Chains Laurie Halse Anderson

  • historical fiction (American Revolution)
  • slavery
  • themes of inner strength
  • beautiful, poetic writing

Forge Laurie Halse Anderson

  • historical fiction (American Revolution)
  • realities of war
  • corruption
  • friendship among outcasts
  • racism

The Peculiar Stefan Bachman

  • fantasy
  • outcasts and prejudice
  • sibling bonds

The Whatnot Stefan Bachman

  • fantasy
  • unlikely hero
  • inner courage and resisting being terrorized

Ender’s Shadow Orson Scott Card

  • science fiction, futuristic
  • themes of humanity, trust, friendship, survival
  • some dark themes and seedy elements of life on the street

Inkheart Cornelia Funke, translated by Anthea Bell (Read a review)

  • fantasy
  • themes of courage and fear
  • some dark characters and threats of violence, but no graphic scenes or serious injuries

The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

  • fantasy adventure
  • gold rush
  • mythological creatures
  • perseverance

Rise of the Wolf Curtis Jobling

  • fast-paced fantasy adventure
  • shape-shifting
  • overcoming loss and injustice
  • growing into oneself

The Giver Lois Lowry

  • themes of individuality and loyalty
  • themes of societal safety versus freedom

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Mildred D. Taylor

  • strong female protagonist
  • issues of racism, family bonds
  • realistic / historical fiction set during the 1930s


The Time Quintet by Madeline L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, The Arm of the Starfish, Many Waters

  • fantasy with strong character development
  • themes of adolescence
  • the characters age as the series progresses; their conflicts become more mature

His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

  • fantasy with strong character development
  • themes of tyranny, friendship, growing up, religion, philosophy
  • male and female protagonists

The Tillerman Family Cycle by Cynthia Voigt

Homecoming, Dicey’s Song, A Solitary Blue, The Runner, Come a Stranger, Sons from Afar, Seventeen Against the Dealer

  • realistic, modern fiction
  • male and female protagonists
  • coming of age, themes of adolescence, loss, love, outsiders, class-ism, racism

The Pit Dragon Chronicles by Jane Yolen

Dragon’s Blood, Heart’s Blood, A Sending of Dragons

  • fantasy about dragon training
  • male protagonist
  • issues of slavery, honor, loyalty, and love
  • realistic characters with tragic flaws

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