YA Books and Math

Occasionally, math folks ask for recommendations that connect YA books and math concepts. Here’s a list that I’ve compiled over the years. Do you have something you can add? Let me know!



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YA Books and Classics Pairings

Ways to Pair

  • Characterization
  • Theme/Motif
  • Parallel stories
  • Text Structure
  • Literary Concepts
  • Retellings
    • Updated
    • Graphic adaptations
Classic Equivalent
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

Noughts & Crosses, by Blackman

A Lesson Before Dying by Gaines

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Black and White by Paul Volponi

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Great by Sara Beninsca

Paper Towns by Green

Jake Reinvented by Gordon Korman

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

Waiting for June by Joyce Sweeney

Annie’s Baby by Beatrice Sparks

Someone Like you by Sarah Dessen

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lord of the Flies by William Goldring Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Gone (series) by Michael Grant

The Goats by Brock Cole

Nothing by Janne Teller

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

The Drowning of Stephan Jones by Bette Greene

The Wave by Todd Strasser

Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper

Scribbler of Dreams by Mary Pearson

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

Crushing on a Capulet by Tony Abbot

Julius Caesar by Shakespeare The Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers

Running Loose by Chris Crutcher

Out of Control by Norma Fox Mazer

1984 by George Orwell The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Moby Dick by Melville Leaving Protection by Will Hobbs

Railsea by China Mieville

The Odyssey

(journey’s quest/hero motif)

East by Edith Pattou

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

So Yesterday by Scott Westerfield

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson


Don Quixote by Cervantes Going Bovine by Libba Bray
The Crucible by Arthur Miller Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley His Dark Endeavors by Kenneth Oppel
Wuthering Heights Looking for Alaska, by Green

Catherine by April Lindner,

Black Spring by Alison Croggin

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

The Crucible by Arthur Miller Conversation by Katherine Howe

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

The HERitic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain


The Day They Came to Arrest the Book by Nat Hentoff

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

47 by Walter Mosley

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Memory by Margaret Mahy


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The Fault in Our Stars

If you liked TFIOS, and seriously who didn’t, then try…




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I guess I should tell you what really happened…

School started.

And it was a mess.

We’ve been starting school here in America for hundreds of years, and we still can’t get it right. Parents are left out of the communication loop; therefore, students are not prepared. New Teachers and new administration are not supported and cry at some point during their first 2 weeks.

Texts I’ve received this week…

“I’m stressed.”

“If crying at school was acceptable, I’d be crying right now.”

“This is so hard. How come I don’t feel prepared.”

Why does school starting cause such panic and strong emotions?

I. Don’t. Know.

Other than in many schools there is extremely high turnover and the average experience of the teachers is under 5 years. We have the blind leading the blind. What can we do? Here’s my starting point. It’s not comprehensive and it defintiely needs work., but here’s where I am today…

1. Support new teachers and administration. Just because a person graduated from college (even with a teaching degree) doesn’t mean they are 100% ready to embark on this journey alone. They need those of with experience to share information, to share strategies, to brainstorm lists, to use our connections to build a network of veteran teachers that will look out for the more novice teachers.

2. Teach our pre-service teachers that they are NOT in this job alone and they won’t be perfect. We need to share our missteps, mistakes, and failures, so that when they mess up (cause we all do) that tomorrow is another day. Resiliency is a necessary skill. We have to learn to screw up and not give up, but screw up and stick with it. And by stick with it I mean not keep trying the screw up, but keep working and trying new things.

3. Grace. Enough said, right? This relates to #2, yet I want to explicitly say–  Everyone deserves grace including yourself. We have to learn to give ourselves the grace we give to our students.

4. Work to find a balance. Teaching is hard and important work. But we can’t let it consume our young teachers’ lives. We have to work towards life balance. They need to hang out with friends, have a beer, go for a run, enjoy life away from school…. I believe that working alongside teachers to help them find this balance is an important part of my job.

With this partial list, I’m signing off.

What do you do to support new teachers and administrators?



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Frustration… We must stand firm.

Over the last few years, I have been growing increasingly frustrated with myself and other teachers who do not resist the negative indoctrination that veteran and preservice teachers undergo as part of their roles as teacher. This sense of growing frustration is unfortunately linked to the exposure of so much negativity in today’s public schools that, instead of searching for student strengths often we only see what is wrong or deficient with the  students (Delpit, 1995). I feel that teachers allow this negative indoctrination to marginalize their expectations of children. This, in turn, influences their pedagogy. Lowering standards and expectations only continues cycles of failure that has plagued many schools AND students for too long. This negativity dominates many school cultures, as some teachers find fault with the home lives of students and exclude these children from teacher’s goals (see Ms. Brant’s Rants for an example of pre-testing exclusion of some students). We must stand firm in our instructional decisions that can and will facilitate learning of ALL children regardless of class, race, abilities, gender, and/or how close they are to passing a test. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing stories of teachers and their practices and decisions so hopefully more educators can begin to see ways to STAND FIRM in their pedagogical beliefs.

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Culture of Multi-literate & Polylingual-Friendly Educational Spaces Schools/Community

#Literacies kickoff chat on Thursday, 3/6 at 8PM EST

The LRA Research to Practice Episode: Culture of Literacies on Monday, 3/13 at 7PM EST

with a followup #literacies chat on Thursday, 3/20 at 8PM EST

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Note to Self Shelf

I absolutely love how my 8-year old, Kat, is growing and maturing into a little lady. Today I happened upon a blue piece of construction paper with “Note to self shelf” written on it. This paper is taped to her closet door! 

Her notes include:
“14th shop for stuff” and “were a coat on Tuseday.”
This is where I diverge into my teachery self. Kat’s teacher is incredible! So often teachers have students earn tickets for good behavior or making good decisions. In this, students often get to spend their tickets on plastic, junky goodie bag type gifts that I end up throwing away when Kat is not looking. 

This year is different! Her class earns tickets and then purchases things like “eat lunch at the Dragon Park” or “have recess on the field.” There is also “read a favorite book to another class.” What cool prizes! When one student does well, the whole class does well. What a strong community building motivator! Kiddos are even combining their tickets to be able to “purchase” the bigger items (i.e. Lunch at Dragon Park is 100 tickets)! 

I love, love, love this idea! All this to say: Kat’s shop for stuff note is referring to this. Last week, Kat bought “read to another class.” This means, she has selected 3 books read them aloud repeatedly (text appropriateness and fluency building) and contacted 2 different teachers to request permission and a time that would work for them (writing, communication, and negotiation). 

This is my kind of reward! Academic, confidence-building, supporting the good of others, and encouraging! 


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