I need an exceptionally good science fiction novel for my gifted 6th graders (some reading 4-5 years above grade level) ---I wanted Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card or The Giver by Lois Lowry but it's come to my attention that the middle school teachers "own" those titles. I'm not an SF reader so help me come up with some really good suggestions.

We're reading a dozen SF short stories including Nolan, Asimov and Bradbury and want to finish up with a novel.

Tags: fiction, novel, science

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Good point about the parent permission on that one.
I've heard good things about The Ear, The Eye and the Arm--may add it to my Christmas reading.
Hi Nancy,

I love science fiction. Robert A. Heinlein was my introduction to science fiction and still one of my favorite authors even though some of his work is now dated. I also like Anne McCaffrey's work, especially her earlier Dragonriders of Pern series. You might start off with Dragonflight. I also have a science fiction/fantasy book review website -- it features reviews of various SF/fantasy books and also author biographies. The site is www.futurefiction.com. Note that it hasn't been updated in several years (just not enough hours in the day), but you might find some things of interest there.

Good luck!
Thanks Diane, I'll take peek at the website. I know what you mean about time, I only hope I pick a book to preview and preread that we're going to use! Otherwise I'll end up reading more than one in a genre that is not a fav!!
Nancy, you may have already done this, but if not, I googled "young adult science fiction" and found some sites that might provide some additional guidance. Among them:

Tempe, Arizona Youth Library: http://www.tempe.gov/youthlibrary/highschool/yascifi.htm
Wands and Worlds: http://www.wandsandworlds.com/ (be sure to check out the blog)
The Cybils 2008 (Children's & Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards): http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils/SFFYA.html/ (this link leads to the Young Adult S/F nominations, but the blog covers many other genres too)
Thanks Diane, I'm familiar with a couple of these sites. Don't want to get overwhelmed but I'll take a gander. I started House of the Scorpion this morning, so we shall see. The big problem is that I don't want to spent the entire break reading YA SF, not my fav genre. So want to find a book quickly. Hoped to read Outliers and Scarpetti over break.
First novel that came to my mind was House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (also the author of The Ear, The Eye and The Arm - set in Africa) which is a novel of cloning, relevant in today's world. Another to consider Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn which reminded me of The Giver by Lowry. In Tattoo when the kids reach a certain age they receive the bar code tattoo that holds all financial and medical information about them, which makes buying a Coke easy but keeping a job difficult if you have a health problem. My students and I also love the Among the Hidden series and Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, with Hidden being a much easier read than Dark.

Have fun over break reading!
I've been doing a lot of book recommendations over the years, and one thing I've found out is as much as I love "the classics," kids don't respond to Heinlein and Asimov as I did. The technology is too dated. For a long time H. M. Hoover and Monica Hughes were it, but in addition to being hard to find, their technology has the same problem now as Heinlein's.

In the last decade Margaret Peterson Haddix and Scott Westerfeld have carried the banner--you might consider Westerfeld's SO YESTERDAY, which is about marketing in the future, and how the Next Hot Thing is chosen, by Trend Setters who keep an eye out for Innovators. Someone else who wrote about marketing and how it's used to manipulate us is M.T. Anderson in his book FEED (which also takes place in part on the moon): what is it like to be permanently plugged in and subjected to constant marketing, and who would turn down the feed link that "everyone else" has?

Two really excellent SF titles this year are Suzanne Gregory's THE HUNGER GAMES and Cory Doctorow's LITTLE BROTHER. Gregory's book is in the future: North America is made up of subject states to the capital city of Panem. Each year each state must send two young people, a boy and a girl chosen by lottery, to compete in the Survivor-like Hunger Games--except there can only be one survivor, who then has a life of luxury at home, when most people struggle to live. Katniss takes her frail sister's place at the games. She is the hunter in the family. She has skills that might help her to survive.

The setting for LITTLE BROTHER is the very near future, where teens on a scavenger hunt get caught up in a Homeland Security arrest net for the perpetrators of a bombing. There are a lot of questions about legal rights as Markus and his friends are held, then released, and watched. One of their number goes missing, while they are forbidden to ask about him. It's a nightmare that makes Markus and the reader question the good guys, and the motives behind established law.

Rodman Philbrick wrote THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE, which shows a society of the very sick poor living in squalor contrasted with the very wealthy living in unimaginable luxury. Spaz is an epileptic and can't immerse himself in games like everyone around him, but a crazy named Ryter introduces him to something called reading. It may be a bit short for your kids, but it raises a lot of questions about ecology, wealth, pollution, and medical care.

And Annette Curtis Klause did a great spaceship mystery called ALIEN SECRETS, in which a girl who's been kicked out of school ends up making common cause with an alien, a former slave who is trying to get a sacred artifact back from one of their fellow travelers, a member of its former master race.
Thanks for the great reviews. It is always a struggle choosing class-reads for my students for several reasons. The main one being they have read so many books by 6th grade it's hard to find one they haven't read. Also many of my students read 4-5 years above their peers, finding books with rich vocabulary and challenging concepts bumps into mature themes.

If I choose a really new book I ask the parents to buy the books, since the kids only come once a week checking the books out of the public library doesn't work. I can get older books through our district's interlibrary loan so I've asked for The Ear, The Eye and The Arm by Nancy Farmer. Have you read that one? I'll check into the others you mentioned for our classroom library.

BTW, I'm reading 12 old sci fi short stories by Asimov, Bradbury and others and the kids really like them. I've been able to find most of them online so everybody can have a copy. You can see the list at one of our websites CHOOSE Science Fiction from the menu on the left http://connections.smsd.org/robots Thanks again, N
Ms. Pierce -

I saw your name and thought...this can't be the same Tamora Pierce that I have been reading for years?!? It is an unusual first name and I see through another post that you are. I have been a HUGE fan and always put down your name as favorite YA author. I was in the middle school up until this year and I had my whole collection on my shelf and recommended them frequrently. Sadly they are a little too "grown up" for the elementary school set I teach now but they are still on my home bookshelf ready to lend out. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to discussions here.

The Hunger Games, which just came out, by Suzanne Collins, . Post apocalypse, in the US, poor communities scrape along but are heroes of story. The big event of the year takes a boy and girl from each region to compete - to the death - in a reality-game how gone really wrong. Pretty violent for 6th grade - depends on your school population. Strong male and female characters, has some romance, but not so much the boys will be turned off (it was boys who brought it to my attention). MUCH better than Gregor the overlander series. Still only hardcover.

Downsiders by Neil Shusterman (whole civilization under nyc). Also Everlost (what happens after you die)

The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau (civilization underground b/c of nuclear war finally comes out)
I heard recently about the Hunger Games and blogged about it for my students. I thought it might be a bit much for the class read but it came highly recommended---the ONLY way to win the game is to kill all the other contestants. We read City of Ember when it came out. As I mentioned before, I have a hard time finding books that nobody has read, they have to be either brand new (and expensive) or older. I decided on The Ear, The Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer--we'll see how that goes. I also mention above that we are reading 12 Sci-Fi short stories. Thanks for the recommendations.



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