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Original Post: Good afternoon, Collective Brain! I am trying to pull
together a book list with some very specific requirements and would like
your help. I am planning to use these titles as read-alouds/audio books for
a book club that will be comprised of struggling readers in grades 9-12. I
am looking for books that meet the following criteria: -award winning titles
-universal appeal, but mainly for boys -not much edgy content I am
struggling with the "not much edgy"content, because as a HS librarian, I
know that it's the edgy content that pulls in the struggling readers, more
than anything. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! ~Teresa
Responses: What about the Will Weaver Saturday Night Dirt series. When he
was supposed to come here (durned Swine Flu), our ESL teacher read it out
loud to her students, and they were very engaged.
I"m reading the Lone Star list this summer, and I really liked The Great
Wide Sea and Gym Candy for boys.
The first two that came to mind for me... When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
by Kimberly Willis Holt Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen However, there are
many more great books for young adults listed on the YALSA website.
The Contender by Robert Lipsyte Acceleration by McNamee?? Tears of a Tiger
by Sharon Draper Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper Soldier X by Wulffson
Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher Touching Spirit
Bear by Ben Mikaelson Coverup by Jay Bennett
I agree with Pam Gym Candy is a great read. My son read it last year during
his junior year and loved it. He even talked his friends into reading it. I
think we got our copy of the book back around the end of this school year.
Noami Bates recommended it. The boys will latch on to it and it will keep
them interested. If I am not mistaken I believe it is also on the Tayshas
Drive By by Ewing Skeleton Creek by Patrick Corman Found by Haddix I would
recommend Crutcher but he's edgy and so is Sharon Draper but they love them
Twisted! It may have some edgy content, but it is a wonderful book. This is
the first book one of my struggling readers ( a junior in high school) ever
read from cover to cover. He said, "I feel like a better person because I
read that book."
Hands down, the audio book Skulduggery Pleasant which won the Odyssey Honor
Award. Excellent book, fast moving story, and so far I've not found one
listener that does NOT like it.
The Orca Soundings series is a huge hit at my high school with reluctant
readers but I don't know how "edgy" they are because I haven't read any. The
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is also a big hit, and I think it's pretty
tame in comparison to some other popular titles. Another big hit is the
Demonata series by Darren Shan, and I think that's edgy in terms of gross
stuff that boys like.
Have you tried the Orca Soundings Series? There is also Orca Currents for
middle school. Some can be for HS as well. They are a great series for
HS students. I just started buying them at the end of this past school year
and my students who NEVER took a book out, did! They talked about the
different stories to their friends. They are just edgie enough to pull them
in. Great topics for discussions. They are perfect for the reluctant reader,
short, sweet, and to the point. (They average 100 pages).
Artesian press has some excellent titles for you...short...not too edgy but
captivating...decent reading level...used them w ms successfully. One of the
authors is Susanne Brin...there are various authors but this info should
I am working on the same thing. The author, Deborah Ellis, is high on my
list. Try Bifocal. You are so right about the "edgy". Don't forget
nonfiction. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage In the Wild The climb
: tragic ambitions on Everest by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston Dewalt.
Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson Within reach : my Everest story by Mark
Pfetzer & Jack Galvin. ..are some of the titles in my collection my students
I work as a middle school librarian in Abilene, Texas; however, some books
that we have found that appeal to our kids would be The Bluford High series.
Although they are extremely popular with our kids, I have done Interlibrary
Loans for some high schoolers and even had our kids loan our books out to
their high school friends! The books are around 4th to 5th grade reading
level, and would thus be accessible to your struggling readers. I worried
about the content at first, so I read one of them and my aide read one. Both
books had situations and characters appealing to our "edgy" students, but
with really good messages. They appear "edgy" (and let's face it, that makes
them appealing!), but the characters make positive decisions. Even our kids
who refuse to do pleasure reading are hooked by these books. Two authors
write books for this series: Paul Langan and Anne Schraff. Read one called
THE BULLY and see what you think! If you like them, you can find the
Townsend site online that will send you a set for free. Just Google "Bluford
High series".
Here are 2. Both Newbery winners. They appeal to high school as well as
younger. Holes by Louis Sachar The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman Also the
book Dateline: Troy by Fleishman (Wilson's JH, Wilson's Sr, Notable Books
1997, Books for the Teen Age 1998) has been popular with the boys in my
school. It would be very thought-provoking for a book discussion group. Not
edgy at all.
I just finished _The Dead and the Gone_by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It is not an
award winning book but got starred reviews in a couple of publications. I
read it because someone on the ChildLit Listserv said it was a book that
many teenagers like. The protagonist is a 17 year old honor student (boy)
who must take care of his two sisters when his mother and father disappear
after an asteroid hits the moon. It's a survival story. I generally do not
like that sort of story, but this book held my interest. Parts of it seemed
a bit gruesome to me, but I imagine it's rather tame when compared to some
of the movies kids see these days. I think your group would like this book.
Teresa-- I know these are not award winning titles, but I have found that
anything by Gail Giles, especially Shattering Glass, is great for reluctant
readers--especially guys.
Teresa Schauer
District Librarian/Pettus ISD
Pettus, Texas

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