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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

NPR Top 100 Teen Books: My Picks

NPR published a final list of top 100 teen books, based on audience voting on a pre-selected list.

Teen isn't tween, and I draw that line sharply in this blog. (My sweet spot is ages 10 to 12.5—the upper half of middle grade, if you go by publishing categories.)

Even so, these 10 teen titles were my choices in the initial voting (out of hundreds of titles). The number in parenthesis is the place they came in on the NPR final list. Eight out of 10 made it!

1. The Book Thief (10)
2. The Giver (11)*
3. Go Ask Alice (35)
4. Harry Potter series (1)
5. The Hobbit (5)
6. The Pigman
7. Stargirl (37)
8. To Kill a Mockingbird (3)
9. Tuck Everlasting (30)
10. The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic

*They included the "series," but these titles are really companion books.

Go Ask Alice is definitely teen, not tween, and has a history of being censored in schools, along with some controversy over authorship and authenticity. (It's a work of pure fiction.) But, the book made a big impact on me when I read it in my teen years.
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The Cardturner, by Louis Sachar

That's my Uncle Bob, playing a family game of Michigan rummy. My mother's about to hammer down the ace of spades (left).


When I heard about THE CARDTURNER: A NOVEL ABOUT A KING, A QUEEN, AND A JOKER, the new book by Louis Sachar (Holes, There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, and Sideways Stories from Wayside School), I had to have a copy for my own bookshelf, let alone the classroom lending library.

Playing cards and board games was a central part of growing up in the Hopping household. To this day, whenever we get together, some game or another eventually comes off the shelf.*

THE CARDTURNER quickly pulled me into the not-so-great life of 17-year-old Alton Richards. What kind of a name is Alton, anyway! Alton drives a beat up car, has no money, no job, and suddenly, as summer vacation begins, he has no girlfriend.

On top of all that, his mother insists that he drive his very wealthy great uncle Lester to Bridge Club four times a week. Bridge is a "boring" card game that Alton knows nothing and cares nothing about. The truth, as Alton well knows, is that Mom wants him to be nice so that old Uncle Lester will remember them in his will.

Alton has been dealt a pretty crummy hand and is feeling a little "played" himself! Even so, he copes by maintaining a dry sense of humor.

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