By Sarah Binning
Ladies, one of our favorite weeks of the year is almost here. Next week, we’ll join libraries around the world in celebrating Teen Reading Week! I can already picture Starbucks filled with teen girls relaxing on the couches, piping hot lattés in one hand, a library book in the other. Now all that’s left is to decide what book to read. Thankfully, the Teen Voices office is full of bookworms. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite books to help you narrow your reading selection!
“Speak was an absolutely ground-breaking book. First published in 1999, it addressed tough issues that no other books for teens had tackled: date rape, bullying, and self-injury. But it wasn’t just another hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-lesson “problem” novel. Speak is beautifully written, fast-paced, filled with surprising humor, uplifting, and downright amazing. It changed the game in young adult fiction, inspiring a new wave of fiction for teens that continues to grow. Teens today wouldn’t have access to such a huge variety of books written specifically for them if it weren’t for Speak.
This book will make you laugh and break your heart and inspire you. Melinda’s voice is so funny, so painfully real. Her struggle to face her trauma and ‘speak’ is one that will have you on the edge of your seat, rooting for her to come through okay.”
“It’s the moving [true] story of a boy who is very withdrawn from the world, and how his psychologist reached him and helped him learn to trust and interact with the world. In hindsight, Dibs was probably autistic, although I don’t think that word was ever used. Back in those days, I don’t think the psychology or education field had any understanding of autism-spectrum disorders. So before Dr. Axline, no one knew what to make of Dibs or how to help him. The sensitivity, patience, skill, and determination of the therapist to reach this boy inspired me to want to read more books about kids with ‘special needs’ and to study psychology, which I did through graduate school.”
“As a teenager, I devoured books. I would read anything and everything. When I started Go Ask Alice, it was simply another book in a long list of those recommended by an English teacher. I didn’t think much of it. Within a few pages though, I was hooked; Go Ask Alice was eye opening in a way that not many books had been for me at that point.
Unlike most teen novels, there was no sugar-coating the life of the character. It was very real, and I appreciated it for that sense of ‘telling it like it is.’ It’s an unpretentious novel that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: a riveting story about a girl trying to find her place in this world and getting in over her head.”
“This book is perfect for teens who want a little of everything: a gripping love story, a little science fiction, and the charming charisma of the characters that will leave you in love with them by the end of the book.
I read this book only after watching the movie. I read tons of reviews that the movie just didn’t do the book justice and how much better the book was and indeed it is. I automatically fell in love with all the characters, including the minor ones.”
“I enjoyed this book because even though it was creepy and the plot was enigmatic at first, it required me to take the time to actually think about what’s going on … Teens should read this book because they will laugh, and even feel a sense of love or sadness for a character. I believe that teens will definitely agree that this book is different from most common modern-day novels. Also, this book will broaden readers’ horizons and allow readers to explore other weird scientific theories, such as cloning.”
“I can’t see a bird now without thinking about this book! … [Schmit’s] language is so simple and direct; the main character in the novel has one of the most powerful voices I’ve ever heard. This book will change the way [teens] think about art and the ‘difficult’ boys in their classrooms.”
Don’t be afraid to get creative. There’s more to reading than just books and novels. Pick up a copy of Teen Ink, or leaf through peer-generated content on figment.com and teenvoices.com. Next week is about celebrating any and all reading. In fact, this year’s theme, Picture It @ your library®, encourages teens to read illustrated materials, such as graphic novels or other creative types of literature.
“When I was assigned to read this book for school, I remember rolling my eyes. I had (wrongfully) stereotyped graphic novels as comic books for teenage boys. But two pages into this novel, I was hooked. Inspired by true events, this heartbreaking book not only opened my eyes to the beauty and power of graphic novels, but also to what it’s like to live in a war zone. ”
Be sure to visit our website next week, for a special Teen Reading Week with YALSA Top Ten nominee Cynthia Leitich Smith and other great book reviews.