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Top 12 Young Adult Books for Reluctant Readers

Jessica Piper

Based on the last school year, I've compiled my list of the best read, most asked for, and favorite books from my class library.

All 12 of these titles are young adult fiction, and all of my copies of these books are coming apart at the seams..literally! The list includes books aimed for both guys and girls. This list is (most importantly) not up to me–all of these books were checked out most of the year because my students LOVE them…some would definitely not make my top 12 list!

I put them in reverse order and linked the titles to a summary of the book…so, drum roll please:

#12 Pop
by Gordon Korman

A fictional book aimed at sports-playing boys, Pop is so good even my reluctant readers like it! It is an easy go-to for middle school and upper elementary boys.

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#11 Boost
by Kathy Mackel

My athletic girls love this book. They, in turn, share it with my basketball boys. I like the fact that it is told from the perspective of a female athlete.

#10 Life on the Refrigerator Door
by Alice Kuipers

This book is another that never stayed on my shelf.  It is aimed at girls and is a super-quick read with a sad punch at the end. Most of my girls gobble it up in a day or two. 
**Bonus! Here is a lesson plan using this book as a model for writing.**

#9 Twisted
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Twisted is a darker story that tends to be popular with the boys. It is definitely a higher level read and deals with mature themes. I enjoyed it as well.

#8 Gym Candy 
by Carl Dueker

My boys ate this sports theme book up and then passed it on to my “sporty” girls who kept it out of circulation for weeks!

#7 Chains
by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is historical fiction that will not bore your kiddos and is even good for adult readers. This is the same author that wrote Twisted. For some reason, my boys like it more than my girls even though it is told from a female character’s perspective. Social studies teachers love me for this one!

#6 Million Dollar Throw
by Mike Lupica

This is another great novel for reluctant boy readers who love sports and is an easy one to keep in the library, if you can actually keep it on the shelf.

#5 The Compound
by S.A. Bodeen

The Compound is a thriller for guys and girls... just watch their faces! You’ll know when they get to the part about the “milk.”  HA!

#4 Chasing Brooklyn
by Lisa Schroeder

This is another verse-written book that your girls will fight over. There are a few other verse books written by this same author that all deliver for your girls.

#3 Unwind
by Neil Shusterman

Wow! Unwind is a great thriller that keeps you hooked until the very end. Boys and girls love it. It is so great to see the kids find out what “unwind” means – they come running to my desk to tell me, and every time I act like I had no idea. =)

#2 Because I am Furniture
by Thalia Chatas

This book appeals to girls who love verse. It is very, very popular. My copy is literally in shreds; it's being held together with tape at this point.

#1 The Hunger Games Trilogy
by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games is a science fiction thriller that both my guys and girls love. Once they read the first, they reserve the next! This one has not made it to my shelf all year…it just gets passed around.


Good luck keeping these titles on your shelves. They are perfect for your middle school kiddos that complain that they can never find a “good” book. Happy teaching!

What books are flying off your classroom library shelves? Share in the comments section!


Reprinted with permission from the author. Originally posted on author Jessica Piper's blog, Writing is Immortality

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