Engage Reluctant Readers With "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer
Twilight Fan...Twilight Teacher
Okay, I will admit it....I'm a Twilight fanatic! An 8th grade student of mine told me that they were "oh-my-gosh, AMAZING BOOKS!" so I bought the first three at Barnes and Noble during Christmas break that year, and I read all three in five days! Since becoming a fan, I have purchased a class set of Twilight (30 copies) and ten copies of the second book in the series, New Moon.
I have a waiting list for both sets of students wanting to read them, as does our library for their Stephenie Meyer books. Never before have I seen teenagers so enamored and excited about a book series, and it's not just my girl students. I'm sure Harry Potter provoked the same reaction in students, but this wave of enthusiasm seems to have hit a different strata of student. Twilight is engaging my students that are usually not avid readers. My busy cheerleaders and kids from the "too cool for school" crowd are picking up this book and devouring it! Boys are jumping on the Twilight bandwagon as well, mainly because I challenged a few of my "cool" boys to read it, and they have made it socially acceptable to be seen with this formally "girly" book. Boys are usually shocked by how much fast-paced action is packed between the romantic dialogue.
Whether or not you have read the book, you have to pay attention to the fact that your students are reading it. English and Reading teachers will tell you that not many students are excited to crack open a novel in our classrooms. This is why this book series is so buzz-worthy. It is causing excitement for reading and creating fanatics...over a book! As teaches, we must capitalize on the Twilight craze and harness our students' excitement into a wonderful opportunity to learn more about great literature.
So what is it about this book that has teenagers gobbling up each page like candy? My theory is that Stephenie Meyer is a sensational character author, as both of her major characters, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, are well developed and multifaceted. Neither character is perfect, and neither is their tumultuous relationship. Relationships between vampires and humans are usually a bit testy, I suppose!
Students are drawn to imperfect characters at a stage in their life when attaining perfection is a huge part of their daily struggle. You couldn't find a better novel to teach characterization, character motive, and conflict. Even though it's not considered a literary classic, its literary merit remains diminished as a powerful teaching tool for teens. Use this series as your "bait" to hook your adolescent readers and open their eyes to the amazing adventures books can facilitate. All it takes is one amazing book, and your students will be begging for more literary fuel to stoke their imaginations.
What Do They Read After Twilight?
Students who find they love the Twilight Saga will be craving books that are similar to the series. Being able to recommend other series to fuel their recently stoked fire is very important! What books should you suggest? Here is a list of teen titles that have similar themes and conflicts found in the Twilight Saga:
1. The Immortals Series by Alyson Noel
2. The House of Night Series by P.C and Kristin Cast
3. The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
4. The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith
5. The Luxe Series by Anna Godberson
Giving students a constant supply of interesting and addictive literature will keep them engaged in a book and evolve reluctant readers into book worms. After they've exhausted the wealth of contemporary fiction available to teens today, challenge them with classic literature. If they enjoyed the vampires of Twilight, why not encourage them to read Dracula by Bram Stoker? Tell them about Lucy's difficulty in choosing a suitor, and Jonathan Harker's danger at the hands of Dracula's harem. Once reluctant readers gain confidence in their abilities (and in you for recommendations), they may feel the need to challenge their usual reading repertoire with new material. Keep encouraging reading and hyping up books that your students might find enjoyable. Become a book pusher!