It’s not easy getting my teenage son to read for pleasure these days! Once my kids hit high school, I give up on coercing them to read on their own since they have a lot of reading assigned to them. My son is a high school freshman now and these are the books that he is currently reading.
My 9th Grade Son’s Recommended Book List
Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland
I took my son to a Tui Sutherland event at the Newton Free Library. There were tons of little kids there that looked to be in third grade. I didn’t think that it bothered him (or even that he noticed) but then he gave me his personal narrative English essay to look over and it was about being embarrassed to be the oldest kid at her event. It was hilarious! Needless to say, my son is a huge fan of Tui T. Sutherland. He discovered her books in 6th grade and will read them and enjoy hopefully for the rest of his life. He’s read the entire series plus graphic novel series at least twice. This is his Drop Everything And Read series. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Wings of Fire: The Graphic Novel, Book One The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui Sutherland
My son loves graphic novels and it does not spoil it for him that he already knows the plot. He’s requested all her graphic novel books. Secretly, I am hoping (because he loves to draw manga) that he will create a graphic novel one day. [middle grade graphic novel series, ages 8 and up]
Wings of Fire: The Graphic Novel, Book Two The Lost Heir by Tui Sutherland
My son and I do recommend that you read Wings of Fire, whether the middle grade books or the graphic novels, in order as the events in the books have a sequence of cascading consequences. It’s ok to read the graphic novels after you read the books. Graphic novels are also a great way to get kids to read the series if they find the books too difficult.
Wings of Fire: The Graphic Novel, Book Three The Hidden Kingdom by Tui Sutherland
Big Nate: Blow The Roof Off! by Lincoln Peirce
My son is a huge Big Nate fan! It’s a series that ages gracefully as the reader gets older in the same way that Calvin and Hobbs appeals equally to adults as older kids. My son started reading Big Nate in late elementary school and thanks me every time that I set a new Big Nate book in his room. My proffered offering is typically that I throw a book that I think he will like on his bed or floor (assuming that you can see the floor which is not always the case). [middle grade graphic novel series, ages 8 and up]
Flashpoint by Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, and Sandra Hope
My son likes two superheroes more than others: The Flash and Green Lantern. I have no idea why but if I gift him the comic books which are sometimes actual books, he happily reads them. And sometimes draws the characters as well! [graphic novel or comic books, ages 6 and up]
National Geographic Almanac 2020: Trending Topics – Big Ideas in Science – Photos, Maps, Facts & More by National Geographic
I have found that nonfiction books like Almanacs appeal to my son. He also likes Guinness Books of World Records or other nonfiction factoid books that he can flip around to find something that interests him. This is a beautiful version of the Almanac by National Geographic. [nonfiction, ages 8 and up]
Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
My son is a huge Jason Reynolds fan after devouring his Track series. My son plays sports (boxing, Nordic ski, golf, and soccer) never did Track and Field so it’s interesting to me that he connects to well to these books but not books about sports that he participates in. Jason Reynolds writing is just that good. I was fortunate to see him when he was a Writer-in-Resident at Lesley University. He read two stories from this book in draft form. His book is a master class in Show Don’t Tell.
Now that my son is in Shelter-in-Place, he is assigned reading just like when he was in middle school. He tried to get Look Both Ways approved by his teacher but it was rejected for being below his reading level. That’s a shame because this book was a Newbery Honor book and a National Book Award finalist.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
When my son’s book choice, Look Both Ways, got rejected by his 9th grade English teacher as a free choice reading assignment, he asked me for help. I’m not an expert in YA so I had a moment of panic because my son is a picky reader. I thought that humor might be the way to go and an adult book would pass the test. I used to own Me Talk Pretty One Day but I couldn’t find it in my bookshelves. I did, however, have a copy of this book which I bought from the used book sale at my library. My son read a chapter to test it out and pronounced it acceptable. I’m a huge fan of David Sedaris and I hope my son will read more of his books. [adult humor essays, ages 14 and up]
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
This was an assigned book for 9th grade English. My son would not have read it otherwise. He does not recommend it but I loved it as a teenager. [adult fiction, ages 14 and up]
Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things by Cy Tymony
I thought my son might find this “McGyvver” manual interesting and helpful. He loves this type of content on YouTube. [adult nonfiction, ages 12 and up]
9th Grade English Reading Curriculum
These are the other books assigned to my son’s 9th grade English class.
The Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar
I personally loved this middle grade book. My son thought it was ok. I’ll take that as a compliment. [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I’m surprised that my high school still uses this book given that Sherman Alexie has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. [young adult notebook novel, ages 12 and up]
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
I give my kids Tales from Shakespeare versions to help them understand the text but my son didn’t ask for help. My daughters used Tales from Shakespeare versions for Macbeth though. [play, ages 14 and up]
The Adventures of Ulysses by Bernard Evslin
Because my son was a huge fan of Percy Jackson and Rick Riordan, he had a solid foundation in Greek Mythology making this classic easier to comprehend. [classic, ages 14 and up]
He has not read these books yet as school was shut down for three weeks:
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
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