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High Interest Novels for Young Adults: Your Summer Reading Curriculum

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 7/27/2015

This reading list can be used during the summer or any time of the year. These engaging young adult novels can provide the springboard for struggling students and cement good reading habits in students who already enjoy reading.

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    Keeping it Real

    The stare down had been going on for sixteen days. You will not give up until Buster Neveread opens his copy of The Scarlet Letter. You started wearing adult diapers to work thirteen days ago, swearing not to let anyone use the restroom, not realizing that Buster Neverread seeks attention through soiling himself. That's when the nose plugs arrived. Little did you know that nobody in the class was actually reading the novel. You were so busy worrying about leaky Depends you didn't notice the entire class had SparkNotes tucked inside their novels.

    The 34th threatened lawsuit of the summer has motivated you to change your summer reading curriculum, but you don't know where to start.

    I do.

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    Books High School Students Will Actually Read

    Look Familiar 

    Some teachers get snobby when it comes to literature. If it doesn't have thirteen archaic words per page and a ninety-two page description of someone's hat, they don't consider it literature. If you're one of those, then perhaps this summer reading curriculum is not for you. In my experience as a high school teacher, these are books that students actually like.

    1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - Even the snootiest of literature teachers will acknowledge Steinbeck as literary enough. Of Mice and Men has all the qualities young people look for in a book: swearing, unscrupulous behavior, and someone getting shot in the back of the head with a luger.
    2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - This non-traditional school novel (non-traditional meaning that kids enjoy reading it) contains elements of Science Fiction, a couple of accidental murders, and an attempt to wipe out an entire race of aliens, all disguised as a game. It's even better than Grand Theft Auto.
    3. A Separate Peace by John Knowles - Who hasn't thought about knocking a very, very successful friend off a high branch out of jealousy, breaking his legs and rendering him incapable of physical activity? Your dreams come true with this literary classic.
    4. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom - This non-traditional school novel begins with the death of the protagonist. How about that to get your attention!
    5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - No, I'm not kidding. You'll have to read this to the class. Once you get to chapter 3, you'll have their undivided attention. Trust me. If you make them read it on their own, you'll probably get your tires slashed.
    6. Holes by Louis Sachar - You may have a summer school student or thirteen that has spent some time in the juvenile detention center. Let them read Holes and your tires may escape the summer unscathed.
    7. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - Nothing like encouraging socioeconomic class wars. Francis Ford Coppola made it into a great movie as well (not that teachers ever show movies in summer school).