Literature for Adolescents (Last update: January 7, 2011) Table of contents

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Literature for Adolescents

(Last update: January 7, 2011)

Table of contents

Adventure and survival
Contemporary life and problems

Coming of age

Coping with death

Family life and problems

Physical and emotional problems


Sexual identity

Social issues
Ethnic diversity

African American

Asian American


Native American

Interactions/intermingling of cultures
Fiction/poetry set in other countries
Historical fiction

Medieval times

Salem witch trials

Colonial days/Revolutionary war

The Industrial Revolution and early 19th century

Civil war

Westward migration/pioneer life

Turn of the Century


The Roaring Twenties

The Great Depression


World War II/the 40’s

The 50’s

The 60’s

Vietnam War
Science fiction
Collections of short stories

Compiled by Jean Boreen, Northern Arizona University

Adventure and Survival
Avi. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. NY: Avon Books, 1990. 13-year-old Charlotte Doyle boards a boat to America in 1832, never dreaming that she will become involved in an intrigue that will force her to re-examine her life, her identity, and her loyalties. The great adventure book for girls that boys will also love. A must for middle school.
Bodeen, S. A. The Compound. NY: Feiwel and Friends, 2008. Eli’s father, a scientific genius who has turned his gifts into a financial bonanza, prepares for all possibilities, even the end of the world as we know it. When the nuclear war happens, some of Eli’s family makes it to the compound, but his brother and grandmother are accidentally left behind. With the promise of 15 years ahead of them in the compound until the radiation dwindles to safe levels, Eli and his sisters try to make the best of their situation. But as time passes and the family found supply begins to dwindle, the family faces bizarre choices for survival. And when Eli makes contact through his brother’s computer to the world outside, he begins to question his father’s motives…and if his father has actually been honest about what happened six years before. A strong and startling read. High school.

Bunting, Eve. Jumping the Nail. New York: Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich, 1991. Jumping from a cliff almost 90 feet

above the Pacific Ocean becomes a peer pressure sport for Scooter and Elisa. The book does an exceptionally good job getting into the character’s heads as they face different issues, including the death of one of their friends. A good middle school book.
Butcher, A. J. Spy High: Mission One. Little, Brown, 2004. Deveraux Academy is a front for one of the most prestigious spy schools in the world. Students asked to come to Deveraux either become successful spies or have their memories wiped. The six students featured all have their own strengths and weaknesses, but until they understand how to work WITH each other, they’ll never become the Bond Team. Fun read for middle school.
Casanova, Mary. When Eagles Fall. NY: Hyperion Books for Children, 2002. Alexis Castille-Reed, reacting badly to her parents’ separation, gets drunk and almost drowns. At her wits end, her mother sends her to spend the summer with her biologist father who happens to be working in Minnesota studying bald eagles. Unable to talk honestly to each other since the separation, Alex grudgingly spends time with her father. Finally, determined to prove to him that she is capable, Alex decides to rescue an eaglet on her own, but when she and the young eagle are stranded on an island during a storm, Alex learns that her father is not the only one she needs to prove something to. A female version of Hatchet, although on a smaller scale. A solid upper elementary/middle school read.
Clements, Andrew. A Week in the Woods. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002. Mark Chelmsley is the new kid at school, but not just any new kid. His parents have just bought the factory in town so everyone knows he’s “RICH.” Combined with Mark’s apparent apathy about school and his new life in Whitson, NH, teachers and students alike at Whitson Elementary think that Mark is no good. But during the school’s annual “Week in the Woods,” Mark shows all those involved that he really does care and is capable of being part of the school. (Great upper elementary/middle school read, and would work especially well for older ESL students who need a story line that will interest them.)
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games series: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay. 2008, 2009, 2010. The hottest series since Harry Potter, the three books follow Katniss Everdeen as she participates in the Hunger Games to protect her sister. The Hunger Games occur every year, and each district in the in the larger state must send two tributes to fight to the death against teens from other districts. Katniss and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark form an alliance that will not only help them survive the Hunger Games but also propels them into a sort of rebellion against the state that neither of them planned. Characters are exceptionally well-developed and the action is nerve-wracking. Middle/high school.
Colfer, Eoin. The Artemis Fowl Series: Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, The Time Paradox. (2001-2009). NY: Scholastic. The series follows the adventures of maniacal teenaged genius Artemis Fowl and his battles against and with Captain Holly Short from the LEPrecon Special Forces. Great reads one and all! Upper elementary/middle school!
Cormier, Robert. We All Fall Down. New York: Delacorte Press, 1991. Buddy, one of the thrashers of a home, sees

