Monday, September 20, 2010

Recommended Reading

I compiled a list of books I've recently read and feel would appeal to middle and high school students. Each of the books includes themes conducive to classroom discussions.

Except when marked with an asterisk, all titles are available in audio format from the Las Vegas Clark County Public Library District (see LVCCLD link when applicable). To access these materials, you must have a current public library card and know your PIN. For more information about procuring a library card, click here. To use eAudio books from the public library, you will need to download OverDrive Media Console (a free software package) to your computer. Instructions and more information about accessing eMedia are available here.

Except for Candy Shop War and Leepike Ridge, all remaining books with asterisks are available at Audible. Note that there is a charge to purchase audiobooks from Audible. Different from the public library, however, the purchaser becomes the book's owner.


Recommended Book Options


Young Adult Science Fiction
  • Adoration of Jenna Fox (Pearson, Mary E.): Jenna Fox awakens after a coma having forgotten her life before her accident. She explores her past life through video, but is often met with reluctance to talk about her operation with others. This science fiction mystery explores issues related to bioethics. [LVCCLD CD]
  • Elsewhere (Zevin, Gabrielle): Elsewhere is the story of a girl who died. Upon doing so, she arrived at a place called “Elsewhere” where all the people had lived lives on Earth and were now dead. Most of the people were a lot older than her (she died in her teens). A unique feature of Elsewhere is that you grow older instead of younger while there. [LVCCLD CD]
  • Hunger Games (Collins, Suzanne): The Hunger Games is the first of a trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The premise underlying the plot is that a corrupt “Capitol” controls 12 districts. To keep the districts under control, the Capitol sponsors The Hunger Games each year. Two children from each district are selected to participate, and only one participant from the 24 survives the Games. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
  • Little Brother (Doctorow, Cory): Cory Doctorow truly practices what he preaches! In a book about high-tech, high-action stunts in the midst of terrorist activity in the U.S., Doctorow discusses the importance of freedom of information. Likewise, he made his book available for free online using a Creative Commons license. [Warning: This book includes mature themes likely to be inappropriate for use in school environments.] [LVCCLD eAudio]
  • Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (Patterson, James): This is the first book of a series by the acclaimed James Patterson. The main character is Maximum Ride, a headstrong teenage girl who grew up in a science lab. She and her “flock of bird kids” were all genetically manipulated pre-birth, resulting in the presence of wings. As such, all the children are able to fly. The book follows Maximum Ride and her flock as they escape from the lab and learn to live on their own. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
  • Maze Runner (Dashner, James): This is an action-packed thriller! Every month for several years, one boy has been delivered into the “Glade.” All the boys remember their names, but none remember anything else about their past. In a strange turn of events, the day after Thomas (the main character) arrives, a girl arrives. Thomas tries to learn about the society the boys created before his arrival and learns of the maze, their possible escape route, that encompasses their community. [LVCCLD CD]
  • Neptune's Children (Dobkin, Bonnie): Dobkin’s book, Neptune’s Children, begins with a bioterrorist attack on all adults around the world. All individuals over age 13 die instantly, leaving all children behind to fend for themselves. Those children left behind in a theme park (similar to Disneyland), create a working society while facing potential and real threats. [LVCCLD CD]
  • Twilight (Meyer, Stephenie): This epic series takes place in Washington state. The main character, Bella, meets a young man, Edward, who intrigues her and ultimately becomes the object of her affection. Bella learns that Edward is a vampire and struggles with love and longevity. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
  • *Uglies (Westerfield, Scott): This series (including Pretties, Specials, and Extras) by Scott Westerfield begins with Uglies, a book about a utopian society that spawned from modern America. All children are called “uglies” until their 16th birthdays on which they receive an operation that makes them pretty. Once pretty, they move to a location where they can play and party all the time. Some uglies, though, question if being pretty is all there is to life. [Audible]
  • *Unwind (Shusterman, Neal): Imagine if parents could choose to have their teenagers “unwound,” have their body parts separated and given to save the lives of others. It’s the perfect solution for harvesting human organs… isn’t it? [Audible]
Young Adult Fantasy
  • *The Candy Shop War (Mull, Brandon):Imagine a world where eating candy could give you special powers. Mull masterfully juxtaposes good and evil amidst a fantasy of vivid characters. The book may sound like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Harry Potter, but it truly is a story of its own.
  • Eragon (Paolini, Christopher):16-year-old Christopher Paolini wrote this epic tale (Eragon is the first book in a series) just after graduating from high school. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
  • Fablehaven (Mull, Brandon): When a boy and girl go to spend time with their grandfather, they learn there is more to his mysterious life than originally imagined. The area surrounding his home is a haven for fabulous creatures of all kinds—some good, and some bad. [LVCCLD CD]
