Youth Reading List - Curated by Ypsilanti District Library

What makes life worth living?

Grades K-5

The Dangerous Book for Boys
by Conn Iggulden, 2007, 0061243582
The overall premise of this nostalgic book is that action and adventure are fun and worth the risks.

The Daring Book for Girls
by Andrea Buchanon, 2007, 0061472573
See above – it’s all ok for girls to be adventurous too.

Is There Really a Human Race
by Jamie Lee Curtis, 2006, 0060753463
While thinking about life as a race, a child wonders whether it is most important to finish first or to have fun along the way.

Complete Adventures of Curious George
by Margret and H. A. Rey
I’m a sucker for Curious George – nobody is more fantastically curious or adventurous or intrepid than this little monkey.

And the behind the scenes story of the Reys’ escape, The Journey That Saved Curious George : the true wartime escape of Margret and H.A. Rey
by Louise Borden
An extraordinary story about escaping death.

Anne of Green Gables
by L. M. Montgomery, 1908
Anne is an orphan, sent to help out a lonely middle-aged brother and sister on a farm on Prince Edward Island. Anne has a feisty spirit and exuberance for life that captivates everyone around her.

Loser
by Jerry Spinelli, 2002, 0060540745
Even though his classmates consider him strange and a loser, Daniel Zinkoff’s optimism and exuberance and the support of his loving family do not allow him to feel that way about himself.

Thank You Mr. Falker
by Patricia Polacco, 1998, 0399237321
An autobiographical account of a teacher that goes the extra mile in helping her overcome her dyslexia when others make her feel dumb.

Goin’ Someplace Special
by Patricia McKissack, 2001, 1416927352
In segregated 1950s Nashville, a brave African American girl braves indignities and obstacles to get to one of the few integrated places in town, the public library.

Uncle Jed’s Barbershop
by Margaree King Mitchell, 1993, 0689819137
At age 79, after a lifetime of obstacles, Uncle Jed finally fulfills his lifetime dream of owning his own barbershop.

Grades 6-12

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank, 1953
We all know this story

Zlata’s Diary: a child’s life in Sarajevo
by Zlata Filipović, 1994,
Similar to Anne Frank’s diary only in Sarajevo. A privileged 11 year old, only concerned with Madonna and MTV has to get used to bombing, snipers, shortages of food, gas, water and electricity.

Farewell to Manzanar
by Jeanne Wakutsuki Houston, 1986, 0618216200
Yet another Anne Frank-like autobiography. The author was 7 years old when her family was forced to leave their home and their fishing business in Long Beach, CA and move to a Japanese Internment camp called Manzanar in the California desert.

Stargirl
by Jerry Spinelli, 2000, 0679886370
Spinelli shows what it means to be a human being on a planet that is rich with wonders. "She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl."

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak, 2006, 0375842209
This is a mesmerizing, moving story of a young German girl in World War II Germany who steals books and survives amidst a dreadful existence. The story is narrated by Death, himself, who is funny, self deprecating and unsentimental.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
by Sherman Alexie, 2007, 0316013684
A semi-autobiographical account of a budding cartoonist who transfers from the reservation school to a rich, white school. Amidst daily struggles of reservation life, Arnold Spirit is determined to improve himself and overcome poverty.

A Long Way Down
by Nick Hornby, 2005, 1573223026
This is a book written for adults but I know several teens who have read this book through word of mouth. 4 people independently meet on New Year’s Eve at an infamous suicidal destination to commit suicide and unlikely bonding occurs.

Make Lemonade
by Virginia Euwer Wolff, 1993, 0805022287
A triumphant, hopeful story about a bright, loving 14 year old who wants very badly to go to college. To earn money she babysits for a 17 year old with 2 children who live in squalor. As she helps Jolly make lemonade out of the lemons her life has given her, LaVaughn learns some lessons outside the classroom.