American Library Association - Best Books for Young Adults

Books Page

The books, recommended for those ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. The list comprises a wide range of genres and styles, including contemporary realistic fiction that reflects the diversity of the teen experience, nonfiction that brings to teens an awareness of the world they live in and its history, and fantastical stories told in both narrative and graphic formats. (Young Adults Library Services Association)


2010 Best Books for Young Adults


Allen: Mr. Lincoln's High Tech War

By Thomas Allen

2009, 144 pages, $19 list

Breaking new historical ground, this book explores how came to understand, value, and use “modern” technology to assist the North and help win the Civil War.


Alvarez: Return to Sender

Julia Alvarez

2009, 336 pages, $17 list

When Tyler’s father is unable to maintain the family farm, he hires undocumented workers, resulting in an interdependent relationship that mirrors current social and political conditions in the U.S.(The 2010 Belpré Author Award Book.)


Baskin: Anything But Typical

By Nora Raleigh Baskin

2010, 208 pages, $7 list

Jason, a 12-year-old with autism spectrum disorder, finds life in a “neurotypical" world daunting but achieves success through his creative writing online.


Carmichael: Wild Things

By Clay Carmichael

2009, 241 pages, $19 list

Spunky eleven-year-old Zoe comes to live with Uncle Henry who is a metal sculptor and learns that a safe home and acceptance are possible, even for wild things like her.

Datlow: Troll's Eye View

By Ellen Datlow

2009, 200 pages, $17 list

Fifteen deeply twisted, fantastically funny, and hauntingly human fairy tales are told from the point of view of the villain in this excellent collection of very grim short stories.


Fleming: The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of a Showman

By Candace Fleming

2009, 160 pages, $19 list

This sweeping biography of a famous, sometimes infamous, trickster and businessman who left no stone unturned to bring the famous Barnum Bailey Circus to an eager 19th century audience.


Hardinge: The Lost Conspiracy

By Frances Hardinge

2009, 576 pages, $17 list

A complex political puzzle filled with subterfuge and intrigue is at the center of this enticing fantasy set on a remote tropical island about two sisters who must grapple with an unknown evil. 


Hoose: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

By Phillip Hoose

2009, 144 pages, $20 list

Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, a 15-year-old girl was arrested for defying the same Montgomery Alabama bus laws. This is her long-neglected story.


Lawrence: The Giant Slayer

By Iain Lawrence

2009, 304 pages, $17 list

An epic narrative spun for the residents of a polio ward in 1955 becomes personal for the young storyteller Laurie Valentine.


Magoon: The Rock and the River

By Kekla Magoon

2009, 304 pages, $16 list

Seeing the injustice in his 1968 Chicago neighborhood after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is killed, Sam Childs knows he can’t be patient like his Civil Rights leader father nor join the Black Panthers like his brother: he must struggle to be his own man.


Marrin: Years of Dust

By Albert Marrin

2009, 128 pages, $23 list

This ecological disaster created by human misdeed forces a grim choice upon the people of the plains during the depths of the Great Depression.


Murphy: Truce

By Jim Murphy

2009, 144 pages, $20 list

In the middle of World War I, British and German forces quit fighting to celebrate Christmas together peacefully. First person details present the human side of this bloody war.


Nelson: Sweethearts of Rhythm

By Marilyn Nelson

2009, 80 pages, $22 list

Unique poetry and creative illustrations bring to life the story of an integrated all-girl swing band that traveled the in the 1940s.


Partridge: Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children Don't You Grow Weary

By Elizabeth Partridge

2009, 80 pages, $20 list

Haunting illustrations and moving text tell the story of children leading the way on freedom marches, through voter registration drives, and even to jail during the quest for civil rights.


Russell: Tofu Quilt

By Ching Yeung Russell

2009, 136 pages, $17 list

In a patchwork ‘quilt’ of free verse poems the author recounts her struggle to become a writer growing up in 1960s Hong Kong.


Smith: Mother Poems

By Hope Anita Smith

2009, 80 pages, $17 list

This touching collection of free verse poems explores a child’s view of her mother and their life together, then expresses raw emotions after her mother’s death.


Stone: Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

By Tanya Lee Stone

2009, 144 pages, $25 list

In the early 1960s, 13 women endured rigorous testing and training for the space program, as well as prejudice. Numerous photographs and a revealing text chronicle their difficulties and achievements.


Tan: Tales from Outer Suburbia

By Shaun Tan

2009, 96 pages, $20 list

Fifteen ‘radically’ and surrealistically illustrated tales guide readers in unexpected directions in this quirky, thoughtful, and sometimes even disturbing collection of stories and art.


Uehashi: Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness

By Nahoko Uehashi

2009, 245 pages, $11 list

Bodyguard-for-hire Balsa returns in this tale of redemption and political intrigue set in a fantasy world reminiscent of medieval Japan. (A 2010 Batchelder Honor Book.)


Walker: Written in Bone

By Sally Walker

2009, 144 pages, $23 list

Crime Scene Investigation meets early American History exposing ancient crimes and describing patterns of everyday life as told and written on the bones of the early settlers.


Westerfeld: Leviathan

By Scott Westerfeld

2009, 448 pages, $20 list

A hunted young Prince Aleksander Ferdinand and a girl disguised as a boy must form an unlikely alliance to survive in this steampunk version of WWI.


End of 2010 Best Books for Young Adults