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Book Pairing Ideas: Romeo and Juliet

This blog was written by NCTE member Deanna Stephan. 

 

Even though my quick trip to Houston for NCTE-CEL 2018 feels long ago, the lessons I walked away with have been playing on repeat in my mind since then:

 

  1. How can English educators continue to provide windows and mirrors on the world through relevant instruction?
  2. How can English educators evaluate their own biases in order to curate relevant materials and raise student achievement?
  3. How can English educators authentically pique student curiosity to drive instruction?

 

It is those ubiquitous questions that have been guiding my planning of book clubs for next school year.

My district has been implementing the Reading Workshop model at the high school level over the past few years, so there has been a sharp increase in the amount of minutes students have been reading independently. During this time period, in order to live and breathe Reading Workshop in the classroom, I took a step back from book clubs.

Due to a master schedule change at my high school, we are in the midst of creating our 2019/2020 instructional calendars now. This moment feels like the right one to re-integrate literature book clubs back into the classroom, alongside Reading Workshop, and other forms of student-centered instruction.

Luckily, my English 9 colleagues here in the building have been thinking about making the same instructional adjustments next year. We have been collaborating to build a list of robust book titles from which students can choose during the corresponding unit.

To increase the number of titles we want to offer, I posted one simple question on Twitter: “What suggestions do you have for Lit Circle books that would pair “well” with Romeo+Juliet?”

Like any effective “tweacher,” I inserted a slew of hashtags after that question: #DisruptTexts, #NCTE, #NCTEVillage #CEL18 #SchoologyAMB — though if you check out the original tweet, it says, “#SchoologgAMB” because even English teachers make typos!

Those three questions led to my simple request for a few book titles. I was hoping to get six or seven replies. I should have known better! I have received many titles in return from the Twitterverse! That is the thing about being a “tweacher”: you’re never alone and someone is always willing to help!

Below, you’ll find lists for books that pair well with Romeo and Juliet. In sorting through all of the tweets, I had quite the English teacher moment. Alongside the suggestions was an entire backchannel conversation between authors and teachers about how much these books mean to teachers and students. I paused — real live authors, like Jennifer Niven, Barbara Dee, and Jacqueline Woodson, were involved in curating a book list!

 

Romeo+Juliet Book Pairings

 

1984 by George Orwell

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Beastly by Alex Flinn

The Coffin Quilt: The Feud Between the Hatfields and the McCoys by Ann Rinaldi

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Red Glass by Laura Resau

Romeo and Juliet by Gareth Hinds

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper

Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors

Scribbler of Dreams by Mary Pearson

Son of a Mob by Gordon Korman

Song of the Buffalo Boy by Sherry Garland

Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

Street Love by Walter Dean Myers

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Huston

Tristan and Isolde

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

West Side Story

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

 

Independent Reading Support for a Core Text: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Compiled by Penny Kittle

 

Thank you to the many “someones” who helped to compile this robust list of book titles:

@AngelaFaulhaber

@alisoncucchetti

@CampSocal

@CMattern21

@cmm246

@CodyMillerELA

@EmilyWaisanen

@GraceHilsmier

@GVHermanator

@HayleyGee4

 

@JacquelynTasker

@JoyLewisTeach

@KLCChester

@kristinaulmer

@kylie_betlesky

@lslipEnglish

@MissStephan

@mokirk84

@MrsHLevine

@MsCarrierELA

@MsRobbinsGVHS

@NancyAkhavan

@nayrbgo

@pennykittle

@robertmorfin4

@rsullrich

@sallyjpla

@SaurHeather

@SherryWillifor2

@teachpatten

@tiffwalters

 

Deanna M. Stephan is an English educator from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.  Follow her on Twitter:  @MissStephan