the incident as a lark until his friends throw Karen, the teen-aged girl who lives in the house, down the stairs,

causing her to go into a coma. When Buddy falls in love with Karen’s sister, he is torn between telling her the

truth and lying to keep her in his life. A high school read.

Creech, Sharon. The Wanderer. (2000). NY: Scholastic. 13-year-old Sophie is the only female crewmate on board the Wanderer. Along with her three uncles and two male cousins, Sophie traverses the Atlantic, learning about her cousins, what it means to be part of a family, and how to deal with her own past, one filled with loss. A Newberry Honor Book. An upper elementary/middle school book.
Easley, MaryAnn. I Am the Ice Worm. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 1996. Allison survives a plane crash in

Alaska, is befriended by an Inupiat trapper who brings her to his village and from there, begins a thousand mile

journey to the Alaskan coast and her mother. Not only is this an adventure story, it is also the story of how

Allison comes to appreciate a culture very different from her own. A good middle school read.

Farmer, Nancy. The Sea of Trolls. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2004. Jack and Lucy are captured by Norseman berserkers shortly after their attack on Lindsforne Abbey. But in capturing Jack, Olaf the One-Eye gets more than he bargains for as Jack has been in training with the Bard and is capable of no small amount of magic. Although Jack and Lucy endear themselves to Olaf and his wives, their lives are endangered when Thorgil, a female Norsewoman intent on getting herself sent to Valhalla in death, gives Lucy to the troll princess and Jack inadvertently curses her. Jack and his loyal crow, Bold Heart, with the help of Thorgil, must travel to the queen of the trolls and find Mimir’s Well, which will enhance Jack’s magic. A rollicking adventure from one of YA’s best. Middle school.
Farmer, Nancy. The Land of the Silver Apples. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007. This sequel to Sea of Trolls finds Jack once again trying to protect his little sister Lucy. But things are different now, especially after their father admits that Lucy isn’t really his daughter but a founding he ran into in the forest. Lucy is actually an elf, and she has been taken back to her people by the Lady of the Lake. Accidentally casting himself down a knocker hole, Jack encounters some friends from his first adventure—Thorgil—as well as a new groups of characters—Pega and Bugaboo, the hobgoblin prince who would like to woo Pega. Even though this is the second book in the series, it certainly stands on its own. Another great adventure from Nancy Farmer. Middle school.
Gould, Steven. Wildside. NY: Tor, 1996. Charlie finds the door to another world, a world where passenger pigeons and saber-toothed tigers still exist. A born entrepreneur, Charlie enlists his friends in a money-making scheme selling passenger pigeons and mining for gold that will make them all rich. But can they outsmart the CIA, FBI, and their parents as they pursue their goals? A high school read.
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden. NY: Aladdin Fiction, 1998. Luke is a “third child”; his parents cannot acknowledge that he exists because if they do, he will be taken away, probably killed, and they will be fined and possibly imprisoned. But when the government opens up a housing development around his parents’ farm, Luke sees a girl’s face looking out from a window, and he begins to wonder if there are other shadow children like himself and what they can do to break into the sunlight. An excellent upper elementary/middle school read.
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Imposters. NY: Aladdin Fiction, 2002. Picking up with Luke’s life as he becomes Lee Garner, Luke finds himself begin taken to Hendricks School for Boys by his friend Jen Talbot’s father. But Hendricks isn’t what Luke expected, and he finds himself in a tension-filled situation where he still cannot trust those around him An excellent upper elementary/middle school read.
Higson, Charlie. (2005). Silverfin. NY: Miramax for Hyperion. This first book in the series highlights a young James Bond and how he came to be “The Spy Who Loved Me.” This story does a great job of creating dimension to the personality of the young James. A sure hit with male readers. Middle School.
Higson, Charlie. Blood Fever. NY: Miramax for Hyperion. The second in the series about a teen-aged James Bond, this story finds James visiting his Uncle Vincent in Sardinia. James quickly becomes involved in an intrigue which pits villagers against villains, schoolteacher against schoolteacher. As James struggles to figure out the mystery of Count Ugo Carnifex, he inadvertently discovers the whereabouts of Amy, the sister of a school chum who had mysteriously disappeared from her family’s yacht. Can James save Amy and himself from the evil surrounding them? Middle School.
Hinton, S. E. The Outsiders. New York: Dell, 1967. Ponyboy tries to survive in a world of brothers and gangs and

