Top Ten Tuesday: Books Kids HAVE to Read

the broke and the bookish

Good morning ya’ll! So I’m busy unpacking from my move this weekend, and SO excited to get my books back on their shelves, but I’m taking a break because it’s time for Top Ten Tuesday. TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and the topic this week is one perfect for the first week of September – Top 10 Contemporary Books That Would Be Great Paired With A Required Reading Book OR Top Ten Books That You Wish Were Taught In Schools.  I’m going with the second option there.

These are books I think should actually be read and discussed in the classroom – not just on those endless lists of summer reading books that most kids tend to skim or research online to bullshit their way through a book report.

1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – This needs to be read in 8th and 9th grade classes. This book tackles so many issues important to today’s youth – popularity, body image, self-worth, sexual orientation, and a lot more. And it’s extremely funny as well.

2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – This book is so awesome as a “stand up to bullies” kind of thing. AND you can have great discussions with the kids about the author being a homophobic, racist asshole. Although I don’t like the idea of the author making money off of this… so maybe wait until he’s dead to start teaching it in schools.

3. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence – YUP. I’m still not done pushing this book on people. I think it would be good for high school kids – an intelligent, nerdy narrator who befriends a grumpy old man and it can lead to great discussions about being bullied, science, and the assisted suicide debate.

4. True Grit by Charles Portis – I just reviewed this last week, and I’ll say it again – this is totally worth a “classics being read in schools” status. Mattie is a fantastic 14-year narrator, and discussions can include maturity of young people, western justice compared to modern justice, confidence, and more.

5. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I am sure there are some classes that read the HP books, but I’m sure that overall they’re not pushed because some religious wackos are against them. But they’re magical and fantastic and all about friendship, bravery, tolerance, and just a million little things.

6. Nexus by Ramez Naam – This is probably better for the high school kids, but I think growing up in the Digital Age it raises a lot of cool ideas and questions. If you could take a drug that would permanently install software in your brain and make you able to link minds with others who’ve taken Nexus, would you?

7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Probably good for any kid over 12, but it’s wonderful and all about first love and awkwardness and being in lousy situations and it’s just so PERFECT for young teens. Plus it will remind kids of today of what comic books and cassette tapes were 😉

8. The Postmortal by Drew Magary – Another perfect discussion-inducing book for older teens. If you could take a drug that would stop you from aging and leave you free to live until murder or disease eventually gets you, would you? And how would it affect things like the economy, marriages, having children, and so on? Scientists are constantly the hunt for something to stop the aging process and make us semi-immortal, so this is fun to talk about.

9. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – It’s not read enough by teens, especially by the boys. It’s one of the most famous classics out there, I mean come on. But maybe aim it towards the 17 and 18 year-olds, because I can see the younger ones getting too bored and impatient with the old-school language.

10. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn – Short and quirky, it explores what would happen if letters were taken away from us, one of one. Talks in the class could be about censorship, tyrannical governments, and religious zealots.

 So there! What books do you think should be read in schools to get kids thinking and talking?





  1. If you like True Grit (which I did as well), I think you’ll like The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale. It’s coming out next week and my review will post closer to than, but it’s really good.

    Did you see the most recent movie version of True Grit?


    1. Yay, I can’t wait to see your review of The Thicket. Which you probably have up by now, and if so then I’ll be able to read it today at work because yayyy internet! Our internet at home doesn’t get turned on again until Monday and it’s killing me!

      I did see the most recent True Grit movie, and it was alright, but I definitely liked the book better. I thought the girl that played Mattie did a good job.


    1. I hope she likes them! Beauty Queens specifically deals with body image, gender identity, and sexual orientation… personally I think it’s alright for a 13 year old, but maybe browse through it just to make sure you’re okay with it first. I’d hate for you to think it’s too risque and be angry at me for not mentioning those heavier topics!


    1. Wow, 4 months on Ender’s Game?! You must have had crazy in-depth discussions about it. I did end up having one long conversation with a friend about the removel of the n-word and OSC’s possible racism, and that was interesting.


  2. Great point on why Ender’s Game should be included! Especially how classes should discuss what it means to have an author with problematic views. I did love that book. OSC being a douche won’t change that. I’ll definitely be rereading it before the movie comes out in November. Do you think you’ll see the movie? Have you seen the trailers?


    1. Oooo a re-read, I should do that. I haven’t seen the trailers, and I probably won’t go see the movie in theaters. I’ll wait until I can rent it from the library, or for $1 from Redbox. It REALLY irritated me that he came out begging people not to boycott his movie because of his homophobic views. UGH.


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