Reading Lists for Young Adult Readers

Historical Fiction
Pre-historic times
A Bone from a Dry Sea by Peter Dickinson: In two parallel stories, an intelligent female member of a prehistoric tribe becomes instrumental in advancing the lot of her people, and the daughter of a paleontologist is visiting him on a dig in Africa when important fossil remains are discovered.
The Middle Ages
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman: A nameless, homeless girl becomes the apprentice to a village midwife. (1996 Newbery Award Winner)
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman: The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off. (A Newbery Honor Book, 1995)
14th Century
Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman: The orphaned Matilda is sent to Blood and Bone Alley to be assistant to Red Peg the Bonesetter.The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple: At the turn of the fourteenth century in England, fourteen-year-old Elenor finds her betrothal to an ambitious lord’s son launching her on a memorable pilgrimage to far-off Spain.

17th Century
Witch Child by Celia Rees: In 1659, fourteen-year-old Mary Newbury keeps a journal of her voyage from England to the New World and her experiences living as a witch in a community of Puritans near Salem, Massachusetts.Sorceress by Celia Rees: Eighteen-year-old Agnes, a Mohawk Indian who is descended from a line of shamanic healers, uses her own newly-discovered powers to uncover the story of her ancestor, a seventeenth-century New England English healer who fled charges of witchcraft to make her life with the local Indians.


The Snake Fence by Janet Oleshewsky: In pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania young Noble Butler, a farm boy, encounters ideas about the rights of settlers and of Indians that challenge his Quaker values

Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson: In Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.


La Petite Four by Regina Scott: Lady Emily Southwell and her three dearest friends plan to take London by storm until they run afoul of a dashing young lord who may have more up his sleeve than a nicely muscled arm.

Uncommon Faith by Trudy Krisher: In 1837-38, residents of Millbrook, Massachusetts, speak in their different voices of major issues of their day, including women’s rights, slavery, religious differences, and one fiery girl named Faith.

Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane: In the 1880s, when adventure lay in the conquest of the prairies, David Beaton and his bride came to Dakota to claim three hundred acres of grassland. Rose Wilder Lane tells of their struggle to survive with such force that Free Land has become a classic frontier novel.

Let the Hurricane Roar by Rose Wilder Lane: After getting married and settling at Wild Plum Creek, Charles’s and Molly’s lives are turned upside down when disaster strikes and David must go east to find work for the winter.

The South African Quirt by Walter D. Edmonds: A bittersweet autobiographical novel, this moving story of 12-year-old Natty Dunston’s ascent into manhood begins in 1915, when he spends the summer with his sadistic father on the family farm in upstate New York after his ailing mother returns to the city.

World War I
Sisters of the Quantock Hills series by Ruth Elwin Harris: The stories of three sisters living through World War I in England.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson: After inheriting her uncle’s homesteading claim in Montana, sixteen-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.

Messenger by Virginia Frances Schwartz: Based on the lives of the author’s mother and grandmother, tells the story of a widowed Croatian immigrant trying to keep her family together in the mining towns of Ontario in the 1920s and 1930s.

Jim the boy by Tony Earley : Jim the Boy captures the pleasures and fears of youth at a time when America itself was young and struggling to come into its own.

World War II
Escaping into the Night by D. Dina Friedman: Thirteen-year-old Halina Rudowski narrowly escapes the Polish ghetto and flees to the forest, where she is taken in by an encampment of Jews trying to survive World War II.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman: It is 1949. Russia has just tested its first atomic weapon. Communists are in power in Russia and China and, some say, in Hollywood. And quiet, shy Francine turns thirteen.

Rattlebone by Maxine Clair: Set in the fictional town of Rattlebone, Kansas, in the 1950s, these eleven interrelated stories reveal the emotional, financial, and social conflicts that govern the lives of the African Americans who live there.

Baby Blue by Michelle Kwasney: Still grieving and guilt-ridden over her father’s drowning, twelve-year-old Blue is dealt another blow when her older sister, Star, runs away to escape their stepfather’s violence against their mother.

The Lucky Place by Zu Vincent: In the 1970s, a girl comes of age struggling with the loss of two father figures in her life.

Contemporary Fiction
Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Benedis-Grab: Manhattanites Matisse Osgood and her artist parents move to upstate New York when her father’s Parkinson’s disease worsens, and Matisse must face high school in a small, provincial town as she tries to avoid thinking about her father’s future.

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury: Best friends go on a cross-country bike trip, but only one returns.

The Sister of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares: Four girls and a magical pair of jeans.

Read My Lips by Teri Brown: Serena is a a deaf skater chick who uses her amazing lip-reading ability to infiltrate the popular crowd, take down a secret sorority and tame the school rebel.

