All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Literature & Language Arts

A YALSA committee of librarians selected these books to open doors on new worlds, exciting ideas, eccentric personalities, unfamiliar cultures, and distant time periods. Use it to broaden students' horizons as they prepare for college entrance exams and courses.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Age Level: 16-18

Living in Nazi Germany, young Liesel and her foster family choose to lie and steal to protect a Jewish refugee hiding in their basement. Narrated by Death, this is not your typical World War II story.

Blankets

Blankets

Age Level: 16-18

A young man questions his faith and experiences bittersweet first love in this autobiographical and groundbreaking graphic novel.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

Age Level: 16-18

Two bit players from Shakespeare's Hamlet are thrust into a terrifying and surreal new situation.

Lucky: A Memoir

Lucky: A Memoir

Age Level: 16-18

"You save yourself or you remain unsaved." With these words, Sebold recounts the brutal rape that she was "lucky" to survive. Tragedy and hope combine as she makes her way through a survivor’s maze of emotions.

The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America

Age Level: 16-18

This is a fascinating alternate history that takes a hard look at one of America's legendary heroes, Charles Lindbergh, and at how bigotry and fear can shape politics.

Sunrise Over Fallujah

Sunrise Over Fallujah

Age Level: 16-18

Robin believes in his country and volunteers to fight in Iraq, but when he arrives in the war zone he realizes that fighting for freedom is not always black and white.

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore

Age Level: 16-18

Reality and fantasy converge in this story of a Japanese runaway's quest to find his long-lost sister and mother.

The Road

The Road

Age Level: 16-18

After an apocalyptic catastrophe, a father and his young son embark on a grim and perilous quest following the road to the sea.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Age Level: 16-18

The Wizard of Oz retold from the point of view of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. You’ll never think of Oz the same way again.

The God of Animals

The God of Animals

Age Level: 16-18

Twelve-year old Alice must face issues beyond her years. Her sister has run off, her mother won't get out of bed, and the family horse farm is failing. Can she keep the family from falling apart?

Secret Life of Bees

Secret Life of Bees

Age Level: 16-18

Searching for the truth about her mother’s life and death, a grieving Lily finds the answers, love, and acceptance where she least expects it.

Good Poems

Good Poems

Age Level: 16-18

An essential and accessible anthology of some of the best contemporary and classic poetry.

Mister Pip

Mister Pip

Age Level: 16-18

Matilda's Pacific Island village has been torn apart by civil war. Against this harsh backdrop, Mr. Watts, a lonely British expatriate, maintains calm by reading Dicken's Great Expectations aloud to the village children, transforming their lives.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Age Level: 16-18

Only special students are chosen to attend Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school tucked away in the English countryside. The chilling truth of their special nature slowly unfolds as we follow the stories of three former students.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Age Level: 16-18

Christopher has two mysteries to solve: who killed Wellington the dog and what happened to his mother. But Christopher, who has Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism, approaches these mysteries and the world itself in a unique and special way.

A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying

Age Level: 16-18

When Jefferson's attorney states, "I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this," disillusioned teacher Grant Wiggins is sent into the penitentiary to help Jefferson gain a sense of dignity and self-esteem before his execution.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Age Level: 16-18

Oskar Schell, a gifted 9-year old, explores the mystery of his father's death during the 9/11 attack.

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters

Age Level: 16-18

The people of Nollop are good citizens, but as the use of more and more letters in the alphabet is outlawed, how will its residents communicate?

Caramelo

Caramelo

Age Level: 16-18

LaLa learns the stories of her Awful Grandmother and weaves them into a colorful family history. The "caramelo," a striped shawl begun by her Great-Grandmother, symbolizes their traditions.

Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You

Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You

Age Level: 16-18

James hates everyone except his grandmother. Take a look at life through this brilliant and mischievous New York teen's eyes as he tries to figure out life and his place in it.

the Hell is Pansy O’Hara?

the Hell is Pansy O’Hara?

Age Level: 16-18

Did you ever wonder what an author was thinking when they wrote their book? Explore the quirky back-stories of some of the world's most famous 50 books.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

Age Level: 16-18

Set during the American Revolution, Octavian is raised as a pampered African prince by a society of Enlightenment philosophers who view him as an experiment. Realizing that his freedom is an illusion, Octavian sets off on a journey to find freedom and a place in the world. These books will challenge everything you have ever learned about the Revolutionary War.

See also The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II: The Kingdom on the Waves.

Bastard Out of Carolina

Bastard Out of Carolina

Age Level: 16-18

Bone confronts illegitimacy, poverty, the troubled marriage of her mother and stepfather, and the stigma of being considered "white trash" as she comes of age in South Carolina.

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

Age Level: 14-16

John Green won the Printz Award for this debut novel that follows the life of Miles "Pudge" Halter during his first year at an elite Alabama boarding school. Dreaming of finding Francois Rabelais' the "Great Perhaps," Pudge learns many life lessons from his new friends, especially the stunning and self-destructive Alaska Young.

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

Age Level: 16-18

Years after he flees Afghanistan, Amir, now an American citizen, returns to his native land and attempts to atone for the betrayal of his best friend before he fled Kabul and the Taliban.