Tagged: the fault in our stars

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Way to start school: Get students to read The Maze Runner, then go to the movie

favicon We know that reluctant readers like book-movies — that is to say, books that are also movies. Even better are book-movies-to-be. Students can read the book, then go see the movie, and everyone is happy.

Back in the day (a few years ago), Hollywood didn’t entirely understand the widespread appeal of young adult books and their ability to amass large box office returns. Sure, there was Harry Potter, but for the most part, there weren’t too many books turned into films.

That has changed dramatically. Since The Hunger Games, things have picked up. Divergent was big, and The Fault in Our Stars was huge this summer.

And now, coming September 19, is The Maze Runner. Here’s the trailer:

Published in 2009 and written by James Dashner, the book has been medium-popular among students the past couple years. But my prediction is that marketing for the movie will make reading the book much more desirable right at the beginning of school.

So, teachers, here’s an idea: Encourage your students (especially boys) to read The Maze Runner, and tell them if they finish it before the film comes out, you’ll take them on a field trip to see the movie, followed by a discussion comparing the book with the movie.

(On a related note: Book-movie clubs are another great way to promote reading.)

No, sorry, I don’t have ideas about how to fund the field trip, besides asking families to pay for their kid’s movie ticket. It’s possible, I suppose, to do a DonorsChoose project, but it would be considered a special event and perhaps use up too many of your DonorsChoose points. (If you have ideas about how to raise money for the field trip, leave them in the comments.)

Loyal Iserotope readers and Kindle Classroom Project donors: You’ll be happy to note that the entire Maze Runner series is already in the Kindle Library. But I’d like to make sure that there is also one physical copy of The Maze Runner in each of the five Kindle classrooms. (This is also to promote my long-term project of library classroom mirroring.)

Want to help? If you’d like to buy one (or all five, for $32.45, before tax and shipping), click on the cover below. It should take you directly to Amazon to buy the book. When you continue through your cart, you should be able to send it directly to my “gift registry address.”


I can’t wait to tell Tess and Marni and Abby and the other KCP teachers about my idea. My hunch is that they’re going to be interested. We’ll see if the students are, too. If they are, I’ll keep everyone posted, and maybe you can come see the movie, too!

Let me know what you think by leaving a brilliant insight. favicon

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Book review: The Fault in Our Stars (★★☆☆)

favicon I was supposed to like The Fault in Our Stars. I mean, it’s by John Green. It was Time’s fiction book of the year. It won Goodreads’s award for this year’s best young adult fiction. The protagonist is memorable, the topic is cancer, and the story is poignant.

What am I missing? Apparently, a lot — I didn’t much care for the book.

Or maybe it’s just that I preferred Mr. Green’s other books — An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska, to name a couple.

This might sound insensitive, but I didn’t feel sympathy toward the main character, Hazel, who is dying from cancer. It’s clear that she doesn’t care much for the typical platitudes that accompany conversations about cancer. Hazel would rather get to the honest truth: that we live and die, that death involves oblivion, that there is no heroism in fighting cancer, that pain needs to be felt, and that there aren’t side effects to cancer — rather, there are side effects to dying.

Even when she meets Augustus at a support group and they fall in love, Hazel remains snarky. I mean, I suppose that a teenager dying from cancer deserves to be snarky, but this is typical for narrators in young adult literature. Perhaps my students would identify with Hazel’s personality, but mostly I found Hazel a bit mean, especially when she meets the author of her favorite book.

Most important, I don’t see my students reading this book. A few of my students have parents who are battling cancer; I’m not sure this book would be appropriate. And like many YA books, this one seems targeted to a White audience. That doesn’t mean, of course, that African American or Latino students couldn’t find this book valuable. It’s just that there would be many other books for them to read first.

While I applaud Mr. Green’s effort to offer a different kind of book about cancer, The Fault in Our Stars misses the mark. Of course, I could be entirely wrong, and I know that there are thousands of people who disagree with me. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, and maybe I’ll be enlightened! favicon