Every summer, area school and public librarians are faced with a challenge; find twenty of the best books for middle schoolers that have been published in the last twelve months. We’ve been meeting every two weeks since June, reading and discussing thirty-eight titles. Last week, we chose the twenty books that we believe teens will enjoy and that offer the best discussion possibilities. Besides the fact that we love books and reading why go to all of this trouble? For our Cafe Book program of course! During the school year, seventh and eighth grade students from fourteen area middle schools will read from among these titles and vote on those they feel merit a Cafe Book Top Teen Pick award. The other eighteen are still great teen reads; here are a few of my favorites that didn’t make the cut.
The old sign said, "NO SW MM NG," but Davey just wanted to dip his feet in. He had no idea that he would soon be Surrounded by Sharks!
Not every child today learns in a big building with lots of other students all studying the same things at the same time. In the past twenty years, the homeschool phenomenon has caught fire across America.
In The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, Josh and his brother JB are the stars of their school basketball team. The sons of professional baller Charlie "Da Man" Bell are a force to be reckoned with. That is fine when Josh and JB work together, but trash talk, a family crisis, and a new girl is about to come between these two, making teamwork nearly impossible.
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Andrew "Ender" Wiggins is the result of a desperate breeding experiment, combined with years of harsh & unforgiving training. Ender thinks he is only playing computer simulated wargames--in fact, he is commanding the last great fleet of Earth.
If you liked Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, you may enjoy these other titles:
Archangel by Sharon Shinn
A dash of science fiction, a handful of fantasy, and a sprinkling of suspense enliven the story of the Archangel Gabriel and his reluctant wife Rachel.
The City of Ember (and series) by Jeanne DuPrau
In a post-apocalypse city on the verge of collapse, 12-year-olds Lina and Doon join forces to flee to an unknown world above ground.
March: Book One is the beautifully constructed graphic novel biography of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Relying only on black and white imagery, it is quiet in its form and presentation. Lewis' struggle of growing up in the Deep South, fighting to go to college, and helping to organize lunch counter sit-ins speaks volumes and needs no distraction.
Lucy Carlyle and Anthony Lockwood have been offered a chance to solve the mystery of The Screaming Staircase. If they complete their task, it will get their ghost detecting agency out of serious debt. If they fail, they will lose everything ... including their lives.
Lucia is furious with her father. As paterfamilias, head of his Roman household, gladiator-trainer Lucius has chosen her rich husband for her. Lucia fumes to herself that aged, grumpy Vitulus would do very well as a grandfather--but not as her bridegroom! Their loathsome, formal dinner together is cut short by the sounds of a cracking whip and the rumblings of the Earth. Somewhere nearby a slave is being punished, Mount Vesuvius is gathering strength to explode. Vicky Alvear Shecter’s romantic novel, Curses and Smoke, is set in Pompeii's dangerous last days when anything, even forbidden love, might be possible.
Do you prefer knitting outside, surrounded by trees? Do woodland creatures inspire and delight you? If so, you will certainly enjoy Woodland Knits, by Stephanie Dosen. Stephanie has been designing patterns for many years under the name Tiny Owl Knits and filling the world with little woolly wonders. This new collection of patterns contains many favorite patterns as well as a handful of new ones.
“I have a normally strange family.”
Award-winning author Sharon Creech wove a lot of her own life into her books for young adults, including her first one, Absolutely Normal Chaos. Written as a journal as are many of her novels, what strikes a reader immediately are her humor and casual way of storytelling. Everything is told offhand, as if it doesn’t really matter—just a 13-year-old chattering. Until what happens does matter and things get serious. That’s when readers are grateful for the humor, and having a strong if strange family really becomes important.