Teaching Tuesday: Books for Ricki’s Fall 2018 Adolescents’ Literature Course


Selecting books for my Adolescents’ Literature course is always a struggle. There are so many good books out there, and a week after I submit my book order, I always wonder if I should have used X book or highlighted the amazing work of X author. I will admit that some of my favorite authors aren’t even on the list. I try to mix it up each semester. I believe that I am only keeping four (of almost forty) books from last semester. This allows me to spread the author love and placate my guilt for not being able to include X work or X author. I am really excited to hear what the students think about the books this semester! Sharing this list brings some anxiety for me. I really struggle to build a list that is diverse, but I recognize that I am missing major topics and texts. This feels inevitable, but it doesn’t make it feel right.

For some of the weekly topics, only one book is listed. This means the entire class is reading the book. For other topics, three books are listed. This means that the class is divided in thirds. Each third reads a different book, and then we look across the texts to talk about the topic. I recognize that categorizing books has its problems, but we unpack this and discuss how it also helps us talk about many aspects of adolescence in a focused way. Many of the texts on this list could fit under several topics.

Identity (and Complications with Studying Identity)

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

Nontraditional Forms of YAL

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Family and Friendship

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.


If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

Time and Place

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan


Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

Mary’s Monster by Lita Judge

Mental Health

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Considerations of Class

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Me and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King

Refugees and Immigration

Refugee by Alan Gratz

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi

Disability and the Body (Literature Circles)

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

The Politics of Adolescence

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What books do/would you include on a course list? 

2 thoughts on “Teaching Tuesday: Books for Ricki’s Fall 2018 Adolescents’ Literature Course”

  1. Some marvelous books here, Ricki, some I’ve loved, some I still need to read! What a great class it will be. My latest (YA-middle) love is about immigration, but very new. I loved Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh. Happy Reading!


Leave a Comment