YA Books (You'll Want to Steal)

The school year is winding down. My friends who are teachers have said that the end-of-year hysteria has come over their students, and that teaching has become especially difficult. More than anything, you want to make sure that this hysteria does not follow your kids home and set in for the entire summer.

One obvious way to keep their minds active over the break is to get them reading, and the only way to make them pick up a non-assigned book is to make sure it’s a good one—a book so good, you’ll want to read it yourself.

Parents “borrowing” their kids’ YA books is not really anything to be ashamed of anymore. Almost everyone on Earth has at least tried to read a Harry Potter book by now. There’s also a small, but dedicated and vocal, group of moms out there who proudly declare their love of all things Twilight. And, with successful movies behind those franchises (and others, like Percy Jackson and the Olympians), ‘tweens, teens, and even their parents are no longer embarrassed to peruse the YA shelf at the bookstore.

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So, maybe you can not-so-subtly leave one of these not-yet-a-movie books on your kids’ desks when they come home for summer vacation. And, when you’re bored, you can try flipping through it, too.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Who doesn’t love a good post-apocalyptic drama? This series takes place in a burned-out North America, where, each year, 12 competitors between the ages of 12 and 18 are forced to compete in a brutal, televised fight to the death. The third and final book in the series, Mockingjay, comes out this August. If your reader is taken with the series, check in to Larchmont’s The Voracious Reader for release-day parties and events. (And, if you’re looking for more current YA recommendations, the staffers at that store are definitely the ones to ask.)

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
So few fantasy series feature girls as their main characters. If your bookworm is both a fantasy fan and a girly girl, hand her this series, which features everything from corsets to curses. Protagonist Gemma Doyle is a strong-headed female who lives in Victorian England, where she has to give up life in India for a British boarding school. There, she learns to develop her otherworldly special powers, which allow her to access mystical realms not available to mere mortals.

King Dork and Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman
For reluctant ones who think reading isn’t cool, show them Frank Portman, who was a real-life rock star before he turned to YA novels. (His band was the Mr. T Experience.) His books are great for non-joiners. King Dork is best for nerdy or disaffected slacker boys, since its main character is an outcast wannabe-rock star who hates everything to do with The Catcher in the Rye. (And, for once, there’s no boarding school or magical ability in sight.) Andromeda Klein is more for kooky girls, as its protagonist is a high school girl (another outcast) who fancies herself a student of the occult, and uses it to get over a bad breakup with her first boyfriend and the death of her best friend.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
We put this book on last year’s summer reading list, and it was prescient because the book went on to win the Newbery Medal. To explain its premise might give away too much of the plot, but we’ll just say that there’s a good reason it won the prestigious award.

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What are your teens and ‘tweens planning to read over the summer? Ever dip into their bookshelves when you’re looking for something for yourself?

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