  • Inkheart (Funke, Cornelia): In this three-book tale, Funke creates a world where books are reality become intertwined. Some of her characters have the unique ability to “read” characters and items “out” of books. In one unfortunate time, the father in the story accidentally read his wife into a book; he’s also read some antagonistic characters out of the book. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
Young Adult Non-Fiction
  • Fallen Angels (Meyers, Walter Dean): Fallen Angels is realistic historical fiction about serving in the Vietnam War. The main character is African-American, adding to the issues of race conflict occurring during the war. [Warning: Telling the story of men and women serving on the front lines, the book does not “candy-coat” the violence, language, and other everyday happenings of the U.S. soldiers.] [LVCCLD CD]
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Beah, Ishmael): A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is the true autobiographical of Ishmael Beah, a boy who served as a soldier in Sierra Leone. After his hometown was attacked by rebels, he spent months searching for his family before being recruited into guerrilla warfare. He is later reformed when living in a UNICEF refugee camp. [Warning: This book contains graphic violence.] [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
  • *Three Cups of Tea: Young Reader’s Edition (Mortensen, Greg): Mortensen is described as a man who is single-handedly creating peaceful relationships between those in the Middle East and in the United States. This book tells his story—from mountain climbing failure to sacrificial living. After returning from a failed attempt to ascend K2, he commits to build a school for the girls in one of Pakistan’s outermost regions. He kept his promise, and continues to change the world with his relentless efforts. [Audible]
Young Adult Historical Fiction
  • Elijah of Buxton (Curtis, Christopher Paul): This book tells the story of a small town in Canada. Buxton is where escaped slaves from the United States find refuge. They welcome those former slaves who have made the long, painful journey from the South. The story takes a turn when Elijah, just a boy, heads back to the United States to complete a chore. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
Young Adult Realistic Fiction
  • Hatchet (Paulsen, Gary): This Newberry-award winner tells of a boy who becomes an inhabitant of the wilderness when the plane in which he is flying goes down and the pilot dies in the crash. The main character must learn to survive in the Canadian wild. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
  • *Leepike Ridge (Wilson, N.D.): This action-filled story of realistic fiction is a fun read. When the main character finds himself in a hidden cave under Leepike Ridge, he learns about life outside the mainstream.
  • Smiles to Go (Spinelli, Jerry): This is a coming-of-age story for boys who question who they are, where they fit in the universe, and their relationships with girls. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
  • Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (Grisham, John): This is John Grisham’s first children’s book. Theodore Boone lives with his parents, both of whom are lawyers. He loves the law and spends all his free time in the courthouse. As such, he is the resident expert on the law at his school, and he regularly advises his classmates on legal matters. He eve becomes entwined in a case of his own! This is a great book to learn about the U.S. legal system. [LVCCLD CD]
Adult Historical Fiction
  • Sarah's Key (de Rosnay, Tatiana): de Rosnay juxtaposes the past and present when her protagonist, a journalist, accepts the opportunity to write a story about French involvement in the Nazi round-up of Jewish families in Paris in 1942. While the journalist’s story unfolds, Sarah’s story unfolds. Sarah’s story is about cruelty and loss at the hand of the French police as they did the bidding of the Nazi’s. It is also about human compassion and remembrance. [LVCCLD eAudio]
Adult Realistic Fiction
  • The Life of Pi (Martel, Yann): Martel tells the tale of a boy from India. His family owns a zoo, but is selling their animals to a U.S. zoo due to financial hardships. During their sea voyage, there is an accident and the boy, Pi, ends up aboard a small rescue boat along with a tiger and several other animals. He tells of their mutual survival tactics and leaves the reader questioning reality. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
Adult Non-Fiction
  • *The Horse Boy (Isaacson, Rupert): Isaacson wrote this biography about his son, a boy afflicted with autism. In an attempt to help their son, Isaacson and his wife trekked through Mongolia with the intent to meet shamans who could assist their child. Their journey took them to the outer-most parts of Mongolia, even to the “Reindeer People.” This is a heartwarming tale the of the efforts parents will make to assist their children and ways that seeing the world differently can help us all see better. [Audible]
  • Strength in What Remains (Kidder, Tracy): A medical student in Africa finds himself constantly trying to escape war and war-torn environments as he traverses through his home country of Burundi and into and out of Rwanda. He eventually makes his way to the United States where he faces trials of a homeless immigrant in a foreign land. [LVCCLD eAudio]
  • Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman (Krakauer, Jon): Pat Tillman, former NFL player, lost his life during the U.S. Gulf War. Krakauer describes the events leading to his NFL and military careers and the circumstances surrounding his death in combat. [LVCCLD eAudio/CD]
  • *The Last American Man (Gilbert, Elizabeth): Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, writes the biography of Eustice Conway, a true man of the American Wilderness. Born in the 1960s, Eustice took his homemade teepee and left home as a teenager to live off the land. Gilbert tells of his trek along the Appalachian Trail, his record-setting horse-journey across America, and his lifelong passion to bring Americans to a greater appreciation and respect of nature. [Audible]

1 comment:

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