This year’s summer reading club at my library is almost over — it ends in exactly one week. One of the best parts of this program is that the set up here is such that I can actually see exactly what my teens are reading and enjoying. We ask teens to read a book, write down the title and author, and whether or not they would recommend it to other readers.
Rather than make this just a list of book titles, I’m including WorldCat descriptions as well. I’ve noted where I had a title in a display, too.
Also worth noting — my kids are reading many books featuring diversity in some capacity, both fiction and non-fiction.
Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren: When Gabi and Lia return to medieval Italy with their mother, they find a heroes’ welcome from the people of Siena and enemies that wish them dead. (Time travel)
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren: Maybe most American teens would love a Mediterranean vacation, but the Bentarrini sisters are stuck in Italy every summer with their archaeologist parents! Young Gabi is bored out of her mind . . . until she’s swept into the 14th century and a whole new world filled with knights, horses, armor, swords, and great-looking Italian guys! (Time travel)
Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara: When Mariatu set out for a neighborhood village in Sierra Leone, she was kidnapped and tortured, and both of her hands cut off. She turned to begging to survive. This heart-rending memoir is a testament to her courage and resilience. Today she is a UNICEF Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat: “When a war ends it does not go away,” my mother says. “It hides inside us . . . Just forget!” But I do not want to do what Mother says . . . I want to remember. In this groundbreaking memoir set in Ramallah during the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war. With candor and courage, she stitches together memories of her childhood: fear and confusion as bombs explode near her home and she is separated from her family; the harshness of life as a Palestinian refugee; her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. This is the beginning of her passionate connection to words, and as language becomes her refuge, allowing her to piece together the fragments of her world, it becomes her true home. Transcending the particulars of politics, this illuminating and timely book provides a telling glimpse into a little-known culture that has become an increasingly important part of the puzzle of world peace.
The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi: Ahmedi was born just as the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets reaches its peak in Afghanistan. The sounds of gunfire and fighter planes were as normal to her as the sounds of traffic or children playing are to a schoolgirl in America. When she stepped on a land mine on her way to school, she began to learn–slowly–that ordinary people, often strangers, have immense power to save lives and restore hope. She was taken from a childhood in Afghanistan, where the classrooms are naked chambers with only chalkboards on the walls and are filled with more students than seats (and no books), to a Chicago adolescence, where teenagers struggle to decide whether to try out for school plays, whom to take to the homecoming dance, and where to go to college.
24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley: Jack Grammar, average American senior, has no date to the prom. Or so he thinks. Percy and Natalie, Jack’s so-called best friends, post an ad in the classified section of the online version of the school newspaper. They figure it couldn’t hurt. After all, there’s not much in this world sadder than Jack’s love life. Soon Percy and Natalie have assembled a list of girls eager to go to the prom with Jack, including one mysterious girl known only as FancyPants. He has just seven days to meet and date them before he will ask one special girl to the prom.
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: It’s 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet. Emma just got her first computer and Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on–and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future. Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out. (Time travel)
Willow by Julia Hoban: Sixteen-year-old Willow, who was driving the car that killed both of her parents, copes with the pain and guilt by cutting herself, until she meets a smart and sensitive boy who is determined to help her stop.
Forgotten by Cat Patrick: Sixteen-year-old London Lane forgets everything each night and must use notes to struggle through the day, even to recall her wonderful boyfriend, but she “remembers” future events and as her “flashforwards” become more disturbing she realizes she must learn more about the past lest it destroy her future. (Time travel)
How I Spent My Last Night on Earth by Todd Strasser: When a rumor appears on the Internet that a giant asteroid is about to destroy Earth, Legs Hanover scrambles to meet the boy of her dreams, elusive Andros Bliss.
Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman: When poverty forces her family to leave their home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dani has a hard time adjusting to life in New York City, where everything is different except her father’s anger, but an unlikely bond she forms with a wealthy, spoiled girl at school helps heal both of their families.
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler: Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. But as Jude begins to fall for Emilio Vargas, she begins to wonder if her sisters were wrong.
Just Another Hero by Sharon Draper: As Kofi, Arielle, Dana, November, and Jericho face personal challenges during their last year of high school, a misunderstood student brings a gun to class and demands to be taken seriously.
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland: Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove is locked away in the Wildthorn Hall mental institution, where she is stripped of her identity and left to wonder who has tried to destroy her life.
Guinness World Records 2013: You probably don’t need a description here.
The Big Book of Beiber: You also probably don’t need a description here.
True Crime: Illinois: I’m going to go ahead and skip the description on this one, as well.
(Though can I say I love letting kids read stuff like this and counting it toward their summer reading? Because the thing is, it’s reading. And it’s reading exactly what it is that interests and fascinates them).
Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick: After being assigned to perform community service at a nursing home, sixteen-year-old Alex befriends a cantankerous old man who has some lessons to impart about jazz guitar playing, love, and forgiveness.
Violet by Design by Melissa Walker: Despite her intentions to give up runway modeling, eighteen-year-old Violet is lured back by the promise of travel to Brazil, possibly Spain and France, and, after seeing her best friends off to college, embarks on an, often exciting, often painful, international adventure.
Zombie Blondes by Brian James: Each time fifteen-year-old Hannah and her out-of-work father move she has some fears about making friends, but a classmate warns her that in Maplecrest, Vermont, the cheerleaders really are monsters. (zombies — and multiple mentions by different readers!)
Authors and Series Reads
A number of authors and series appeared over and over so far. I’m going to tease out the authors and just show one of the books from popular series being read.
Ellen Hopkins: I think every single one of her books was read this summer so far. Some of them had been read multiple times by different teens.
Ally Carter: My teens are rabid about her books, and not only are they rabid, they’re very opinionated about which of the series is better.
Nicholas Sparks: He may not write books for teens, but teens love reading his books anyway.
Cinda Williams Chima: High fantasy fans abound.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series still has a ton of readers at my library.
Amanda Hocking: I can’t keep up with how many series she has going, but my teens continue to read them like crazy.
All of Alyson Noel’s books have been circulating with the teens this summer, as have the Summer Boys books by Hailey Abbott.
But maybe my favorite thing all summer so far is that I had a pile of rave recommendations (with actual notes — “I LOVE this series” — which I don’t require in my club) for Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley. When we had our first program this summer, one girl told me repeatedly she didn’t want to sign up for the club because she doesn’t read. She began to pore over a movie guide to The Hunger Games and I pointed out that what she was doing counted as reading. “No way,” she said, “This doesn’t count.” I assured her it did. She ended up signing up for the program, after winning the entire Scott Pilgrim series as a door prize.
Turns out, she not only is a reader, but she pretty much loves reading, too.
And because I am having fun looking through these books, here are a handful of other titles that popped up so far this summer:
- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
- Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
- Witch and Wizard and Daniel X by James Patterson
- The Babysitter’s Club series by Ann M. Martin (When I saw this pop up more than once in my box, it warmed my heart — they’re still being read!)
- Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
- Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
- Harry Potter series
- The Mysterious Benedict Society
- Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
- Lemonade Mouth
- Elixir by Hilary Duff
- The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter