MR. COOK'S OUTSIDE READING BOOK LIST: GOOD, MEATY BOOKS
Watership Down by Richard Adams. Adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This is the story of Junior, an aspiring cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the reservation to attend al all-white high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
City of the Beasts by Isabel Allendale. When fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold accompanies his individualistic grandmother on an expedition to find a humanoid Beast in the Amazon, he experiences ancient wonders and a supernatural world as he tries to avert disaster for the Indians.
Kit's Wilderness by David Almond. The Watson family moves to Stoneygate, an old coal-mining town, to care for Kit’s widowed grandfather. When Kit meets John Askew, another boy whose family had both worked and died in the mines, Askew invites Kit to join him in playing a game called Death.
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. A semi-autobiographical novel about 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding who discovers that summer is more than the repetition of established rituals whose power holds time at bay. It can be a best friend moving away, a human time machine who can transport you back to the Civil War, or a way to be able to glimpse into the future.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Kat is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used to be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual event called “The Hunger Games”. Things may change, but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Watching someone take a stand is easy; doing it yourself can be absolutely terrifying. That’s what Jerry Renault learns when he refuses to participate in his school’s annual candy drive and incurs the wrath of the ruling clique of students.
Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox. Cox shares her experience of being in the water – from being the first to swim the Strait of Magellan to a near-miss with a shark off the Cape of Good Horn to the iceberg-choked waters of the Antarctic.
The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher. Eddie Proffit must cope with the unexpected deaths of his father and best friend while having to face the possibility of one of his favorite books being removed from his school library.
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patron, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene. Patty Bergen never imagined that her summer would be so memorable. German prisoners of war have arrived to make their new home in a prison camp in her town in Arkansas. To the rest of the town, these prisoners are only Nazis. But to Patty, a young Jewish girl with a turbulent home life, one boy in particular becomes an unlikely friend.
Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. When Wesley Boone writes a poem for his high school English class and reads it aloud, poetry-slam-style, he kicks off a revolution. Soon his classmates are clamoring to have weekly poetry sessions. One by one, eighteen students take on the risky challenge of self-revelation through the poetry they share and the stories they tell.
Marley & Me by John Grogan. John and Jenny Grogan decide to bring home a Labrador Retriever puppy. What they get instead is Marley, a dog who destroys their home, flunks out of obedience school, and ultimately steals their hearts.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Three brothers struggle to stay together after their parents’ death, as they search for an identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society in which they find themselves “outsiders.”
Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton. A junior high school boy idolizes his older brother, the coolest, toughest guy in the neighborhood, and wants to be just like him.
The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers. Follows a family’s two-hundred-year history, from the capture of an African boy in the 1750s through the lives of his descendants, as their dreams and circumstances lead them away from and back to the small plot of land in South Carolina that they call the Glory Field.
Good night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian. A battered child learns to embrace life when he is adopted by an old man in the English countryside during World War II.
The Ruby in the Smoke by Phillip Pullman. In nineteenth-century London, sixteen-year-old Sally, a recent orphan, becomes involved in a deadly search for a mysterious ruby.
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. A young boy, living in the Florida backwoods, is forced to decide the fate of a fawn he had lovingly raised as a pet.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Young Francie Nolan experiences the problems of growing up in a Brooklyn, New York slum.
Swear to Howdy by Wendelin Van Draanen. Two thirteen-year-old boys share neighborhood adventures, complaints about their older sisters, family secrets, and even guilt that bind them together in a special friendship.
Deep by Susan Vance. Somewhere in the Caribbean, seventeen-year-old Morgan and thirteen-year-old Birdie, two girls whose lives are worlds apart, are brought together by the maniacal Nicholas.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Living in Germany during World War II, young Liesel Meminger scratches out a meager existence by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist: books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids.