I’m joining this week’s blog hosted by Long and Short Reviews.
I’ll start with the classics.
The first mystery books I ever read were in elementary school. The Westing Game and Harriet the Spy. The Westing Game was a difficult mystery when I was so young and I loved the feel of solving it at the end-and reading it all myself. Harriet the Spy became my idol…I did a lot of spying on my grandmother’s neighbors when things got slow during my summer visits. The next book that had a big impact on me as a young reader was Island of the Blue Dolphins. I loved the adventure and survival themes, but also it sparked a love of history and studying culture. I have loved that book for years.
The next two books I read as an adult, but they are actually for younger readers. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is a middle grade book and really, really good. I read it as part of a workshop and was struck by how vivid the writing was and how well it handled themes ranging from disabilities, to bullying, to exclusion. A very powerful book that all youth should read-and adults to.
The other is The Hate U Give. I haven’t seen the movie (yet) but the book is a must read. It takes the contentious issue of race and police and gives it layers and perspectives that you never get from news or politics. The reason fiction is so powerful is because it can take those issues we want to see as either/or and show that life is actually much more complex than that.
Truthfully, I think youth should discover the books that they like. I don’t believe in telling people ‘books you must read’ or behaving as if someone’s genre choices are superior to others. Books are personal and the ‘best’ books are the one’s that are ‘best’ for you.