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5 Quality YA Books for Your Homeschool


5 Quality YA Books for Your Homeschool

Oh, my dear readers.  I have had so much fun sharing this 10 Days of Excellent Reading Materials for Your Homeschool with you, but today we are going to talk about my favorite genre.

I’m not gonna lie, I am totally hooked on the YA.  It is my drug of choice.

Which is a good thing, because this drug sets a Good Example for my kids.

If you think I had trouble narrowing down picture books, you should have seen me struggle with this.  I could probably list a thousand that I think every person on the planet should read.  In fact, some of my favorites (just for pure reading pleasure’s sake) are not on this list, though these 5 are on my list of favorites.  I chose these particular books because they are both yummy and wise.  Yeah, I want you raising up readers, but I want those readers to walk away from a book with a profound sense of humanity and life.  At least some of the time.

And these books have the stuff.

These 5 YA books will rock your socks off.  Period.

I am not making that up.  Wanna know why?

The Outsiders

YA Book Top 5: The OutsidersThis book.  It was huge in the 80s, but you may have forgotten about it or not yet considered it for your littles.  But it is a Must Read.

There is no better story for showing your littles how we shouldn’t let our differences define us.  Set in a time when being in a gang did not involve violent initiation and gun-toting, it is the story of Ponyboy and his friends, the Greasers, and their troubles with the popular kids from the right side of tracks–the Socs.  It is a story of deep friendship, the unswerving loyalty often found only among youth, and the dangers of judging others based on appearance.

It is beautifully written and powerful.  I’m still floored that Hinton wrote it when she was only 18.  How is that for inspiring your littles to achieve great things?

They can do Anything, just like you’ve always told them.

This book will stay with your littles forever.  I haven’t read it over a decade, but I still get the same inspired feeling when I think of it and I can still see the images it put in my head.

Stay gold.

Going Bovine

YA Book Top 5: Going BovineMy brother recommended this one to me a couple years ago, and I will forever be grateful to him for doing so.  It’s the story of a 16-year-old boy who contracts ‘mad cow’ disease (aka Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease).  No, seriously.  Humans can get that shit.  The cool thing is, Cameron was reading Don Quixote before the disease took him down, and most of the book involves a Quixotic quest that the reader can’t quite figure out.

Is Cameron really doing all these crazy things or is he laying in a hospital bed dying?

It’s a brain trip with a lot of life lessons, a powerful look at how we view ourselves and the limits to which we can push if we just give ourselves a chance.  Hilarious and sad and heart-thumping and peaceful, this book is one you should not miss, I don’t care how old you are.

You will thank me like I thanked my brother.  I promise.


The Fault in Our Stars

YA Books Top 5: The Fault in Our StarsDo I really have to say anything about this one?

Sure, my best friend’s beautiful, witty, intelligent daughter is a cancer survivor, so maybe it hit me harder than it would someone else.  But you guys, come on.

This is truly the best love story I’ve ever read.  Even my beautiful husband agrees.

But it’s not just a love story.  It’s a survivor story, a fighter story, a story that will show your kids that they should live, live, Live while they can and rush after those experiences and goals with abandon because Everyone should take every opportunity possible and make his/her life full.

I cried so many times reading this book I’m almost embarrassed by it.  Happy tears, sad tears, rebel spirit ignited tears, mama tears, teenage girl tears… You can’t imagine how many ways this book will touch you.

Keep smiling.  Keep fighting.  Keep loving.  If you ever doubt, read this book.  Again.

A Wizard of Earthsea

YA Books Top 5: A Wizard of EarthseaThis was my very first fantasy novel.  Well, it was the very first I picked for myself.  I mean, you can’t count The Trilogy, because that was a family Holy Grail.  This one is the one I go back to once in a while to remember how it made me feel the first time around.  It’s a short-ish book, but LeGuin packs a powerful punch nevertheless.

