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Use YA Books to Teach Writing: Twilight and Divergent

Updated on June 30, 2018

Teen Fiction as a Teaching Tool

Sometimes students need a bridge to get them from reading nothing to reading something--then it's on to reading the great literature of western civilization and the world. Given the popularity of some best-selling novels for young adults, teachers may want to incorporate these books into writing assignments for English or creative writing classes. Students who interact with young adult (YA) fiction may then tackle some of the classics using the skills they built reading popular books for teens.

Many of the most popular YA series books are long, so teens get plenty of reading practice. The fact that they are series may keep teens reading book after book. The key to developing lifelong readers is to get children into the habit of reading for pleasure. Even if they aren't readers by junior high, there is still time to get them going. Don't give up, especially when the right discussion questions could get them writing as well as reading!

The Twilight Saga

This boxed set includes all four novels, plus a novelette that tells the story of Bree Tanner, a newborn vampire that appears in book three, Eclipse.

Essay Starters for Twilight

Stephenie Meyers' Twilight Saga consists of four novels for young adults: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. Here are some questions to use as a launching point for essays based on the series.

Character Questions

Does the behavior of the wolves correspond with the culture and history the author has created for them?

Does Bella's family situation make her more likely than other girls to take the risks she takes with Edward?

Compare the Volturi to the Cullen family. How have their different choices shaped their histories?

Plot Questions

Authors build suspense by giving the reader just enough information to keep the story flowing while leaving the reader wanting more. Give an example from one of the books of a chapter that ended in a way that "forced" you to read on without stopping.

Backstory Questions

As an author writes, he/she has in mind a "back story" for each character. Some elements of the back story remain strictly in the author's mind, while other elements are revealed as necessary to explain a character's actions or attitudes that might not otherwise make sense in the story. Tell the back story of one character and discuss what you would still like to know about the character's past.

Consider your own "back story." Write about a time when your reaction to a situation was affected by that back story. For example, if you grew up with a firefighter or police officer in your family you would probably react more confidently in an emergency than others might.

Creative Writing Prompts

Bella is unique among the characters, since she has a choice to remain human or become a vampire. The wolves and vampires are all so because of genetics or because of the actions of others. Write a short story about what you think another character might have chosen if they could have chosen for themselves.

Consider the prejudices the various groups (vampires, Quiliette, humans, wolves) have about each other. What are the real fears, if any, behind those prejudices and what fears are unjustified?


This boxed trilogy includes a bonus book: Four is the same story, but written from Tobias' viewpoint.

Essay Starters for Divergent

Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy includes: Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant. Here are some questions to get students started.

Character Questions

Do characters from some factions have a greater likelihood of transferring on Choosing Day? Why?

Why do you think Tris chose Dauntless even though she also had aptitude for Erudite and Abnegation?

When did you first suspect Four might have been Abnegation?

Plot Questions

Why do you think nobody seems to question their founders and the decision to keep them cut off from the rest of the world?

Why do you think factions are valued above family? Who benefits when families are weak?

Creative Writing Prompts

Natalie Prior was Dauntless before she chose Abnegation. Write a short story about why Natalie might have transferred.

Write about what you think is outside the wall. Is the wall keeping people in or is it keeping something out?

Your Comments:

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    • Scott A Butler profile image

      Scott A. Butler 

      4 years ago from England

      Great lens, good ideas.

      Hunger Games is a fantastic YA novel.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      It's great that there are so many choices for YA now, there wasn't when I was growing up. Great call.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Good idea, to encourage young readers to stick with YA books for a while...


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