7th GRADE

Journey of 180 Days: 10 Months, 10 Books
Dear 7th grade, welcome to your very own page on the Informed Teens blog.  
Stamp your passport here, and best of luck on your 7th grade journey.  

This page was created for 7th grade English at Miles River, for their year long independent reading assignment: to choose one book a month from the 17 categories listed below. Titles are linked to the library's online catalog where you may place a hold on a copy using your library barcode number and your PIN (last 4 digits of your telephone #).  
These are suggested, not required, books. There are many more titles than can be listed here. Please stop by my desk at the Library if you would like more suggestions. Unless otherwise noted, the titles listed are fiction. This page will be revised/updated periodically. If you have a recommendation for one of the categories, you can let me know in the comments section below.

            Someplace Magical or Mysterious            

The Naming: The First Book of Pellinor, by Alison Croggon, 2002. A manuscript from the lost civilization of Edil-Amarandah chronicles the experiences of 16-year-old Maerad, an orphan gifted in the magic and power of the Bards, as she escapes from slavery and begins to learn how to use her Gift to stave off the evil Darkness that threatens to consume her world.

Revenge of the Witch, by Joseph Delaney, 2005. Young Tom, the seventh son of a seventh son, starts work as an apprentice for the village spook, whose job is to protect ordinary folk from "ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties.".  First book in Last Apprentice series.


A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968.  During a spell recalling the dead, the boy Sparrowhawk, a sorcerer's apprentice, unwittingly unleashes evil on the land. He grows to manhood while attempting to subdue the evil he unleashed on the world.  First book in Earthsea series.
Sabriel, by Garth Nix, 1995.  Sabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead. First book in Abhorsen trilogy.


Alanna: The First Adventure,Tamora Pierce, 1983.  11-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, and learns many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.  First book in Song of the Lioness series.
Everlost, by Neal Shusterman, 2006.  When Nick and Allie are killed in a car crash, they end up in Everlost, or limbo for lost souls, where although Nick is satisfied, Allie will stop at nothing--even skinjacking--to break free.  First book in Skinjacker series.

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater, 2011.  Nineteen-year-old returning champion Sean Kendrick competes against Puck Connolly, the first girl ever to ride in the annual Scorpio Races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
The Ring of Solomon, by Jonathan Stroud, 2010.  Wise-cracking djinni Bartimaeus finds himself at the court of King Solomon with an unpleasant master, a sinister servant, and King Solomon's magic ring. Prequel to the Bartimaeus trilogy.



            The Wilderness or Ocean            

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi, 1990.  As the lone "young lady" on a transatlantic voyage in 1832, Charlotte learns that the captain is murderous and the crew rebellious. Includes ship illustrations in an appendix.



Stowaway, by Karen Hesse, 2000.  A fictionalized journal relates the experiences of a young stowaway from 1768 to 1771 aboard the Endeavor which sailed around the world under Captain James Cook.

The White Darkness, by Geraldine McCaughren, 2005. When her uncle takes her on a dream trip to the Antarctic wilderness, Sym's obsession with Captain Oates and the doomed expedition becomes a reality as she herself is soon in a fight for her life in some the harshest terrain on the planet.


Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy, by L. A. Meyer, 2002.  Reduced to begging and thievery in the streets of London, a 13-year-old orphan disguises herself as a boy and connives her way onto a British warship set for high sea adventure in search of pirates. First book in Bloody Jack series.


Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell,1990. Left alone on a beautiful but isolated island off the coast of California, a young Indian girl spends 18 years, not only merely surviving through her enormous courage and self-reliance, but also finding a measure of happiness in her solitary life.


Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, 1987.  After a plane crash, 13-year-old Brian spends 54 days in the wilderness, learning to survive initially with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents' divorce.  First book in the Brian's Saga series.

Black Storm Comin', by Diane L. Wilson, 2005. 12-year-old Colton, son of a black mother and a white father, takes a job with the Pony Express, in 1860, after his father abandons the family on their California-bound wagon train, and risks his life to deliver an important letter that may affect the growing conflict between the North and South.



             Someplace Like Home           

Tangerine, by Edward Bloor, 1997.  Twelve-year-old Paul, who lives in the shadow of his football hero brother Erik, fights for the right to play soccer despite his near blindness and slowly begins to remember the incident that damaged his eyesight.

