This semester, I took a young adult literature class, and for my final project, I created a bibliography of young adult books that can be paired with classics. I found several books that could be paired with plays that are often taught in middle/high school. They are listed below!
Blushing: Expressions of Love in Poems & Letters by Paul B. Janeczko (Ed.). 2004. Recommended for Grades 7-9. Recommended Pairing: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
This collection of poems and letters depicts the twists and turns of love, from the spark of affection to the sting of heartache. Including love poems that are both iconic and unexpected, this accessible collection invites readers to explore multiple poetic portrayals of love. Touching on many themes presented in Romeo and Juliet, these poems could contribute to a unit on the famous play that asks students to examine literary representations of love.
Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. 2009. Recommended for Grades 8-10. Recommended Pairing: Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee
This biography reads like a novel as it focuses on Charles’ relationship with his wife, Emma, and their struggle to reconcile his scientific beliefs with her religious faith. Without belaboring scientific details, the book captures the significance of Darwin’s work and his agony over how it would be received by Emma and by his contemporaries. This intimate depiction of how the creationism/evolution controversy originated would be an excellent prelude to Inherit the Wind.
Fair Coin by E. C. Meyers. 2012. Recommended for Grades 9-11. Recommended Pairing: Macbeth by William Shakespeare
When Ephraim discovers a magic coin that grants his wishes, he immediately changes his life for the better – or so he thinks. As his wishes begin resulting in unintended negative consequences, he starts to regret using the coin. Unfortunately, his friend Nathan has no qualms about using this power to his advantage. With Ephraim and Nathan as foils, this novel could complement Macbeth as it raises questions about how greed and power can affect people.
Going Going by Naomi Shihab Nye. 2005. Recommended for Grades 10-11. Recommended Pairing: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
On her 16th birthday, Florrie requests that none of her family visit a franchise establishment. This begins Florrie’s movement to protest franchises and support independent businesses in nearby towns as she yearns for an America that reflects the ideals of hard work and freedom. Despite slightly underdeveloped characters, the novel could be paired with Death of a Salesman to examine the illusions and realities of the American Dream for people running or working in small businesses.