Jump the Cracks by Stacy DeKeyser: On the way to visit her father in New York City, fifteen-year-old Victoria finds an apparently abused child in the train’s bathroom and soon finds herself branded a kidnapper and on the run while trying to fulfill her promise to protect the boy at all costs

Braless in Wonderland by Debbie Reed Fischer: Allee Rosen falls down the rabbit hole and lands in the fab lane when she gets snapped up by modeling agents and whisked away to glamorous South Beach. Will the model life go to her head?

1,000 Reasons Never to Kiss a Boy by Martha Freeman: After her first boyfriend cheats on her, sixteen-year-old Jane vows to never kiss another boy.

The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas: To Antonia Lucia Labella, saints are like Catholic royalty and she wants her day as princess (and maybe a kiss from that cute boy down the street, too)–if only the Pope would just respond to her letters!

The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher: A Seattle teenager wrestles with the difference between a crush and love, and love and best friendship.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon: Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic, fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

The Secret Thief by Judith Jaeger: Connie Grey’s life has always been a balancing act between perfection and secret rebellion. Being the obedient and devoted daughter to her overbearing mother, a straight-A student and champion distance runner has taken its toll on her by way of a chronic ulcer and kleptomania. Newly graduated from college, Connie longs for a future she can claim as her own, one that holds a sense of normalcy and love.

Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend by Carrie Jones: Belle, a high school junior, expects to marry her long-term boyfriend one day until he tells her and their entire small Maine town that he is gay, and both face prejudice and violence even as they enter new relationships and try to remain friends. (A Class of 2k7 book!)

What I Meant… by Marie Lamba: Having to share her home with her demanding and devious aunt from India makes it all the more difficult for fifteen-year-old Sang to deal with such things as her parents thinking she is too young to date, getting less than perfect grades, and being shut out by her long-time best friend.

Over My Head by Marie Lamba: Sang Jumnal jumps into the summer before her senior year with big plans. But she didn’t plan on facing her fear of swimming through a series of humiliating kiddy lessons. Or falling hard for college-aged lifeguard Cameron Cerulli, who is either the guy of her dreams, or a player out to stomp on her heart. Or fighting with her dad, who bans her from seeing Cameron. Or discovering a huge secret her parents have been keeping about disappearing money and a rare disease.

I Heart You, You Heart Me by Lisa Schroeder: A novel in verse about love and grief in which a fifteen-year-old girl’s boyfriend, who is dead but not gone, is keeping her from moving on.

Undone by Brooke Taylor: A troubled teen fulfills the five enigmatic last wishes of her daring best friend only to discover the dark secrets of a shared past that she never knew.

Fantasy, Paranormal, and Speculative Fiction

Lost in Thought by Cara Bertrand: Lainey Young can touch an object or a person and have a vision of how a person has died…or will die. When she enrolls at Northbrook Academy, she discovers she’s one of the Sententia–people with extrasensory abilities. Will her talent prove a blessing or a curse?

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce: In this retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin,” the miller’s daughter of the fairytale comes to life as a young woman determined to save her family and her mill–whatever the cost.

Sleepless by Terri Clark: Teen psychic, Trinity Michaels, is being stalked in her sleep by a killer; if she dies in her dreams she’ll die for real.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins: In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place.

Bewitching Season and Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle: A pair of twin witches and their adventures in Victorian-era England.

Captain Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart: Describes the youthful adventures of J. M. Barrie’s classic character, Captain Hook, from his days at Eton to his voyages on the high sea.

Drawn by Marie Lamba:  Michelle De Freccio moves to England seeking a normal life, but someone starts appearing in her sketches. Then he grabs her at the castle, his pale green eyes full of longing.  She’s immediately drawn to him, but is Christopher Newman real? She’s either losing it, or channeling a hot ghost from the 1400′s.

Every Day by David Levithan:  Every morning A wakes in a different person’s body, in a different person’s life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until A wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.

The Giver by Lois Lowry: Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry: Lame and suddenly orphaned, Kira is mysteriously removed from her squalid village to live in the palatial Council Edifice, where she is expected to use her gifts as a weaver to do the bidding of the all-powerful Guardians.

Paradox by A.J.Paquette: When Ana finds herself on a desolate alien planet with no memory of her past, she must survive and discover her mission: to save the Earth from a fearsome virus.

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope: In 1558 while imprisoned at Elwenwood Hall, a remote castle in northern England, teenaged Kate Sutton finds herself involved in a series of mysterious events that eventually bring her to an underground labyrinth peopled by the last practitioners of druidic magic.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope: Newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is caught off-guard when she first arrives at her family’s ancestral estate. Her eccentric uncle Enos drives away her only new acquaintance, Pat, a handsome British scholar, then leaves Peggy to fend for herself. But she is not alone. The house is full of mysteries—and ghosts.

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman: Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

(Note: Most book descriptions are from Library of Congress catalog.)


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2 Responses to Reading Lists for Young Adult Readers

  1. Since you are interested in learning about good teen reads, you might enjoy following this Tarzana, California teen’s blog:

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