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, by Kimberly Willis Holt, 1999. During the summer of 1971 in a small Texas town, 13-year-old Toby and his best friend Cal meet the star of a sideshow act, 600-pound Zachary, the fattest boy in the world.


As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth, by Lynne Rae Perkins, 2010.  A teenaged boy encounters one comedic calamity after another when his train strands him in the middle of nowhere, and everything comes down to luck.


My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitcher, 2012. With his family still grieving over his sister's death in a terrorist bombing seven years earlier, 12-year-old Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and keeping his new Muslim friend Sunya a secret from his father.

The Things a Brother Knows, by Dana Reinhardt, 2010.  Although they have never gotten along well, seventeen-year-old Levi follows his older brother Boaz, an ex-Marine, on a walking trip from Boston to Washington, D.C. in hopes of learning why Boaz is completely withdrawn.
Counting By 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, 2013. Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.
Winger, Andrew Smith, 2013.  Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, 14-year-old Ryan grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team with some of his frightening new dorm-mates.

The Killer's Cousin, by Nancy Werlin, 1998.  After being acquitted of murder, 17-year-old David goes to stay with relatives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he finds himself forced to face his past as he learns more about his strange young cousin Lily.


            Someplace with Animals           

Watership Down, by Richard Adams, 1972.  In a constant struggle against oppression, a group of rabbits search for peaceful co-existence. Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.
Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, 1972. While running away from home and an unwanted marriage, a 13-year-old Eskimo girl becomes lost on the North Slope of Alaska and is befriended by a wolf pack.  First book in trilogy.



Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, by Phillip Hoose, 2012. Documents the survival tale of an intrepid shorebird who has endured annual migrations between Argentina and the Canadian Arctic throughout the course of a long lifetime while his species continues to decline. Nonfiction.


Redwall, by Brian Jacques, 1986. When the peaceful life of ancient Redwall Abbey is shattered by the arrival of the evil rat Cluny and his villainous hordes, Matthias, a young mouse, determines to find the legendary sword of Martin the Warrior which, he is convinced, will help Redwall's inhabitants destroy the enemy.


Into That Forest, by Louis Nowra, 2012.  Two girls survive a flood in the Tasmanian bush and are rescued by two tigers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_Tiger) who raise them in the wild for four years, but when the girls return to civilization, both have trouble adapting to being fully human after their experience.


Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas, by Jim Ottaviani, 2013.  Introduces the lives and work of three eminent primatologists, shares insights into their educations under mentor Louis Leakey, while exploring their pivotal contributions to twentieth-century natural science.  Biography.  Graphic format.  


Woodsong, by Gary Paulsen, 1990. For a rugged outdoor man and his family, life in northern Minnesota is a wild experience involving wolves, deer, and the sled dogs that make their way of life possible. Includes an account of the author's first Iditarod, a dogsled race across Alaska. Nonfiction.


The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett, 2002. A talking cat, intelligent rats, and a strange boy cooperate in a Pied Piper scam until they try to con the wrong town and are confronted by a deadly evil rat king.


Endangered, by Eliot Schrefer, 2012. Sophie is not happy to be back in the Congo for the summer, but when she rescues an abused baby bonobo she becomes more involved in her mother's sanctuary--and when fighting breaks out and the sanctuary is attacked, it is up to Sophie to rescue the apes and somehow survive in the jungle.  See also: Threatened, by Eliot Schrefer, 2014.


            The Ancient World           

Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman, 1994. The 13-year-old daughter of a 12th century English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off.


The Odyssey, by Gareth Hinds, 2010. Retells, in graphic novel format, Homer's epic tale of Odysseus, the ancient Greek hero who encounters witches and other obstacles on his journey home after fighting in the Trojan War.


Gilgamesh the Hero, retold by Geraldine McCaughrean, 2003. A retelling, based on seventh-century B.C. Assyrian clay tablets, of the wanderings and adventures of the god king, Gilgamesh, who ruled in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in about 2700 B.C., and of his faithful companion, Enkidu.


The Kite Rider, by Geraldine McCaughrean, 2001. In 13th-century China, after trying to save his widowed mother from a horrendous second marriage, 12-year-old Haoyou has life-changing adventures when he takes to the sky as a circus kite rider and ends up meeting the great Mongol ruler Kublai Khan.
Cleopatra Rules!: The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen, by Vicky Shecter, 2010.   Presents the life of the last Egyptian queen, who survived internal politics to became the powerful ruler of her country and was linked to two famous Roman leaders, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.  Biography.


Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World, by Sally M. Walker, 2012.  Discusses the processes used by scientists to discern the identity of the Kennewick Man and what this nine thousand-year-old skeleton revealed about the arrival of humans in North America.  Nonfiction.

 
            The Future or Outer Space           
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, 2010.  In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.



The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow, 2015. In order to keep the peace, an artificial intelligence called Talis takes the children of world leaders hostage because if any leader starts a war their child will be killed. Things get shaken up when a new hostage named Elián doesn't accept the system and shows duchess and crown princess Greta the truth about the world they live in.



Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, 1985.  An expert at simulated war games, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin believes that he is engaged in one more computer war game when, in truth, he is commanding the last Earth fleet against an alien race seeking Earth's complete destruction. First book in Ender Wiggin series.

Tin Star, by Cecil Castellucci, 2014.  Beaten and left for dead, 14-year-old Tula Bane finds herself abandoned on a space station called Yertina Feray after traveling with the colonist group, Children of the Earth. First book in Tin Star series.

The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau, 2003.  In the year 241, 12-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions.  First book in the Ember series.

Earth Girl, by Janet Edwards, 2013. Abandoned on Earth because of her inability to survive on other planets, Jarra crafts a fake background for herself to join a class of norms who are excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. First book in Earth Girl trilogy.




Epic, by Conor Kostick, 2006.  On New Earth, a world based on a video role-playing game, 14-year-old Erik pursuades his friends to aid him in some unusual gambits in order to save Erik's father from exile and safeguard the futures of each of their families.  First book in the Avatar Chronicles.
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, 2012.  As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.  First book in Lunar Chronicles series.
Mortal Engines, by Phillip Reeve, 2003. In the distant future, when cities move about and consume smaller towns, a fifteen-year-old apprentice is pushed out of London by the man he most admires and must seek answers in the perilous Out-Country, aided by one girl and the memory of another. First book in the Hungry City Chronicles.

Unwind, by Neal Shusterman, 2007. In a future world where those between the ages of 13 and 18 can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives. First book in the Unwind seriesInformed Teens blog post about Shusterman.


        Someplace with Real, Actual People or Events        

Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 2007.  In 1927, at the urging of 21-year-old Harriet, Mrs. Livingston reluctantly recalls her experiences at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, including miserable working conditions that led to a strike, then the fire that took the lives of her two bestfriends, when Harriet, the boss's daughter, was only five years old. Includes historical notes.


Farewell to Manzanar: A true story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, 1973.  The American-born author describes her family's experiences when they were forced to relocate to a camp for the Japanese in Owens Valley, California, during World War II. Nonfiction


Bread and Roses, Too, by Katherine Paterson, 2006.  Jake and Rosa, two children, form an unlikely friendship as they try to survive and understand the 1912 Bread and Roses strike of mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts.


Heart of a Samurai: Based on the True Story of Nakahama Manjiro, by Margi Preus, 2010.  In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, 14-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.

The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices From the Titanic, by Allan Wolf, 2011. Recreates the 1912 sinking of the Titanic as observed by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a beautiful young Lebanese refugee finding first love, "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Captain Smith, and others including the iceberg itself.



         A Book Marketed to the Opposite Gender         

Choices for Boys:                                                              

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares, 2001.  Four best girlfriends spend the biggest summer of their lives enchanted by a magical pair of pants.  First book in the series.


The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot, 2000. Fourteen-year-old Mia, who is trying to lead a normal life as a teenage girl in New York City, is shocked to learn that her father is the Prince of Genovia, a small European principality, and that she is a princess and the heir to the throne.

Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger, 2013.   In an alternate England of 1851, spirited 14-year-old Sophronia is enrolled in a finishing school where, she is suprised to learn, lessons include not only the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also diversion, deceit, and espionage. First book in Finishing School series.


Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen,2006.  Isolated from friends who believe the worst because she has not been truthful with them, 16-year-old Annabel finds an ally in classmate Owen, whose honesty and passion for music help her to face and share what really happened at the end-of-the-year party that changed her life.


