In the last week, I’ve had texts, emails, and social media posts asking for book recommendations. My sister was looking for book ideas for a teen girl in a family she’s sponsoring for Christmas. A colleague was looking for ideas for her junior high daughter’s neighborhood book group. A parent of one of my students was looking for ideas for her other son (not in my class).
It only takes me a few minutes to scroll through my Goodreads and “share” my recommendations. I am so glad that I am becoming a helpful resource for readers and those who love them.
Still, you may wonder if teens actually feel the same way I do about the books I recommend. Yes? Me, too. Just before fall break, I asked my seventh-grade students to look through their reading portfolio and select the “best” book they’d read since we began school in mid-August. Many of the books I’ve recommended are on this list, but there are a few surprises, too.
The “best” book list is as diverse as the readers. Our readers love these books for a range of reasons because books offer us a range of experiences. Some want to escape. Some want to ponder the world. Some want to lean into a future self. Some want to go back to a younger, “easier” time in life. Some want to travel to another time or place. Some just want to learn. Books can do all of that.
Over the next few weeks, I will share my seventh-grade students’ favorites along with their reviews in the hopes that we can offer you some ideas for your classroom library, Christmas gifts, or ever-growing to-read list. (But you can still text, tweet, or message me for recommendations!) Here is List 1:
- The Last Leopard by Lauren St. John: The plot twists were very good, and the characters try to save a leopard that has been the biggest leopard that lives, and his name is Khan. The characters are Martine, Ben, Thomas (Female and Grandmother), Sadie, Ngwenya, and Grace. Some of these characters only appear in few pages, but they are great characters. (Recommended by Byambatseren.)
- A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman is a good book, but also a wonderful lesson. A dancer, Veda, loved dancing and wanted to continue, but she got into a accident, which cost her leg. Many people said that they were sorry that she couldn’t dance any longer. Though, despite everyone’s discouragement toward her, Veda, strong and persistent didn’t let something like this get into the way of her dream. I’m recommending this book to people to tell them, never give up on your dream, no matter what it is, like being doctor or a singer. Always try your best, but f you can’t get it, try, try again. To me, after finishing the book, I felt a new hope inside me. Similar to Veda, I am a dancer. But every now and then, people will say I’m not that good, people are better that you and so on. But now after reading A Time to Dance, I feel like there is energy inside me and blocking all the negativity that were thrown at me. There are people that are rude and mean, but remember inside, you are the best at what you do and don’t let anyone try to take that confidence and talent out of you. (Recommended by Charlene.)
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is wonderful book perfect for fantasy lovers. Mare wanted equality between normal Red blooded people and powerful Silver blooded people. Those gifted with Silver blood have supernatural powers like telepathy, and Reds spend their life serving Silvers. Mare is special. She bleeds Red but has Silver powers. Usually, I can’t find a book good enough to finish. This one, I finished in one day. The plot twist itself kept me up all night waiting in anticipation for the next book. Just remember, Maven is his mother’s son. (Recommended by Anya.)
- Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson: Curzon and Isabel, two important characters along with Ruth fight through war torn areas to find their freedom in the Revolutionary War trying to barely survive and stick together. I would recommend it for my classmates because a unique an great writing/story it gives descriptive details about their journey across the states trying to escape the British making it seem so real. However, it’s historical fiction which is mind-blowing. (Recommended by Kyle.)
- The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli is a historical fiction book set in 1959 and is written by Jerry Spinelli. The main character, Cammie O’Reilly, is a girl who lost her mother at a young age. She is a warden’s daughter meaning that her father is a prison master. Her best friend is found wearing lipstick, a child killer is brought to the prison and Cammie is constantly fighting with her trustee, Eloda. Since Cammie’s mother died in an accident long time ago, she is looking for a motherly figure. The only place she’s got is the prison. She’s determined to work with what she’s got and find the right mother. Read this 352 page book, to find out. (Recommended by Kate.)
- This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp. This book is about 4 different point of views with one situation and that situation is a hostage situation in a school shooting. This book was absolutely amazing and a good way to never put that book down until it’s done. If you like serious stories this is the story for you! For example, a lot of people die while others must be brave to save others, so it’s truly very serious. (Recommended by Joe.)
- Burning Up by Caroline B. Cooney: This book is about a barn in which it burned in 1959 but strangely no one wants to answer questions that Macey needs in order for her to finish her school project. Why isn’t anyone answering her questions? Why doesn’t Macey’s grandparents want to tell her anything about the fire? I think people should read this book because the genre is a mystery that gives the readers a sense of the past.Also, the book has an awesome plot twist because………… (Recommended by Jaden.)
- You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour : The book You Know Me Well is about a gay teenage boy who is in love with his friend, but his friend likes a college boy, and a young teenage girl who is looking for love and meets a girl named Violet that after a few months finally gets to meet. Both the girl and the boy have a few friends towards the beginning but soon have a fight with them and maybe lose them; the way the book is written and how it describes the characters is just wonderful, and it just made me want to read more of the author’s stories, and you might also want to, too. This story sort of shares a lesson with it, but you must read to find out. (Recommended by Anthony.)
- The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer is about a girl named Alexandra Bailey, Alex for short, who really had a lot going throughout her life. For example, their dad passed away when she and her twin brother, Connor, were only 10 years old. Connor started to do even worse in class, and Alex had no friends to talk to. One day, their grandmother came to their rented house to celebrate the twins 12th birthday, since their mom had to work double-shifts as a nurse. Their most amazing gift was their grandma’s old book called, The Land of Stories. That night Alex was reading the book for more than an hour, as silently fell asleep…but not for long. She woke up to the sudden sound of a hum. She looked at the book and was surprised to see the book was glowing. I recommend this book because this book has a lot of dialogue, it’s really funny, has a plot twist, and is a very unique story. For all you fantasy lovers out there, this is the perfect book for you! (Recommended by Shreya.)
- Solo by Kwame Alexander is about a teen named Blade who has a bad relationship with his father. Ever since his mother passed away, his dad has been acting up in numerous ways. He has to solve a lot of mental and physical problems with him and his family. It is a unique story with a lot of plot twists, and it is realistic fiction, which is nice because some people can relate to the main character. You should read this if you like books with lots of conflict, emotion, and adventure. (Recommended by Ronal.)