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2016 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School

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Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2015–2016 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

For a handy take-along list of titles, download our printable PDF.

Picture Books | Early Readers and Primary Grades | Intermediate | Middle School

High School

Suggested grade level for all entries: 9 and up

bausum_stonewall_170x256Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum (Viking)
Bausum begins with a nuanced exposition of the June 1969 Stonewall riots as a galvanizing moment for gay rights, then traces the evolution of the gay rights movement. Her narrative integrity makes her observations about the LGBTQ community’s persecution and resilience even more powerful. 120 pages.

The Boys Who Challenged HitlerThe Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose (Farrar) 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book, 2016 Sibert Honor Book
When Hitler invaded Denmark, teenaged Knud Pedersen (with his brother and some mates) engaged in civil disobedience, inspiring a larger-scale Danish revolt. Hoose brilliantly shows how the astonishing bravery of ordinary Danish teens started something extraordinary. 198 pages.

king_I-Crawl-Through-It_170x258I Crawl Through It by A. S. King (Little, Brown)
Gustav builds an invisible helicopter that Stanzi can see only on Tuesdays; China swallowed herself and is now inside-out; Lansdale’s hair grows when she lies. Blending the magical and the mundane, this affecting work suggests that internalized traumas change how we see and operate in the world. 323 pages.

medina_burn baby burnBurn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (Candlewick)
This vividly evoked coming-of-age story is set in 1977 NYC during the city’s oppressive heat wave and with a very real serial killer on the loose. Seventeen-year-old Nora López faces an insecure future after graduation. For now, she escapes by hanging out with her best friend Kathleen, going to the movies, flirting with “stone-cold Latin fox” Pablo, and planning a big night out dancing to celebrate the girls’ eighteenth birthdays. 310 pages.

nelson_my-seneca-village_170x263My Seneca Village by Marilyn Nelson (Namelos) 2016 L.A. Times Book Prize
Seneca Village was founded in 1825 by free African Americans; by 1857 it had been razed for construction of Central Park. In forty-one poems, each prefaced by brief scene-setting text, Nelson imagines the reflections of the village’s inhabitants. Nelson’s natural, musical lines lend themselves to multiple readings. 88 pages.

reynolds_all-american-boys_170x254All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (Dlouhy/Atheneum) 2016 Walter Dean Myers Award, Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
When a quick stop at the corner store suddenly escalates into police brutality, high school classmates Rashad (who is African American) and Quinn (who is white) are linked and altered by the violence — Rashad as victim and Quinn as witness. 316 pages.

rowell_carry onCarry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)
In this Fangirl companion novel, Simon Snow, the most powerful mage in centuries, uncovers secrets that call into question his beliefs about good and evil. He also realizes that there may be sexual attraction underlying his antagonistic relationship with his probably-a-vampire roommate Baz. 522 pages.

sheinkin_most-dangerous_170x251Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook) 2015 National Book Award Finalist, 2016 YALSA Nonfiction Award Winner
With the timing and prowess of a writer of thrillers, Sheinkin takes on a spectacularly complex story — Daniel Ellsberg’s evolution from “cold warrior” to antiwar activist, and why and how he leaked the Pentagon Papers — and makes it comprehensible for teens. 370 pages.

stevenson_nimonaNimona by Noelle Stevenson; illus. by the author (HarperTeen) 2015 National Book Award Finalist
In this webcomic-turned-graphic-novel, ex-knight and current supervillain Ballister Blackheart gets a new (and not-entirely-welcome) sidekick. Plucky young shapeshifter Nimona loves violence and explosives; she’s a beautifully flawed, refreshingly unstereotypical protagonist. The book’s setting — a medieval-type kingdom mixed with futuristic science — entertainingly tweaks both the science-fiction and fantasy genres. 266 pages.

wynne-jones_emperor-of-any-place_170x254The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick)
A strange book was sent to Evan’s father just before his sudden death. As Evan reads the book — the translated journal of a WWII Japanese soldier stranded on a mystical island with an American Marine — he experiences a sense of déjà-vu. An affecting, unforgettable read. 328 pages.

For past years’ summer reading lists from The Horn Book, click on the tag summer reading.

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