say that THE BOOK THIEF certainly fits the bill (though I think some people consider that novel to be middle grade?), as well as THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN and THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. I'll go ahead and say that JELLICOE ROAD is rigorous too, and I'm not just because it's my favorite. ;-)

  2. Hello, Mrs. Silverstein! I think many of the "rigorous" books on school reading lists shouldn't be there. I think that's what turns off teens from reading, which is so sad!

    The Outsiders, and anything by S.E. Hinton really, are great for making teens think outside the box, and the stories are enjoyable. I agree with the above commenter that The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is excellent (though it's definitely not middle-grade...I actually think it's even more adult than teen...but I think it gets categorized as teen just because the MC is a child) and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is terrific, too.

    Good luck!!

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines


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