AUTHOR: Stephenie Meyer
PUBLISHER: Little Brown, Books for Young Readers
LENGTH: 544 pages
SUMMARY: Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.
BRIDGE: This is the ultimate in Bridge books. While the literary merits of the series are few, this is a great way to get kids reading. The Twilight Saga is what I call a Gateway Book Series. These are the books that have popular appeal for whatever reason and have kids clamouring to read them. It helps tremendously that these books were made into movies because that gets even MORE kids wanting to read them. My point: this gets kids hooked into reading. No, these books aren’t going to win any awards for literary merit AND there are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through, but students will stay up all night reading them. Then, when they’re finished with the book and recovered from their sleep deprivation, they are going to come to you and ask for something else to read.
Because they’ve caught the bug. They’ve got the itch. They WANT to read.
That’s when you hit them with the good stuff. Turn them toward Kristin Cashore’s Graceling books. Suggest they try some Holly Black or James Dashner. Now that they have discovered the joy of reading, you can steer them toward complex text.
There are a few other things one can do with The Twilight Saga books. Edward is the quintessential Byronic hero and there are myriad lessons one could pull from the text and match up with more traditional Byronic heroes like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights or Edmond Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo. It is also interesting to take a generic plot diagram and have students create missing pieces for the elements of plot that are missing. Have students study how Meyer characterizes Bella & Edward’s characters and relationship. Then, have them debate whether or not Bella is a dependent member of an abusive relationship (as many argue). Students can write better endings to each individual book or for the series as a whole.
Ultimately, we want our students reading and as much as The Twilight Series has been villified and criticized in literary circles, it has birthed a new generation of readers in this ever-growing technological society. And all good reading instructors know that even adults don’t always read “good literature”. Sometimes the brain needs a break. So here’s to authors who help create new readers and here’s hoping you’re reading something good.