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I think a great novel for high school students would be Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. It features really interesting characters, several of which are young so students would be able to relate to their situation. It deals with big themes: faith, revenge, family loyalty, to name just a few. Because of these big ideas, I think there are several interesting projects to be devised. Students could debate the decision-making of the characters, considering the ethical dilemmas they find themselves in. There are also lots of interesting settings, beautifully described in the text that would lend themselves to visual projects (a collage for example).
I also think this novel would make a great movie . . .
I rather enjoy the novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers. The novel is about a young African American teenager accused and on trial for murder. The novel is written in a screen-play format. It provides great insight into the mind of a boy in the court system.
What comes to mind is not a novel but a dramatic short story by Robert Louis Stevenson in his New Arabian Nights collection, "Pavilion on the Links," which, in fact, may be closer to a novella than a short story. It is a terrific, suspenseful adventure story that is written with Louis's superlative skill and language craft. In fact, any from New Arabian Nights would be of interest and to my knowledge neither of the story groups, The Suicide Club or The Rajha's Diamond have had movie debuts.
For a high-school student, I recommend Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, both by Orson Scott Card. Although Ender's Game has been in development hell almost since it was published, I suspect it won't become a movie for a long time yet. Another good one is The Warrior's Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold.
If the student is not into Science Fiction, how about Chasing the Bear or Edenville Owls by Robert B. Parker? Both are young-adult mysteries.
For Fantasy, any of the Redwall series by Brian Jaques. They are perhaps a little younger than high-school level, but they contain a very intricate internal mythology that would be good for time-lining or family trees.
One that might be a little too "old" is Slam, by Nick Hornby. It deals with issues of responsibility and growing up in the wake of a teen pregnancy.
It might be a little young for them, but how about one of the Chronicles of Narnia that hasn't been made into a movie (yet)?!? For example, The Magician's Nephew is a fabulous "prequel," I would say, that shows how the land of Narnia came to pass. VERY interesting no matter if the students are familiar with Narnia or not. You might also be able to use clips from the recent movies about other Narnia films for compare and contrast purposes in regards to characterization. That's not to count out the other books, of course, that aren't on film (The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, and The Last Battle). I simply see lots of potential in The Magician's Nephew. It remains my very favorite in the Narnia series!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are two of our favorites to teach; however they both have movies come out at the end of the year. Depending on your timeframe, you might be able to use them before they open. A local author, both my male and female students enjoy the Enders' Game books by Orson Scott Card. We’ve found that with my our junior students, we can do several projects with Kate Chopin's The Awakening coupled with several of her short stories (“Desire’s Baby” and “Story of an Hour” are always favorites). The students find many different avenues for discussions from her works, and there are several projects you can do with them.
I have always wondered why Jerzy Kosinski's fabulous novel, The Painted Bird, has never been made into a movie. Its Holocaust theme is still important today, and it offers a realistic if horrific story of a Jewish boy trying to survive on his own during World War II.
I would like to see some of the other Narnia Chronicles made into films, too! I am reading The Magician's Nephew with my two middle kids at the moment, and they are loving it, though the fate of various guinea pigs threatened to put them of the story!
Talking about books that are neglected by film makers, there are a number of classics that would be great material for a theme. I really like the short stories of Katherine Mansfield, and a number of her works would be excellent to try and make a short film out of or to act out in some way with high school students. Consider stories such as "Miss Brill" and "The Doll's House" for starters, and then move on to more challenging works such as "The Garden Party."
At this point, you might want to try The Hunger Games because it's a great book, kids love it and want to read it now, and there is a movie coming out but it's not out yet.
White Noise by Don Delillo is usually taught at the college level, but is accessible to a younger group. This novel is highly topic, at points, and is open to discussions on Corporate Ethics, Medication, Blind Ambition, the Value of Higher Education, Love, Family, and any number of literary discussions.
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