YA Lit Resources

Created by Adrienne Coffey

Eleanor & Park

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Author: Rainbow Rowell

Grade Level: 7 to 12

Summary & Book Review

Eleanor and Park are two high school students in Omaha Nebraska in the 1980’s. Park is a half-white, half-Korean son of a veteran father and immigrant mother. He feels pressure from his father to be more athletic and “manly,” and from his mother to fit the mold of an ideal son. He is unpopular, and finds comfort in anonymity at school. Eleanor’s parents are divorced. Her mother is an emotionally-dependent woman who has married a disaster named Richie, a frequently drunk, frequently unemployed, manipulative presence in the home. At the opening of the novel, Eleanor has just moved back into the house after living for a year on the couch at a family friend’s house. Now back in a hostile setting, friendless, dressed in a way that makes no sense to most of the kids on the school bus, Eleanor encounters Park. Throughout the first part of the novel there is an expectation that the two will become a couple, but this is a slow process. Eleanor’s anxiety and awkwardness make Park resentful. He also does not like the attention that she draws toward him when she sits next to him on the bus. This sequence is filled with the panic that anyone who already feels alienated from his or her peers feel when they are given even more indicators of being social outcasts. Eleanor is the target of bullies, and Park’s initial response is one that allies him more with the bullies than with Eleanor. It is only through the values that have been instilled by his parents that he remembers his sense of obligation as a human being to help people who need it.

The two eventually bond because Park notices her taking an interest in the comic books he reads on the bus. From there the two develop a friendship that blossoms into genuine love. It is external pressures that threaten that love. Like in Romeo and Juliet, which the novel mentions and on some level runs parallel to, familial and social forces do not allow for a healthy relationship to prosper. Eleanor must keep the fact that she has a boyfriend secret from Richie, and, not at all to his credit, Park feels he must keep Eleanor from his family because he is embarrassed by her. Rowell does a good job of showing a clear delineation as to which of the two characters has a higher tightrope to walk. Richie is such a dark presence in Eleanor’s life that the story threatens at times to devolve into unreality. He does not allow her any privacy in their small home, he behaves violently, and he exposes their family to external threats by associating himself with violent criminals. At one point in the novel Eleanor wakens in the night to adults arguing and a gun going off. Despite the extreme nature of Eleanor’s situation, Rowell never suggests that Park’s feelings are somehow less valid. His relationship with his parents is strained since he has not yet realized that his parents being sometimes bewildered by him and his actions does not mean that they love him any less. Indeed, some of the novel’s most emotionally cathartic moments come when Park recognizes his parents’ unconditional love for him.

While some of the episodes of the novel tend to be extreme, none of them fall out of the realm of realism. While the characters are interested in comic books and fantasy stories, these are only escapes from the sometimes too painful reality that they must face. What they have in common with these characters is the bravery and sense of right and wrong that are reflected in the story.

Eleanor & Park is a graceful achievement. It is engaging, has real stakes for its characters, and builds to a climax with real emotional heft. Rowell has written a book that also has two clearly distinctive voices, and the duet makes for beautiful polyphony when the two are on the same page, and happy together, and disharmony when the two are fighting or feeling undue stress from the outside world. The characters should resonate with adolescent readers, and their story will stay with them long after the book is over.

Awards & Recognitions

YALSA Odyssey Honor audiobook, YALSA Printz Honor book, Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Young Adult Fiction, School Library Journal Best Books, International Reading Association Children's Book Award

Teaching Ideas & Invitations for Your Classroom

Music to Set the Tone

Music plays an important role in developing characters, the tone, and the setting throughout the novel. Students will imagine that Eleanor & Park is being adapted into a movie. They will create a soundtrack for the movie, with music from the past or present. The soundtrack should include no less than 10 songs, and each song must be representative of a character or specific scene in the movie. Students will include liner notes to explain the inclusion of each song, and how it fits the novel. (VA English SOL 9.4e)

Then & Now

Eleanor & Park is set in the 1980s, and the music, fashion, and technology of that time period play a part in the events that take place. However, many of the problems faced by the characters are universal and easily identified by a modern audience. Students will pretend that Eleanor & Park took place in modern times instead. What aspects would be the same? What would change? How would the issues the characters dealt with manifest themselves differently? Students will write a one-page essay to explain the similarities and differences. (VA English SOL 10.6)

To the Rescue!

