lois lowry

YA Bookalikes for Summer Reading

Not sure what to recommend next for your teen? These in-the-adult-section novels are great follow-ups to classic kid favorites and great YA books to read this summer.

Never Let Me Go
By Kazuo Ishiguro

IF YOU LOVED: The Giver

CHECK OUT: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

There’s a reason utopia means “nowhere.” The perfect world always comes at a cost. Lowry’s starkly beautiful dystopia reads like a little sister to Ishiguro’s lyrical science-fiction novel about an idyllic English boarding school where special children are groomed for a bleak future. The same questions resonate through both books: Who decides how the truth is revealed? What does it mean to have free will? What makes a person alive? And in both books, the answers are complicated.

 

IF YOU LOVED: The Harry Potter series

CHECK OUT: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Just like the indomitable Mr. Potter, Brooklyn teen Quentin Coldwater finds himself enrolled in a school for magicians. But he quickly discovers Brakebills Academy is quite unlike Hogwarts and that being a magician isn’t a cure-all for dissatisfaction with everyday life. Quentin doesn't share Harry's likable heroism, which makes him a more complicated protagonist.

 

Sideways Stories from Wayside School
By Louis Sachar, Julie Brinckloe

IF YOU LOVED: Sideways Stories from Wayside School

CHECK OUT: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Heller takes a darker view of human nonsense in his World War II classic, but there’s plenty of similarity between characters like the major who never sees anyone in his office when he’s in his office and the teacher who sends herself home on the kindergarten bus for (temporarily) turning evil.

 

The Hunger Games (Book 1)
By Suzanne Collins
The Handmaid's Tale
By Margaret Atwood

IF YOU LOVED: The Hunger Games

CHECK OUT: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Panem is an equal opportunity dystopia—young men and women are equally at risk in the country’s annual ba􏰁ttle-to-the-death games. But in the republic of Gilead, a totalitarian Christian theocracy, women like Offred must play an even more dangerous game. Atwood’s dark imagined future is ripe for rebellion, but rising up against an entrenched government in The Handmaid’s Tale is not as easy — or dramatic — as taking on Panem’s President Snow.

 

We’re reprinting some of Amy’s summer reading series favorites from home/school/life magazine. This list appeared in our 2014 summer reading guide.


Summer Reading: If You Like Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy was our first rebel heroine, a smart girl who spies for the sheer pleasure of it. These other renegade girls are worthy follow-ups to her literary legacy.  

Your Next Picture Book

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes features an equally likable little rebel.

 

Your Next Chapter Book

Anastasia Krupnik
By Lois Lowry
 

Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry also focuses on a budding writer who sometimes finds herself at odds with life.

 

Your Next Readaloud

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is usually shelved in the adult section, but its 11-year-old chemist heroine has plenty of Harriet-style spunk.

 

Your Next Teen Read

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart, the tale of a plucky teen who infiltrates the all-male secret society at her snooty boarding school.

 

Your Next Grown-Up Book

 

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery focuses on precocious Paloma’s life in a Parisian apartment building, where — driven by loneliness and monotony — she vows to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday.

 

We’re reprinting some of Amy’s summer reading series favorites from home/school/life magazine. This list appeared in our 2014 summer reading guide.


What You Should Read in Middle School

what you should read in middle school

In the summer issue of home/school/life, we’re helping you navigate the transition from elementary to middle school in your homeschool. An important piece of the puzzle: Your middle grades reading list. These titles tap into tweens’ developing social and emotional lives

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It’s heartbreaking to read, but that’s kind of the point of this book about life for one Jewish girl in hiding during the Holocaust.

 

Flowers for Algernon
By Daniel Keyes
 

Some of the situations in this book may be a little mature for younger middle schoolers, but its themes of identity and intelligence will captivate tween readers.

 

What cost does utopia have? How important is freedom? Tweens are ready to tackle those ambiguous questions right along with young Jonah in this deceptively simple novel.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
 

For many tweens, Harper Lee’s American classic is the first novel that really makes them sit up and pay attention to what literature can do. Scout, Boo Radley, and Atticus Finch are characters who stay with you.

 

The Catcher in the Rye
By J.D. Salinger
 

People have called Holden Caulfield, the book’s not-a-hero-protagonist annoying, boring, spoiled, and hard to identify with. That unlikability is part of what makes this a classic.

 

The Outsiders
By S. E. Hinton
 

Tweens trying to sort out where they belong will identify with reluctant hoodlum Ponyboy in this story about two rival gangs in the 1960s Midwest.

 

Holes
By Louis Sachar
 

Coincidence or fate, revenge or redemption, justice or generosity — Sachar tackles these big topics with good-spirited humor and a rollicking good story.

 

Golding’s novel might poke fun at some of the traditional fairy-tale elements in epic adventures, but the story of Buttercup and her Westley is an unabashed literary delight. (Golding was inserting wry narrator notes long before the trend took off in children’s literature.)

 

Lots of children’s books talk about the history of Native Americans, but Alexie’s novel is one of the few that digs into what it’s like to grow up on a modern-day Indian reservation. There’s tough stuff in this book, but that’s part of what makes it so worthwhile.

 

Bridge to Terabithia
By Katherine Paterson
 

This book, about two lonely kids who find friendship while creating an imaginary world, will break your heart in the best possible way.

 

Coraline
By Neil Gaiman
 

Like a more confusing, much darker version of Alice in Wonderland, Coraline is a fascinating look at the costs of getting what we want.

 

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)
By Madeleine L'Engle
 

You don’t have to be a science-fiction fan to get completely caught up in this story of Meg’s search for her father, and even non-science-minded kids will appreciate the intelligent writing.