A friend of mine belongs to mother/son book club. This club has been in existence for about 4 years now, and the sons are now 16 and 17 years old. Most are juniors and seniors. They are looking for works that would suit such a book club. They lean toward the classics. Any suggestions?
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Let me begin on the lighter side of things. I realize that these are often considered novels for younger readers, but I think The Outsiders, Where the Red Fern Grows, A Wrinkle in Time, and even The Red Badge of Courage would be good choices. Fairly light. Not to much critical thinking, but good books to study relationships (in my opinion).
Now for a more serious look at modern relationships. Although not necessarily a classic (so I hope it won't be overlooked as a result), how about The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. I can't think of a better bonding experience for a mother/son book club than to experience this book together (as a follow-up, perhaps watch the movie), and then discuss how the mother/son relationship burgeons in the life of the family involved. Combining the subjects of intense sports, intense humor, and intense family, ... I think that would be a perfect fit!
Some of the books I would recommend are listed above. Frankenstein would be great as it would appeal to the guys and their moms, where some of my other favorites would probably lean more toward a female audience...it would be relevant to today with its timely themes...as long as they have not read it in school. I don't know if they would consider a play, but some schools aren't teaching Hamlet, which is a great shame. Someone else mentioned A Time to Kill, which is excellent, as is The Pelican Brief (both by John Grisham). (The movies were OK, but the books were awesome!) Michael Crichton has some great books—especially liked Timeline. To Kill a Mockingbird should definitely be on the list if they have not read it. My daughter's Honors English class, in a good district, is not reading it. It is SO worthwhile. Elie Wiesel's Night is a short but memorable read. How about One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? It's on my list of books to read...never have (though it sits on the shelf), but I don't know if it's age-appropriate. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho?
What an awesome idea: to have a book club with young adults—and guys, at that—who read with their mom and other women. I would expect great discussions!
I strongly recommend The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. The book is about Germany during World War II, and it provides a unique perspective on The Holocaust. It is engaging and perfect for discussion, and appeals to both teenagers and adults alike. In my experience, a successful book club is one in which the book brings up interesting philosophical and moral arguments and challenges our perceptions about what we already know.
I haven't really noticed any drama on this reading list, but that might be something for consideration as these young men have grown and matured as readers. I would highly recommend Macbeth, Hamlet, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, A Street Car Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and/or The Glass Menagerie to name a few. All would be considered classics, and the new genre is certainly deserving and would certainly be rewarding to this reading group.
I would 2nd the suggestion of Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian because it is about a young man who is asserting himself as an individual outside of the his traditional family situation. It is what the boys in this group will be doing as they head off to college in a couple of years.
My other suggestion is Night by Elie Wiesel. It is short but very emotional and moving memoir. It might be interesting to discuss the Holocaust in regards to what happened within families. It might also be interesting to talk about the difference in Holocaust Education between the mother's experiences in school and the son's.
On a related theme, I would also suggest Maus by Art Spiegelman. It is a graphic novel which might be interesting all by itself, but it is the biography of Spiegelman's father and his experiences during the Holocaust. The art is stark, and the story is clear. It is an excellent example of a "comic book" that raises the bar in terms of literary merit.
My last suggestion is The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. Written by James McBride, it is a superbly written book and a fascinating story of a white Jewish woman from the south who married a black man and lived her whole adult life raising her very large family in Harlem in the 1950's and 1960's.
It seems you have been given several suggestions for different classics, but I would agree with Post #6 that it could be very interesting for them to read something a little less traditional but still thought provoking.
A book that was circulating rather widely at my high school last year was Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris. Several of my students were giving it to their parents to read after they finished. I have not read it yet, personally, but from the sound of its general premise, I think it would be really cool to discuss in a group of parents and teens.
By the way, what a cool book club. I wish I could engage my male students in such a group!
Although the group is older, they may very well enjoy the Hunger Games series as well. There are three books: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. They are more modern, but again, the themes and issues have literary merit and universal appeal.
You might consider going away from the traditional reading list and choosing books that teens like and can relate to. Not only does it give you a window into teen life and what the kids think about current issues and writers, but it is likely to generate more interest, as the schools are pretty good at covering the classics with their traditional curriculum.
If you are looking for texts that have a strong mother/son element to them, I wonder whether studying texts with strong matriarchal figures might be interesting. Grapes of Wrath would be an example of a classic in this category, as would My Name is Asher Lev. Perhaps these are more modern classics, but they are excellent nonetheless.
Another title that might be interesting would be Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. It's a very difficult book, but one that is full of things concerning the family. Another one that would be a lot of fun is Gulliver's Travels. It might be fun to read it and then see the new movie that has come out. That way, they could discuss the themes and elements that are present/not present in the modern interpretation.
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