Award Winning Titles


Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. 2010. 10th Grade.
In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English
2011 Printz winner – read Bacigalupi’s award speech here.
Winner of the 2011 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book, Finalist for the 2010 National Book Award, 2011 Top Ten Best Fiction For Young Adults, nominee for the 2010 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last. 2010. 10th Grade
Bobby is your classic urban teenaged boy – impulsive, eager, restless. On his sixteenth birthday he gets some news from his girlfriend, Nia, that changes his life forever. She’s pregnant. Bobby is the father. Suddenly things like school and house parties and hanging with friends no longer seem important as they’re replaced by visits to Nia’s obstetrician and a social worker who says that the only way for Nia and Bobby to lead a normal life is to put their baby up for adoption.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English, Health, Biology
Winner of the 2004 Michael L. Printz Award, 2004 Coretta Scott King Award.

Kelly, Jacqueline. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. 2009. 7th Grade.
Curious about the grasshoppers in her backyard in rural Texas, eleven-year-old Calpurnia turns to her grandfather, an avid naturalist, for information and ends up with a new-found respect for the natural world, the way is operates, and the similarities it shares with her own ife as the only daughter in a family with six brothers, in this coming-of-age tale set in 1899.
Ties in with: 7th Grade English, Science, Social Studies
2010 Newbery Honor Book, 2009 Junior Library Guild selection.

Voorhoeve, Anne C. My Family for the War. 2012. 10th Grade.
Before the start of World War II, ten-year-old Ziska Mangold, who has Jewish ancestors but has been raised as a Protestant, is taken out of Nazi Germany on one of the Kindertransport trains, to live in London with a Jewish family, where she learns about Judaism and endures the hardships of war while attempting to keep in touch with her parents, who are trying to survive in Holland.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English, Social Studies
Winner of the 2013 Mildred L. Batchelder Award


Nonfiction: Not Just for Nerds

Do you ever want to just learn, you know, stuff? Have a thing for nonfiction? Curious as to how things work and why they work the way they do? Then you’re sure to enjoy these nonfiction selections. Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book.

Myers, Walter Dean. Just write: here’s how! 2012. 9th Grade.
The award-winning author guides readers through the writing process, and includes examples from his own works, outlines for writing fiction and nonfiction, and excerpted pages from the author’s writing notebooks.
Ties in with: 9th Grade English

Powers, J.L., editor. That mad game: growing up in a war zone: an anthology of essays from around the globe. 2012. 12th Grade.
What’s it like to grow up during war? This collection of personal and narrative essays explores both the universal and particular experiences of children and teenagers who came of age during a time of war.
Ties in with: 12th Grade Social Studies, Psychology

Laskas, Jeanne Marie. Hidden America: from coal miners to cowboys, an extraordinary exploration of the unseen people who make this country work. 2012. 12th Grade
Looks at the remarkable men and women whose low-profile accomplishments contribute to the running of the nation, from coal miners and oil rig workers to migrant laborers and air traffic controllers.
Ties in with: 12th Grade Economics

Marrin, Albert. Flesh & Blood So Cheap: the Triangle Fire and its legacy. 2011. 8th Grade.
On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City burst into flames. The factory was crowded. The doors were locked to ensure workers stayed inside. One hundred forty-six people – mostly women – perished; it was one of the most lethal workplace fires in American history until September 11, 2001. But the story of the fire is not the story of one accidental moment in time. It is a story of immigration and hard work to make it in a new country, as Italians and Jews and others traveled to America to find a better life. It is the story of poor working conditions and greedy bosses, as garment workers discovered the endless sacrifices required to make ends meet. It is the story of unimaginable, but avoidable, disaster. And is it the story of the unquenchable pride and activism of fearless immigrants and women who stood up to business, got America on their side, and finally changed working conditions for our entire nation, initiating radical new laws we take for granted today.
Ties in with: 8th Grade Social Studies, Labor History

Weird Science

Impress your friends and enemies alike with the crazy things you’ll wind up learning. Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book.

