Selected by Alida Hanson, librarian
by Dashka Slater
Nonfiction; grades 9 and up
If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight --Publisher
by Neil Postman
Nonfiction; grades 11 and up
This is one of those books that everyone should read. While I don’t agree with all of it, Postman’s arguments are crystal clear and very important. Especially interesting are the chapters on media and politics and media and education. -- Mrs. Hanson
by Nic Stone
Young adult fiction; grades 9 and up
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack. --Publisher
by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Dystopian short stories; grades 11 and up
This book is dark and captivating and essential. This book is a call to arms and it is a condemnation. Adjei-Brenyah offers powerful prose as parable. The writing in this outstanding collection will make you hurt and demand your hope. Read this book. Marvel at the intelligence of each of these stories and what they reveal about racism, capitalism, complacency and their insidious reach. -- Roxane Gay, Goodreads
by Jason Reynolds
Young adult fiction in verse (great for the person who doesn’t want to read a lot of words); grades 9 and up
New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother. -- Publisher
Young adult fiction; grades 9 and up
This hit so close to home, and I loved it. A heartfelt book that I would recommend to any person who has struggled with mental illness, academic pressure, and figuring out your own path. New favorite! -- Zoe, Goodreads
by Alan Gratz
Young adult historical fiction; grades 9 and up
Refugee is told through the eyes of three children- Josef in 1938 Germany, Isabel in 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud in 2015 Syria. The book also includes maps of each fictional characters journey and includes a thorough author's note about the history behind the story.
A compelling story, Refugee unveils the circumstances that force people to leave their origin countries and face terrifying challenges as they struggle to find a safe place to live. -- Erin, Goodreads
by Gael Faye
Adult fiction; grades 9 and up
In 1992, Gabriel, ten years old, lives in Burundi in a comfortable expatriate neighborhood with his French father, his Rwandan mother and his little sister, Ana. In this joyful idyll, Gabriel spends the better part of his time with his mischievous band of friends, in a tiny cul-de-sac they have turned into their kingdom. But their peaceful existence will suddenly shatter when this small African country is brutally battered by history.
In this magnificent coming-of-age story, Gael Faye describes an end of innocence and drives deep into the heart and mind of a young child caught in the maelstrom of history. -- Publisher
Symphony for the City of the Dead
by M.T. Anderson
Nonfiction; grades 9 and up
In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944.
Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.
This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives. -- Publisher
Tempests and Slaughter (The Numaire Chronicles #1)
by Tamora Pierce
Young adult fantasy; grades 9 and up
Fantasy that is entertaining, compelling, imaginative, thought provoking and full of soul. It starts out freakishly like Harry Potter, which stressed me a little, yet develops far beyond that into 100% original Tamora Pierce. The descriptions of magic are awesome, and the gladiator arena setting is masterful. The themes and plot relate to our present political and social dilemmas. Seeing friends with foundationally different beliefs developing a close, trusting, nuanced relationship is inspiring and instructional, a valuable vision for the socially divisive age in which we live. --Mrs. Hanson
The Call of the Wild
by Jack London
Adventure; grades 9 and up
First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London's masterpiece. Based on London's experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike. -- Publisher
Ender’s Game (Ender’s Saga #1)
by Orson Scott Card
Science fiction; grades 9 and up
Andrew "Ender" Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast. -- Publisher
The Final Empire (Mistborn #1)
by Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy; grades 9 and up
In a world where ash falls from the sky and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?
In Brandon Sanderson's intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.
by Charlotte Bronte
Gothic (spooky) Romance; grades 9 and up
Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.
But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again? -- Publisher
by Alan Moore
Graphic Novel; grades 11 and up
This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.
One of the most influential graphic novels of all time and a perennial best-seller, Watchmen has been studied on college campuses across the nation and is considered a gateway title, leading readers to other graphic novels such as V for Vendetta, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and The Sandman series. -- Publisher