On a recent episode of the hit Apple+ show, Ted Lasso, the titular character gave his rugged football players some surprising gifts—young adult novels! Undoubtedly, many viewers felt their hearts swell as Lasso handed Roy Kent A Wrinkle in Time and a copy of Ender’s Game to Sam Obisanya. Why assign YA books to adult professional athletes?
Bookriot suggests there is value in returning to these books as adults. They remind “ourselves what it’s like to be a kid, to gain a different perspective on the world, and to expand our understanding of different experiences and communities.”
Already a fan of YA books? You’re not alone! At the same time, though, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of reading the same books year after year. The classics are obviously amazing, but there’s a lot of great, new content out there. Maybe it’s time to freshen up your library with some newer releases. You can find new ways to connect with your students and the current issues they face.
1. Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler
Why it’s a good read: Following Lara as she processes her feelings towards both Chase and Jasmine might help you better understand your students’ own self-discovery journey.
Buy it: Cool for the Summer
2. You Have a Match by Emma Lord
Why it’s a good read: DNA tests are very popular right now, but some deliver surprising results. This can help connect with a student who has learned difficult things about their family history.
Buy it: You Have a Match
3. Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala
Why it’s a good read: Do you have students who love cosplay and Project Runway? This story highlights the importance of embracing our authentic selves and following our passions.
Buy it: Be Dazzled
4. A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen
Why it’s a good read: This book looks at life through the eyes of a young woman who died by suicide. The themes are sometimes heartbreaking and intense, but provide a look at how our lives are a collection of beautiful and terrible moments.
Buy it: A Breath Too Late
5. The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott
Why it’s a good read: Reading Emily’s story after losing her mother to cancer may help you grow closer to students who have been through similar experiences.
Buy it: The Lucky List
6. One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite
Why it’s a good read: People who speak up and protest against social justice put themselves at risk—even teens. This book provides an up-close look at the human cost of the fight against prejudice.
Buy it: One of the Good Ones
7. The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
Why it’s a good read: This story about the daughter of a con artist who must tap into extensive survival skills to survive being taken hostage during a bank heist is thrilling. It’s also being adapted into a Netflix film starring Millie Bobbie Brown that everyone will be talking about (and who wants to be left out of that conversation?).
Buy it: The Girls I’ve Been
8. Wings of Ebony by J. Elle
Why it’s a good read: Suspend reality and dive straight into this riveting fantasy that follows Rue, a teen from Houston who discovers she’s both half-god and half-human and that local Black kids have been forced into a life of crime and violence. This book is great for encouraging students to step into their power, stand up for what’s right, and embrace their true selves.
Buy it: Wings of Ebony
9. Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez
Why it’s a good read: After fleeing her country, Catalina no longer has a home. The odds of survival are stacked against her, but she had no choice. She had to escape. We have many students in our classrooms who have lived through similar experiences. This is one of the best YA books for compassionate discussions surrounding immigration.
Buy it: Written in Starlight
10. Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
Why it’s a good read: Tessa loves romance novels but rarely sees herself reflected in the characters. So, she becomes the leading lady in her own writing! This book is perfect for sparking a conversation about representation in literature and becoming a star in your own life!
Buy it: Happily Ever Afters
11. Everything That Burns by Gita Trelease
Why it’s a good read: This sequel to All That Glitters tells the story of a young woman who must find a way to protect herself and her sister in the face of government corruption and personal prosecution. This theme could resonate with students who have felt targeted and threatened for being themselves.
Buy it: Everything That Burns
12. Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Why it’s a good read: After growing up in a mostly white California town, Izumi travels to Japan upon discovering she’s the daughter of the Crown Prince. This is a wonderful novel to connect with biracial students from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Buy it: Tokyo Ever After
13. Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce
Why it’s a good read: Ellie Nichols joins the study abroad trip after a humiliating public rejection—and she’s got a plan to make her new crush jealous. It’s a great reminder of how confusing first relationships can be and how far we’ll go to impress someone.
Buy it: Hot British Boyfriend
14. The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch
Why it’s a good read: Openly gay Sky Baker’s secret promposal plans get leaked by a homophobic anonymous hacker. Suddenly, the kid who’s made an effort to be invisible has found a reason to fight back. This book is great for understanding and recognizing the cruelty and bullying LGBTQ students face and how to provide the right kind of support.
Buy it: The Sky Blues
15. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Why it’s a good read: Native teen Daunis Fontaine’s plans of starting college are put on hold when a family tragedy strikes. Ultimately, she realizes it’s up to her to root out the corruption in her community. This is one of the most popular YA books right now. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, is adapting it for Netflix. It’s a good way to discuss Native American experiences in this country, the difficulties of overcoming adversity, and how personal trauma can impact our ability to follow our dreams.
Buy it: Firekeeper’s Daughter