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly, 2009.   In central Texas in 1899, 11-year-old Callie Vee Tate is instructed to be a lady by her mother, learns about love from the older three of her six brothers, and studies the natural world with her grandfather, the latter of which leads to an important discovery.
Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, 2006.  After spending her summer running the family farm and training the quarterback for her school's rival football team, 16-year-old D.J. decides to go out for the sport herself, not anticipating the reactions of those around her.  First book in trilogy.




Choices for Girls:                                                               

Zombie Baseball Beatdown, by Paolo Bacigalupi, 2013.  While practicing for their next baseball game, 13-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe discover that the nefarious activities of the Delbe, Iowa, meatpacking plant have caused cows to turn into zombies.
Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz, 2001.  After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, 14-year-old Alex is coerced to continue his uncle's dangerous work for Britain's intelligence agency, MI6.  First book in Alex Rider series.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, by David Lubar, 2005.  While navigating his first year of high school and awaiting the birth of his new baby brother, Scott loses old friends and gains some unlikely new ones as he hones his skills as a writer.

Heat, by Mike Lupica, 2006.  Pitching prodigy Michael Arroyo is on the run from social services after being banned from playing Little League baseball because rival coaches doubt he is only twelve years old and he has no parents to offer them proof.




Sons of the 613, by Mike Rubens, 2012. Isaac is struggling to prepare for his Bar Mitzvah when his older brother Josh, a self-proclaimed "Super Jew" and undefeated wrestler, forces him into a quest to become a man by shooting a gun, riding a motorcycle, falling in love, and more.
Guys Write for Guys Read, edited by Jon Scieszka, 2005. Short stories, anecdotes, cartoons, and columns are compiled in this amusing collection by male authors, such as Stephen King and Gordon Korman, who share their comical, sad, and strange memories of what life was like for them when they were boys and the impact those moments had in their later lives.



Laika, by Nick Abadzis, 2007.  This is the journey of Laika, the abandoned puppy destined to become Earth's first space traveler. With the blending of fact and fiction, this story intertwines three compelling lives. Along with Laika, there is Korolev, a driven engineer at the top of the Soviet space program and Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika's health and life.
Anya's Ghost, by Vera Brosgol, 2011. Anya, embarrassed by her Russian immigrant family and self-conscious about her body, has given up on fitting in at school but falling down a well and making friends with the ghost there just may be worse.



Re-Gifters, by Mike Carey, 2007.  Jen, or "Dixie" as she's known to her friends lives on the edge of L.A.'s Koreatown, and competes in the martial art of hapkido. She's on the verge of winning a championship, until she falls for fellow hapkido fan/California surfer boy Adam and gets thrown spectacularly off her game. As she struggles to win the tournament, and Adam's affections, Dixie learns that in love and in gift-giving, what goes around comes around.
The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet, by Gareth Hinds, 2013.  Retells in graphic novel format Shakespeare's tragedy of two star-crossed youths who fall in love despite the tensions between their warring families.




Dogs of War, by Sheila Keenan, 2013. Three fictional stories, told in graphic novel format, about soldiers in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War who were aided by combat dogs. Based on true stories.

Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert, 2012.   A gray silhouette of a child in a dark room opens this biography. Cartoonist Lambert gives a sense of how Keller's world might have felt from the inside--dim, bewildering, rageful, and, eventually, enlightened by language. Sullivan's own words convey her determination to teach Helen. Nonfiction.

"21": The Story of Roberto Clemente, by Wilfred Santiago, 2011.  A graphic tale inspired by the life of baseball star Roberto Clemente includes coverage of a wide range of topics from the ways in which prejudice challenged his career and his personal responsibilities to his achievements with the Pittsburgh Pirates and his triumphant 3,000th hit before his tragic fatal plane crash. Biography.

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier, 2010. An autobiography in graphic novel format describes how the author lost two of her front teeth in an accident when she was twelve, and her subsequent struggles with various corrective dental techniques throughout adolescence.  Biography.

Drama, by Raina Telgemeier, 2012.  Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.
Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier, 2014.  In a semi-autobiographical graphic novel, Raina's disappointing bond with a cranky, independent younger sister is further challenged by the arrival of a baby brother and an estrangement in their parents' marriage.



Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, by Prudence Shen, 2013.  Charlie, the captain of the basketball team, and Nate, the president of the robotics club, are bestfriends. Their friendship is tested when the robotics club and the cheer-leading squad--who use Charlie as their figurehead--compete for student group funding.
Bad Island, by Doug TenNapel, 2011. After Reese and his family are stranded on an island during a boating trip, they discover the island is not what it seems when the island's lethal inhabitants come after them.
Boxers, by Gene Luen Yang, 2013.  In 1898, China, Little Bao has had enough of foreign missionaries and soldiers robbing peasants, and he recruits an army of Boxers to fight to free China from its oppressors.



Saints, by Gene Luen Yang, 2013.  Vibiana, an unwanted fourth child, finds her name and identity in Christianity, but with the Boxer Rebellion in full swing and Chinese Christians facing death, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her religion or her country.




        African-American Perspective       

March: Book One, by John Lewis, 2013. A first-hand account of the author's lifelong struggle for civil and human rights spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the birth of the Nashville Student Movement. Graphic format. Autobiography.


Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March, by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, 2015. Shares the story of the youngest person to complete the Selma to Montgomery March, describing her frequent imprisonments for her participation in nonviolent demonstrations and how she felt about her involvement in Civil Rights events. Biography.


How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon, 2014. When 16-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree.
Darius & Twig, by Walter Dean Myers, 2013. Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem. 
All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds, 2015. When 16-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints.

Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes, 2010. In New Orleans' Ninth Ward, 12-year-old Lanesha, who can see spirits, and her adopted grandmother have no choice but to stay and weather the storm as Hurricane Katrina bears down upon them.




X, by Ilyasah Shabass with Kekla Magoon, 2015. Follows the childhood of the civil rights leader, Malcolm X, to his imprisonment at age twenty, where he found the faith that would lead him to his path towards activism and justice.
After Tupac and D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson, 2008. In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South. Nonfiction. Memoir.


      Immigrant Perspective     


Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States, edited by Lori Marie Carlson, 2005. A variety of Latino poets, both familiar names and new voices, illuminate the difficulty of straddling cultures, languages, and identities, while celebrating food, family, love, and triumph. Poetry.




The Tyrant's Daughter, by J. C. Carleson, 2014. Exiled to the United States after her father, a Middle Eastern dictator, is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila must cope with a completely new way of life, the truth of her father's regime, and her mother and brother's ways of adjusting.


Out of Nowhere, by Maria Padian, 2013. Performing community service for pulling a stupid prank against a rival high school, soccer star Tom tutors a Somali refugee with soccer dreams of his own.




Trouble, by Gary D. Schmidt, 2008. Fourteen-year-old Henry, wishing to honor his brother Franklin's dying wish, sets out to hike Maine's Mount Katahdin with his best friend and dog. But fate adds another companion--the Cambodian refugee accused of fatally injuring Franklin--and reveals troubles that predate the accident.


     A Book with an Opinion on a Social Issue     


Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan, 2013. A chorus of men who died of AIDS observes and yearns to help a cross-section of today's gay teens who navigate new love, long-term relationships, coming out, self-acceptance, and more in a society that has changed in many ways.



Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a few flat tires along the way), by Sue Macy, 2011. Through vintage photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and songs, a lively look at women's history transports readers to bygone eras to see how women used the bicycle to improve their lives. Nonfiction.


Keeping Corner, by Kashmira Sheth, 2007. In India during World War I, thirteen-year-old Leela's happy, spoiled childhood ends when her husband since age nine, whom she barely knows, dies, leaving her a widow whose only hope of happiness could come from Mahatma Ghandi's social and political reforms. Historical fiction.


Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, An American Town, by Warren St. John, 2009. Documents the lives of a wildly diverse group of young kids who unite as a team under the leadership of their American-educated Jordanian coach, against the backdrop of a fading American town struggling to make a haven for its new arrivals--refugees. Nonfiction.


        A Classic/Old Book       

A Wrinkle in Time, by  Madeleine L'Engle, 1962. Meg and Charles Wallace set out with their friend Calvin in a search for their father. His top secret job as a physicist for the government has taken him away and the children search through time and space to find him. Science Fiction.



My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George, 1959. A young boy relates his adventures during the year he spends living alone in the Catskill Mountains including his struggle for survival, his dependence on nature, his animal friends, and his ultimate realization that he needs human companionship. Adventure.


