During the ongoing community health crisis, reading is a valuable way to educate, keep entertained, and remain engaged. Reading of any kind builds skills, promotes empathy, stimulates the imagination, encourages reflection, and also provides a much-needed escape or respite from reality.
Katherine Keller, from the Teacher Development & Resources Library, shares book recommendations for young readers (and even their parents) to enjoy, all themed around fantasy, science fiction, or escape in one way or another.
Upper Elementary through Middle School
ISBN : 9781419710209
This delightful memoir recounts how, after losing most of her hearing due to a childhood fever, Cece has to wear a powerful (and bulky) hearing aid, the Phonic Ear. And then she discovers that it gives her a kind of superpower! She’s no longer just Cece, but now she’s the amazing superhero, El Deafo!
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
ISBN : 9780545448680
Told in a mixture of words and Selznick’s signature lush illustrations, it’s up to the reader to figure out how the story of shipwrecked Brian Marvel (and his descendants) interconnects with that of Joseph Jervis, who has run away to live with his eccentric uncle, and is now exploring his strange old house full of secrets.
ISBN : 9780062278234
Nimona’s magic lets her shapeshift, perfect as she’s got a gift for mischief. She finds a mentor in Lord Ballister Blackheart, supervillain extraordinaire. Together they set out to wreak some serious havoc, namely proving that Sir Ambrosious Goldenloin and his cronies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everybody else thinks they are!
ISBN : 9781608867530
Born covered in black feathers, Poe has lived his entire life in the slums of the Maze, secretly helping orphaned and abandoned children. When Bianca from the wealthy City Beyond The Wall runs to the Maze, looking for adventure, she doesn’t realize the danger she’s in. Poe swoops in to help, and together, these new friends find their destiny.
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliot
ISBN : 9781524770457
Sent to spend the day with his grandmother in Brooklyn, Jaxon discovers that she’s actually a witch – a witch who needs help returning a bunch of baby dragons back to their world! Given how baby dragons love sweets and are little winged escape artists, that’s a whole lot easier said than done.
Mia Mayhem Is a Superhero by Kara West
The first book in the Mia Mayhem series sees our plucky (and klutzy) hero discover that she’s got superpowers, and has to attend a special after-school program for superheroes in training. Join Mia as she learns how to balance going to school and being a brand-new superhero.
Wishtree by Catherine Applegate
ISBN : 9781250043221
Red, the oak tree, is many years old and the neighborhood “wishtree.” People write their wishes on cloth and tie them to her branches. Along with her animal friends, Red watches over her neighborhood and keeps it safe. How can a tree do this, you ask? Read and find out!
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
ISBN : 9781481446518
Christopher Rowe, apothecary's apprentice, loves learning all his master, Benedict Blackthorn, has to teach him about medicine and magic. But something is preying on London’s apothecaries! Suddenly, Christopher is torn from his home with only one clue, a cryptic message from Master Blackthorn. Join Christopher and his best friend, Tom, as they work to decipher the message, discover what’s behind several murders, and just possibly save the world.
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
ISBN : 9780525423348
Ever wonder what happened to Hansel and Gretel after they escaped from the witch? Join them for some additional adventures as they wander through eight other Grimm fairy tales!
Young Adult (and Grownups, too!)
ISBN : 9780060890353
In a tale lush with vivid detail, we meet Sym Waites, an outcast high school student who is obsessed with Antarctica and dead Victorian explorer Captain Oates. (He is also her only confidant and friend.) When her Uncle Victor offers her a dream trip to Antarctica, Sym jumps at the chance, only to see that dream become a nightmare that leaves her stranded on the ice armed only with her determination and her encyclopedic knowledge of Antarctic expedition.
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland
ISBN : 9780062570604
In a world where the U.S. Civil War was halted because the dead rose up after Gettysburg, students like Jane McKeene have to learn how to keep the nation safe by studying to become Attendants. The work is prestigious and offers advancement, but that’s not the life Jane wants for herself. When people start going missing, Jane discovers that the risen dead are the least of her problems.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
ISBN : 9781542040174
In an alternate U.S., teenager Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of viral magic, which has killed his family and friends. Now a powerful technopath, Noam is assigned to the Carolinia Ministry of Defense, the kind of government agency he has spent his life fighting against. Noam accepts, planning to use his position and power to bring the government down. But after meeting and falling in love with the governor’s son, Noam begins to discover that his enemy, the governor, is far more dangerous and devious than he ever imagined, and that the rabbit hole goes very deep indeed.
Speak, the Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson
ISBN : 9780374300289
Adapted by the book’s original author, Speak spotlights the power of a graphic novel to show, not tell. Outcast and shunned by almost everybody at her high school, Melinda aches to speak and tell everybody the truth of what happened that night at the party. But she can’t. The words don’t come. Through her work on an art project, Melinda starts coming to terms with what has happened, but she is not yet out of danger. Will she be able to speak the words needed to save herself when the time comes?
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
ISBN : 9780062026484
Once every century a person is chosen for greatness, and Princess Elisa, who has never done anything remarkable, has no idea how to begin living up to being The Chosen One. Things only grow more complicated when she’s thrust into a political marriage to a king whose nation desperately needs The Chosen One to save it. In order to defeat the enemies who hunt her with their dark magic, Elisa must master politics, come to terms with her powers, and most importantly, learn to accept herself, if she is to survive.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
ISBN : 9780345539786
Darrow is a Red, the lowest of the low in the color-coded society of the far future. After losing almost everything to injustice, Darrow sacrifices the only thing he has left — himself. “Carved” into a dominant caste Gold, Darrow infiltrates the ruthless Institute where society’s future leaders are trained, hellbent on bringing it all down, even though it might mean becoming the kind of person he despises.
ISBN : 9781600107818
Imagine knowing, with absolute certainty, that a Machiavellian overlord named William Shakespeare is to blame for everything that has gone wrong in your life. What follows is a hilarious (and witty) romp through the works of the Bard as Hamlet, Othello, Juliet, and Falstaff set off on an epic quest for revenge against the literal author of their misery.
Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie
ISBN : 9781524770198
Aisha Un-Haad volunteers to become a Scela, a cyborg trooper, because her impoverished family needs the money. Key Tanaka wakes up in a Scela body and has only hazy memories of her past life of luxury. She’s certain of one thing, though: she didn’t choose this. Only through learning to work together can Aisha and Key discover the truth of what has happened, and stave off a civil war that will tear humanity apart.
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
ISBN : 9780316503075
The son of a time-traveler from 2354 AD and a Roman gladiator, Farway Gaius McCarthy yearns to explore history. But after he fails his government examinations, that path is officially closed to him. Desperate to explore and learn, Far ends up as part of a black-market crew that time travels to the past to steal valuables. It’s all going well enough until a heist on the Titanic introduces Far to a mysterious girl named Eliot. Turns out time travel is not as stable as it seems, and Eliot has a secret that will rock Far’s life from now until the end of time.
Looking for other reads for young people (or the young at heart)? The TDRL has libguides to aid your discovery!