Aamodt, Sandra and Sam Wang. Welcome to your brain: why you lose your car keys but never forget how to drive and other puzzles of everyday life. 2008. 12th Grade
Aamodt and Wang challenge popular myths while drawing on recent findings in neuroscience to offer insight into how the human brain actually works, sharing additional information on a wide variety of topics, from the brain’s role in religious beliefs and ways of coping with jet lag to the differences between male and female brains.
Ties in with: 12th Grade Psychology, Neuroscience

Global Weirdness: severe storms, deadly heat waves, relentless drought, rising seas, and the weather of the future. 2012. 12th Grade
An accessible explanation of climate change summarizes its science while sharing insights into its implications for the future, answering key questions from the role of fossil fuels to the economic costs of reducing carbon emissions.
Ties in with: 12th Grade Environmental Science

Kean, Sam. The disappearing spoon: and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements. 2010. 11th Grade.
In The Disappearing Spoon, Kean guides readers through the periodic table, recounting compelling, strange, charming, and humorous tales all revolving around the elements.
Ties in with: 11th Grade Chemistry, History of Science

Pierson, D.C. The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To. 2010. 12th Grade.
When fifteen-year-old Darren Bennett meets Eric Lederer, there’s an instant connection. They share a love of drawing, the bottom rung on the cruel high school social ladder and a pathological fear of girls. Then Eric reveals a secret: he doesn’t sleep. Ever. When word leaks out about Eric’s condition, he and Darren find themselves on the run. Is it the government trying to tap into Eric’s mind, or something far darker? It could be that not sleeping is only part of what Eric’s capable of, and the truth is both better and worse than they could ever imagine.
Ties in with: 12th Grade English, Science
Of note: 2011 Alex Award winner

Second Genre Grab Bag

Welcome to another installment of our suggested summer reading for teens! Here is a selection of quality books. This week it’s another genre grab bag – we have historical fiction, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, even a non-fiction book that you don’t want to read while eating. Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book. The grade just refers to where it will fit nicely with the Common Core curriculum.

Brooks, Martha. Queen of Hearts: coming of age in a hospital bed. 2011, 2010. 8th Grade
Shortly after her first kiss but before her sixteenth birthday in December, 1941, Marie-Claire and her younger brother and sister are sent to a tuberculosis sanatorium near their Manitoba farm.
Ties in with: 8th Grade English, Social Studies, Science

Meyer, L.A. Bloody Jack: being an account of the curious adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy. 2002. 7th Grade
Life as a ship’s boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas. There’s only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life – if only she doesn’t get caught.
Ties in with: 7th Grade English and Social Studies
Great for: anyone who wanted to run away and sail the seven seas

Lanagan, Margo. The Brides of Rollrock Island. 2012. 9th Grade
Lured by the witch Misskaella, who possesses secrets for luring beautiful sea-wives from their underwater homes and transforming them out of their seal skins, the fishermen on remote Rollrock Island become the witch’s victimes when they fall desperately in love with the women she has captured for them.
Ties in with: 9th Grade English

Perkins, John. Confessions of an economic hit man. 2004. 12th Grade
A former consultant to the U.S. government reveals the inner workings of the high-stakes economic game that encourages Third World corporations like Halliburton end up getting the contracts.
Ties in with: classes on Government, Economics

Price, Lissa. Starters. 2012. 8th Grade
To support herself and her younger brother in a future Beverly Hills, sixteen-year-old Callie hires her body out to seniors who want to experience being young again, and she lives a fairy-tale life until she learns that her body will commit murder, unless her mind can stop it. You will definitely be on the edge of your seat.
Ties in with: 8th Grade English and Science

Reichs, Kathy. Virals. 2010. 8th Grade
Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage “sci-philes,” who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever. As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their new-found physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot – if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent.
Ties in with: 8th Grade English and Science
Great for: fans of the TV show “Bones.”

Roach, Mary. Stiff: the curious lives of human cadavers. 2003. 12th Grade
Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange postmortem lives of our bodies. For two thousand years, cadavers – some willingly, some unwittingly – have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They’ve tested France’s first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. In this fascinating, ennobling account, Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries – from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors’ conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
Ties in with: Psychology, SCIENCE!, Economics

Woodson, Jacqueline. Beneath a meth moon: an elegy. 2012. 11th Grade
After losing her mother and grandmother to Hurricane Katrina, Laurel Daneau begins a new life in a new town, but when her boyfriend T-Boom introduces her to meth, her future begins to look as bleak as her past.
Ties in with: 11th Grade English, Social Studies, Science, Health

Yovanoff, Brenna. The Replacement. 2010. 9th Grade
Sixteen-year-old Mackie Doyle knows that he replaced a human child when he was just an infant, and when a friend’s sister disappears he goes against his family’s and town’s deliberate denial of the problem to confront the beings that dwell under the town, tampering with human lives.
Ties in with: 9th Grade English

Zevin, Gabrielle. All These Things I’ve Done. 2011. 10th Grade
In a future where chocolate and caffeine are contraband, teenage cell phone use is illegal, and water and paper are carefully rationed, sixteen-year-old Anya Balanchine finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight as heir apparent to an important New York City crime family. This story is so gripping, you’ll read it in one sitting.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English, Science

Nothing But the Truth: Suggested Summer Reads for Teens

Here are books about nothing but the truth – truthful fiction and nonfiction about the truth. Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book.