The main characters first bond over superhero comic books. One could say that the teens in the novel, and especially Eleanor, deal with tragic events and circumstances that require superhero-like qualities and bravery. Students will re-imagine one of the main characters as a superhero. They will create a superhero alter ego for the character (either a visual or written representation), including costume features, special gadgets and super powers. As an alternative, students may choose to create a super-villain alter ego for one of the antagonists in the novel. (VA English SOL 9.4)

Teen Issues

Several factors, circumstances and people in Eleanor's life worked against her throughout the novel, but she managed to find a positive solution in the end. Students will choose one of the issues Eleanor faced (bullying, poverty, emotional abuse) and design a digital presentation/poster with information about how teens are affected by the issue and resources teens can utilize if faced with a similar situation. (VA Health Education SOL 10.2 and 10.4)

Banned Book?

Citizens in one Minnesota school district attempted to have Eleanor & Park banned because they felt it contained excessive profanity and inappropriate, sexually-charged content. Students will write a letter to the Parents Action League in support of Eleanor & Park, explaining why it should be included in the school curriculum and how it is beneficial to students. As an alternative assignment, students can write a letter explaining why they feel Eleanor & Park is not appropriate for high school readers, and why it should not be included in the curriculum. (VA English SOL 10.6)

Further Explorations

Rainbow Rowell's Author Website

Check out the author's website for information about other books and upcoming events. She also includes information about how to buy a special fan art edition of Eleanor & Park.

Rainbow Rowell on Tumblr

Interested in seeing more from Rainbow Rowell? Follow her on Tumblr. She posts frequently about media and pop culture that she finds interesting or relevant.

NPR Covers the Controversy Surrounding the Book

Linda Holmes, from Monkey See, discusses why Eleanor & Park is relevant and important for teens, and why it is essential for teens to be able to read about the issues the main characters face.

Eleanor & Park Playlists

This information is linked to the author's site. Rowell includes playlists for the novel with modern music and some music by bands mentioned in the book. She provides commentary for each song, to explain when it would play, and why she chose it.

Music from the Novel

If you're unfamiliar with the music actually mentioned in the book, but want to immerse yourself in the time period and experience the songs for yourself, check out this link.

Fan Art

Rainbow Rowell is a big supporter of fan art. Check out her Pinterest page with fan interpretations that she's cultivated herself.

Movie Dream Cast

YouTube user, rooseveltbear, shares her dream cast for the movie version of Eleanor & Park with explanations behind each choice.

Partner Titles

Romeo and Juliet adaptation by Gareth Hinds (graphic novel)

There are references to Romeo and Juliet throughout Eleanor & Park and many parallel elements. Also, both main characters, Eleanor and Park, enjoy reading graphic novels, so students can explore this graphic novel version of the story.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (fiction novel)

This is another novel about teen love with Shakespeare references.

Meat is Murder by The Smiths (audio CD)

The music on this album captures the time period really well. It reveals a lot about the two main characters that they like this kind of music. Eleanor has never heard it until Park shares it with her, but she knows it's something she would be interested in, mostly because it's something alternative and different.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (movie)

This movie, based on a book, is another love story involving teens using music as a way to connect to one another. It also involves social rankings.

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (novel)

There are similar elements involving poverty and bullying. Two teens connect (as friends) over the music of The Beatles.