Can I tell you something?  I picked it that day when I was 11 years old because of the fantabulous artwork on the cover.  There have been other covers on reprints, but I wanted you to see the one that drew me in.  Because awesome.  My copies both have this cover.

The story is about Ged, a young man who discovers he has power he would never have dreamed.  He is sent to study at the School of Wizardry on Roke Knoll, where he makes both friends and adversaries and with one mistake unleashes a deadly enemy that only he can thwart.

This amazing book is the first in a series.  It is about Ged’s coming of age and coming into his powers and coming into himself.  It introduces a rich world that you’ll probably decide you want to live in.

If you have littles who like Harry Potter, this is a slightly more adult wizard fantasy that was published decades before Potter became a thing.  They will love it.  And probably become LeGuin fans for life.


YA Books Top 5: DeliriumI’ve told you often that dystopia is my favorite, and this book tops my list of favorites.

A society in which love is considered a disease?  How profound is that?

In Lena’s world, the government issues ‘the cure’ to everyone when they turn 18.  The cure stops people from contracting the disease of love, and even before they turn 18, kids are fed tons of propaganda about how dangerous the disease is.  So Lena is looking forward to getting her cure and leading a predictable life with a mate chosen for her and never, ever having to worry about catching the dread disease.

Except just months before her treatment she meets Alex.  And he makes her wonder whether love really is a terrible thing, after all.

This first book in a trilogy is action-packed: typical of dystopia in that of course there’s a rebel faction and of course the main character gets pulled in.  Because love needs a hero, dammit.  And Lena is a good one.

But it also gives us a chance to examine the truth about love and to consider what our lives would be like without it.  And that, my friends, is the stuff.

Because you know how I feel about it.  Love Wins.

Make sure you visit the other bloggers in the 10 Days of Tips series today.  I’ve already seen some fantastic posts this morning, and you don’t want to miss out on all the advice and freebies.

Oh, did I already say it?

Love wins,


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KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys.Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
KT Brison
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About KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
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  1. Ok I’m mad at you. I have a list a mile long of books to be read. Now I have to add to it. I loved the Outsiders as a teen as well and the only other one I’ve heard of is TFIOS! Seriously thanks for the recommendations!
    Kim recently posted…Real Life Lesson #6 / How do I take care of me?My Profile

  2. Is it crazy that I teared up just reading your description of Fault in Our Stars? Dude. I am NOT a crier but that book sent me into the ugly cry. Only book I’ve ever read that has done that. I was locked in our bedroom and just sobbing on the bed. SUCH. A. POWERFUL. and BEAUTIFUL story.

  3. I’ve read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS but I have not read any of hte others. ducks I’m not really a YA fan as I hated that stage of life myself. But sigh my son will be there in another few years so I guess I’ll have to go there some day.
    Rebecca Reid recently posted…How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the WorldMy Profile

    • ktbrison@gmail.com

      I am not chucking things at you, Rebecca. 😀 I will say this. I wasn’t a big fan of my teen years when I was a teen, either. But I don’t really think anyone is. I think that’s kind of the point. The cool thing about the YA genre today is that the quality stuff is written by people who have examined themselves and their own teen years enough to give us some insight into that part of life. I mean, yeah, there’s plenty out there that just plain sucks, but there is so much to be learned from a quality YA book. For us and our kids. Read Delirium, anyway. Maybe you’ll see what I mean. 🙂

  4. I taught Wizard. My ninth graders really struggled with it, probably because it was summer reading. I wonder if I went back and read it again (it’s been nine years) if my own attitudes would change.

    I’ve not read Going Bovine, but your description makes me think of a modern day riff on Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

    The Fault in our Stars. This one gets me. One of my current students has thyroid cancer and we read it together. It was a experience.

    Great list.

    • ktbrison@gmail.com

      Ninth graders struggled with it? You’re probably right, it might have had to do with it being summer reading. I adore the book and my boys do, too. Good insight about Going Bovine from my short description. 🙂

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