Speed of Life by Carol Weston (2017)

speed of lifeThough it is ostensibly about grief, most readers will be more touched by its frank and empathetic exploration of common and often unspoken relationship struggles experienced by young teen girls.

Recommended grade level: 7 or 8 and up

Pages:   329 (for ISBN 9781492654490)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, romance

Tone/Style: personal, angsty

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: death of a family member, advice columnists, mixed families, first relationships, when to have sex, moving, new school

Themes: grief, moving on, growing up, friendship, family

Summary: Sofia lost her mother eight months ago, and her friends were 100% there for her. Now it’s a new year and they’re ready for Sofia to move on. Continue reading

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen (2015)

markA fantasy adventure set in the ancient Roman Empire.

Recommended grade level: 5 and up

Pages:   352 (for ISBN 9780545561549)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, adventure

Tone/Style: conversational, personal

Pace: moderate

Topics: magical objects, magical powers, slaves, gods, ancient Rome

Themes: family, loyalty, freedom, power

Summary: When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods — magic some Romans would kill for. Continue reading

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

jazzReading this memoir of one of today’s most famous transgender teens feels like sitting down for an eye-opening conversation with a friend.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:   256 (for ISBN 9780399554643)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, LGBTQA+

Tone/Style: personal, youthful

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: transgender people, coming out, media attention, dating, legal battles

Themes: courage, gender identity, being oneself, speaking out

Summary: Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series—I Am Jazz—making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults. Continue reading

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (2007)

The_wednesday_warsThis beloved tragicomedy is like hiding veggies in a smoothie: they won’t even notice it’s historical fiction!

Recommended grade level: 5-9

Pages: 264 (for ISBN 9780618724833)

Genre(s) and keywords: historical fiction, humor, award winners

Tone/Style: personal, embarrassed

Pace: moderate

Topics: school, theatre, baseball, the Vietnam War, Shakespeare

Themes: parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, teacher relationships, war, disappointment, parental approval, self-discovery

Summary: Holling Hoodhood is really in for it.

He’s just started seventh grade with Mrs. Baker, a teacher he knows is out to get him. Why else would she make him read Shakespeare…outside of class? Continue reading

The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon (2005)

burnAn intensely honest and personal memoir about physical and emotional recovery.

Recommended grade level: 8 and up

Pages: 336 (for ISBN 9781400096428)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction

Tone/Style: personal, honest, humorous

Pace: moderate

Topics: burn recovery, suicide

Themes: healing, mental illness, regaining something that was lost, discovering the purpose for one’s own actions

Summary: In 1991, fourteen-year-old Brent Runyon came home from school, doused his bathrobe in gasoline, put it on, and lit a match. Continue reading

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012)

titanic

The tragedy of the Titanic is brought home through the stories of people who were there.

Recommended grade level: 6-10

Pages: 289 (for ISBN 9780545116749)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, history, survival

Tone/Style: informational, personal

Pace: moderate

Topics: Titanic, ships, disasters

Themes: sacrifice, selfishness, perseverance, courage, mistakes resulting in loss of life

Summary: Critically acclaimed nonfiction author Deborah Hopkinson pieces together the story of the TITANIC and that fateful April night, drawing on the voices of survivors and archival photographs. Continue reading

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012)

Wonder_Cover_ArtHere’s a book that needs no introduction.

Recommended grade level: 4-8 (younger is fine for kids who are reading up)

Pages: 320 (for ISBN 9780375869020)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, Kylie’s favorites

Tone/Style: hopeful, personal

Pace: moderate

Topics: facial differences, new schools, making friends, fitting in, overcoming bullies

Themes: being different, familybetrayal by friends, perseverance, trying something new

Summary: August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. Continue reading