must cope with the death of his best friend. The great classic of a boy’s world written by, at the time, a teen-aged girl. A must read for middle and high school students.

Hinton, S. E. That Was Then, This Is Now. New York: Dell, 1971. Bryan discovers love and wants to retreat from

a life of fights and violence. All of that is complicated, though, by the discovery that his best friend is a drug dealer. Bryan’s loyalties are tested, and when he finally makes his decision, he discovers that regret and doing what’s right are often in conflict. A middle/high school book.

Hobbs, Will. Jackie’s Wild Seattle. NY: HarperTroophy, 2005. Shannon and her younger brother, Cody, are sent to stay with their uncle Neal for the summer when their parents go to Afghanistan with Doctor’s Without Borders. Expecting a summer at the beach, the kids are surprised to find out that they’ll be living with Neal at a wildlife reserve called Jackie’s Wild Seattle and working with him to rescue wild animals who have been injured by the amenities human’s take for granted. Along the way, Shannon befriends Tyler, who is fighting a pattern of parental abuse at home, and finds out that her uncle has been hiding a pretty big secret from the family. Great read for upper elementary and middle school students.
Horowitz, Anthony.  Stormbreaker.  NY: Philomel Books, 2002.  Alex Rider senses that something is very wrong concerning the reports of his uncle's death.  Shortly after, he discovers that his uncle was actually a spy for the

British Secret Service MI6 and that he, Alex, is the only one who can avenge his uncle's death and solve MI6's problem.  Armed with gadgets James Bond might envy, Alex sets out on a world-wide chase to find his uncle's assassins. Middle/Lower high school.

Horowitz, Anthony.  Eagle Strike.  NY: Philomel Books, 20042.  Alex Rider was simply trying to enjoy his school vacation when he noticed the nefarious Yasson Gregorivich lounging around a café; hours later, the house in which Alex is staying is bombed, injuring the journalist father of his friend Sabina. Alex has one clue; he’s able to look at Yassen’s phone and finds the phone number of the man who paid Yassen to bomb the house. Alex’s relentless searching turns up the frightening fact that British popstar Damian Cray is planning something evil…and only Alex can stop him, especially when MI6 turns their back on Alex and his investigation. Another great read in the Alex Rider serious.  Middle/Lower high school.
Horowitz, Anthony.  Point Blank.  NY: Philomel Books, 2002.  Alex Rider, teen-age spy, returns in Point Blank to solve the mystery surrounding the deaths of two rich and powerful men who had one thing in common: both had sons

attending the Point Blanc School for Boys.  Blackmailed by masterspy Alan Blount into attending the school, Alex faces life and death situations as he deals with Dr. Grief and his strange "right-hand woman" Mrs. Stellenbosch. 

