Thursday, December 03, 2009

Best Young Adult Books of the Decade

As you all know, I am a strong believer that if you are to become an accomplished writer, you MUST read good literature. I recently returned from a BER seminar entitled “The Best Young Adult Books of the Decade and How to Use Them in Your Program (Grades 6-12)”. After posting the fact I was attending this seminar, many friends and educators asked if I would post the information on my website, so here it is. Dr. Scates gave book talks on over 75 books during the day, so the list here does not do justice to the great literature out there for young adults.

First, I will post the presenter, Denni Kay Scates’s list of:

Top Ten Young Adult Books for Grades 6-8.

  1. Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

  2. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Adventure)

  3. Cirque Du Freak (series) by Darren Shan (Fantasy; Horror)

  4. To Dance by Sienna Cherson Siegel (Science Fiction; Graphic Novel)

  5. Death by Eggplant by Susan O’Keefe (Humor)

  6. Click Here and Find Out How I Survived 7th Grade by Denise Ve

    ga (Humor)

  7. Waiting for Normal by Leslie Conner (Realistic Fiction)

  8. Guys Write for Guys Read by Jon Scieszka (Short Stories)

  9. Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Realistic Fiction)

  10. A Baseball Card Adventure Series (ie. Babe and Me) by Dan Gutman (Fantasy; Series)

After listening to the book talks, I made a list of the:

Top Ten Young Adult Books I Want to Read”:

  1. Point Blank: an Alex Rider Adventure by Anthony Horowitz (Adventure)

  2. From Baghdad With Love: a Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava by Jay Kopelman (Memoir)

  3. How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot (“Chick” Lit)

  4. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Fantasy; Horror)

  5. Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac (Historical Fiction)

  6. Fire From the Rock by Sharon Draper (Historical Fiction)

  7. 24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley (Humor)

  8. Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters by Gail Giles (Mystery)

  9. Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Realistic Fiction)

  10. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass (Mystery)

Here is my two cents; books that I have found to impact my students and my teaching:

Marsha’s Top Ten List of Young Adult Books

  1. Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Michaelsen (Adventure)

  2. Running Out of Time by Margaret Petterson Haddix (Historical Fiction/Fantasy)

  3. Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher (Realistic Fiction)

  4. Jack on the Tracks by Jack Gantos (Humor)

  5. Swimming Upstream: Middle School Poems by Kristine O’Connell George

  6. Sideways Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar: (Humor)This book is below the middle school level reading-wise; however, is rich in humor and lends itself to impromptu plays

  7. Guts by Gary Paulsen (Biography)

  8. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz (Adventure)

  9. Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konigsburg (Realistic Fiction)

  10. Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine (Non Fiction): One of the best books to encourage young writers.

If you are interested I have a catalog of ALL of the books BER recommends for students 6-12. It is lengthy, but it gives a brief description of the books.

In addition I will also include Dr. Scates’s Top Ten for Grades 9-12. SOME, but not all, of these books MAY contain some mature situations, so use your d

iscretion. They are sure to ignite great discussion with your teenager (we could all use that). Most of the books on the list are perfectly fine and the reading level is greater than some of the 6-8 books:

Top Ten Young Adult Books for Grades 9-12

  1. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson (Realistic Fiction): Bobby’s carefree teenage life changes forever when he becomes a father and must care for his baby daughter.

  2. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen (Memoir)

  3. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Fantasy)

  4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Graphic Novel)

  5. The Book Theif by Markus Zusak (Historical Fiction)

  6. 24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley (Humor)

  7. Click by Nick Hornby and others (Mystery)

  8. Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson (Non-fiction: Picture Book): This book is about a man who was killed in a brutal, racially motivated lynching in 1955. It is told in sonnet form and has very sophisticated language-it should spark lots of conversation.

  9. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Realistic Fiction)

  10. Twice Told: Original Stories Inspired by Original Art by Scott Hunt

Now it is your turn, as readers of this blog, what are the young adult books you have found to ignite the love of reading and/or left an impact on you as an adult? Use the “comments” to leave your suggestions. Be sure to list the book title, author, and why you think it should be added to the list.


Ace said...

thanks for your list. though i doubt ill ever read through all or any of those books. i have been through your interests and definatly like what i read.

well you can go through my blog sometime as well, though its still in early stages of development.


Stella said...


Beyond a shadow of a doubt there is one that tops my all time list (and still does, even though it was a teen/ young adult novel.)

"The Seagulls Woke Me," by Mary Stolz.

I read it over and over until it literally fell apart.

Sari said...

Thanks for the list. I read (and loved) The Historian, but I think it was a bit beyond the average 6-8th grader level. Glad you enjoyed the seminar.