Since last May when I became a member of the Florida Teen Reads Committee, I along with the other members have read literally a zillion books trying to find the best ones for our yearly list.  The list of 15 titles that have been chosen are done so to specifically engage high school students (grades 9 through 12) and reflect their interests as well as represent a variety of genres, formats, reading levels, viewpoints, and ethnic and cultural perspectives.  

Once again we will be reading a zillion books again.  If anyone want to send us books  – we will be happy to read them.  We just ask that they be published in 2008.

I wanted to share the list for a couple of reasons: Secondly, I hope that teachers who never used this list before, see it and uses it within their curriculum.  These books can be used to teach FCAT skills.  I’m not a fan of teaching to the test and but I do feel that skills like determining the main idea and supporting details and synthesizing information will help your students will become happy life long readers.

Florida Teens Read 2008-2009

 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

            Clay Jenson receives a mysterious package. Inside are seven cassette tapes that Hannah Baker, Clay’s secret crush, recorded before she committed suicide two weeks earlier. Clay is one of 13 people who agonizingly listen to the tapes and discover what part Hannah thought each of them played in her death.

 A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (Mature Reader)

            Ishmael Beah retells his experiences beginning at age 12 when civil war drives him from his village in Sierra Leone. He is captured by the national army, brainwashed, and forced to commit horrible acts for three years before he is rescued by UNICEF and taken to a rehabilitation center. He is eventually able to flee his country and move to the U.S.

 Avalon High by Meg Cabot

When her parents who are medieval scholars go on sabbatical, 17-year-old Ellie Harrison begins her junior year at an unfamiliar school where it seems the King Arthur legend is being reincarnated. The forces of darkness threaten to take over, but Ellie has no intention of letting the past write her future when she finds herself in the midst of similar names, bitter relatives, and an illicit affair. 

 Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

            While watching the elephants on Seattle’s zoo webcam  to calm her panic attacks, 17-year-old Jade DeLuna notices a cute boy with a baby and knows they are destined to be important to her. She volunteers with the elephants and meets and falls in love with Sebastian, a single dad, but their happiness is threatened when Sebastian’s dangerous secret surfaces.

 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

            When 15-year-old Clary Fray witnesses a murder at a club by creatures no one else can see, she realizes her life will never be the same. Her mother is kidnapped, and she is taken in by a group of demon hunters who help her discover her true heritage. She joins them in the search for the Mortal Cup in hopes of finding her mother and stopping a renegade sector from destroying all nonhumans.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher

            Just before his senior year during a routine sports physical, Ben Wolf finds out he has one year to live. He swears the doctor to secrecy, refuses treatment, doesn’t tell anyone about his diagnosis, and decides to do everything he always wanted to do including playing football, pursuing his long-time crush, and petitioning to have the main street in his small town named after Malcolm X, all the while conversing through dreams with a spiritual guide known as “Hey-Soos.”

 The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

            Aspiring forensic pathologist Cameryn Mahoney convinces her father, who is the coroner in a small town, to hire her as an assistant to help him solve the mystery of a serial killer who leaves a St. Christopher medal with each victim. She puts herself in danger when the next victim turns out to be her friend Rachel.

 What Happened to Cass McBride? By Gail Giles

            After his brother commits suicide, Kyle Kirby kidnaps and buries alive Cass McBride, the girl he holds responsible. Cass talks to Kyle through a plastic air tube and frantically tries to get him to set her free. She fights for her life both physically and mentally before time runs out.

 Incantation by Alice Hoffman

            Set during the Spanish Inquisition, this is the story of two best friends, Estrella and Catalina. Estrella realizes that her family is secretly Jewish, and when Catalina discovers that the man she intends to marry has fallen in love with Estrella, she betrays Estrella’s family with tragic consequences.

 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossani (Mature Reader)

            This novel, set in Afghanistan during three decades of Soviet occupation, civil war and Taliban rule, follows Mariam and Laila, two women 19 years apart in age, whose lives are dramatically intertwined by dire circumstances including marriage, childbirth, abuse and murder.

 Firestorm by David Klass

            When Jack, who has always been told to blend in, sets his school’s rushing record, he puts into motion a course of events including finding out his parents aren’t really his parents, running for his life from a shape-shifting wolf girl, communicating telepathically with a dog named Gisco, being trained by a ninja babe named Eko, and finding out he is the only one who can save the world from ecological disaster if he can find “firestorm”.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

            Aislinn has always been able to see the faeries that are invisible to most humans, and she lives by a set of rules to keep her safe from their notice.  But when Keenan, the Summer King, targets her to be the next queen, the rules change and the fate of both human and faerie worlds lies in her.

Street Love by Walter Dean Myers

            Using a rap beat and rhyme, this Harlem-set story tells of the romance between Damien, a straight-A, college-bound, basketball star whose parents want him to date middle class Roxanne, and Junice, a beautiful street-strong young woman trying to keep her family together after her mom is sent to prison.

 Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

            When an asteroid hits the moon knocking it closer to the Earth and causing a chain of cataclysmic natural disasters, 16-year-old Miranda, through journal entries, tells what happens as her family faces dismal conditions that include power outages, lack of food and water, and outbreaks of disease.

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

            When 15-year-old Garrett refuses to end a relationship with 23-year-old Sabrina, his controlling parents send him to a behavior modification boot camp in hopes that the camp’s extreme methods will teach him to be a more respectful son. Garrett struggles to survive the extreme cruelty and eventually joins two other teens in a desperate escape attempt.