easy reads for older teens
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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?
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.
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.
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!
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...
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.
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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.
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?
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.
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:
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
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!
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.
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.
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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