All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Text Size: A A A  

Historical Fiction

Often the best way to learn history is to immerse yourself in the story of someone who lived it (in "his story" or hers). These stories can provide teens a rousing read, while increasing background knowledge substantially. Rather than memorizing key dates, historical fiction can bring history alive.

A Troubled Peace

A Troubled Peace by L.M. Elliott

For Ages: 12-14

WWII may be ending, but for 19-year-old pilot, Henry Forester, the conflict still rages. Shot down over France, Henry endured dangerous trek to freedom, relying on civilians and Resistance fighters to stay alive. Back home in Virginia, Henry is still reliving air battles with Hitler's Luftwaffe and he can't stop worrying about the safety of those who helped him escape.


View Discussion Guide »

Under a War Torn Sky

Under a War-Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott

For Ages: 12-14

Henry Forester is the youngest pilot in his Air Force squadron. When his plane is shot down over France, he struggles toward safety on foot, relying on the kindness of French citizens and the cunning of the French Resistance.


View Discussion Guide »

In My Hands

In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke

For Ages: 12-14

When the Nazis invaded Poland, 16-year-old Irene Gut was forced to abandon her nursing training to work for the German army. Irene used her position to steal food and supplies for the Jews living in the ghetto, and later hid a dozen people in the home of a Nazi major for whom she was a housekeeper.


View Discussion Guide »

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

For Ages: 16-18

Liesel Meminger is only nine years old when she is taken to live with a foster family, the Hubermanns, in Germany, in the late 1930s. She arrives with few possessions, but among them is The Grave Digger's Handbook, a book that she stole from her brother's burial place. During the years that Liesel lives with the Hubermanns, Hitler becomes more powerful, life on Himmel Street becomes more fearful, and Liesel becomes a full-fledged book thief. She rescues books from Nazi book-burnings and steals from the library of the mayor.


View Discussion Guide »

Number the Stars

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

For Ages: 9-12

Set in 1943 when the Nazis occupied Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen is asked to carry out a heroic deed and aid her uncle in his efforts to smuggle Danish Jews across the sea to Sweden, where they will be safe. She has already lost her older sister, Lise, in the Danish Resistance, and now it appears that her best friend is in danger.


View Discussion Guide »

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

For Ages: 12-14

Bruno is only nine years old when his father, a commandant in Hitler's army, is transferred from Berlin to Auschwitz during the Holocaust. He spends long days gazing out the window of his new bedroom, where he notices people dressed in striped pajamas and rows of barracks surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Bored and lonely, and not really understanding the circumstance of his new existence, Bruno sets out to explore the area and discovers Shmuel, a very thin Jewish boy who lives on the other side of the fence. An unlikely friendship develops between the two boys, but when Bruno learns that his mother plans to take her children back to Berlin, he makes a last effort to explore the forbidden territory where the boy in the striped pajamas lives.


View Discussion Guide »

Milkweed

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

For Ages: 12-14

Milkweed tells the story of a homeless, nameless boy who spends his days stealing food for himself and other orphans. When he meets Janina Milgrom and follows her family to the Jewish ghetto, he loses his fascination with the Nazi soldiers. For the first time in his life he has a family, until resettlement and deportation snatch the Milgroms away. This good-hearted boy is once again a "nobody" and eventually makes his way to America, carrying only the memories of his adopted family with him.


View Discussion Guide »

Hello, America

Hello, America by Livia Bitton-Jackson

For Ages: 12-14

Eighteen-year-old Elli is a survivor of the Auschwitz. When she arrives in New York City, she cannot speak English, and has no high school diploma and very little money.She must not only acclimate herself to a whole new culture but must also acclimate herself to life outside of a concentration camp.


View Discussion Guide »

Chains

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

For Ages: 9-12

As the Revolutionary War begins, 13-year-old Isabel wages her own fight for freedom. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion.


View Discussion Guide »

Weedflower

Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

For Ages: 12-14

Twelve-year-old Sumiko feels her life has been made up of two parts: before Pearl Harbor and after it. As Americans grow suspicious of Japanese people — even those born in the U.S. — Sumiko and her family find themselves being shipped to an internment camp in the desert.


View Discussion Guide »

Betsy and the Emperor

Betsy and the Emperor by Staton Rabon

For Ages: 12-14

Betsy Balcombe and her family have an unusual houseguest: Napoleon Bonaparte, former emperor of France, who is now exiled to the island of St. Helena. Betsy and the emperor develop a friendship and hatch a daring scheme that could threaten the governments of both England and France.


View Discussion Guide »

The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble

For Ages: 9-12

In Salem, Massachusetts, witches have been found and widespread fear and panic reign. When two girls are brought from Salem to identify witches in Andover, suspicion sweeps the town as well-respected members of the community are accused of witchcraft.


View Discussion Guide »

Black Storm Comin’

Black Storm Comin’ by Diane Lee Wilson

For Ages: 9-12

When Colton Wescott sees this sign for the Pony Express, he thinks he has the solution to his problems. But does Colton have what it takes to be a Pony Express rider? And if he does, will traveling the dangerous route over the mountains bring him closer to family, freedom, and everything he holds dear?


View Discussion Guide »

Hattie Big Sky

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

For Ages: 9-12

Sixteen-year old Hattie leaves her home in Iowa,where she's been shuttled between relatives, to take over her Uncle Chester's Montana homestead claim. Arriving in Montana, she creates a new family among her fellow homesteaders.


View Discussion Guide »