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Author: Kwame Alexander

Grade Level: 3 to 10

Summary & Book Review


Kwame Alexander's novel Crossover tells the story of Josh "Filthy McNasty" Bell, twin brother, eighth grader, basketball player. Josh is cocky, fun, and confident at the opening of the novel, but when he makes a bet with his brother Jordan and loses, it all begins to fall apart. His brother, supposed to cut off one dreadlock, accidently cuts off five, prompting his parents to cut them all off. Readers will be able to identify easily with the idea that the imposed haircut is enough to completely throw off Josh's sense of equilibrium, both socially and on the court. It is the reason the story of Sampson resonates so well. How someone does their hair is tied to their sense of self, and this haircut is the start of a series of events that sees Josh's sense of self unraveling.

Shortly after prompting the haircut, Jordan attracts the attention of a new girl in school, Alexis, and the two begin a rather generic relationship. This relationship is viewed through the lenses of Josh who sees Jordan's attraction and relationship with Alexis as disruptive of their time together. As Jordan spends more time with her, Josh feels he is losing his brother. Additionally, there is a scene where Jordan asks Josh to get on the phone and pretend to be him, simply because he is too busy. There is no indication that the relationship has gotten to a place where Alexis can intuit she is talking to the wrong brother.

The other major change comes in the form of a realization about his father, and his father's health. Josh finds a letter to his father, who had at one point been a professional basketball player and who is still fondly remembered for his athleticism, which states that the reason he was unable to continue his career was that he had not taken proper care of himself. With this bit of information, everything that his father does seems to suggest that he does not take his health seriously. There is heavy foreshadowing throughout the novel, and, unsurprisingly, he suffers a heart attack and dies. The novel concludes with Josh shooting free throws, and his brother coming to him and the two comforting each other, close again for the first time since the haircut. Jordan gives Josh their father's championship ring, which he says their father would want him to have, and Josh’s feeling of equilibrium returns.

This novel is very short. It is told in narrative verse, so it can easily be read in one sitting. That being said, it is not a simple book. Students will probably be able to relate to Josh's feelings of frustration as his brother seems to be moving ahead of him in terms of social footing. Students may also feel a connection to Josh as he makes a series of silly decisions based only on anger and frustration only to see his situation worsen. However, despite all the rough things that happen to Josh, the novel ends with a feeling of hope, to suggest that even the hardest challenges can be played through.

Awards & Recognitions

Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Honor book, ALA Notable Children's Books, School Library Journal Best Books

Teaching Ideas & Invitations for Your Classroom

Writing Poetry - Mentor Text

Students will use the poems in Crossover as a model to create their own poetry. They may focus on one type of poem, such as the vocabulary poems. Students will use the same dictionary format to create a similar poem, using a different word. They will share their poems in an oral presentation. (VA English SOL 9.1 and 9.4)

Reader's Theater

Students will choose a passage from the book to perform for the class. The passage does not need to be memorized, but it should be read with fluency and expression. Given the nature of this book, it should also include rhythm, when appropriate. Students may work in pairs for passages where two voices are needed. (VA English SOL 7.2)

Compare and Contrast

While Josh and his brother are identical twins, there are many characteristics that set them apart from one another through the story. Students will create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast Josh and Jordan. They should include interests, personality characteristics, and physical characteristics. Students should also explain how their differences cause conflict during the novel. (VA English SOL 6.5)

Figurative Language

Alexander uses similes, metaphors, and other figurative language throughout Crossover. Students will select 5 examples of figurative language from the novel. They will then explain the author's use and the intended meaning. Students will pick one of the examples and create an illustration to show both the figurative and literal meanings. (VA English SOL 8.4a)

Further Explorations

Five Questions for Kwame Alexander

The author talks about music, sports, and the writing process. The quick format of this article makes it accessible to students while giving them some background information about the author.

What is a crossover?

Not a basketball expert? If you're interested in learning what a crossover is and the history behind this move, check out this video.

Kwame Alexander on Twitter

The author is very active on Twitter and posts frequently about upcoming events and book discussions.

Kwame Alexander's Influences

In this video clip Alexander discusses the books that have influenced his writing, including other Newbery Medal books Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Out of the Dust.

Poetry by Nikki Giovanni

Kwame Alexander lists Nikki Giovanni as one of his earliest influences, and she was later a his teacher and mentor. Listen to Giovanni read one of her children's poems, The Reason I Like Chocolate.

Books About Basketball

Interested in finding more YA books about basketball? Check out this list from the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database.

Poetry Out Loud

Visit the Poetry Out Loud website to learn more about this poetry recitation competition and how you can get involved.

Partner Titles

Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott (fiction novel with poetry)

This novel also tells the story of a young male protagonist facing pressure inside and outside of school. There are connections through poetry as well, as the main character is required to complete a group project on slam poetry.

The Moves Make the Man by Bruce Brooks (fiction novel)

This book, also recognized by the Newbery committee (as an honor book), tells the story of another young, African American male, and has a basketball theme as well.

Jacob I Have Loved by Katherine Paterson (fiction novel)

Another Newbery Medal book, Jacob Have I Loved targets the audience in a different way, but also tells the story of two twins and deals with the issues of sibling rivalry and death.

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate (fiction novel in verse)

This novel, also told in verse, tells the story of a young, African male dealing with the loss of a parent.

Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes (fiction novel in verse)

Similar to Crossover, Planet Middle School is told in free verse, and the protagonist is an African American youth. However, this book features a female main character, and shows aspects of growing up from a different perspective.

Hole in My Life

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Author: Jack Gantos

Grade Level: 6 to 12

Summary & Book Review

This narrative nonfiction autobiographical book details popular children's author, Jack Gantos’, experiences in the summer of 1971. Much of the story early on takes place in Florida, where Jack lives virtually unsupervised by parents or guardians, despite the fact that he is still a teenager. Gantos manages to graduate from high school and joins his parents in St. Croix. He initially has good intentions in moving to St. Croix to work with his father, but racial tensions and events out of his control lead to a tumultuous financial and social climate on the island. When Jack is offered a seemingly easy way out of his circumstances – helping smuggle a shipment of drugs from St. Croix to New York as a one-time deal for $10,000 – he accepts.

Readers are informed from the first page (and the cover) that things go south, and Jack is busted for smuggling drugs. In another series of ill-fated occurrences, Jack is sentenced to six years in prison, a somewhat harsh consequence for a first-time offender. However, he uses the time he is in prison to find direction and rededicate his life to obtaining an education.

Throughout the book Gantos does not attempt to make justifications for the bad decisions he makes. He seems to present the circumstances as they happened, informing the reader of the situations surrounding his decisions, but not using those situations as a validation. Gantos does a good job of making nonfiction accessible to a young audience. The book reads more like young adult novel, and is compelling and interesting. Teen readers will respond to Gantos’ journey to find direction, and the missteps he makes along the way.

Awards & Recognitions

YALSA Printz Honor book, Sibert Honor book, ALA Notable Children's Books, School Library Journal Best Books

Teaching Ideas & Invitations for Your Classroom

Making Predictions

The cover of this book and its title alone provide readers with a wealth of information for making predictions about the events of the book. Students will use this information to make predictions about the main character and the story. What do you think the title means? What do you think happens to the main character? (VA English SOL 10.4b)

Chain of Events

The author makes a series of bad decisions throughout the novel. Although his problems are actually spiraling out of control, he views each decision as a quick fix for previous mistakes. Students will create a flow chart to outline Gantos' poor choices and how each one led to more problems. (VA Health Education SOL 10.1)


Gantos' openly discusses his own bad decisions, and how they impacted his life. He also discusses positive decisions he made to change directions. Students will reflect on their own lives and/or the lives of family members and friends. They will write about a mistake they (or a family member/friend) have made, and how it affected their life and the lives of those around them. In addition to detailing any consequences they faced, they should tell about any growth they experienced because of it. (VA English SOL 10.6)


