Literature written with children and young adults as its protagonist or its primary audience sometimes takes a backseat to the more “serious” works of adult fiction and verite, but you might be surprised at the sophistication of these books. They’ll make you smile, but they also might make you wince. In any case, they’ll definitely make you think. This month, Mechanics’ Institute staff selects youth-centric fiction that crosses generational lines and is both entertaining and thought-provoking for people of all ages. We will also be selecting nonfiction books related to youth issues. Here are a few selections for this month’s staff picks:
I'm a sucker for any book, movie, or song that features a strong female character taking a stand. Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games Trilogy, fits the bill. If you haven't yet seen the 2 movies thus far (Hunger Games & Catching Fire) then don't hesitate to read the books first. There's action, suspense, politics, a love triangle (of course), and so much more.
Erika recommends The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
This is a mystery whose title comes from the Sherlock Holmes story “The Silver Blaze”, and is narrated by a 15-year-old “mathematician with some behavioral difficulties" (i.e. an autistic spectrum condition). So wide is its appeal, that this novel was simultaneously published in separate editions for children and adults. It is delightful as well as insightful.
Taryn Recommends The Parents' Guide to Psychological First Aid: Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Predictable Life Crises edited by Gerald Koocher & Annette La Greca
From how to deal with monsters under the bed to those in the schoolyard, sibling rivalries and teenage heartbreaks; this guide offers reassuring advice and comprehensive strategies for crisis management.
Heather recommends It's Complicated : the Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd
The author unpacks familiar myths about teens' use of social media. She asserts that we do disservice to young people when we allow protectionism to hinder their ability to develop their identities and blossom into informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizens via their online interactions.
and, Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman
This is the story of Min and Ed: how they met, fell in love, and broke each other’s hearts. Bittersweet, with lovely illustrations, this book reminds us of the rewards we reap and the risks we take when we dare to fall in love.