Whaley, J.C. (2011). Where things come back. New York: Atheneum.
Realistic Fiction/Young Adult
Reading Level: 7.5
Lexile Level: 960L
Interest Level: 8-12th
Set in the small fictional of “Lily” town outside of Little Rock, Arkansas, we are introduced to 17-year-old Cullen Witter at the beginning of summer before his Senior year. He has a job, a best friend, Lucas, and a wise and clever younger brother, Gabriel, who he adores. A thought to be extinct woodpecker has been spotted near Lily and the people of the town are going nuts to verify its existence. In the morning after a double date with an older girl who returned to Lily; Cullen and his parents realize the Gabriel has vanished. Whaley intertwines Cullen’s story and a young man who is a missionary in Ethiopia, with humor, and grief where the parallel stories convene at the conclusion. This book would not be suitable for students younger than 13, as there are descriptions of sex, suicide, and minor violence. This novel could be used in a Literature Circle for high school students, and for independent reading.
Gratz, A. (2015). Code of honor. New York: Scholastic Press.
Young Adult Fiction
Reading Level: 7
Lexile Level: HL 660L
Interest Level: 6th grade -9th grade
In this novel that is categorized as high interest low readability, author Alan Gratz takes the reader on a dizzying ride through accusations of terrorism, detention in a government building and a CIA mission. Young adults who are interested in the military, CIA, or any part of counter terrorism may find this text appealing. This novel is applicable and accessible with the current political climate of fear toward people who are from countries in the Middle East. Readers of this novel will need some background knowledge of the conflicts in Northern Ireland between the Protestants and Catholics, and the political reasons there are tensions with Iran.
Newman, L. (2012). October mourning a song for Matthew Shepard. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Young Adult Poetry
Reading Level: 7th
Lexile Level: N/A
Interest Level: 8th and up
Leslea Newman’s Stonewall Honor book personally and painfully reimages different perspectives of the killing of Matthew Shepard in this book of poetry. There are a multitude of poetic forms used which are explained at the end of the text. The book of poetry is organized into two parts, with some of the poems containing an epigraph at the beginning when there is a direct quote from a person involved in the event. Additional citation information is included at the end of the book for the epigraphs with additional sources of information. This text can be used in conjunction with a research project and as a book club for ages 14 and up.
Nye, N., S. (2004). Is this forever, or what? Poems & paintings from Texas. New York: Green Willow Books.
Reading Level: 5th
Lexile Level: N/A
Interest Level: 5th-12th grade
In this anthology of poetry centered around Texas, Naomi Shihab Nye has selected 139 poems and one of hers that are also accompanied by paintings from 44 artists that attempt to capture the enormity of Texas. The book is divided into four parts with interludes in between the sections. The poets are all Texans, but not necessarily native born, and many are born outside of the United States. The Notes on Contributors at the end describes who the poets are. This anthology is beautiful and offers the reader a reminder, and a taste of what living in Texas can be like. The poems include a variety of formats and styles over a wide range of topics.