Top Ten Picks-Best Young Adult Fiction

Friday, April 30, 2010

It's time for another installment of Jillian's weekly meme (go to Random Ramblings to join in).  This week's list is Top Ten Young Adult Fiction.  Surprisingly, even though I am a teacher I don't read as much young adult fiction as you might think, so this list will be a combination of things I read when I was younger and books I've stumbled upon since.

1.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith
This one has been on my list before, for "books you should read at least once".  Lovely story of a young girl coming of age in turn of the century New York.  Well, turn of the last century New York...

2.  The Giver-Lois Lowry
I've had this one on a list as well.  Great story about the pressures to conform to society, even when the society does things which are immoral.

3.  The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins
I loved this book, and am waiting with bated breath for Mockingjay to come out this summer.  You can read my review by clicking here.

4.  Annie on My Mind-Nancy Garden
This novel focuses on the love between two girls growing up in New York City, Annie and Liza.  It is a sweet story of discovery, exploration, and self-acceptance.  Written in 1982, the lesbian theme in a young adult novel was considered controversial.  Today, there are many more titles for gay and lesbian youth that reflect their experiences.

5.  Among the Hidden-Margaret Peterson Haddix
Really I liked this whole series.  I thought that the story, if just taken on the surface, was enough to grab a younger reader's attention, but there is enough subtext about society for more mature readers to have something to chew on.

6.  Are You There God, It's Me Margaret?-Judy Blume
I've often wondered how an author who writes adolescents and children as well as Blume does can write such awful adult fiction.  I love this book, though, and all of her children's and YA literature.  I remember wishing I had a Jewish grandmother when I read this book-she seemed so much more interesting than the Catholic one!

7.  Jacob Have I Loved-Katherine Paterson
This one was one of my all-time favorites growing up.  I also adored Bridge to Terebithia by the same author.  This one was a little more relevant to my actual life than Terebithia, though.  I don't have a twin, but I did often feel overshadowed by the louder, more outgoing children when I was in those dreaded middle years grades.  The setting of this one also intrigued me.  I've always wanted to live on an island!

8. The Harry Potter series-J.K. Rowling
I've avoided putting these books on a list 'til now, because they have quickly become such an obvious read for, well, anyone!  But considering that these books started out their not-so-humble lives designed for children this seems like the right list to put them on.  I love that these books showed us a fantastical world with real life problems-both the adolescent ones like dating and making friends, and societal ones like racism, discrimination, government corruption, and the horrors of war. 

9.  The Dark is Rising sequence-Susan Cooper
I loved everything about this fantasy series.  I read it as a fifth or sixth grader, not long after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe got me addicted to all things fantasy.  The setting is Cornwall in England, which seemed very exotic to me as an 11 year-old American girl.  And this book series may have been the first one to introduce me to Arthurian legend, which I have loved ever since.  I love fantasy books that combine true history with magical elements, and this series does it perfectly.  Just writing this makes me want to re-read all of them right now!

10.  The Outsiders-S.E.Hinton
When it was published in 1967, this novel was considered unusual in it's compassionate portrayal of Ponyboy, a young man just trying to find his place in the world, being thwarted at every turn by forces mostly outside his control.  In a country where the myth of individualism and "boot-strapping" is the prevailing philosophy on living life, Hinton found a way to show that sometimes the circumstances we come from ensure that we can pull on our own bootstraps as much as we want, but unless we get a boost from somewhere we're going nowhere.


  1. good list, you know I had no idea the hunger games was a YA book. The front cover looks really adult.

    I was a HUGE fan of Judy blume when I was younger.

  2. I've only read Potter and Hunger Games-- but the others sounds very interesting. I remember seeing Giver on some other top tens-- I really want to read that one.

    I agree completely with your views of Potter.


  3. wow, i love that five of these were my favorite books when i was younger. lowry's summer to die also haunted me.

  4. I have never read #4 and #5.
    #4 looks so interesting though, and seems like it's the kind of book I'd like. I'm going to look into that for sure when I get the chance.
    Glad to have you with us this week, Heather!

  5. Love the hop, I discover so many wonderful book sites.
    Kelly Bookend Diaries

  6. +JMJ+

    I think that the Dark Is Rising series is great, and agree with you about the exotic "Englishness" of the books--especially Over Sea, Under Stone. =)

  7. I just found you through the Blog Hop. I'll be checking back often!

    I've read - and loved - most of the books you listed.

  8. I've read 1, 6, 10, and some of 8. The others are on my TBR list.

  9. You mentioned a lot of my favorites! Great list!

  10. Priya-I almost put Summer to Die on the list, though I had forgotten it was Lois Lowry! I almost added Number the Stars, too-another great Lowry book. Apparently she is a Top Ten list all by herself. Has anyone read any of her adult literature?

  11. Hi Heather! Thanks for stopping by my blog and becoming a follower. You and I are alike in the sense that I tend to read and review books I have had for awhile. Every so often I will review a newbie that I receive either from PBS or Librarything.
    I also had to comment on your Best Young Adult picks! Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume got passed around from girl to girl when I was in fifth grade....everyone loved it. I also remember Forever by Blume being a popular one when I was a little older. I have not read The Hunger Games yet,,,I am probably the only one who hasn't!
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Hi Heather! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I loved The Give and The Outsiders growing up. Great list!

  13. Hi! Top10Picks:Young Adults' Mr. Linky had a bit of a technical problem and erased all our links!! :/ If you don't mind linking again, please do so over here. Thanks sooo much and sorry for the trouble.


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