Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week’s topic is a freebie, and I’ve decided to put together a list of 10 books I wish everyone enrolled in my Adolescent Lit class would read. Since I’m the instructor of the course, I could require all of these books. But I am trying to streamline and limit required reading in all of my courses in favor of reading challenges and invitations.
This collection of interviews with transgender teens challenges us to rethink gender assumptions and stereotypes and to grow in compassion, understanding, and love. It gives voice to a group of teens who are all too often silenced in our schools. And Susak Kuklin’s photographs are truly powerful.
Andrew Smith’s tour-de-force novel is about everything. As the main character, Austin, reminds us, the best books always are. It’s jaw-droppingly insane and obscene and offensive as well as sweet and poignant. I’m still marveling over how Smith pulled it off.
Gabi is just so real. She struggles–with family, body image, friends, decisions about sex, decisions about her future–but you always know she’s going to find a way to make her choice work. There are plenty of “issues” in this novel–teen sexuality, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, poverty, to name just a few–but it never feels heavy-handed.
Exquisitely bittersweet with some of the best art I’ve seen in a graphic novel. It’s about that summer between childhood and adolescence where you’re itching to grow up and aching to stay a child.
Wonder is about a 5th-grader, so it might seem a bit young for middle or high school readers, but I’ve found that everyone can relate to Auggie’s story. A great introduction to middle-grade fiction with a hero you root for and plenty of food for thought about being different, being bullied, standing up for yourself and others, and choosing kind.
I rarely manage to make/find room for Ellen Hopkins in this course. I know that’s partly due to my own reading preferences. I simply don’t want to read 10 quazillion page verse novels about the bleakest of bleak situations. But Hopkins’s books are so important to so many teen readers. These are books we need to be sharing with our students. When I do make time to read Hopkins, I’m always surprised at just how good her verse actually is.
This book, a wordless graphic novel, will challenge everything you think you know about how to read and what constitutes complex text.
John Green novels are always popular in this course, and Will Grayson Will Grayson is my favorite Green. How I love Tiny Cooper!
A portrait of the artist as a young woman in an appealing graphic novel format. This is a must-read for all budding artists–and all English majors.
A collection of poetry and paintings by two friends named Jason who are trying to figure out how to make their way in the world as artists. Jason Reynolds is an important new voice in YA literature, and this is a unique introduction to his work.