The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure: The 'Good Parts' Version, by William Goldman, 1973. A classic swashbuckling romance retells the tale of a drunken swordsman and a gentle giant who come to the aid of Westley, a handsome farm boy, and Buttercup, a princess in dire need of rescue from the evil schemers surrounding her. Fantasy.



The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, 1903. The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch Shepherd, that was kidnapped and shipped off to Alaska to work on the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck the dog quickly learns how to survive in the wild and also learns the call of the wolf. Adventure.



The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin, 1978. The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance. Mystery.


The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937. Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return. Epic Fantasy.



        A Novel in Verse (free verse poem format)        


Booked, by Kwame Alexander, 2016. Nick Hall is the star player on the soccer team until a bombshell announcement shatters his world.

The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, 2014. Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health. Awarded the Newbery Medal in 2015.





Ringside, 1925: Views From the Scopes Trial, by Jen Bryant, 2008. Visitors, spectators, and residents of Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925 describe, in a series of free-verse poems, the Scopes "monkey trial" and its effects on that small town and its citizens. Award: Oprah's Kids' Reading Lists - 12 Years and Up.


Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba, by Margarita Engle, 2009. Escaping from Nazi Germany to Cuba in 1939, a young Jewish refugee dreams of finding his parents again, befriends a local girl with painful secrets of her own, and discovers that the Nazi darkness is never far away. Award: Sydney Taylor Book Awards: Teen Readers



Orchards, by Holly Thompson, 2011. Sent to Japan for the summer after an 8th-grade classmate's suicide, half-Japanese, half-Jewish Kana Goldberg tries to fit in with relatives she barely knows and reflects on the guilt she feels over the tragedy back home.



The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices From the Titanic, by Allan Wolf, 2011. Recreates the1912 sinking of the Titanic as observed by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a beautiful young Lebanese refugee finding first love, "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Captain Smith, and others including the iceberg itself. Awards: Booklist Editors' Choice-Books for Youth-Older Readers, 2011; YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2012

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials, by Stephanie Hemphill, 2010. A fictionalized account, told in verse, of the Salem witch trials, told from the perspective of three of the real young women living in Salem in 1692--Mercy Lewis, Margaret Walcott, and Ann Putnam, Jr. Award: School Library Journal Best Books: 2010.


The Trap, by John E. Smelcer, 2006. In alternating chapters, 17-year-old Johnny Least-Weasel, who is better known for brains than brawn, worries about his missing grandfather, and the grandfather, Albert Least-Weasel, struggles to survive, caught in his own steel trap in the Alaskan winter.


                 The City                 

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn, 2010.  Told in the alternating voices of Dash and Lily, two 16-year-olds carry on a wintry scavenger hunt at Christmas-time in New York City, neither knowing quite what--or who--they will find.


Last Shot: a Final Four Mystery, by John Feinstein, 2005.  After winning a basketball reporting contest, eighth graders Stevie and Susan Carol are sent to cover the Final Four tournament in New Orleans, where they discover that a talented player is being blackmailed into throwing the final game.  First book in Feinstein's sports mysteries series.
Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of the Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Glenna Lang, 2009.  A biography of Jane Jacobs, heroine of New York, which covers her views on the value of cities and the influence she had on New York and America.  Biography.


She Is Not Invisible, by Marcus Sedgwick, 2014. A London teenager who is blind and her younger brother travel to New York City to find their missing father, using clues from his notebook.



Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork, 2009.  Marcelo Sandoval, a 17-year-old boy on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, faces new challenges, including romance and injustice, when he goes to work for his father in the mailroom of a corporate law firm in Boston.


After Tupac and D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson, 2008.  In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live.
Blink and Caution, by Tim Wynne-Jones, 2011. Two teenagers who are living on the streets in Toronto, and barely getting by, become involved in a complicated criminal plot, and make an unexpected connection with each other. Suspense fiction.



          Another Country (not English-speaking)          

A Time of Miracles, by Anne-Laure Bondoux, 2010.  In the early 1990s, a boy with a mysterious past and the woman who cares for him endure a five-year journey across the war-torn Caucasus and Europe, weathering hardships and welcoming unforgettable encounters with other refugees searching for a better life. Historical fiction.


Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party, by Ying Chang Compestine, 2007.  In China, starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists' Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed "bourgeois," and people of laughter. Historical fiction.



Samurai Shortstop, by Alan Gratz, 2006. While obtaining a Western education at a prestigious Japanese boarding school in 1890, 16-year-old Toyo also receives traditional samurai training which has profound effects on both his baseball game and his relationship with his father. Historical fiction.




Never Fall Down: A Boy Soldier's Story of Survival, by Patricia McCormick, 2012. Cambodian child soldier Arn Chorn-Pond defied the odds and used all of his courage and wits to survive the murderous regime of the Khmer Rouge. Historical fiction.

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story, by Linda Sue Park, 2009. When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, 11-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.


Secret Keeper, by Mitali Perkins, 2009.  In 1974 when her father leaves India, to seek a job in New York, 16-year-old Ashi, feels thwarted in the home of her extended family in Calcutta where she, her mother, and sister must stay, and when her father dies before he can send for them, they must remain with their relatives and observe the old-fashioned traditions that Ashi hates. Historical fiction.
Now is the Time for Running, by Michael Williams, 2011. When soldiers attack a small village in Zimbabwe, Deo goes on the run with Innocent, his older, mentally disabled brother, carrying little but a leather soccer ball filled with money, and after facing prejudice, poverty, and tragedy, it is in soccer that Deo finds renewed hope.


            The Historical Past (before 1970)            

Fever, 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson, 2000.  In 1793, Philadelphia, 16-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.


A Difficult Boy, by M. P. Barker, 2008, In Farmington, Massachusetts, in 1839, nine-year-old Ethan experiences hardships as an indentured servant of the wealthy Lyman family alongside Daniel, a boy scorned simply for being Irish, and the boys bond as they try to right a terrible wrong.


Salt: A story of Friendship in a Time of War, by Helen Frost, 2013.  12-year-olds Anikwa, of the Miami village of Kekionga, and James, of the trading post outside Fort Wayne, find their friendship threatened by the rising fear and tension brought by the War of 1812.



Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larson, 2006.  After inheriting her uncle's homesteading claim in Montana, 16-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.


The Wreckers, by Iain Lawrence, 1998.  Shipwrecked after a vicious storm, 14-year-old John Spencer attempts to save his father and himself while also dealing with an evil secret about the English coastal town where they are stranded.  Set in Cornwall, in 1799.  First book in High Seas trilogy.



The Devil's Paintbox, by Victoria McKernan, 2009.   In 1866, 15-year-old Aidan and his 13-year-old sister Maddy, penniless orphans, leave drought-stricken Kansas on a wagon train hoping for a better life in Seattle, but find there are still many hardships to be faced.


When My Name Was Keoko, by Linda Sue Park, 2002. With national pride and occasional fear, a brother and sister face the increasingly oppressive occupation of Korea by Japan during World War II, which threatens to suppress Korean culture entirely.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, by Gary Schmidt, 2004. In 1911, Turner Buckminster hates his new home of Phippsburg, Maine, but things improve when he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from a poor, nearby island community founded by former slaves that the town fathers--and Turner's--want to change into a tourist spot. (This is Hamilton-Wenham Library's 2016 Community Read book. As part of our community read events Mr. Schmidt will be coming to speak at Gordon College on October 27, 2016.)


The Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt, 2007. During the uproar of the 1960s, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, 7th-grader Holling stays in Mrs. Baker's classroom. Stern Mrs. Baker first gives him custodial duties, but after several catastrophes she switches to making him read Shakespeare.

Revolver, by Marcus Sedgwick, 2010.  Teenaged Sig Andersson, who lives in an isolated cabin in the Arctic Circle, confronts a stranger who has come to take revenge on Sig's dead father for his actions when the two men knew each other during the Alaska Gold Rush.  Set in 1899 and 1910

No Shame, No Fear, by Ann Turnbull, 2003. In England in 1662, a time of religious persecution, 15-year-old Susanna, a poor country girl and a Quaker, and 17-year-old William, a wealthy Anglican, meet and fall in love against all odds.



Red Moon at Sharpsburg, by Rosemary Wells, 2007.  Finding courage she never thought she had, a young Southern girl musters the strength and wit to survive the ravages of the Civil War and keep her family together through it all.

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