Hole in My Life reads like a stream-of-conscious journal. While reading the novel, students will keep a journal, writing entries at least every other day. The entries can be about topics of students' choice, but they must discuss their reflections on the reading material as well. At the end of the unit, students will choose their favorite journal entry to turn in. (VA English SOL 9.6a)

A Saving Grace

Gantos talks about how books saved his life and gave him a purpose. Students will identify and write about what gives them a sense of purpose in their own lives. Examples may include a different book/author, sports, family members, or a mentor. Students should detail specific instances in which they have received motivation to succeed. (VA English SOL 10.6)

Further Explorations

Jack Gantos' Author Website

Jack Gantos is a celebrated author of children's fiction. Explore some of his other books here.

St. Croix History

This article provides more history about the circumstances surrounding the events that took place in St. Croix in the 1970s.

Jack Kerouac

Gantos talks frequently in the book about the role that Jack Kerouac's novel, On the Road, played in his life. Watch an interview with Kerouac and hear him read excerpts from his novel.

Famous People Who Went to Prison

Read about other famous people who, like the author, went to prison.

Video Interview with Jack Gantos

Watch this video where Jack talks about growing up and focuses on his books for teens.

Jack Gantos Talks Journaling

In this short video clip, Jack Gantos discusses the importance that journaling has played in his life and how to start a journal.

A History of the Chelsea Hotel

Gantos spends the final days before his arrest at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. In his book he talks about some of the famous people known for staying at the Chelsea. Read more in this article about the hotel's history and downfall.

Partner Titles

Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers (biography)

Another celebrated children's author, Walter Dead Myers, tells his own coming-of-age story. Although set in a different time and place, Myers faces and overcomes his own obstacles.

Discovering Wes Moore: Chances, Choices, Changes by Wes Moore (narrative nonfiction)

This narrative nonfiction tells the story of two boys named Wes Moore, and how their backgrounds and life choices interact to put them on two very different paths in life.

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Helped Us Succeed by Sampson Davis , George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt with Sharon Draper (narrative nonfiction)

Another book for fans of narrative nonfiction and success stories, this is the story of three friends growing up in poverty, who make a pact to support one another, overcome their obstacles, and become doctors.

Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories by Deborah Ellis (short stories)

Gantos' late teen and early adult life was greatly changed by the presence of a drug culture. These short stories tell about teens around the world, and how their lives are affected by drugs and drug use.

The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos (autobiographical fiction)

The protagonist in this fictionalized memoir is fourteen years old, putting these events prior to those that take place in Hold in My Life. Fans of the book, and of Gantos, may enjoy reading about some of the events that took place earlier in his life.

Chasing Lincoln's Killer

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Author: James Swanson

Grade Level: 5 to 12

Summary & Book Review

In Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, James Swanson, adapts his 2007 book, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, to make it accessible and more appealing to younger readers. Swanson uses primary documents and in-depth research to give an incredibly detailed account of the events following Lincoln’s assassination. Instead of discussing Lincoln’s life or outlining the events and the conspiracy leading up to Lincoln’s death, Swanson instead essentially begins the story on the day of the assassination and provides a detailed account of the events leading up to Booth’s capture and death.

The book begins on April 14, 1965, the day of Lincoln’s assassination, and follows an hour-by-hour account of Booth’s movements. The reader trails him throughout the day as he makes last-minute preparations, and then into the night as he returns to the theater to carry out his plans. Following the assassination, Swanson strays from his account of Booth’s actions only briefly to portray the movements of David Herold, Lewis Powell, and George Atzerodt, co-conspirators who attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson. Swanson then details Booth’s passage through Maryland and Virginia, until he is finally captured and killed after twelve days of being on the run.

