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2017 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School


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 2016–2017 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 | Easy Readers and Primary Grades | Intermediate | Middle School

High School

Suggested grade level for all entries: 9 and up

Bull by David Elliott (Houghton)
This clever verse version of the Minotaur story unrolls in the voices of seven characters, but god Poseidon (instigator, manipulator, and despiser of humankind) sets the tone. Raplike wordplay, rhymes with coercive predictability, unpleasant intensity — it’s horribly effective and wickedly entertaining. 189 pages.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Tegen/HarperCollins)
While traveling eighteenth-century Europe, eighteen-year-old Monty is determined to retrieve an alchemical panacea to cure his best friend Percy (with whom Monty is hopelessly in love) of epilepsy. Mayhem, adventure, and a swoon-worthy emotional roller coaster of a romance ensue. A genre tribute, satire, and exemplar in one: trope-filled in the most gleeful way. 512 pages.

March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illus. by Nate Powell (Top Shelf) 2017 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, Printz Award Winner, YALSA Nonfiction Award Winner, Sibert Award Winner; 2016 National Book Award Winner, LA Times Book Prize Runner-Up
This final volume in the graphic memoir series about Congressman Lewis’s life includes the expected and necessary set pieces from the civil rights movement, culminating with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But the smaller, lesser-known moments of violence, injustice, and helplessness are no less painful to read about, and Lewis recalls them with intimate familiarity and bracing honesty. Kinetic, fluid black-and-white illustrations underscore the period’s brutality. 254 pages.

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook)
Football icon Jim Thorpe is the indisputable star of Undefeated, although other compelling narratives come into play, including those of the infamous Carlisle Indian Industrial School, legendary coach Glenn “Pop” Warner, and the game of football itself. Brief, action-packed chapters make for propulsive reading. 280 pages.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Simon) 2017 Printz Honor Book
With mortality a thing of the past, “scythes” are responsible for “gleaning” to restrict population growth. Citra and Rowan are selected as scythe apprentices, but neither wants the role. A philosophical exploration of life and death packaged as a high-action sci-fi adventure. 435 pages.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown)
Lowly librarian Lazlo Strange has a keen interest in the city of Weep, which lost contact with the rest of the world over two hundred years ago. Sarai is “godspawn” (half-human, half-god) and can enter people’s dreams. Their stories combine in a mesmerizing fantasy tale with captivating twists and turns. 533 pages.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins)
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter witnesses the police shooting of her childhood friend Khalil. What follows is a gut-wrenching chain of events that alters all Starr holds dear. Debut author Thomas has penned a powerful, in-your-face novel that will similarly galvanize fans of Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down and Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys. 453 pages.

Thick as Thieves [Queen’s Thief] by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow)
Turner’s eagerly awaited fifth Queen’s Thief novel (beginning with The Thief) displays her many fortes: ingenious plotting, nuanced characterization, and narrative surprises. After his master is murdered, a slave named Kamet must flee to save his life; fortuitously, an Attolian soldier offers to escort him to freedom. Thoroughly tricky, insightful, and satisfying. 339 pages.

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, illus. by Alex Puvilland (First Second/Roaring Brook)
Three years ago, something very strange happened in Poughkeepsie, New York—no one is certain exactly what — but weird things happened in the city and weird things now populate it. The first entry in a creepy, addictively suspenseful graphic novel series starring a daring motorcycle-riding heroine. 210 pages.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (Delacorte) 2017 CSK/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award Winner, Printz Honor Book; 2016 National Book Award Finalist
Natasha, an undocumented Jamaican immigrant teen facing immediate deportation, believes in science and rationality. Korean American teen Daniel believes in destiny and poetry. When their paths cross repeatedly over one day, Daniel — convinced it’s meant to be — races the clock to get Natasha to fall in love with him before their time together ends. 349 pages.

From the May 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book: Summer Reading.

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

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