Only one book for freshman year, because I’m trying to be mindful of the young, innocent little freshman and how little they know about sex and the real world (not really, but I figure teachers will hold off on that stuff at least a little). This book is interesting and looks at a disability to boot, with main character Piper’s deafness. You don’t see many deaf people in YA books, so this is a book that people should check out to learn more.
Sophomore year gets bumped up to TWO books! Exciting, huh?
I think Ruby is in her sophomore year during the first book (although it might be junior – need to reread!), so she’s pretty close in age. Students should read about a girl who is a bit different and gets publicly trashed because she likes boys. Basically, slut shaming.
Stay is about a recently graduated student, I believe, but it has less focus on sex, so I think it works better for the underclassmen. Anyway, it has family secrets and, more importantly, shows that stalking isn’t always romantic. Sometimes (really, all the time) it’s scary and dangerous and affects people long after it seems to end.
Three! We’ve moved up to three!
Thirteen Reasons Why looks at suicide and how your actions can affect people in ways you could never even guess. An important message, even though it’s a difficult subject.
I haven’t read Sweethearts in a while, but it’s the book that first introduced me to Sara Zarr and looks at abusive families, if I remember correctly. Short but powerful, which seems like a good fit.
So Shelly is a quasi-retelling of the lives of various poets, like Mary Shelly and Lord Byron, if I remember correctly. It’s a bit much at times, since Byron did have rumors of incest swirling around about him, but it’s an interesting way to learn somewhat about great literary people in a contemporary setting.
And four books for senior year, because that’s the end, folks! Well, unless you go to college, but that’s not the point…
Something Like Normal looks at a soldier returning home, but in a contemporary setting. It’s not World War I/II or the Civil War or the Revolutionary War or some earlier war that often feels like it doesn’t affect modern life at all (even though they all did in some way), but something that’s happening right now, something that might happen to seniors that enlist after school ends.
The Mockingbirds looks at the justice system (in a way) and, more importantly, date rapes and the various grey areas that it entails. It’s written by a survivor of date rape herself, so that just makes it even more powerful.
If I Stay looks at death and life and choices – sure, most seniors don’t have the make the choice between living without your family or dying with them, but choices are still a big part of senior year. Plus, this book is short and powerful, still a good mixture.
And, finally, a less issues-focused book: Golden, which involves seniors and seems like a more fun but still great end to senior year.