Readers, and especially young history buffs, will appreciate Swanson’s obvious enthusiasm for history and representing events accurately. President Lincoln, and the events surround his death, are a source of constant fascination in American history. Swanson does justice to this event and to maintaining historical accuracy, while at the same writing a suspenseful narrative.

Awards & Recognitions

Virginia Reader's Choice Selection, Edgar Award, YALSA Best Book for Young Adults

Teaching Ideas & Invitations for Your Classroom

Primary Sources

Throughout the book Swanson uses primary sources to add authenticity and engage readers. Students will participate in a collaborative social studies lesson about the importance of primary documents. First, students will conduct research to determine what a primary source is, and why it is important to use them. Students should also find and list reliable sources and ways to find primary documents. Finally, students will examine the primary sources used in the book and explain how they enhance the reader's experience. (VA US History I SOL 1a)

Timeline of Events

Swanson's book contains a wealth of information and an incredibly detailed account. Students will synthesize the information in the book to create a timeline of the most important events based on information provided in the text. (VA English SOL 9.5g and j)

1865 v. 1963

Students will compare the efforts to capture Lincoln's killer with law enforcement tactics used following the Kennedy assassination. Students will use primary documents and reliable resources to research the events following the assassination of President Kennedy. They will then prepare a presentation comparing and contrasting the two historical events. (VA English SOL 9.1 and 9.8)

Breaking News

Students will pretend that they are a news reporter covering the assassination of President Lincoln and the subsequent manhunt for John Wilkes Booth. They will work in groups to design and present a breaking news report, including eye witnesses interviews, press releases, and commentary. (VA English SOL 9.2)

Further Explorations

Ford's Theatre

Students can take a virtual tour of the theater with 360 degree views and details about the different areas of the theater. There are also links to artifacts, primary documents, and information about the people involved.

Author Interview

Swanson discusses his motivation for writing the book, the importance of using primary documents, and how Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest Americans.

The Case of the Missing Deringer?

This site explains how the FBI used testing to authenticate the gun used in Lincoln's assassination.

Ford's Theatre FAQs

Questions surrounding Lincoln's assassination are answered in an easily-accessible format.

Under His Hat

This site allows students to use primary documents to explore information about Lincoln's life and presidency.

Education Kits from Lincoln Log Cabin

Teachers can borrow education kits from www.lincolnlogcabin.org. The kits include book, reproduction documents, artifacts, pictures, and videos.

Partner Titles

Abraham Lincoln: From the Log Cabin to the White House written by Lewis Helfand and illustrated by Manikandan (nonfiction graphic novel)

While Swanson's book focuses on John Wilkes Booth and the events occurring after Lincoln's assassination, this book tells of his early life and presidency. The graphic novel format may appeal to teens.

An Acquaintance with Darkness by Ann Rinaldi (historical fiction novel)

This novel, set during the time following Lincoln's assassination, tells the fictional story of Emily Pigbush, who is suspected of grave robbing to obtain cadavers for medical research. While the story is fictional, real people and events are mentioned.

Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crowe (nonfiction)

This nonfiction biographical books tells the story of Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old boy who was murdered in Mississippi during the 1950s. Much like Swanson, Crowe research process is thorough, and he presents true facts in a compelling manner.

The President Has Been Shot: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James Swanson (nonfiction)

As with Chasing Lincoln's Killer, Swanson again presents primary documents and impeccable research to outline the story of a monumental true crime.

The Conspirator (movie)

While Swanson's book focuses mainly on John Wilkes Booth and the events leading to his capture, The Conspirator fills in additional details about others involved in the conspiracy plot, and the court trials that followed Lincoln's assassination.

The Battle of Jericho

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Author: Sharon M. Draper

Grade Level: 6 to 12

Summary & Book Review

Jericho, a high school sophomore, wants nothing more than to fit in and be the kind of guy who gets the girl. He thinks he’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime when he, his cousin, Josh, and his friend, Kofi, are given the chance to pledge the ultra-exclusive club, the Warriors of Distinction.

