Literacy · Teaching Reflections · Topics for Parents and Students

10 Books Teens want to read in 2017 (and 5 their teacher recommends)

Returning from holidays is tough (I know, boo hoo teachers). The kids are cranky, we’re cranky and everyone is dreading the exam rush on the horizon. Inspired by lists on Twitter and Facebook of hot books to read in 2017, I asked my students to create their own 2017 reading calendars. See my assignment here: aowreadingcalendarfor2017.

Then,for our last independent reading program conference I asked them to share their calendars with me. Why have I not done this before? Not only did I have some fantastic conversations with students about reading goals and books they are interested in, I got a nice next list for myself and a ‘must buy’ list for my reading library. Based on my student reading calendars, I’ve compiled a top 10 list of teen reads for 2017. Enjoy!

#10. Amulet,  by Kazy Kibishi. Fiction, graphic novels series. Although I’d never heard of it before, I had many of my struggling readers include this graphic novel series on their reading calendars. They tell me that it’s fantasy based and mesmerizing. Many students have already read the first or second books and want to continue with the series. Amulet.jpeg

#9. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous. Non-Fiction, autobiography. A perennial favourite, this book keeps popping up with my adolescent readers, and was on many reading calendars and reading goal posters again this year. At one point I had 8 on my shelves as a left over from the days of literature circles, but there is only one left. I once went to a PD session with Penny Kittle (reigning queen of independent reading programs) and she said that the sign of a hot book is when they disappear from book shelves, never to return.  Well, I’ve ‘lost’ 7 of my 8 copies of this book, so clearly it is still on student’s radar. If you are unaware of the story, it is the anonymous diary of a teen girl in the 1970’s who is pulled into the world of drugs, and spirals out of control.goask.jpg

#8 The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls. Non-fiction, autobiography. This book showed up one day in a box sent to me by a very nice board Literacy consultant who periodically sends me free books for my reading library. I read it in about a day, book talked it to my three classes at the time, and bam – it was passed around like wildfire. Ms. Walls tells a funny, troubled and inspiring story of her very eccentric parents and troubled childhood and adolescence. Teens love this book. Since my first book talk last year, I scrounged up a couple more copies, but never had to book talk it again – the kids do that themselves. It didn’t surprise me at all to see it on many reading calendars for 2017.


#7. I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga. Fiction, action/mystery. This is the first book in a three-part series about Jasper Dent, a regular teenager who just happens to be the son of a serial killer. When murders start happening in Jasper’s town, the police hone in on him: both suspicious, and hoping for his insight. This book was passed around quite a bit already this semester, and other kids have bought the next books in the series and are now passing those around. This was a bit hit on my boys reading calendars, and I’ll definitely be adding the sequels to my reading library this winter.ihuntkillers

#6. I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai. Non-fiction, autobiography. This is another book that popped up in one of my freebie boxes from our board consultant. I remembered the tragic, yet inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai (shot in the head in Pakistan by militants, but survived to become a symbol of peace, education and defiance) so I decided to read it. Again, I book talked it to my classes and it started getting passed around quite a bit. Since kids are talking and curious about it, it’s also landed on many of their reading calendars.


 #5. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur. Fiction, poetry. I first saw this book earlier in the semester in the hands of one of my grade 11 students, and checked it out. It looked pretty cool  – short poems with beautiful accompanying images. I honestly didn’t think it was a hot read, but then it started popping up in other kids hands. And again, during conferences about reading calendars there it was……. Kids were really enjoying and connecting with this book of poetry. Who would have thought? I’ll be adding this to my reading library asap and reading it myself……after my exams are marked!milkandhoney.jpeg

#4. I am number four, by Pittacus Lore (James Frey pseudonym). Fiction, teen sci-fi. This is a series that was in our school library, and a couple of students began reading it last year. There are seven books in the series, and this text has been made into a film (2011) which also makes it very appealing to students who may struggle with selecting a book they know they will ‘like’. My science fiction readers love this series, and have seemed to convince many others to try it, which is why it’s showed up so frequently on reading calendars for 2017. I_Am_Number_Four_Cover.jpg

#3. Eye of Minds, by James Dashner. Fiction, fantasy/sci-fi. My students love anything by James Dashner. In the past couple years the Maze Runner series dominated reading posters, but now this newer series is taking over. This book is the first in a trilogy about a teen gamer who literally becomes part of the gaming world – fighting for his life as part of a real life ‘gaming experience’. For any teen who is into gaming (um….that’s a lot) this is a fantastic book to hook them into reading. I have not purchased the series for my reading library, but I will be doing so asap!


