A large number of traditional YA classics can actually be found within the high school curriculum. While some of these can be old and boring or just plain terrible (A Separate Peace, anyone? I was scarred for weeks), many of them can be great at helping readers understand what makes traditional stories so classic.
One of my personal favorites is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I actually assigned it to the first high school English class I taught. Admittedly, they were skeptical in the beginning. It was only after I explained modern “re-tellings” that they latched onto the book. I even had a group of old school comic book lovers become obsessed with studying the nuances of Jekyll and Hyde versus The Hulk.
The language can be an issue at first, but this struggle can be a good thing. By focusing on the narrative and getting into a reading rhythm, the majority of students can embrace the older speech patterns and diction. It can even feel like an awesome accomplishment to finish a chapter without having to stop and look up a word or re-read a passage. Many young adults tend to avoid these difficulties, but with the proper encouragement (even older young adults reading the book in their free time) the reading level of Jekyll and Hyde can easily be reached.
Embrace the old school science fiction as well as the classic question of ‘is man’s true nature good or evil’ with Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!
Bring It to Life (BITL!)
Make a special serum that is a super yummy treat!
Jekyll and Hyde Serum Recipe:
- 1 package of lemon-lime Kool Aid mix
- 1 cups of sugar
- 2 quarts of cold water
- 1/2 can of chilled pineapple juice
- 1 liter of ginger ale
- EXTRA: 1/2 quart of lime sherbet (for that special frothy top to be even more creepy and cool)
- Mix Kool Aid, sugar, water, and pineapple juice in a gallon container or punch bowl
- Add ginger ale and sherbet (if frothy finish is desired)
- Try to serve in beakers or beaker-like glasses!