it’s full of hilarious moments that, on reflection, critique everything from stereotyping to the education system in some pretty spot-on ways.
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.
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.
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.
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 battle-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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This book, about two lonely kids who find friendship while creating an imaginary world, will break your heart in the best possible way.
Like a more confusing, much darker version of Alice in Wonderland, Coraline is a fascinating look at the costs of getting what we want.
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.