Great adventure story--as one critic put it--teen-age James Bond--that will have reluctant readers bemoaning the fact that they have to wait for book 3 in the series.  Middle/Lower high school.
Horowitz, Anthony.  Scorpia.  NY: Philomel Books, 2004. Alex Rider, teen-age spy, returns once again, this time to go up against the mysterious Scorpia group, a group for whom his father supposedly worked before Alex was born. Alex is both intrigued and upset by his interactions with the group, especially as he learns their truths about his father and his father’s death. But can he really believe Julia Rothman, the head of Scorpia? Or is Mrs. Jones and Mr. Blunt still his allies. Another strong offering in the series. Middle/Lower high school.
Horowitz, Anthony.  Snakeshead.  NY: Philomel Books, 2007. Alex Rider is unwittingly pulled in to another adventure against the mysterious Scorpia group when the Australian version of MI6 pulls him in with the lure of getting to work with his godfather. But Ash is not exactly what Alex expects, and he is torn between his desire to learn more about his parents and his concerns about Ash’s trustworthiness. The book works well and provides Alex devotees, as well as Alex, more information about his life and identity. Middle/Lower high school.
Howell, Troy. Bone Dry. NY: Hyperion Books for Children, 2002. Matthew Morrissey, young aid to the eminent phrenologist Dr. Asa B Cornwall, embarks on the adventure of a lifetime: find the skull of Alexander the Great somewhere in the Sahara Desert. With the help of local guides, Matthew learns a great deal about the wonder of the Sahara and the lore of the Jinn. When the group is overtaken by slavers, Matthew must put what he has learned together with his natural cunning to save himself, Asa, and Hussein from a fate worse than death at the hand of slaveholders in the depths of the African jungle. A great middle school read!
Ibbotson, Eva. Journey to the River Sea. NY: Dutton. Orphaned Maia travels with her new governess Miss Minton to Brazil to join her relatives. What she uncovers there is the missing son of a nobleman, a young actor out-growing his parts as his voice chances, and a family who only wants her for her money. But when Maia and Miss Minton put their heads together to help both boys, they find adventure and friends along the Amazon. A great upper elementary/middle school read.
Korman, Gordon. Everest: the series: The Contest, The Climb, The Summit. NY: Scholastic, 2002- 2003. When Summit Athletics decides to offer a group of teenagers the training as well as a chance at climbing Mount Everest, they offer a contest so that five lucky winners can take their chance and ask fifteen other known teen hikers to take part in the training. That number is whittled down to a lucky four…but even with the expertise of Cap Cicero, can they really make it to the top of Everest? (Great middle school adventure.)
Marsden, John. Tomorrow, When the War Began, The Dead of Night, A Killing Frost. New York: Laurel-Leaf,

1993,1994,1995. When Ellie and six friends return from a weekend camping trip in the Australian bush, they find that nothing is the way they left it. Their families gone, houses deserted, pets and livestock dead, they slowly realize that Australia has been invaded by a foreign force. Through the three novels, the teens set up guerrilla raids to keep their antagonists busy, all the while trying to find out what the world outside is doing to help them. An engrossing trilogy where boys and girls are equally smart, courageous, athletic. A high school read.

Mikaelsen, Ben. Red Midnight. NY: 2003. When Santiago’s village is destroyed by Guatemalan guerrillas and his parents and family are killed—with the exception of his little sister—he must figure out a way to get them to safety. Trained by his uncle Ramos to sail, he also remembers how Ramos talked about taking his boat and sailing it to the U.S. With Ramos’s map in hand, Santiago decides to do just that. However, the trip is difficult; can Santiago and Angelina actually make it to Miami. Solid middle school read.
Mooney, Bel. Voices of Silence. New York: Delacorte Press, 1997. Living in Communist Ceausescu Romania, Flora

knows that an innocent word to the wrong person can bring punishment and possibly even death to those she

loves. But when Daniel joins Flora’s class, offering friendship and support, she is suddenly caught up in circumstances beyond understanding, and finally, it is Flora herself who stands between her father and death. A middle school read.
Patterson, James. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, NY: Little, Brown, 2005. Maximum Ride is the leader of a small group of kids who are very unique: they are 98% human, 2% bird. When Angel is kidnapped from the kids’ mountaintop hideout by the same nefarious group of scientists who created all of them, Max, Nudge, Iggy, Fang, and the Gasman know what they have to do. But none of them are ready for the danger of their quest, nor are they prepared to find out what each of them most wants: who their parents are and why they let them be turned into birdpeople. A phenomenal adventure from James Patterson, one of the king of adult adventure. A hit with middle/high school readers.
Patterson, James. Maximum Ride: School’s Out Forever. NY: Little, Brown, 2007. Max and the rest of the flock find themselves living with an FBI agent after Fang is injured by a group of Erasers. While living with Anne the FBI agent, the kids attend school, an experience that is both strange and exciting for them. But Avi, Jed, and the Erasers are never far behind, and if the group is going to solve the mystery of their previous lives and the expectations they’re expected to meet, it will take all of their smarts and humor to survive. Mddle and high school readers.
Paulsen, Gary. The White Fox Chronicles. Delacorte Press, 2001. In the year 2057, the United States is under the dominion of the powerful and evil CCR. Cody Pierce, a 14-year-old streetwise teen, has managed to survive the CCR, but when his friend and mentor is killed in front of him, he decides he must do more. His rebellion again the CCR, with the aid of a group of teens like himself, earns him the title White Fox, and paves the way for greater rebellions against the enemy. An exciting middle school read.
Paulsen, Gary. Brian’s Winter. New York: Delacorte Press, 1996. This story continues Brian’s sojourn in the

wilderness (Hatchet); chronicles what might have happened to Brian if he hadn’t been rescued. Another great middle school read.

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. New York: Puffin Books, 1988. After the pilot of the small plane Brian is flying in has a heart

attack mid-flight, Brian must land the plane and then fend for himself for 54 days in the Canadian wilderness. His only aid…a hatchet. The great upper elementary classic.

Paulsen, Gary. The River. New York: Delacorte, 1991. In this sequel to Hatchet, Brian repeats his experience in the

wilderness for a government study; however, when the government psychologist sent to study Brian becomes

