Happy Book Birthday to Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself, edited by writer, educator, and editor-extraordinaire Luke Reynolds!
Last summer, Luke asked me if I would like to contribute an essay to a project that he was putting together to benefit the Children’s Defense Fund–a collection of essays for teens. He wanted me to choose one of society’s unwritten rules and tell not only how I broke that rule, but why teens should, too.
Mind you, as a mother, teacher, and librarian, there are oodles of rules that I follow every day. But some rules beg to be challenged, and I jumped at the chance to contribute to this anthology. And then I found out who the rest of the contributors were–award-winners like Katherine Erskine, A.S. King, Thanhha Lai, Gary Schmidt, Francisco X. Stork, and Sara Zarr.
And many, many other favorite authors of mine–34 in all, to be exact. But I decided to break the Be Intimidated By Greatness rule, and decided instead to be inspired.
School Library Journal calls the essays “inspiring and thought-provoking,” saying, “As readers head back to the classrooms this fall, these essays can serve as discussion starters and give readers a jumping-off point for thinking about the bigger picture and life after high school.”
Here’s the Publisher‘s description: In Break These Rules, 35 favorite middle grade and young adult authors—including Kathryn Erskine, A. S. King, Matthew Quick, Sara Zarr, Gary Schmidt, and many others—speak directly to their readers and advise them to break the boundaries of conformity. In moving, inspiring, and often funny essays, they take on many of the powerfully inhibiting and unspoken “rules” of adolescence, such as Boys shouldn’t be gentle, kind, and caring; Thou shalt wear Abercrombie & Fitch to fit in; You must be a jock or a nerd—you can’t be both; and Girls should “act like girls.” It is often through reading fiction that kids start to question such restrictions, so who better to speak to them directly than their favorite novelists? The book is focused on encouraging students to break rules in their own lives—a prospect many teens and tweens will find thrilling and fresh.
Hand this book to the kid who:
* Is nervous or unsure about fitting in–maybe a student new to the school or someone who feels left out.
* Enjoys the work of any of the authors in the anthology.
* Reluctant readers who may be intimidated by reading an entire novel–they can dip into this book and read only the essays with topics that interest them.
Use this to teach:
* Personal narrative–This is the form of writing often used in standardized testing, and this book offers 35 examples of the form for analysis.
* Voice/tone–Some of the essays are funny, some heart-wrenching, others are somewhere in between. It might be an interesting exercise to have students choose an essay and compare it to the tone and voice used by the author in his or her work.
* Anti-Bullying— Aside from the classroom or school library, this would make a good addition to any school guidance counselor’s bookshelf. It would also pair nicely with the It Gets Better campaign.
The Nitty Gritty~
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 208