Summer Reading Highlights: YA Fiction

This summer, there is no single required title on the middle and high school reading lists. Instead, teachers and school librarians have collaborated to come up with several great book recommendations for each grade level. It’s clear that they prioritized titles written by a diverse group of authors and featuring a wide range of characters. With such a variety of titles, everyone will be able to find a book they’ll like. Below, I’ve highlighted my favorite book from the recommendations for each grade level.

In addition to being available through the school system’s Sora app, these titles are also available as digital copies on OverDrive, Hoopla, and Freading. For instructions on accessing our collection through the Sora app, check out this video from Highlands media specialist Ms. Ciofolo.

Seventh Grade
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw believes his gift of speed originates from the night his father chased Ghost and his mother out of their home at gunpoint. When he happens upon a track team practicing in the park, he runs a race to prove a point, and ends up joining the team. This book is short, funny, and filled with interesting characters, whose stories are expanded in the series’ next three books.

Eighth Grade
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
When Justyce tries to keep his ex-girlfriend from driving while drunk, the police misinterpret his actions and escalate the situation out of control. Over the next few months, Justyce processes this traumatic incident in the form of letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This book is extremely well-represented in this year’s recommended summer reading lineup–it’s on the list for 8th grade, 9th grade, and 9th grade honors classes, as well as the My Brother’s Keeper reading list–and it’s for a good reason.

Ninth Grade
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
OverDrive: eBook
Josiah and Deja have bravely captained the Succotash Hut at the pumpkin patch for the past three years. On the last night of their last season, they embark on a mission: Josiah will finally talk to Marcy, the girl he’s admired from afar since freshman year. Their journey takes them through a series of adventures, many of them snack-related, through a beautifully drawn pumpkin patch that truly captures the spirit of fall.

Tenth Grade
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
This is a remix of Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped from the Beginning, which explores the origins of racism. Jason Reynolds uses a conversational style to convey information about the evolution of racism to a younger audience. His simple writing is direct and to-the-point; as he says, this is not a history book.

Eleventh Grade
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
Seventeen-year-old Jay is blindsided by the death of his cousin Jun in the Philippines; he’s even more shocked when, rather than planning a funeral, his family begins acting as though Jun never existed. When Jay visits his cousin’s family, he decides to find out what happened to Jun. Jay’s search leads him to a new awareness about Duterte and the drug war in the Philippines, broadening his view of the world and of his future.

Twelfth Grade
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
Hoopla: eBook and digital audiobook
Freading: eBook
High school senior Emoni juggles challenging classes, a culinary internship, an interesting new boy, and co-parenting her two-year-old daughter. She handles all of this with strength and grace, but in such a relatable way that I was in awe of this character. Emoni’s original recipes appear between short, direct chapters. For me, the book flew by and left me wanting to read it all over again.

Categories: Authors & Books, Featured, Homepage Teens, Library News, and Teens.

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