Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsThe inspiration for a story can come from almost anywhere. I learned this first-hand a few years ago when I was inspired by some evocative old snapshots I found at a flea market. I wanted to know more about the people in them, but the photos were anonymous—long-disconnected from whomever had taken and discarded them—so instead I created their stories myself. The result was my first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenIt’s enjoyed some remarkable success, especially for a book from a debut novelist—there’s even a movie in the works! None of which would be happening if I hadn’t let a handful of musty pictures tell me a story. Stories are everywhere; it’s just a matter of tuning our ears to listen for them.

Given the way Miss Peregrine is told, with the photos I found woven through the narrative, it’s proven to be a fascinating conversation-starter for students and teachers of creative writing. Students can easily find photos of their own to use as writing prompts, either on the Internet or, better yet, in the attics and closets of parents and grandparents. (I discovered that it’s nearly impossible to write about old photographs without becoming interested in their history. There’s something fascinating about the immediacy of a photograph, no matter how old it is; though a picture might have been taken a hundred years ago, it is always, in some sense, now.) (more…)

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I knew that my novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was making its way onto high school reading lists when curious emails began popping up in my inbox. They tended to go something like this:

“Um, you know, your book, Motel on the Corner of Sweet and Sour—dude, it’s like m favorite novel of all time!! And I’m kinda wondering if you could, like, answer these twelve questions for me? (In my mind, I always hear this question coming from a nasally, voice-cracking, pre-pubescent 14-year-old boy wearing a Hot Topic hoodie with his ear buds in, listening to “Bring Me the Horizon”).

And just like that, I was suddenly someone’s homework. Right up there with Of Mice and Men, the Pythagorean Theorem, and building dioramas out of old shoe-boxes and craftpaper.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how my novel would be received.

So then I asked myself why so many students embrace books like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird—because they’re amazing novels? Sure. But moreover, these are books with young protagonists. They offer voices that are readily absorbed by the intrepid imaginations of young adults. (more…)

Not Quite Adults by Richard Settersten and Barbara E. Ray

by Richard Settersten, co-author of Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone (Bantam, 2010)

One of the inescapable burdens of being an educator relates to this simple truth: We grow older, but our students are forever young. Yet, as new students file into our classrooms each year, we’re aware of a complementary truth: Just because our students are always young doesn’t mean they’re always the same. Recent years have brought a seismic shift in the kinds of students we face.

Anchored in nearly a decade of collaborative research conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scientists assembled by the MacArthur Foundation (myself included), Not Quite Adults provides an intimate look at today’s young people.

Writing this book with my co-author, Barbara Ray, has changed how I teach and relate to my college students. Here are a few lessons that will be helpful for high school teachers, too: (more…)

Going Down South by Bonnie J. Glover

by Bonnie J. Glover, author of Going Down South: A Novel

Since 2005 when my first book, The Middle Sister, was published, I’ve been asked to speak at various public schools, ranging from grade schools to colleges in Florida where I’m currently a resident. Each event has left me wanting to participate more in book discussions with young adults and I’m glad that now I’m receiving  invitations to speak in schools as far away  as Missouri.

When I speak to these school age kids we discuss our journeys through life and both of my novels, including my latest work, Going Down South. And, of course, there are always at least a few questions regarding my personal writing process and how to get published.  When I speak to adults, they tend to ask about book deals and money. Kids are different.  They ask about what’s fair game—is it all right to tell a story about something that really happened? And, young people often ask about inspiration.  That’s a great subject.  We also discuss reading and my personal belief that a person can never become a successful writer without being a successful reader first. (more…)

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief, recently spoke with a group of students at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia. The students later emailed her book trailers that they’d made for her novel as part of a class project.

We were pretty impressed by them (and wished we were given a fun assignment like this back when we were in school!) Check the trailers out on her blog.

Haven’t read the book yet? Email us and we’ll send a complimentary copy to the first TEN people who respond.