Recently, I did some crowd sourcing on Facebook, asking folks for help in coming up with a book that Paco and a couple of his friends — a group of seventh graders — could read for school as a sort of book club. Now, Paco is a persnickety reader. He wanted a book that was either sci-fi or fantasy, but nothing post-apocalyptic, and when it comes to romance, he says, “I find that very boring.”
Two of the three boys are very into playing Dungeons and Dragons, but the third boy is lukewarm about that type of imagination-based gaming. In a certain way, this further restricted the book options — because one of the kids is very literal as a reader while the other two enjoy the fantastical. Anyhow, we were feeling desperate that the three of them could ever arrive at a point of agreement.
Facebook Nation did not disappoint. Within a few hours, there were more than 44 comments and suggestions. Readers do love to talk about books!
After the thread of comments died down, I was approached by a handful of participants, asking if I would ever compile a master list of the suggestions. Quite happily, I started copying and pasting all the ideas into a document. Just as I was finishing the initial copying and pasting, I received a message from a longtime blog reader and now good friend, Jan Indermill.
Pointing out that she had two capable typing hands and a willing heart, she offered to compile the list, along the way adding in further information about the series a book might be from, what kind of appeal the book might have, testimonials from readers — and she even alphabetize the entire thing!
After putting in many hours, Jan sent me the list below. I, personally, have never gravitated towards sci-fi or fantasy, but when so many of my friends and family and former students are enthusiastic about these genres, I feel like I should expand my range. Thus, we will not only be using this list for Paco in the future, we will be using it for all of us.
So, for any of you looking for new ideas of what you or your teens might enjoy reading, here is a wonderfully inspired and comprehensive list. I’ll let you look it over before telling you which book Paco and his friends agreed upon.
Also, I do have this list saved both in Excel and Word, so if you would like me to email you the list as a document, just give me a shout, and I can do that.
Here we go:
|Title||Series Name||Author||Other Books in Series||Possible Appeal|
|Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy||The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy||Adams, Douglas||The Restaurant at The End of the Universe; Life, The Universe and Everything; So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish; Mostly Harmless; And Another Thing||Romance free!|
|Short Stories||Asimov, Isaac|
|Entanglement: The Greatest Mysteries in Physics||Axel, Amir D.|
|Short Stories||Bradbury, Ray|
|Fahrenheit 451||Bradbury, Ray|
|Sundiver||The Uplift Novels||Brin, Glen David||Startide Rising; The Uplift War|
|The Sword of Shannara||The Original Shannara Series||Brooks, Terry||The Elfstones of Shannara; The Wishsong of Shannara – and more. There are at least 12 books in the series.||Detailed fantasy world inhabited by elves, humans, warlocks. Set in the future, the plot (1st book?) involves a search for a magical sword needed to defeat an evil warlock.|
|Red Rising||Red Rising trilogy||Brown, Pierce||Golden Son; Morning Star||Set on Mars|
|Storm Front||The Dresden Files||Butcher, Jim||15 novels||Private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden investigates supernatural disturbances in modern-day Chicago.|
|The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass||The Cinder Spires||Butcher, Jim||9 books are planned||“Absolutely awesomesauce steampunk book that I couldn’t put down.”|
|Ender’s Game||Ender saga||Card, Orson Scott||14 novels, 13 short stories, a gazillion comic books||“The author has some crap political/social opinions but his books about that universe are great reads.” “He’s very weird and Mormon-y but has some good books.” “Bad politics; good sci-fi.”|
|Graceling||Graceling Realm series||Cashore, Kristen||Fire; Bitterblue||Parental warning: subject matter could be advanced for some younger readers.|
|The Sword||The Sword, The Ring, and The Chalice||Chester, Deborah||The Ring; The Chalice|
|City of Bones||The Moral Instruments||Clare, Cassandra||City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels; City of Lost Souls; City of Heavenly Fire||Paranormal romance/urban fantasy|
|The Children of Amarid||LonTobyn series||Coe, David B||The Outlanders; Eagle-Sage|
|Half Moon Investigations||Not a series, but the author has told people he plans a sequel||Colfer, Eoin||No additional books have been published yet||“My son laughed out loud while reading” From Wiki plot synopsis: Fletcher Moon (often called “Half-Moon” due to his short stature) is a natural born investigator. Knowing this, April, a girl from his school, comes to him for help in finding a lock of hair that she believes to have been stolen.|
