It's that time of year again, where we send our sons and daughters back to the classroom to gain the knowledge they need for the big world they are about to encounter. What better way to do this than through a good book?
Here are some books that I recommend for middle and high school students that I think not only teach good lessons that they can take with them but also entertain at the same time.
"Crash" by Jerry Spinelli -- Crash Coogan has been plowing through people since he was a baby, so it was no wonder he was a natural for the football team. He and his friend Mike like to make the life of his nerdy, pacifist neighbor Penn miserable. But when a prank goes horribly wrong, Crash is forced to face the person he really is. (Middle School)
"Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Patterson -- Jess and Leslie become the best of friends, even creating an imaginary world they call Terabithia in the woods. Will that friendship hold Jess together when tragedy suddenly strikes? (Middle School)
"Whale Talk" by Cris Crutcher -- T.J. Jones makes it his goal to make sure that his swim team, of which he is the only member who can swim, earn their "letter jackets" to show up the other athletes in a school that favors athleticism over achievement. (High School)
"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson -- Melinda's old friends all dump her after she busts up a summer party after calling the cops. She spends the rest of the year not only trying to stand up to the reason why she called the cops, but getting her own identity back. (High school)
"The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" by Nagaru Tanigawa -- A best seller in Japan, the story is told from the point of view of the narrator, known as Kyon. On the first day of school, Kyon meets the pretty but boisterous Haruhi Suzumiya in his homeroom. Kyon accidentally gives her the idea to start a club of her own, where the goal is to meet espers, aliens and time travelers. Unknowingly, her club contains one of each. And it turns out Haruhi herself is the most powerful being of all. (High school)
"The Day They Came To Arrest The Book" by Nat Hentoff -- When parents and students complain about the use of "The Adventures of Huck Finn" in the classroom, school newspaper editor Barney Roth smells a story. But has he opened a bigger can of worms than he realized? (High school)
"The Westing Game" by Ellen Raskin -- Sixteen players are called to Sunset Towers as possible heirs to the fortune of Samuel Westing. But there's a catch -- one of the contestants killed Westing, and it's up to them to figure out who did it. (Middle to high school)