The ability for a teacher to empathise with their students is something that can either be an innate talent or the result of years of experience in classrooms. Whatever the route that needs to be taken to gain the quality, it is essential for teachers with pupils of all age groups to be able to understand their students’ concerns and worries.
When it comes to young adults, this can be an even more acute problem. Fortunately there is a wealth of great literature that not only gives a great insight into what people of that age might be going through but is also very popular with the target age group.
Here are three books aimed at young adults than can help you and them deal with relevant issues:
Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Good for: teaching about learning difficulties, acceptance and social problems
The book is narrated in the first-person by Christopher, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties.” The exact condition of the character is not explicitly referenced in the text, however, Christopher has Asperger syndrome (AS), a form of high-functioning autism that is sometimes called ‘savant syndrome.’ The book follows Christopher as he investigates the murder of a neighbour’s black poodle.
This 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon is a great work for delving into issues regarding learning disabilities. The book has won the Whitbread Book Awards for Best Novel and Book of the Year, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.
Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Good for: teaching about emotional development, growing up and adolescence
This coming-of-age novel is narrated through a series of letters written by Charlie, a high school freshman. With a cult following much like that of Catcher in the Rye, the narrative takes the form of a series of letters from the protagonist written to an anonymous person. The story deals with social issues and struggles of fitting in, sexuality, suicide, abuse and falling in love.
The book was written by American novelist Stephen Chbosky and in 2012 it was adapted into a film.
Title: Go Ask Alice
Good for: teaching about drugs, substance abuse and peer pressure
Although written in 1971, this based-on-fact story about the life of a troubled teenage girl remains relevant to issues surrounding substance abuse today. Written in the form of the diary of an anonymous teenage girl who became addicted to drugs, the title is taken from a line in Jefferson Airplane’s hit song from the 60s White Rabbit.
The story caused a sensation when published but remains in print as of 2012. Revelations about the book’s origin have caused some doubt over its authenticity and factual accounts to arise, and the publishers have listed it as a work of fiction since at least the mid-late 80s. Still published as a work of fiction today, it often appears under the byline “anonymous” but is widely considered to be the true life story of its editor Beatrice Sparks.