|Over Sea, Under Stone||Dark Is Rising sequence||Cooper, Susan||The Dark Is Rising; Greenwitch, The Grey King; Silver On the Tree|
|The Spook’s Apprentice||The Wardstone Chronicles||Delaney, Joseph||14 books in series||Romance free! Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, is apprenticed to John Gregory to become a Spook – a master fighter of supernatural evil.|
|Pawn of Prophecy||The Belgaraid series||Eddings, David||Queen of Sorcery; Magician’s Gambit; Castle of Wizardry; Enchanters’ End Game|
|The Guardians of the West||The Mallorean series||Eddings, David||King of the Murgos; Demon Lord of Karanda; Sorceress of Darshiva; The Seeress of Kell|
|Welcome to Night Vale||Not a series — but there’s a podcast!!||Fink, Joseph and Cranor, Jeffrey||Romance free!|
|Time and Again||Time Series||Finney, Jack||From Time to Time||Stephen King says: “THE great time travel novel.”|
|The Ruins of Gorlan||Ranger’s Apprentice||Flanagan, John||The Burning Bridge; The Icebound Land and more. There are at least 12 books in the series, and at least one prequel.||Old school sword & sorcery “Imagine if the Rangers from Lord of the Rings took apprentices — what kind of life would that be?” Amazon customer review by EA Solinas|
|The Outcasts||The Brotherband Chronicles||Flanagan, John||The Invaders; The Hunters; Slaves of Socorro; Scorpion Mountain; The Ghostfaces (publ date June 2016)||Humorous writing style – “Snarling bad guys and stout hearted good guys, what more could you ask for?” Amazon customer review by Bill|
|Flashman||The Flashman Papers||Fraser, George MacDonald||??18 books??||Flashman is an antihero who often runs from danger in the novels. Nevertheless, through a combination of luck and cunning, he usually ends each volume acclaimed as a hero.|
|Inkheart||Inkheart trilogy||Funke, Cornelia||Inkspell; Inkdeath||Romance free!|
|The Graveyard Book||Not a series||Gaiman, Neil||Romance free!|
|Stardust||Not a series||Gaiman, Neil||Romance free!|
|Good Omens||Gaiman, Neil and Pratchett, Terry||Parental warning: double check that this is age-appropriate.|
|The Weirdstone of Brisingamen: A Tale of Alderley||Not a series, but there is a sequel||Garner, Alan||The Moon of Gomrath (sequel)|
|My Side of the Mountain||George, Jean Craighead|
|Myths of the Norsemen||Not a series, but author has written many works based in other myths.||Green, Roger Lancelyn|
|The Magicians||Grossman, Lev||The Magician King; The Magician’s Land||“13 may be a bit young for this series” High school student Quentin Coldwater attends a college of magic in NYC.|
|Dune||Dune series||Herbert, Frank||There are five sequels|
|Stormbreaker||Alex Rider||Horowitz, Anthony||Point Blanc; Skeleton Key and more. There are at least 10 books in the series.||007 style spy stories with a 13-year-old protagonist|
|Into The Wild||Warrior Series||Hunter, Erin||Into The Wild; Fire and Ice; Forest of Secrets; and more. There are a gazillion books!||4 clans of wild cats|
|Rise of the Wolf||Wereworld series||Jobling, Curtis||Rage of Lions; Shadow of the Hawk; Nest of Serpents; Storm of Sharks; War of the Werelords||“Imagine a world ruled by Werelords–men and women who can shift at will into bears, lions, and serpents. When Drew suddenly discovers he’s not only a werewolf but the long-lost heir to the murdered Wolf King’s throne, he must use his wits and newfound powers to survive.” Amazon blurb|
|The Eye of the World||Wheel of Time||Jordan, Robert||The Great Hunt; The Dragon Reborn. There are 14 books, including a prequel.|
|The Phantom Tollbooth||Juster, Norton (illus by Jules Feiffer)|
|The Stonekeeper||Amulet||Kibuishi, Kabo||There are seven books in the series||Graphic novels|
|Helmet for My Pillow||Leckie, Robert|
|Earthsea Cycle||LeGuin, Ursala|
|The Word of Unbinding (short story) and A Wizard of Earthsea||Earthsea||LeGuin, Ursala||The series comprises 8 short stories and 5 novels|
|The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe||Chronicles of Narnia||Lewis, C.S|
|Legend||Legend series||Lu, Marie||Prodigy; Champion||dystopian?|
|The Merchant of Death||The Pendragon series||MacHale, DJ||There are 10 books in the series||Bobby Pendragon, an American teenager, discovers that he must prevent the destruction of the ten “territories”: distinct but interrelated space-time realities.|
|Dragonflight||Dragonriders of Pern||McCaffery, Anne and/or Todd||Dragonquest; The White Dragon and more. There are at least 22 books in the series.||People have empathic abilities with their dragons. And space travel!|
|Riddle Master trilogy||McKillip, Patricia|
|McKinley, Robin||anything by this author||“Kick ass female characters”|
|Wildwood||The Wildwood Chronicles||Meloy, Colin (of the Decembrists)||? It looks like all the Chronicles are published in one volume?||gorgeous illustrations|
