If finding a book that will simultaneously captivate and enlighten the adolescent mind seems like a tall order, a new guide can help. In 500 Great Books for Teens, Anita Silvey, a professor of children’s literature and former book publisher, recommends works for 12- to 18-year-olds. Silvey categorizes her picks by theme, genre, geographic location, and time period. That makes it easy to find, say, a collection of bilingual poems or a novel about free speech. Short essays accompany each selection, detailing the basic plot and other interesting tidbits—like the fact that, in 1982, editors restored all the “damns” and “hells” to Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s novel about censorship, or that Louise Erdrich wrote The Game of Silence to provide a Native American counterweight to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books.
A version of this article appeared in the December 01, 2006 edition of Teacher