Saturday, March 6, 2010

10 YA books you must read?

Viewpoint Magazine has put out a call for the 10 adolescent fiction books you think are "must reads":

"Ernie Tucker has been writing reviews of adolescent fiction in English in Australia for many years. In his final review he selected ten adolescent fiction books every teacher should read. These are his ten titles:

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit (1975)
The Nargun and the Stars by Patricia Wrightson (1973)
Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett (2002)
Josh by Ivan Southall (1971)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor (1977)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by MT Anderson (2007)
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd (2007)
Falling by Anne Provoost (1997)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
Loose Lips by Chris Wheat (1998)

He apologises for having left out sixteen other authors and is happy to argue for his choices.

What would be your ten must reads?

What would be your students' ten must reads?

Let us know at and we will compile a select list that could be used in a library and classroom or as a source for discussion. Start thinking!"

I've been thinking about my list. It is inevitably personal, all over the place, and involves forgetting Very Important Books. But I think Tucker's list is probably the same. (Would you class 'Of a Boy' as YA? And I don't think he's separated children's fiction from adolescent fiction. So I'm not going to either, because it's too hard.)

So anyway, here are my 10 (not in any order):

The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston (1954)
Earthfasts by William Mayne (1966)
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan (2004)
Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (1974)
Came Back to Show You I Could Fly by Robin Klein (1991)
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle (1962)
A Cage of Butterflies by Brian Caswell (1992)
Climb a Lonely Hill by Lilith Norman (1972)

I've tried not to make it too 90s-centric (but I WAS a teenager in the 90s, so Brian Caswell, Robin Klein, Gillian Rubinstein and Gary Crew keep wanting to take over the entire list). The more I look at my list, the more I want to fiddle with it, take some books out (then put them back in again), try to work out what to do with trilogies/series, wonder if I'm listing books emotionally rather than intellectually, notice there are hardly any recent titles in there, and give up on the whole thing.

But I'm going to email it to Viewpoint anyway. Email them your own list (oh but also post it here so I can see).

Perhaps if enough of us do it, we'll cover every important adolescent fiction book ever written.



Penni said...

Mm, some of his I would definitely say are children's rather than YA (Tuck Everlasting, Nargun and the Stars). I am not sure about my list. Um. Here goes but I reserve the right to change my mind. Some of mine probably wibble a bit too, between adult/young adult/children's - especially the ones that predate YA as a marketing category.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Seven Little Australians Ethel Turner
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (though I don't think this is really YA, I think it's an adult storybook)
Lirael by Garth Nix
Catalogue of the Universe by Margaret Mahy
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
The Princess Bride by William Goldman

(The last one was going to be Thursday's Child by Sonya Hartnett, but my list was looking a bit heavy on the estrogen)

Anna said...

I was tossing up between Tender Morsels and Black Juice, but I think the latter made a bigger impact on me.

I'm sure Judith Ridge would be with you on Seven Little Australians! But I don't think I've ever forgiven Ether Turner for killing off Judy.

simmone said...

Done here:

but I keep wanting to change them ... yes to Robin Klein. I remember LOVING Hating Alison Ashley, and Came Back to Show You I could Fly. I aslo remember picking up Sonya Hartnett's Trouble all the Way when I was about 16 ...

Anna said...

I ADORE My Side of the Mountain, Simmone. I even love the movie. That one was one that I put in and took out of my list a few times.

Dicey's Song was on my longlist too.

Nothing like kids fending for themselves (in completely different contexts).

Penni said...

Oh Sweet Dreams.

If I had been REALLY honest I would have put Dear Sister (Book 7 of the Sweet Valley High series) in which Elizabeth wakes up after being in a coma following a motorbike accident with Jessica's personality.


I was fascinated with the idea of good girl gone bad. And then [spoiler] waking up with a totally clear conscience at the end.

Anna said...

The good girl gone bad always made me a bit nervous.

I used to read large amounts of Babysitters Club and Gymnasts books, but somehow completely missed out on SVH.

The Family Librarian said...

Hi all - I'm running a single person library at a small higher ed college in Sydney. I'd be interested to know what if anything from these lists might be suitable for my ESL students (remembering that they are all over 18 and highly educated in their own language - mostly Chinese). Trying to encourage them to read English is hard enough - without putting them off with books that are just too hard. I'm slowly developing a small fiction collection here - does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks Anna for allowing me to 'cross post' as it were!

Ralph Suarez said...

When I was a child, horse-crazy to the nth degree, horses were never closer than within the pages of books and my 10 favorites, which hopefully will appeal to a wider audience than equally smitten horse lovers:

1)My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
2)Thunderhead by Mary O'Hara
3) Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O'Hara
4) King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
5) The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
6) Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James
7) Misty Of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
8) Fly-by-Night by K.M Peyton
9) Billy and Blaze: A Boy and His Horse by C.W. Anderson
10) El Blanco-The Legend of the White Stallion by Rutherford Montgomery
Hi-yo Silver and Happy Reading!
I love your blog,

Anna said...

What a gorgeously horsey list! I think plenty of them appeal beyond the devotedly horsey reader :)

Thans Ralph!

Anonymous said...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a must read, I cannot recommend it enough!! :)