Bock, Caroline. LIE. 2011. 11th Grade
Told in several voices, a group of Long Island high school seniors conspire to protect eighteen-year-old Jimmy after he brutally assaults two Salvadoran immigrants, until they begin to see the moral implications of Jimmy’s actions and the consequences of being loyal to a violent bully.
Ties in with: 11th Grade English, Social Studies, Sociology

Bortz, Alfred B. Meltdown!: the nuclear disaster in Japan and our energy future. 2012. 8th Grade
Recounts the Tohoku earthquake, subsequent tsunami, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Ties in with: 8th Grade Science, Earth Science

Deem, James M. Faces from the past: forgotten people of North America. 2012. 9th Grade
Combining sensitivity and solid scientific style, Deem reveals the history of the science of facial reconstruction, as well as the forgotten lives and the faces of the dead, to contemporary generations so that at last their stories can be told.
Ties in with: 9th Grade Social Studies, Science, Forensic Science

Eilperin, Juliet. Demon fish: travels through the hidden world of sharks. 2011. 11th Grade
A global investigation into the surprising ways in which people and cultures relate to and engage with sharks includes coverage of Papua New Guinea’s creation myths, the finning practices of mainland China and the counsel of a Miami shark-fishing guide to his celebrity clients.
Ties in with: Marine Biology

Gann, Marjorie. Five Thousand Years of Slavery. 2011. 8th Grade
Traces the practice of slavery throughout the millennia, drawing on historical narratives, personal accounts, and visual sources to cover such examples as the ancient Sumerian practice of selling impoverished children into bondage and the oppression of ninth-century Zanj salt marsh workers.
Ties in with: 8th Grade Social Studies, Global History

Gantos, Jack. Hole in my life. 2002. 10th Grade
In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer desperate for adventure, college cash, and way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents finally caught up to them in a bust at the Chelsea Hotel. What led Jack to this, and what happened to him during and after prison? This thrilling autobiography will grab you and not let go.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English, Social Studies, Science

Janeczko, Paul B. The Dark Game: true spy stories. 2010. 7th Grade.
A collection of true spy stories from throughout the history of the United States, discussing personalities, missions, traitors, technological advances, and more.
Ties in with: 7th Grade Social Studies
2011 Finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
Great for: anyone who loves spy movies and spy stories

Keat, Nawuth. Alive in the killing fields: surviving the Khmer Rouge genocide. 2009. 9th Grade.
Alive in the Killing Fields is the real-life memoir of Nawuth Keat, a man who survived the horrors of war-torn Cambodia. He has now broken a longtime silence in the hope that telling the truth about what happened to his people and his country will spare future generations from similar tragedy. In this captivating memoir, a young Nawuth defies the odds and survives the invasion of his homeland by the Khmer Rouge. Under the brutal reign of the dictator Pol Pot, he loses his parents, young sister, and other members of his family. After his hometown of Salatrave was overrun, Nawuth and his remaining relatives are eventually captured and enslaved by Khmer Rouge fighters. They endure physical abuse, hunger, and inhumane living conditions. But through it all, their sense of family holds them together, giving them the strength to persevere through a time when any assertion of identity is punishable by death.
Ties in with: 9th Grade World History, English.

Mitchell, Jeff. Real justice: young, innocent and in prison: the story of Robert Baltovich. 2012. 9th Grade.
At twenty-five, Rob Baltovich lost the love of his life, Elizabeth Bain. That was bad enough. Then he was arrested, jailed, sent to trial for murder, convicted and sent to prison – for life. Throughout his years in prison, Rob maintained that he was innocent, refusing to admit to a crime he didn’t commit. The result was he was never granted parole. Finally, his luck began to turn when he hired new lawyers who believed in him. Not only did they get Rob acquitted, they also made a strong case that the real murderer was the infamous serial killer Paul Bernardo. Mitchell tells much of the story in Baltovich’s own words. In this book, readers will discover how this tragic miscarriage of justice happened – and how the legal system can right its own wrongs when lawyers and judges are willing to re-examine a case with fresh eyes.
Ties in with: 9th Grade Social Studies, Criminal Justice.

