Thursday, May 11, 2006

My favorite Young Adult books

Teaching junior high students, I am always looking for good books to recommend to readers their age. As I tell my students, you can never have too many books. I've been reading a lot of adolescent books lately, as well as many book reports, and have had time to reflect on my favorite books for young adults. I previously shared my favorite children's books with you, so today I bring you (drum roll) Mrs. D's freaking awesome book list for punk kids teenagers.

Disclaimer: Some of the books contain swear words or other material that may be questionable to some readers. I encourage parents to preview books before sharing them with their young adults.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

I dislike science fiction or fantasy in any way, shape, or form. This book is one of the few exceptions. Ender is a young boy, specifically created for a genius mind. Aliens have attacked the Earth and Ender is the boy chosen to save the earth. He thinks he is just playing video games, but instead he is saving the planet. The characters are believable, the plot is captivating, and it's an all around good read. There are several more books in the Ender's series. For a good study in point of view, Ender's Shadow tell
s the same story from another boy's point of view. There are some swear words and adult references in this book.

Holes by Louis Sachar

If you've seen the movie, the book is so much better (as books usually are). Stanley Yelnats ends up at Camp Green Luck because of a misunderstanding and family bad luck. Through his experience at camp, he manages to change his life and the bad luck that plagues his family. This is a fun, easy read. Many of my students who don't like to read like this story. There is very little questionable material (if any) in this book.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Just like Ender's Game is the exception to my science fiction dislike, the Harry Potter books are one of my only exceptions to my fantasy dislike. When I picked up the first Harry Potter book, I expected to hate it, just like I do most fantasy. I only read it because another teacher told me I should. This one captivated me from the start. I have eagerly anticipated each book and have even stood in line at midnight to receive the newest edition. If you have seen the movies, but never read the books, you are missing out. The books are light years better.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.

I. Love. This. Book. It is one of my favorites of all time. Sal's mother has disappeared and she is on a journey to find her. There are several stories layered into one. We have Sal's journey to find her mother, stories of her life, and stories of her friend Phoebe. The reader is left guessing at what has happened until the end, when all the stories interweave and make complete sense. This book has little, if any, questionable material in it. I highly recommend it for teenage girls.

The Giver by Lois Lowry.

This is another book I just adore. I recommend it to all genders and all ages. Jonah lives in a utopian society. He becomes the Receiver of Memories in this society. Jonah bears the responsibility of remembering all the ills of society so he can prevent them from occurring again. Jonah questions his life and society, and ultimately whether a utopia is a good thing. The ending leaves you thinking. The whole book is thought provoking and well written. There are some disturbing deaths in this book (euthanasia of infants).

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

By the same author as The Giver, this books is just as well written and thought provoking. Unlike the utopian society in the previous book, this society is very rudimentary. In her society, the weak are cast aside. Kira is a cripple and when her mother dies, she fears for her future. But she is taken to the Council of Guardians because of her extraordinary weaving skills. There she is surrounded by many mysteries and secrets, which she seeks to discover. I recommend reading both this and The Giver together. It makes a great compare and contrast. This book has very little, if any, questionable material.

I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

I read this book because it was recommended as a good book for young adults. I was immediately captivated by the story and could not put the book down. The plot can be complex and confusing, so the reader needs to pay careful attention. Adam is a boy who is in some sort of institution. Something has happened in his past that he can't quite remember. He is interviewed and helped to remember while in this institution. He also takes a bike ride which helps him remember and discover his past. This book keeps you thinking and guessing until the end. It has some references to violence, but nothing graphic.

I had planned on including more books, but am running out of time. Yikes! I'll do some more next week.

Now it's your turn. Share with me a young adult book you love. You never know, it may already be on my list for next week. And then you'll feel all smart and special because you chose the same book I did. ;)


Julie said...

LOVE Walk Two Moons. Another favorite is The View From Saturday.

Gabriela said...

I love your book reviews. Thanks for doing them. I'm with you, I am not a fan of fantasy or science fiction or magic type themes, but I love Harry Potter. So, I will check out Ender's Game if you say I'll like it! :). And Holes, putting that on my list.


Nikkie said...

I've always been a big fan of the thriller/horror books so when I was a young adult I read a lot of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. I can't remember a single one to recomend, maybe that should tell me something, hehe.

Carrie said...

I have been reading more young adult books because of my preteen daughter and I am actually enjoying it. Holes is an awesome book as are the Harry Potter books. I will have to check out the other reads, too. Thanks for the suggestions.

EmmaSometimes said...

I don't read too many young adult books, but my daughter is soon approaching 10. It will happen soon enough.

Sabra said...

I've read, and enjoyed, most of those on your list so far. Need to check out the others. The first that come to my mind, for those not on your list, would be the Wrinkle In Time series by Madeleine L'Engle. I first read them the summer I turned 11. Then, last year, I picked them up again. Super fast reads, fun, and thought provoking. I also love pretty much anything by Chaim Potok. And Robert Cormier's "I Am the Cheese" was my favorite book when I was 12. Dark and twisted, what Jr High kid can't relate in some way?

s'mee said...

I adore that you give out these book reviews! Woohooo! I also admire and love anyone who works in Jr.High. I love that age and the times I worked in j.h I had such a blast! Thanks on the behalf of a LOT of moms, good jr. high teachers are hard to find!

LOVE LOVE LOVE The Giver and I forget where I heard it, but I believe it is in production (finally!). The first time I ever read this book I saw all kinds of pictures in my head and after each re-read I began to see it in a film. (yea!) I hope that as Harry Potter got kids to read, The Giver will also.

s'mee said...

"The Giver" in production currently. More info at:

Jeff Bridges will play the lead...I'm kind of excited!!!

Anonymous said...

Check out FROGS AND FRENCH KISSES by Sarah Mlynowski! She is the author of BRAS AND BROOMSTICKS.

LynAnne said...

Ok, so I'm WAAAY behind, but I have two recommendations:

Slinding into Home and Trading Places with Tank Talbott both by Dori Hillestad Butler. They've won lots of awards and the author even has teacher's guides on her website :)