paralyzed in an accident, Brian must try to secure assistance. Another great upper elementary/middle school read.
Paulsen, Gary. Transall Saga. Delacorte Press, 1998. While backpacking in the desert, 13-year-old Mark falls into a tube of blue light and is transported into a more primitive world, forcing him to use his knowledge and skills to survive. A fantasy Hatchet and a great middle/high school read..
Richards, Justin. The Invisible Detective. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2005. Arthur Drake finds himself in the present and in 1936 as he attempts to solve a mystery in 1936 and solve the riddle of who the earlier Arthur Drake is. A charming mystery with an unexpected ending. Middle school.
Riordan, Rick. The Battle of the Labyrinth. NY: Hyperion Books for Children, 2008. In this fourth book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Percy and his friends are back to find the missing god, Pan, and to try to stop a group of vampires aligned with Kronos from trying to use Daedalus’s labyrinth against Camp Half-blood and the Olympians. Middle school.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . NY: Scholastic, 1997-2007. A must read series for everyone who considers him or herself well-read. The story of the boy who lived, his friends, and those who would work to destroy him on behalf of Lord Voldemort.
Sacher, Louis. Holes. The ultimate survival book, Stanley Yelnats and his co-horts at Green Lake Boys Camp struggle to survive against the elements, nasty adults, and each other as they try to figure out the mystery of the holes at Camp Green Lake. One of the most enjoyable books for students in years; a surefire favorite that is also an excellent read- aloud book for all ages over 10.
Sacher, Louis. Small Steps. NY: Delacorte Press, 2006. In this sequel to Holes, Sachar picks up with Armpit, who has left Camp Green Lake but is finding it difficult to stay on track when everyone expects the worse from him. The one person always in his corner, though, is Ginny, his disabled ten-year-old neighbor. When X-Ray shows up with a surefire moneymaking plan involving the concerts of teen sensation Kaira DeLeon, Armpit lets himself be talked in and for a while, the scheme works well. But when the police become involved and Armpit actually gets to meet Kaira, he realizes that sometimes, a scheme is just a short-term solution, but self-honesty will last a long time. An excellent read for middle and high school.
Smith, Roland. Cryptid Hunters, NY: Hyperion Books for Children, 2005. When their parents come up missing, twins Grace and Marty go to live with their Uncle Wolfe and become involved in the years-long feud with Wolfe’s nemesis (and father-in-law) Dr. Blackwood. Through a series of adventures in the jungles of the Congo, both young people find out answers to questions that had never been answered, and realize that adventure should be both their middle names. An engaging book that also allows some discussion of the humane treatment of animals.
Tomlinson, Theresa. The Moon Riders. NY: HarperCollins, 2003. Myrina is invited to join the all-female Moon Riders on her 13th birthday. Known as the Snake Lady because of the tattoo on her arm, Myrina befriends the Trojan princess Cassandra, daughter of Priam. Through this friendship, Myrina and the Moon Riders become involved in what would become the Trojan War. This story provides an interesting perspective on the Trojan War from the female perspective. An excellent book to use in conjunction with the Odyssey.
Turner, Megan Whalen. The Thief. NY: HarperCollins, 1998. Named after the god of the thieves, Eugenides, Gen has made a name for himself stealing anything that catches his fancy. Finally caught and thrown into the King’s prison, he is at last released by the King’s scholar, the Magus, who believes he knows the site of the kingmaker stone, Hiamathes Gift. Needing the young thief’s expertise, the Magus frees him from prison with the promise of freedom IF he obtains the stone; but Gen has some ideas of his own as to his fate. A wonderful read and the 1997 Newbery Honor Book.
Turner, Megan Whalen. The Queen of Attolia. NY: HarperCollins, 2000. Eugenides adventures continue as he is asked by the Queen of Eddis, his cousin, to help her save their country and preserve their neutrality with Sounis and Attolia. But when he is captured by the Queen of Attolia and she has his hand severed as punishment, the thief is thrown into doubt and depression concerning his usefulness to Eddis. A powerful sequel to The Thief and appropriate for both middle and high school.
Turner, Megan Whalen. The King of Attolia, 2005. Once again we pick up with Gen as he takes on the responsibility of king to the people of Attolia. Using an elaborate set-up, Gen supports his new wife, the Queen of Attolia, as she struggles to protect both her people and her country from the intrigues of some of her less noble nobles and the various countries who would like to destroy Attolia. A great read for middle and high school.
Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan. NY: SimonPulse, 2009. One of the coolest books to come out in 2009, Westerfeld gives us an alternate history of WWI through the adventures of Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the street smart Deryn Sharp, a British girl disguised as a boy so that she can join the British Air Service. Westerfeld creates a world where fabricated animals that are alive help Alek and Deryn and their various allies as both struggle to save the world from those who would destroy the prince and his supports. A rollicking adventure, with the next book scheduled for a 2011 publication. Middle/High School.
Yan, Mah, Adeline. Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society. NY: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2004. CC is treated horribly by her “father’s new woman,” and when her father sides with the woman he claims is CC’s stepmother, CC leaves home and finds a group of street children with whom to live. They are all members of the Secret Dragon Society, and they help CC develop her unique talents, talents that come in handy during World War II as the Society helps the allies as they work to defeat the Axis. A strong read for middle school students.

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