|Elric of Melniboné||Elric of Melniboné stories||Moorcock, Michael||?17 novels??|
|The Night Circus||Not a series||Morgenstern, Erin||Romance free! A phantasmagorical fairy tale set near an historical Victorian London in a wandering magical circus that is open only from sunset to sunrise.|
|Beyonders: A World Without Heroes||Beyonders Trilogy||Mull, Brandon|
|Fablehaven||Fablehaven||Mull, Brandon||Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star; Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague; Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary; Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison||Secret nature preserve for magical creatures|
|Midnight for Charlie Bone||Children of the Red King (sometimes called Charlie Bone series)||Nimmo, Jenny||The Time Twister; The Blue Boa; Castle of Mirrors; Charlie Bone and The Hidden King; Charlie Bone and The Wilderness Wolf; Charlie Bone and The Shadow of Badlock; Charlie Bone and The Red Knight||Romance free!|
|His Majesty’s Dragon||Temeraire||Novik, Naomi||There are 8 books in the series; a 9th book will be published in 2016||Dragons!|
|Master & Commander||Aubrey-Maturin||O’Brian, Patrick||21 novels in series; the 21st novel was unfinished when O’Brian died in 2000|
|Eragon||The Inheritance Cycle||Paolini, Christoper||Eldest; Brisingr; Inheritance||A teenage boy and his dragon struggle to overthrow an evil king.|
|Trickster series especially recommended, but anything by this author is recommended||Pierce, Tamara|
|Pratchett, Terry||anything by Pratchett|
|The Golden Compass||His Dark Materials||Pullman, Phillip||The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass|
|Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children||Riggs, Ransom||Not a series|
|The Lightning Thief||Percy Jackson series||Riordan, Rick||The Sea of Monsters; The Titan’s Curse; The Battle of the Labyrinth; The Last Olympian|
|The Name of the Wind||The Kingkiller Chronicle||Rothfuss, Patrick||The Wise Man’s Fear; a 3rd book is promised?|
|Homeland||The Legend of Drizzt||Salvatore, R.A.||Exile; Sojourn – and more. There are at least 28 books in the series.||Appealing to D&D fans? Follows the boy-child Drizzt, a Dark Elf, to maturity as he seeks harmony in an evil (?) matriarchal society.|
|The Final Empire||Mistborn Trilogy||Sanderson, Brandon||The series includes two trilogies, a transitional novel between the trilogies, and, apparently, at least one book still to be published.||Anything & everything by this author… but Mistborn Trilogy is a good place to start.|
|Cirque du Freak||Cirque du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan||Shan, Darren||12-part book series||The struggles of a boy who has become involved in the world of vampires|
|Land Loss||Demonata series||Shan, Darren||There are 10 books in the series.||Romance free!|
|With the Old Breed: At Peleliue and Okinawa||Sledge, Eugene|
|The Mysterious Benedict Society||The Mysterious Benedict Society||Stewart, Trenton Lee||The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey; The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma; The Extraodinary Education of Nicholas Benedict||Romance free! Four gifted children. Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Wetherall, and Constance Contraire, are formed into the “Mysterious Benedict Society” and are sent to investigate a facility called L.I.V.E. (the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened), run by the brilliant but evil Ledroptha Curtain.|
|TenNepal, Doug||anything by this author||Graphic novels|
|Middleworld||The Jaguar Stones series||Voelkel, J&P||End of the World Club; The River of No Return; The Lost City;||14-year-old Max must rescue his parents from Mayan underworld.|
|The 5th Wave||The 5th Wave Series||Yancy, Rick||The Infinite Sea; The Last Star (to be published May 2016)||Cassie finds herself in a world devastated by alien attack, desperate to save herself and find her lost brother. Cassie’s mission is to stay alone and stay alive. But then she meets Evan Walker, who may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death.|
So which book did the boys and up selecting?
They chose the book Storm Front from the Dresden Files series written by author Jim Butcher. It was recommended by one of my former students, a man who is very much into the world of Dungeons and Dragons, weapons, good books, and living life with gusto.
From start to finish: the entire process of finding a book that would satisfy Paco and his friends was fun, energetic, and a great example of a flash community popping up around a common interest. It made me happy.
You know what else made me happy? When I told Paco I needed a feature image for this blog post — something related to books and reading — and he offered to create it. It’s a damn piece of sunshine, that picture. He may be reading adult books these days, but his picture reminded me he’s still a kid inside.
So, in closing, I’d just like to shout: READING RULES!