Out of This World: Outer Space, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book.

Beyer, Kat. The Demon Catchers of Milan. 2012. 8th Grade
Mia’s ordinary life is disrupted for good in the most horrifying way possible: she’s possessed by a hungry and powerful demon. Her life is saved only by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins, the charming and gorgeous Emilio and stern, elderly Giuliano, say the only way to keep Mia safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and most importantly, to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the ancient lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever.
Ties in with: 8th Grade English

Billingsley, Franny. Chime. 2011. 10th Grade
In the early twentieth century in Swampsea, seventeen-year-old Briony, who can see the spirits that haunt the marshes around her town, feels responsible for her twin sister’s horrible injury until a young man enters their lives and exposes secrets that even Briony does not know about.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English and Social Studies

Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair. 2002. 12th Grade
In a world where you can actually get lost (literally) in literature, Thursday Next, a notorious Special Operative in literary detection, races against time to stop the world’s Third Most Wanted criminal from kidnapping characters, including Jane Eyre, from works of literature, forcing her to dive into the pages of a novel to stop literary homicide, in a wildly imaginative, mesmerizing thriller.
Ties in with: 12th Grade English
Great for those who are taking AP Literature, and/or love alternative histories, or want to live in their favorite book. First book in a fantastically wild series.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods. 2001. 12th Grade
On the plane home to attend the funerals of his wife and best friend, Shadow, just released from prison, encounters Mr. Wednesday, an enigmatic stranger who seems to know a lot about him, and when Mr. Wednesday offers him a job as a bodyguard, Shadow accepts and is plunged into a dark and perilous world, where the soul of America is at stake.
Ties in with: 12th Grade English
Of note: winner of the 2002 Hugo Award

Gill, David Macinnis. Black Hole Sun. 2010. 8th Grade
On the planet Mars, sixteen-year-old Durango and his crew of mercenaries are hired by the settlers of a mining community to protect their most valuable resource from a feral band of marauders.
Ties in with: 8th Grade English and Science
Of interest: first in a series; great for those who love space operas like Star Wars and Firefly

Grant, Mira. Feed. 2010. 10th Grade
In the year 2014, a new virus emerges; taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command, FEED. Twenty years later, two reporters, Georgia and Shaun Mason, will stop at nothing to expose the dark conspiracy behind the infected.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English, Biology, Chemistry
Read if: you’re interested in journalism, have watched every zombie movie out there, or wondering how good things can go horribly, horribly wrong. First in a trilogy.

Roach, Mary. Packing for Mars: the curious science of life in the void. 2010. 12th Grade
Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, and privacy. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? Or vomit in your helmet during a spacewalk? To answer these questions and more, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule, Mary Roach takes us on a surreal and entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.
Ties in with: SCIENCE! Physics, Engineering, Biology

Get Graphic This Summer (Graphic Novels for Teens)

Welcome to the graphic novel installment of our suggested summer reading for teens! Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book. The grade just refers to where it will fit nicely with the Common Core curriculum. And in case your parents argue that graphic novels aren’t “real” books – they definitely are. Also – don’t forget to check out our extensive graphic novel collection in the teen section of the library. Want a series that we don’t have? Ask Miss Kate, and she’ll do her best to get it on the shelves.

Abirached, Zeina. A game for swallows: to die, to leave, to return. 2012. 10th Grade
Living in the midst of civil war in Beirut, Lebanon, Zeina and her brother face an evening of apprehension when their parents do not return from a visit to the other side of the city.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English and Social Studies

Ottaviani, Jim. Feynman. 2011. 11th Grade
In this substantial graphic novel biography, First Second presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth-century: Richard Feynman. Feynman tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving you, the reader, delighted by Feynman’s exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death.
Ties in with: 11th Grade English, Social Studies, Physics

Satrapi, Marjane. The complete Persepolis. 2007, c2004. 10th Grade
The great grand-daughter of Iran’s last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast contradictions between public and private life.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English and Social Studies

Spiegelman, Art. Maus I: a survivor’s tale: my father bleeds history. 1986. AP European
A story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father’s story and history itself.
Ties in with: AP European History

Yakin, Boaz. Marathon. 2012. 10th Grade
The story of Eucles, the Athenian messenger who, in 490 BCE, ran twenty-seven miles from Sparta to Athens, preventing the fall of Greece to the Persian Empire.
Ties in with: English and Social Studies

Fantastic Fiction

Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book.

Black, Holly. White Cat. 2010. 9th Grade.
Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of curse workers – people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, all by the slightest touch of their hands. Since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Except Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider – the straight kid in a crooked family – as long as you ignore one small detail: he killed his best friend, Lila. Now he’s sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat. He also notices that his brothers are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of one huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

Carolson, Lori M. Moccasin thunder: American Indian stories for today. 2005. 11th Grade
Ten short stories about contemporary Native American teens by members of tribes of the United States and Canada, including Louise Erdrich, Joseph Bruchac, Cynthia Leitch Smith and Sherman Alexie.

Carter, Ally. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You. 2007, c2006. 7th Grade
To the outside world, The Gallagher Academy of Exceptional Young Women looks like a boarding school for rich young women. Except the Gallagher Girls, as they’re known, are not ordinary teenagers. For starters, it’s a spy school, and the girls can speak up to fourteen different languages, hack CIA computer codes, and know how to kill a man seven different ways. However, nothing prepares sophomore Cammie Morgan for the ultimate undercover gig: pretending to be an ordinary girl.

de la Cruz, Melissa. Blue Bloods. 2007, c2006. 10th Grade
Sophomore Schuyler Van Alen is confused about what is happening to her. Her veins are starting to turn blue, and she’s craving raw meat. Soon, her world is thrust into an intricate maze of secret societies and bitter intrigue. Schuyler has never been a part of the trendy crowd at her prestigious New York private school. All of a sudden, Jack Force, the most popular guy in school, is showing an interest in her. And when on of the popular girls is found dead, Schuyler and Jack are determined to get to the bottom of it. Schuyler wants to find out the secrets of the mysterious Blue Bloods. But is she putting herself in danger?

Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. 2008. 10th Grade
After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.

Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. 2012. 10th Grade
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has brought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Have tissues handy.

John, Antony. Five Flavors of Dumb. 2010. 10th Grade
The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig. The Deal: if she does it, Piper will become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits. The Catch: how can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s Deaf? Piper can’t hear Dumb’s music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.

Lake, Nick. In Darkness. 2012. 9th Grade
In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, fifteen-year-old Shorty, a poor gang member from the slums of Site Soleil, is trapped in the rubble of a ruined hospital. As he grows weaker he has visions and memories of his life of violence, his lost twin sister, and of Toussaint L’Ouverture, who liberated Haiti from French rule in 1804.

Lieb, Josh. I am a genius of unspeakable evil, and I want to be your class president. 2009. 7th Grade
Twelve-year-old Oliver Watson has everyone convinced he is extremely stupid and lazy, but he is actually a very wealthy evil genius. When he decides to run for seventh-grade class president, nothing will stand in his way. Warning: if you read this in public, expect to frequently burst out laughing.

Lyga, Barry. I Hunt Killers. 2012. 9th Grade
Seventeen-year-old Jazz learned all about being a serial killer from his notorious “Dear Old Dad.” Believing he has a conscience that will help fight his own urges and right some of his father’s wrongs, he secretly helps the police apprehend the town’s newest murderer, “The Impressionist.” In doing so, he discovers that he may have more in common with his father than he thought.


True Stories of People Who Went That Extra Mile

Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book.

Bowers, Rick. The Spies of Mississippi: the true story of the spy network that tried to destroy the Civil Rights movement. 2010. 8th Grade
Using the writings and oral histories of Mississippi civil rights leaders and interviews with surviving activists, the author brings to light the secret efforts of spies who tried to block the voting rights of African-Americans during the Civil Rights era.
Ties in with: 8th Grade English and Social Studies

Bowers, Rick. Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: the true story of how the iconic superhero battled the men of hate. 2012. 7th Grade
Who knew Superman was so super? Intertwining stories about the invention of Superman as a defender of the little guy, his rise as a media force, and the real fight against the Ku Klux Klan demonstrates how a mythical hero could take on the fight for civil  rights.
Ties in with: 7th Grade English and Social Studies
Great for: anyone who has ever watched a Superman movie or read the comics.

Eilperin, Juliet. Demon fish: travels through the hidden world of sharks. 2011. 11th Grade
Eilperin conducts a global investigation into the surprising ways in which people and cultures relate to and engage with sharks. Did you know sharks are involved with Papua New Guinea’s creation myths? Or the finning practices of mainland China? Or that there’s a shark-fishing guide to celebrities in Miami?
Ties in with: 11th Grade Science, Marine Science

Mezrich, Ben. Bringing down the house: the inside story of six MIT students who took Vegas for millions. 2002. 12th Grade
Recounts the story of how a notorious gang of MIT blackjack savants devised and received backing for a system for winning at the world’s most sophisticated casinos, an endeavor that earned them more than three million dollars.
Ties in with: Economics

Sheinkin, Steve. Bomb: the race to build – and steal – the world’s most dangerous weapon. 2012. 8th Grade
Steve Sheinkin used to write textbooks, and now he’s atoning for his sins by writing fantastic narrative nonfiction. Sheinkin weaves together three story lines: the scientists who were building the bomb in America, the Soviet spies trying to steal the Americans’ plans, and the Allied commandos trying to disrupt the German attempts to build the Uranium bomb.
Ties in with: 8th Grade English, Social Studies, Science
Of interest to anyone curious about: nuclear physics, World War II, Richard Feynman

Silverstein, Ken. The radioactive boy scout: the true story of a boy and his backyard nuclear reactor. 2004. 10th Grade
Love doing science experiments? Willing to do whatever it takes to see what happens and why? Well. This book traces the true story of a young man’s obsessive fascination with science and nuclear physics. However, his obsession compelled him to misrepresent himself to the government and build a breeder reactor in his back yard. Understandably, this did not go over well with the neighbors.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English, Science
Of interest to anyone looking for an Eagle Scout project

Get in the Game: Sports Fiction

Welcome to the third installment of our suggested summer reading for teens! Here is a selection of quality fiction. Don’t let the recommended grades fool you – if you’re interested in a certain topic, you’re bound to love the book. The grade just refers to where it will fit nicely with the Common Core curriculum.

Aronson, Marc, ed. Pick-up Game: a full day of full court. 2011. 7th Grade.
Ten different short stories, ten different authors, ten different point of views make up Pick-Up Game. While most of the action takes place in the Cage, the basketball court on West 4th Street in New York City, the different characters add more layers and insight than a one-person point of view about this particular sport. Note: Miss Kate doesn’t even like basketball and she LOVED this book.
Ties in with: 7th Grade English

Hornby, Nick. Slam. 2007. 10th Grade.
At the age of fifteen, Sam Jones’s girlfriend gets pregnant and Sam’s life of skateboarding and daydreaming about Tony Hawk changes drastically.
Ties in with: 10th Grade English, Biology, Health

Myers, Walter Dean and Ross Workman. Kick. 2011. 7th Grade.
Told in their separate voices, thirteen-year-old soccer star Kevin and police sergeant Brown, who knew his father, try to keep Kevin out of juvenile hall after he is arrested on very serious charges.
Ties in with: 7th Grade English
Great for fans of Walter Dean Myers


Other Sports Fiction of Interest

While these may not necessarily tie-in with the Common Core, they’re still fantastic reads for those in 7-12.

Cross, Shauna. Derby Girl. 2007.
When sixteen-year-old rebel Bliss Cavendar, who is miserable living in a small Texas town with her beauty pageant-obsessed mother, secretly joins a roller derby team under the name “Babe Ruthless,” her life gets better, although infinitely more confusing. This book was the reason Whip It was made into a movie.

Herbach, Geoff. Stupid Fast. 2011.
Growing suddenly very tall in his sophomore year of high school, former small kid Felton Reinstein discovers that he has become a very fast runner but finds his athletic ambitions compromised by his mother’s depression, his annoying younger brother, a first romance and a shocking secret from his past.

Korman, Gordon. Pop. 2009.
Lonely after a midsummer move to a new town, high-school quarterback Marcus Jordan becomes friends with a retired professional linebacker whose erratic behavior confuses him, until Marcus discovers that the player is actually suffering from a neurological disease.

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen. 2007, 2006.
After spending her summer running the family farm and training the quarterback for her school’s rival football team, sixteen-year-old D.J. decides to go out of the sport herself, not anticipating the reactions of those around her. First in a trilogy.