#2. 99: Stories of the Game, by Wayne Gretzky. Non-Fiction, autobiography. Many of my students received this book for Christmas. Since we live in Sudbury, Ontario this is not surprising. My teen boys love reading non-fiction hockey auto/biographies, including those of: Bob Probert, Tie Domi, Wendle Clark, Don Cherry, Bobby Orr and Ken Dryden. I’m sure they will also love this one, as Gretzky is the ultimate Canadian hockey golden boy. My Dad also got this book for Christmas, so I’ll be stealing it when he’s done with it and adding it to my reading library:)wayneG.jpg

#1. John Green – anything! Teen fiction, action/romance/drama. I couldn’t pick just one John Green book for this list, as my students’ reading calendars were littered with his titles. From The Fault in Our Stars (all time student favourite), to Papertowns, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, etc., etc. they were on nearly every girls reading calendar. He really is the reigning king of teen fiction. I cannot keep his books in my reading library and like many other favourites, I keep having to re-purchase them because they disappear (always a good sign they are well loved).green-books.jpg


My Must Read and Want to Read Lists!

I can’t write a blog without reading without adding my own must read and next lists! The fringe benefit of speaking to students about what they want to read is that I get to learn about cool new books as well. Based on my reading this semester, and my reading calendar conferences with students, here are my top 5 must read books, and top 5 want to read books for 2017.

Must Read (teacherevolution approved) – check out the links for details:)

#1. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand -Unbelievable non-fiction biography of the life of Olympian and  WW2 soldier/POW Louis Zamperini.

#2. The Secrets of Midwives, by Sally Hepworth – Beautifully written fictional drama about the intertwining lives of three generations of midwives.

#3. A Life in the Bush, by Roy MacGregor – Canadian memoir of the author’s father’s coming of age and life spent in Algonquin park.

#4. Common Ground, by Justin Trudeau – He’s our PM – whether you like him or not,  you need to read it!

#5. Breadwinner Series, by Deborah Ellis – My favourite adolescent read this year – a fictional series about the struggles of a young girl in Afghanistan.


My Want to Read list for 2017!  – thanks to my student’s recommendations

#1. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur (see description above in student reading list)

#2 The Kardashian Dynasty, by Ian Halperin – The title says it all. Yes, I actually want to read this, don’t judge me.

#3 Kon-Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl – After reading Unbroken, I’m very interested in stories about surviving at sea. This book is the true story of five men who set out to sail the Pacific Ocean on a raft and survived to tell their story.

#4. Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit – The fictional story of a family blessed/cursed) with eternal life. Now a film, and highly recommended by student readers.

#5 A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey – The non -fiction (kind of) autobiography of a recovering addict, made popular by Oprah. I never read it, but my students enjoy it and it’s in my reading library so I thought I’d give it a try.


What are your reading plans for 2017? If you’re a teacher, feel free to use my assignment (see top of blog) and get your own students to create reading calendars for 2017! Comment with your students or your own favourite books to read this year:) 

2 thoughts on “10 Books Teens want to read in 2017 (and 5 their teacher recommends)

  1. Hi Kyleen! Thank you, and thanks to your students, for a great recommended reading list! I just finished a couple of Russian historical fiction books (my current favourite genre, go figure!), and have Follett’s Fall of Giants coming up in the to-read pile, as well as Boyden’s The Orenda (decidedly less Russian!).

    Being a math/science teacher, I’m curious as to how to get great student buy-in when some high school students have such a hard time reading. Is it a matter of adjusting reading level? Reading to them? Allowing audio books? Do any of your students use technology to help them read (blue bar, or text-to-speech software)?


    1. Glad you liked it Heather;) My mom is also a huge lover of Russian literature, but I find it a little heavy. Good for you to take that on! As for struggling readers, no I do not allow audio books, but I do have a large selection of hi-interest, low-vocabulary books in my reading library. I also have a great selection of high interest magazines. The key yo hooking them is learning their interests and connecting them with the right genre and book. It’s quite amazing to see once the culture is established. Having a good classroom library is also key. The books need to be visible. I also book talk regularly, and that hooks many kids too;)


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