At first Jericho knows little of the club, but he likes the immediate perks and his newfound popularity with a certain female classmate. However, he soon learns that those perks come at a cost. Things start out slow, with Jericho and Josh being asked to steal Christmas ornaments from the mall. However, they escalate quickly into situations that are increasingly dangerous and even life-threatening. Throughout the novel Jericho is confronted with a dilemma: stay in the club and enjoy the perks while at the same time engaging in dangerous behaviors, or quit, facing social rejection, but remaining safe.

Draper addresses a topic that has been a genuine concern in high schools and colleges across the country, and she does so in a fairly realistic manner. The attitudes that many of the adults in the novel have towards hazing seem to reflect current attitudes in which some people in charge tend to overlook dangerous behaviors until a tragedy occurs. The predicament of choosing between gaining acceptance among peers and making sound decisions is one that will resonate with many young readers. There are some drawbacks to the novel. The dialogue between the teen characters seems somewhat awkward and unrealistic at times. It doesn’t always ring true with how teenagers actually communicate with one another. Overall, however, Draper delivers a provocative look at a controversial topic in a way that seems like it could actually take place.

Awards & Recognitions

Coretta Scott King Honor book, International Reading Association Young Adult Choice Books

Teaching Ideas & Invitations for Your Classroom

Public Service Announcement

Students will research incidents of hazing, facts and statistics about hazing, and the negative outcomes that are often a result. They will then work in groups to create and present a digital public service announcement about hazing prevention. (VA English SOL 9.2)

Alternate Ending

There are many points in the novel where Jericho and his friends could have chosen a different path, reported the hazing events, and possibly helped save Josh's life. Students will write an alternate ending in which Jericho steps forward and takes action against the Warriors of Distinction. Include both the the positive and negative outcomes he may face. (VA English SOL 10.6)

Girls Allowed!

Jericho's friend, Dana, risks humiliation and even physical harm, when she attempts to become the first female Warrior of Distinction. Students will research and write about real-life women who have broken barriers by joining all-male institutions or groups. (VA US History II 9a)

Jericho versus Josh

Even though Jericho and Josh are first cousins, they each have a different background and very different families. Jericho's father, a police officer, is stricter, but also very supportive. Josh's father, a former Warrior of Distinction himself, attempts to be supportive, but in a much less involved way. He's more concerned with Josh joining the club than with what Josh might be experiencing. Students will write an essay comparing and contrasting the home life and support system of Jericho's family versus Josh's family, citing examples from the test. Students should also speculate what effects these differences had on each character's outcome. (VA English SOL 9.4e)

Further Explorations

Take 5: Books About Hazing

Hazing in school is a real issue that many teens face. Find more fiction books about hazing here.

The Psychology of Hazing Infographic

This infographic provides quick statistics about hazing.

Dying to Belong: The Dangers of Hazing

Additional facts and statistics about hazing are presented.

Sharon Draper's Author Website

Visit the author's website to read her biography and find other books she's written.

Two-Minute Review

Watch a teen's two-minute review of the book.

The Skulls Movie Trailer

The Skulls is a movie about another distinguished society with hazing rituals. Watch the movie trailer.

Hazing Prevention

Visit this site to learn what hazing is, and what you can do if you or someone you know experiences hazing.

Partner Titles

November Blues by Sharon Draper (fiction novel)

The second installation in the Jericho Trilogy follows Jericho and Josh's girlfriend, November, as they deal with the aftermath of Josh's death.

Just Another Hero by Sharon Draper (fiction novel)

The final book of the Jericho trilogy finds the group in their senior year as the continue to face difficult situations, such as teenage motherhood, bullying and a hostage situation at school.

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson (fiction novel)

While the issues Bobby faces in The First Part Last are different than those experienced by Jericho, this book also features a young, African American protagonist facing a difficult situation and being required to make adult decisions.

