As the month of June comes to an end, we are celebrating the first anniversary of the Octavia Lab and Octavia E. Butler’s birthday by taking a glimpse into her life as a teenager and a list of great science fiction reads for teens!
Many of us look back on our teenage years as a painfully awkward time, and Octavia E. Butler may have felt the same way. As a teen, Octavia grew very quickly and ended up becoming six feet tall. She was painfully shy and avoided school activities.
Octavia had undiagnosed dyslexia and did not do particularly well in school. She recalls not even thinking of herself as particularly smart until eighth grade. During her education, there were a few teachers that took a special interest in Octavia and encouraged her to believe in herself.
Miss Peters, a seventh grade home economics teacher at McKinley Junior High, was the first teacher to read Octavia’s stories and encourage her writing.
In eighth grade, Octavia had a science teacher named Mr. Pfaff. His enthusiasm for the subject inspired Octavia and bolstered her existing love of science. Octavia shared her writing with Mr. Pfaff, and he actually typed the first story she ever submitted to a science fiction magazine. His willingness to take the extra time and effort to help her achieve her goals was something she remembered fondly.
When she entered the ninth grade, Octavia had her first African American teacher, Ms. Buggs. Ms. Buggs taught English, social studies, and drama. She understood Octavia’s fear of public speaking and instead allowed her to submit written reports. Octavia did eventually overcome her fear of public speaking by taking a class after she graduated from college. She realized that public speaking was essential to promote her books.
The encouragement and support Octavia received from her teachers left an impression on her life as she pursued writing and became an award-winning author. Below is a list of science fiction books for teens that are also sure to leave an impression!