When I’m not baking on my lunch hour, I sometimes search for books I can recommend to young readers. My goal is to support curiosity, self-management, and agency. Reading for fun can help students accomplish that. Right now, I’m usually looking for books for boys ages 12+ or girls ages 9+. Readers this age need challenging material; however, they are still kids. Therefore, not every book needs to be Jane Eyre or Moby Dick or whatever in order for it to be challenging. There is plenty of complexity in all levels of stories for students in various stages of literacy.
I find book recommendations everywhere. It seems every library or literary organization publishes a list. I usually start with a list then look up the books on Goodreads, Common Sense Media, and ARBookfind. Then, I check to see if my local library has them (I’m a book borrower, not a book buyer). I’m looking for different information from Goodreads, Common Sense Media, and ARBookfind:
- From Goodreads, I’m looking for a plot summary and a rating. I’m not too hung up on ratings because I find that readers have strong feelings about books, which are not necessarily related to the quality of the writing; however, I would think twice about a book with a very low rating on Goodreads.
- From Common Sense Media, I’m looking for a socio-cultural assessment of the book. I tend to avoid books with excessive teen drinking and drug use, but I don’t worry too much about language or mature social issues. I like positive role models, but I don’t care too much about educational value. I also trust the quality ratings from Common Sense Media. There is a section called, Is it Any Good?, which I think is a trustworthy assessment of the writing quality.
- From ARbookfind, I’m looking for the reading level of the book and a short synopsis. This synopsis usually includes a one-sentence warning if the book contains excessive violence or other notable attributes. I don’t let this deter me from recommending a book. It’s just good to know.
Here are 6 books that made the list for boys ages 12+:
- The Barcode Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
- Patient Zero by Jonathon Maberry
- Last shot : A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein
- Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick