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Themed Booklists

Our themed booklists will help you find books that appeal to all kinds of readers, including kids who are reluctant to read for fun. 

NEW: Tough Topics

Middle grade student slouched against her locker with her hands in her hair and her knees pulled up.

Themed Booklists

Bullies Be Gone!

Bullying is destructive and can take many forms. Why does someone become a bully? How do you help someone who is being bullied? Young adults can start to find the answers and build empathy through the pages of many Middle Grade and Young Adult books. 

Young woman leaning against a blank wall hugging her legs.

Themed Booklists

Mental Health: Empathy and Understanding

YA novels are a safe place for young adult readers to understand mental health illnesses from multiple perspectives and within a multitude of contexts. This collection of authors deftly delve into the many aspects of mental illness and the sprawling impact on everyone and everything around it.

long hall with blue lockers

Themed Booklists

School Shootings: Trying to Understand the Unthinkable

Helping readers find empathy, sympathy, and understanding are lofty goals for YA authors who delve into the tragedy of school shootings. Told from multiple perspectives, this collection brings together many voices helping young adults process the unthinkable. 

Diverse Perspectives

Cover detail from Genesis Begins Again

Themed Booklists

Black Characters and Social/Cultural Themes

From graphic novels to fantasy and fiction, these fabulous books spotlight the diversity, histories, cultures, and experiences among those who identify as Black.

Last Cuentista book cover

Themed Booklists

Latinx Characters and Social/Cultural Themes

In this booklist, you’ll find a range of titles — young adult novels by award-winning Hispanic-American authors, bilingual poetry, biography, memoir — celebrating Latino culture and examining the immigrant experience.

autism book list

Themed Booklists

On the Autism Spectrum: MG and YA Voices and Stories

What’s it like to grow up with a neurodiverse brain? Through fictional characters’ adventures and autobiographical remembrances, you can begin to understand the colorful and sometimes bumpy road many folks in the neurodiverse community experience.

Me and My World

Popular Interests

Detail of book cover Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

Themed Booklists

Air and Space

For those who dream of being airborne, rather than earthbound — fiction and nonfiction about inventors, adventurers, and technological innovations that allow mankind to travel by air and explore space.

Detail of book cover Beige

Themed Booklists

Press Play

Do you know a teen who’d rather crank the tunes than crack a book? Try tempting them with one of the music-themed titles below.

Close up of fingerprints, target lines and action shots of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

Themed Booklists

Spies Like Us

Most kids go through a “spy” stage, and some never grow out of it! Whether it’s the gadgets, the secret identities, or the gathering of clues — spies are cool!

Detail from book cover Little Brother

Themed Booklists


As technology permeates all aspects of our lives, it’s not surprising that high-tech gadgets, plot devices, even formats, increasingly appear in teen lit, and not just in the science fiction genre.

Detail of book cover Friday Night Lights

Themed Booklists

TV Tie-ins

Even as the Internet absorbs more of teens’ attention, TV remains a constant presence.


Understanding History

Detail of book cover Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt's Remarkable Life

Themed Booklists

The White House and Its Residents

These fiction and nonfiction titles will ignite young people’s interest in the history and function of our presidential mansion, as well as the lives of some of those who have lived or worked there.

Detail of book cover The Complete Persepolis

Themed Booklists

Contemporary Prejudice

These books feature teens examining their own beliefs and values in the face of religious, cultural, racial and gender discrimination. Titles complement history units on World War II and the Holocaust. 

Detail from cover of Behind the Secret Window with illustration of group of Jewish children

Themed Booklists

Jewish Children’s Experiences During World War II

These stories of separation, deprivation, defiance, and bravery help students to understand the horror and magnitude of the Holocaust. These books are an excellent complement to history units on World War II. 

Detail of book cover Number the Stars

Themed Booklists

Those Who Risked Their Lives in WWII

Read about the underground resistance movement and brave individuals who helped shelter Jews, from the perspectives of both the rescuers and the survivors. These books are an excellent complement to history units on World War II. 

Detail of book cover Soldier X

Themed Booklists

WWII Soldiers’ Stories

Books in this list — both fiction and nonfiction — present personal stories of soldiers who fought on both sides of World War II. These books are an excellent complement to World War II history units. 

Detail of book cover Forgotten Fire

Themed Booklists

Other Holocausts

From Rwanda, to Cambodia, to Sarajevo, to Armenia, to North Korea, the books on this list explore historical and contemporary genocide. This list is excerpted from Dr.

Detail from book cover Maus I: A Survivor's Tale

Themed Booklists

The Concentration Camps

Memoir, biography, historical fiction, photo essays, as well as poems and art work, tell the stories of concentration camp victims and survivors. These books make an excellent complement to history units on World War II. 

Text Genres & Formats

Close up of book cover Escape: The Story of the Great Houdini

Themed Booklists


Biographies are on lots of school booklists, but they can also be popular leisure reading choices for teens. They often feature real-life characters who have overcome adversity — a theme teens are drawn to again and again.

Fantasy Genre

Themed Booklists


Believe it or not, the Fantasy genre was a hit with teens even before Harry Potter. Here’s a selection of the many subgenres, including urban fantasy and fairy tale retellings.

Detail of Rick Riordan book cover The Lightning Thief

Themed Booklists

Myths and Folktales

Heroes, villains, underdogs, pranksters, romance, betrayal, and intrigue — is it Mount Olympus or junior high school?

Detail of book cover 5,000 Miles to Freedom

Themed Booklists

Nonfiction for Teens

Some teens just aren’t interested in reading novels, but do enjoy learning new facts, skills and even trivia from nonfiction titles, including biographies, histories, titles about sports or science, even how-to books.

Detail of book cover A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms

Themed Booklists


Since 1996, April has been National Poetry Month. Here are some books that will serve as great poetry starting points.

Detail from book cover The Odyssey by Homer

Themed Booklists

Revisiting the Classics

Looking to use some classic texts in your classroom? In our list, we’ve matched canonical texts with popular YA Lit read-alikes.

A Hispanic mother and child walk with clouds and flowers behind them

Themed Booklists

Picture Books for Teens

Picture books can help middle school and high school readers build background knowledge and visual literacy. The endless range of subject matter presented in picture books, in the hands of skilled storytellers and artists provides many opportuniti

Detail of book cover To Kill a Mockingbird

Themed Booklists


Audiobooks can help re-create the pleasure of being read to as a child.

Detail of The Poet X cover featuring mixed race woman with curly hair overlaid with poetry

Themed Booklists

Novels in Verse

A new form of novel has become popular — the novel told in verse or free-form poetry. Appealing to tweens and young teens, the plots are rich and varied. Here are some of our favorites.

Detail from book cover Flying Lessons & Other Short Stories

Themed Booklists

Short Stories

These short stories have plenty of intrigue to keep students engaged and teachers can use them to teach literary devices including plot, characterization, foreshadowing, and irony.