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easy reads for older teens

Read YA Lit

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Nov 12, 2009, 5:33pm Top


I'm working on a volunteer project making a booklist for a non-profit. They serve youth ages 14-24 who read at a 5th-8th grade level. Clients either have a disability (physical, emotional, learning) or have been through foster care or have been through the Juvenile justice system.

I've got some good suggestions off listservs and through other contacts (ORCA Soundings series, Bluford series, and a lot of graphic novels), but I thought I would try here as well.

Does anyone have any good suggestions for easy reads for older teens and young adults?

Thank you!

Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 8:23pm Top

Pete Hautman's books come right to mind -- Invisible, for instance. They're not too long and usually have a lot of action.

Other authors that might work: Gordon Korman (Son of the Mob, etc.) does good, funny books that are not too long and not too difficult. Jordan Sonnenblick (Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie) might be good, too.

Nov 17, 2009, 8:30pm Top

Thank you so much!

Nov 18, 2009, 11:29am Top

Many of Walter Dean Myers books would be perfect for these kids. My favorite is Monster.For girl oriented fantasy - Donna Jo Napoli. If you can get manga on the list, Full Metal Alchemist features a boy who has lost an arm and a leg and his brother's soul is trapped in a suit of armor. Biographies of people who have overcome disabilities would be good like Soul Surfer: a true story of faith, family, and fighting to get back on the board. The Freedom Writers Diary is excellent, too.

Nov 18, 2009, 11:46am Top

TWOC and Do the Creepy Thing and The Tooth Fairy all by Graham Joyce are exactly what you're looking for. Easy reads, but topics that seem slightly older than their 'reading age'.

Nov 18, 2009, 4:01pm Top


I hope it's not too self-serving to mention my new YA novel, Tillmon County Fire. It includes a character with a disability (on the autism spectrum) and centers around a run-in with the juvenile justice system (an arson).

Best wishes on your project!

--Pamela Ehrenberg

Nov 18, 2009, 10:44pm Top

Wow, great! I can absolutely get Manga on the list - I've got a good amount of graphic novels already. Some of these teens are a bit intimidated by an all text book, so I'm trying to work in ways to have pictures without giving them baby books.

Booksloth - Thanks for recommending some more fantasy slanted titles, I've found quite a few urban or realistic novels and want to make sure to include a range of genres.

And you can absolutely plug your own book! Just be warned I might tell them you're on LibraryThing...

Nov 18, 2009, 10:59pm Top

I know the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are popular partly because they incorporate a lot of drawings into the text. Their main character is in middle school, but I bet they would be an easy sell to your group, too.

Nov 19, 2009, 9:26am Top

This message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)
Try The Green Bronze MIrror by Lynne Ellison

Karen is playing on the beach when she finds an ancient mirror buried in the sand. She looks into it, and is transported back in time to the Roman empire. Finding herself a slave, she faces many hair-raising adventures in her struggle to return to her own time.

Nov 19, 2009, 1:08pm Top

Maybe some Sarah Dessen or Sara Zarr? Or Lauren Myracle?

Nov 19, 2009, 2:13pm Top

I've also just read two terrific WWII books that are technically meant for children but made wonderful reads for me (some say an adult) so maybe these would also suit? They are Once and Next, both by Morris Gleitzman and are funny, exciting, thoughtful, touching and easy to read.

Dec 29, 2009, 4:22pm Top

Why was message 9 flagged, anyone?

Dec 29, 2009, 4:30pm Top

I didn't flag it initially, but it sure looks like spam. The poster has no books catalogued and has posted the exact same message elsewhere:

#19: http://www.librarything.com/topic/58738
#41: http://www.librarything.com/topic/72603

Dec 29, 2009, 4:32pm Top

Also, how did you notice this? Do you get automatic notifications about flagging, and do they not show you previous posts by the same user that have also been flagged?

Dec 29, 2009, 4:58pm Top

Ah, thanks.

I have a recent-flags page. It has various options. By default it looks at a period of time that didn't include most of those. Spammy, for sure. I'll post a note. If she does it again, bye-bye.

Dec 29, 2009, 7:57pm Top

I've had a lot of luck with reluctant readers and the Bluford High series. The original author is Paul Langan, but later books are written by Anne Schraff. Non-profits can apply to get the books for free and schools can get paperbacks for $1. Here's the website:

Dec 30, 2009, 12:15am Top

girls: Perfect Chemistry by by Simone Elkeles
Stoner and Spaz by Ron Koertge
Dealing with Dragons: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Book One by Patricia C. Wrede
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Stake That! (The Blood Coven) by Mari Mancusi
Need by Carrie Jones
Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn

Boys: Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff
Pop by Gordon Korman
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Marcelo In The Real World by Francisco Stork

both: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

Jan 4, 2010, 3:11am Top

I'd also look at the American Library Association's 'Quick Picks' lists: www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists/quickpicks/

These are annual lists compiled by a committee of young adult librarians of the best books for reluctant young adult readers: I'm always impressed by the variety included on the lists-- fiction, nonfiction, books for young adults, books from adult publishers, graphic novels, humor, art... and I always find a few things I want to read myself!

Jan 6, 2010, 2:56am Top

Barrington Stoke (UK) does a series specifically designed for older readers who are not reading at their chronological age - http://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/
The books have teen themes and subjects, but are much easier, with larger font, and short chapters.
Check out the series lists to see what is at different reading ages.

Jan 18, 2010, 1:38pm Top

Maybe The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney by Lauren Barnholdt? I'm not quite sure what the age range for that book would be, but maybe 10-14?

Jan 18, 2010, 5:42pm Top

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is one for older teens.

Jan 18, 2010, 6:59pm Top

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. It's tough finding these sorts of books - many of the ALA Quickpicks and books like the Hunger Games are actually too difficult/intimidating for many of them, and books aimed at younger kids are not only not interesting to them, but feel insulting.
We actually have the Bluford series and it's pretty successful. I'll look into Barrington Stoke as well, although I'm not sure if the UK thing will be too confusing for these American young adults.

Jan 19, 2010, 3:11am Top

I think you'll find that the themes in the Barrington Stoke series will appeal to American teens - teen pregnancy, stalking, first love, bullying, a new school, making/losing friends - all stuff that happens everywhere. We've had great success with these books in New Zealand, and we're a very long way from England too!

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