Summer Reading for teens

Our Fall 2017 Must Reads for Teens!
Books that can enlighten & promote empathy & conversation in your teen!

There are few vehicles more insightful or exciting than a wonderfully written book. They can unlock a teenager’s imagination, provide them a variety of perspectives, and spark meaningful conversations about complicated subjects such relationships and personal identity.  Books can also demystify places and cultures that are unique to them and promote their understanding, which can induce wonderful altruistic behaviors.  Different than film, a book also allows your teen chooses how quickly or slowly to move through a story. This ability to pace oneself can make reading all the more enjoyable!

If your teen is a dormant [or reluctant] reader help them to identify topics that are of interest to them. Often times, valuable suggestions come from their teachers, peers, older siblings, or their librarian. Taking a moment to understand the premise and reading the first few pages can help your teen know if the book is a good fit for them.  Once they’ve identified a book [or author] that interests them they should partake in the whole experience by picking it up at their local library or purchasing it at a bookstore (brick & mortar or online). These steps can help teens to feel a sense of control and investment in their decision.

Also, the American Library Association (ALA) offers a division dedicated to reviewing books for young readers and can help teenagers locate books with themes that interest them.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

Written by Sherman Alexie

Illustrated Ellen Forney

Little, Brown & Company

Author Sherman Alexie bases his heartbreaking, yet funny, and wonderfully written story on his own adolescent experiences.   

Alexie introduces us to Junior, a burgeoning cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.  Junior tries to take control of his life.  He breaks away from his troubled school on the reservation to attend a Caucasian farm-town high school, where the only other sign of a Native American is the school mascot.  

The writing coupled with Ellen Forney’s poignant illustrations delivers meaningful lessons to any teen.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Written by Jacqueline Woodson

Published by The Penguin Group

Woodson’s New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award Winner, Newbery Honor Book, and Coretta Scott King Award Winner tells the inspiring story of her childhood in verse that has the ability to hypnotize.

While Woodson was raised in both South Carolina and New York, she never felt emotionally settled.  She always sensed a part of her was missing in either place.  Her eloquent and emotionally charged poems speak to her life growing up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s and how the Civil Rights movement influenced her.  Brown Girl Dreaming is a purposeful explosion that joins critical subjects with self-discovery.

The Book Thief

Written by Marcus Zusak

Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing

This 2006 young-adult novel by Zusak never goes out of style.  It tells the tale of Liesel Memigner’s tragic and resilient childhood in Nazi Germany, and the story of her budding relationship with her foster parents Hans Hubermann and his wife Rosa.  Together they help Max Vanderburg, a Jew, find refuge in their home.  

Max takes on a brotherly role with Liesel and they develop a sibling-like closeness.  The author also introduces us to other meaningful characters like Rudy Steiner, her school and neighborhood friend, who helps her to transition and thrive.  Liesel’s fascination with books becomes evident during her visits to drop off laundry at the home of the Mayor and his wife, Frau Ilsa Hermann.  It’s here Hermann invites her into their library and Liesel is surrounded by literature.  

Zusak’s book was inspired by his German parents, the bombing of Munich, and a teenage boy offering bread to an emaciated Jew being marched through the streets; both where whipped by a soldier.  His tragic tale combines beautiful prose with unimaginable events.

The Book Thief is the winner of the 2007 Book Browse Ruby Award.

Eleanor & Park

Written by Rainbow Rowell

Published by St. Martin’s Press

Rowell tells the story of two star-crossed misfits who are wise enough to understand that first love almost never lasts, but fearless and eager enough to try.  Rowell’s interpretation helps to remind us of our own first love and just how intoxicating it was.

Eleanor & Park is a New York Times bestseller, a 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, and the winner to the 2013 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Best Fiction Book.  It is also received Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2013, NPR Best Book 2013, and Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book 2013.

Everything Leads to You

Written by Nina LaCour

Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers

Everything Leads to you is a coming of age love story that portrays the Los Angeles film scene from the voice of a wunderkind 18-year-old set design intern Emi.  She is just moving on from a breakup when she meets Ava.

LaCour captures the beautiful essence of Emi and Ava, two teenager girls discovering love, sex, and a close friendship.  It’s their discovery of romance and acceptance that allows their transition into adulthood to become so meaningful.  

LaCour’s previous novel, Hold Still, was named Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association.

The Fault in Our Stars

Written by John Green

Published by The Penguin Group

The Fault in Our Stars invites us in a way that makes us feel as if we are present in Hazel and Augustus’ story of burgeoning friendship and love.  Green helps readers move beyond their cancer and see the joy in their life.  He give us a honest glimpse of how cancer affects more than the patient.

The story is so honestly and elegantly written yet steers us from moments that could be a long-lingering of sadness, and demonstrates their support and zeal for life.

The Fault in Our Stars is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, International, and Indie Bestseller

Paper Towns

Written by John Green

Published by The Penguin Group

Paper Towns is a 2009 Edgar Award recipient for best young adult mystery and a New York Times Bestseller.  Green weaves this meaningful coming-of-age story of Quentin “Q” Jacobsen and his childhood friend – the popular and adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman.

Margo was his childhood friend and constant object of his affection.  Much to Quentin’s sadness they had drifted apart.  However, one evening Margo opened his window, climbed into his room, and recruited him for an all-night revenge road trip.  While the experience helped Quentin feel closer to Margo there was secrecy and other costs on the horizon.  The following day, when Quentin arrived at school, Margo did not.  Quentin discovered clues, but the closer he got the more he realized how little he really knew about her…

The Shadow Hero

Written by Gene Luen Yang

Illustrated by Sonny Liew

Published by First Second, Roaring Book Press

New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang revives the first Asian American superhero, The Green Turtle, in his new graphic novel The Shadow Hero. Yang takes readers on an adventure with this beloved superhero paving the way with crime-solving and injustice-fighting crusades!

The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero.  Gene Luen Yang is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and is a MacArthur Fellow, the MacArthur “Genius” Grant.

Thirteen Reasons Why

Written by Jay Asher

Published by The Penguin Group

This young-adult best-selling novel is a story of a young high school student, Hannah Baker, as she falls into despair brought on by disloyalty and bullying, and ending with her suicide.

When classmate Clay Jensen returns home from school he finds a package with his name at his door.  Inside are several tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, who had committed suicide two weeks earlier.  In the tapes Hannah tells Clay the thirteen reasons why she ended her life.  He spends going all around town with Hannah as his guide.  It’s her tape that helps him to become empathetic to her pain and forever changes his perspective.

Asher does a remarkable job of showing the dark side of adolescence and what tragedies can occur when bullying and indifference play a major role.


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