Press Play by Eric Devine (fiction novel)

This novel comes from a different background than Jericho, but he also deals with the consequences of hazing when he joins the school's lacrosse team.

High School Hazing: When Rites Become Wrongs by Hank Nuwer (nonfiction)

This nonfiction book tells true stories of hazing, and the extreme consequences it can cause.


Eleanor & Park

Holmes, L. (2013). True love, book fights, and why ugly stories matter. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2013/09/18/223738674/true-love-book-fights-and-why-ugly-stories-matter

Passell, L. (2014). Eleanor & Park's lovely mix tape. Retrieved from


Rainbow, A Writer. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.rainbowrowell.com/

rooseveltbear. (2014, April 17). Eleanor & Park dreamcast. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LTLaKYZ4iE

Rowell, R. (2013). Eleanor & Park - All the playlists! All the music! Retrieved from http://www.rainbowrowell.com/news/eleanor-park-all-the-playlists-all-the-music

Rowell, R. (n.d.) Eleanor & Park fan art and other awesomeness. [Pinterest board]. Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/rainbowrowell/eleanor-park-fan-art-other-awesomeness/

Rowell, R. (n.d.) Like in the sky. [Tumblr feed]. Retrieved from http://rainbowrowell.tumblr.com/

The Crossover

Alexander, K. (2009). Twitter - Kwame Alexander @kwamealexander. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/kwamealexander

Association for Library Service to Children. (2015, July 9). Kwame Alexander: Influences. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRjPZNtK9ww

Berry, D. (2011, May 26). Basketball: The crossover from the creators. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuHaBm0EWuw

Gracyk, T. (2014, October 31). The reason I like chocolate: The poet reads. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd1LxHPbcGQ.

Horn Book. (2015). Five questions for Kwame Alexander. Retrieved from http://www.hbook.com/2015/02/authors-illustrators/interviews/five-questions-kwame-alexander/#_

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Spinks, A. (2015). Sweet 16: Novels for teen basketball fans. Retrieved from http://www.clcd.com/blog/?p=343

Hole in My Life

AdLit.org. (n.d.). A video interview with Jack Gantos. Retrieved from http://www.adlit.org/authors/Gantos/

Bio. (n.d.). Famous people who went to prison. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/groups/political-reasons

Brown, M. (2011). Chelsea hotel: Death of the world's most rock 'n' roll hotel. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandpopmusic/8705269/Chelsea-Hotel-death-of-the-worlds-most-rock-n-roll-hotel.html

eskimeyen kitaplar. (2014, June 14). Jack Kerouac reading his book: On the Road. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNkmUr0chCE

Jack Gantos. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.jackgantos.com/

Schmalz, J. (1989) Looting on St. Croix linked to island's tensions. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/26/us/looting-on-st-croix-linked-to-island-s-tensions.html

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Chasing Lincoln's Killer

BookVideosTV. (2008, December 22). Chasing Lincoln's killer: James L. Swanson. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90JCI19awpM

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2004). Using modern technology to solve historic crimes: The case of Abraham Lincoln's assassination pistol. Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2004/march/lincoln_031804

FordsTheatre.org. (n.d.). Virtual tour. Retrieved from


Lincoln Log Cabin. (n.d.). Education programs. Retrieved from http://www.lincolnlogcabin.org/ed.html

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Under His Hat. (n.d.). Discovering Lincoln's story from primary sources. Retrieved from http://www.underhishat.org/intheclassroom.html

The Battle of Jericho

Best School Counseling Degrees. (n.d.). The psychology of hazing. Retrieved from http://bestschoolcounselingdegrees.com/psychology/

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Jensen, K. (2014). Take 5: Hazing. Retrieved from http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2014/10/take-5-hazing/

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Universal Movies. (2011, April 16). The Skulls: Trailer. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmJFlUtWAmE