‘Good Reads’ readers have voted some of our picks as the best young adult reads of all time. Read and find out why these books are important to teens.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – For ages 10-14. – This is a novel in verse; a fictionalised memoir of a young girl. A masterpiece written for young children. Themes – Family, importance of family, love, loyalty, compassion, emotional, physical and spiritual support. Background – American racial history.
· 2010-2019->National Book Awards->Young People’s Literature Winners
· 2011-2020 Coretta Scott King Author Award
· 2011-2020->Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Books->Nonfiction
· 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature Finalists
· 2014 National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature
· 2014 National Book Award Winners
· 2014 National Book Awards- All Finalists
· 2014 National Book Awards- Young People’s Literature Finalist
· 2015 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Books
· 2015 Coretta Scott King Award Winners
· 2015 E. B. White Read Aloud Award Middle Reader Finalists
· 2015 E. B. White Read Aloud Award Winners
· 2015 Newbery Honor Books
· 2015 Sibert Honor Books
· African American Poetry – Kids
· African American Women – Kids Biography
· African American Writers – Kids Biography
· African Americans – General – Kids Biography
· New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2014
· New York Times Notable Middle Grade Books of 2014
· Publishers Weekly’s Best Middle Grade Books of 2014
· Time Magazine’s Top 10 YA Books of 2014
Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
If I Ever Get Out Of Here by Eric Gansworth – For ages 12-15. Themes – Teen popularity, identities, trust, barriers, friendship, poverty and rock & roll.
Lewis “Shoe” Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he’s not used to is white people being nice to him — people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family’s poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan’s side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis’s home — will he still be his friend?
I am Princess X by Cherie Priest- For ages 12-17. Themes – Social class, homelessness & friendship. Touches on gender and sexism but excludes romance. The book is illustrated with comics and integrates technology as a theme to appeal to teens.
Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.
Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.
Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.
When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There’s an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby’s story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon—her best friend, Libby, who lives.
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby. For ages 14 +. Themes – Families, easy truths, hard truths and those best left unsaid.
This was going to be the year Normandy Pale came into her own. The year she emerged from her older sister’s shadow—and Kiera, who became a best-selling graphic novelist before she even graduated from high school, casts a long one. But it hasn’t worked out that way, not quite. So Normandy turns to her art and writing, and the “truth commission” she and her friends have started to find out the secrets at their school. It’s a great idea, as far as it goes—until it leads straight back to Kiera, who has been hiding some pretty serious truths of her own. Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission: A story about easy truths, hard truths, and those things best left unsaid.
“Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission knocked my socks off. You should read it!”—Gayle Forman, best-selling author of If I Stay
“Susan Juby is a marvel. Wise, witty, and full of heart, her writing draws you in and won’t let go. And just when you think it can’t get any better, it does.”—Meg Cabot
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kamkwamba. For ages 11-17. Themes – The power of dreams, believing in them and overcoming obstacles. Most importantly expanding the original dream beyond boundaries.
Malawi is a country battling AIDS, drought and famine, and in 2002, a season of floods, followed by the most severe famine in fifty years, brought it to its knees. Like the majority of the population, William’s family were farmers. They were totally reliant of the maize crop. By the end of 2001, after many lean and difficult years, there was no more crop. They were running out of food – had nothing to sell – and had months until they would be able to harvest their crop again.
He picked up a book about energy, with a picture of a wind turbine on the front cover. Fascinated by science and electricity, but knowing little more about the technology, William decided to build his own. Ridiculed by those around him, and exhausted from his work in the fields every day, and using nothing more than bits of scrap metal, old bicycle parts and wood from the blue gum tree, he slowly built his very own windmill.
This windmill has changed the world in which William and his family live. Only 2 per cent of Malawi has electricity; William’s windmill now powers the lightbulbs and radio for his compound. He has since built more windmills for his school and his village.
When news of William’s invention spread, people from across the globe offered to help him. Soon he was re-enrolled in college and travelling to America to visit wind farms. This is his incredible story.
William’s dream is that other African’s will learn to help themselves – one windmill and one light bulb at a time – and that maybe one day they will be able to power their own computers, and use the internet, and see for themselves how his life has changed after picking up that book in the library.
Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray. For ages 15 + (Not suitable for younger readers.) Themes of death, friendship and how friendship can help to cope. Mature content.
‘It’s not really kidnapping, is it? He’d have to be alive for it to be proper kidnapping.’
Kenny, Sim and Blake are about to embark on a remarkable journey of friendship. Stealing the urn containing the ashes of their best friend Ross, they set out from Cleethorpes on the east coast to travel the 261 miles to the tiny hamlet of Ross in Dumfries and Galloway. After a depressing and dispiriting funeral they feel taking Ross to Ross will be a fitting memorial for a 15 year-old boy who changed all their lives through his friendship. Little do they realise just how much Ross can still affect life for them even though he’s now dead.
Drawing on personal experience Keith Gray has written an extraordinary novel about friendship, loss and suicide, and about the good things that may be waiting just out of sight around the corner . . .
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson – For ages 10-14. Themes – Independence, autonomy, problems of middle school, elections, corruption & corruption of money. Touches on racism.
Jackson Greene swears he’s given up scheming. Then school bully Keith Sinclair announces he’s running for Student Council president, against Jackson’s former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it — but he knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count.
So Jackson assembles a crack team: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby’s respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school’s greatest con ever — one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.
Saving the school — one con at a time. (And in paperback!)
“A political heist page-turner set in middle school? Is that even possible? Varian Johnson shows us how it’s done.” – Gordon Korman, author of SWINDLE
“Do yourself a favor and start reading immediately.” – Rebecca Stead, author of WHEN YOU REACH ME
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. For ages 14 – 17. Themes – Identity and the mask a person wears in public. The emotions behind those masks whether the wearer can ever let it go? Similarly can a person let go of their past? How far would you go for family, for freedom, for power and for love?
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.
LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.
The Martian by Andy Weir. For ages 15+. Themes – Isolation, fear, sacrifice, perseverance, science, man vs nature, friendship and home.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
Finish This Book by Keri Smith – For ages 13 +. Themes – To be created by reader. Non – traditional methods of exploration and writing. Art, craft & storytelling.
About this book and others in the series
From the author of Wreck This Journal, a collaborative creative journey where you complete the book
One dark and stormy night, author Keri Smith found some strange scattered pages abandoned in a park. She collected and assembled them, trying to solve the mystery of this unexpected discovery, and now she’s passing the task on to you, her readers.
Your mission is to become the new author of this work. You will continue the research and provide the content. In order to complete the task, you will have to undergo some secret intelligence training, which is included in this volume. Since no one knows what lies ahead, please proceed with caution, but know…this book does not exist without you.
“Keri Smith may well be the self-help guru this DIY generation deserves.”