If you only have time in your life to read one dystopian young adult fiction, this is probably the one. Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community. He finally discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives. Note: The Giver is the first book in a series.
Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by the ghosts of the graveyard. At times both funny and creepy, The Graveyard Book offers quick episodic chapters, great for reluctant readers.
Based on a true story, A Long Walk to Water is short in length but powerful in its storytelling. When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, Salva becomes separated from his family and must survive many dangers, walking through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
Deep and powerful, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the story of Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, who befriends a boy living on the other side of the Auschwitz fence. Through Bruno’s eyes, the reader gains a unique perspective on the complexities and evils of the Holocaust.
Willow Chance is a quirky genius who loves gardening, rare skin diseases, and counting by sevens to relax. When both of her parents are killed in a car crash, Willow must learn to connect with other people and rebuild a surrogate family from unlikely outsiders. This is a great story for anyone who has ever felt they were different or an outsider.
In a world where disease has been eliminated, humans have conquered death. The only way to die is to be randomly killed (‘gleaned’) by professional reapers (‘scythes’). Two teens compete with each other to become a scythe. One will win the job, the other will die at the winner’s hands. As the first title in the Arc of the Scythe Trilogy, Scythe offers ample opportunity to examine deeper ethical questions.
Twins Josh and Jordan are both talented basketball players, thanks largely to the support and encouragement of their father. Their father, a former basketball player, dispenses coaching for the court and for life. Written in pulsing verse, The Crossover tells the story of how these brother drift apart as they face middle school and the possibility of losing their father.
Melinda begins her freshman year as an outcast, subject to harassment and ridicule by her classmates. She is barely able to speak. Through first-person narrative and gritty realism, the reader slowly learns of the trauma Melinda endured as she finds her voice and ability to confront her attacker.
Jack, 12, tells the gripping story of Joseph, 14, who joins his family as a foster child. Damaged in prison, Joseph wants nothing more than to find his baby daughter, Jupiter, whom he has never seen. When Joseph begins to believe he’ll have a future, he is confronted by demons from his past that force a tragic sacrifice.
Tired of being singled out at her mostly white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school’s amazing Study Abroad program. She’s invited to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls.
As a librarian, when I ask 7th and 8th graders about the best book ever, they are resoundingly huge fans of Erin Hunter’s Warriors series. This first book is the story of Rusty, a bored house kitten, apprenticed by the ThunderClan. Rusty is struggling to fit in when the group of feral cats is threatened by ShadowClan, the enemy. Fast-paced and highly addictive, this series evolves into spinoff series that will keep you reading.
Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again.
Fast paced and funny historical fiction. It is the summer of 1962 and Jack is grounded for various offenses. He is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.
Cinderella meets futuristic science fiction. Plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people. Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world.
George wants to play the role of Charlotte in the school play. The teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, George comes up with a plan to be Charlotte and to reveal her identity once and for all.