CurriConnects Book List - Books for Tough Situations

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Books for Tough Situations
Help students cope with difficult situations by suggesting reading selections to help. Find books about divorce, death, an absent or deployed parent, moving, a lost pet, difficulty making friends, bullying, failure, eating disorders, weight, and other emotional and psychological challenges.

Preschool and Picture Books

The Best of Both Nests - Jane Clarke, (978-1597162708) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 1 - 2
Stanley the stork tries to keep his parents living in the same nest, but their loud squawks often keep him from being heard.

Always and Forever - Alan Durant, (978-0374371524) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 1- 2
After a group of forest animals loses one of their beloved members to death, they must learn how to go on.

Always My Brother - Jean Reagan, (978-0141306933) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 570, ESL level: 2 - 3
Becky learns to accept her older brother's death by realizing he would want her to go on being happy and active.

Bully Trouble - Joanna Cole, (978-0142000663) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 280, ESL level: 1 - 2
Although Robby and Arlo resent being taunted by a bully, they have ideas of how to pay him back.

I Love You All Day Long - Francesca Rusackas, (978-1599350998) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-1, Lexile: 430, ESL level: 1
A little pig off to school for the first time is reassured when his mother insists she loves him every minute.

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs - Tomie dePaola, (978-0670061679) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 640, ESL level: 2
A small boy, who is lucky enough to have both a grandmother and great-grandmother to love in his house, is saddened when he loses his great-grandmother, but he learns death is part of life.

Owl Babies - Martin Waddell, (978-1599350585) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 500, ESL level: 1 - 2
Three young owl siblings anxiously await their mother's return on a long dark night.

Sophie - Mem Fox, (978-0689851346) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 340, ESL level: 1 - 2
Sophie's grandfather gradually stops being one of her caretakers and needs care himself until he dies.

The Tenth Good Thing about Barney - Judith Viorst, (978-0553494976) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 490, ESL level: 1 - 2
A young boy makes a list of his recently dead pet's best qualities in an effort to cope with the loss.

Early Elementary Books

Arnie and the New Kid - Nancy Carlson, (978-0140509458) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 290, ESL level: 1 - 2
Arnie finds himself having to use crutches, so he is better able to empathize with another classmate in a wheelchair.

Aunt Nancy and the Bothersome Visitors - Phyllis Root, (978-0763637392) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-4, Lexile: 880, ESL level: 3 -4
Although Aunt Nancy meets Old Man Trouble, Old Woeful, and Mister Death, she still manages to keep her spirits up and meets her difficult visitors with a sense of humor.

The Blue House Dog - Deborah Blumenthal, (978-0807506684) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 750, ESL level: 2
A young boy, mourning the loss of his pet dog, finds a stray dog that has lost its owner.

Boundless Grace - Mary Hoffman, (978-0399225093) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 2
Grace and her grandmother go to visit her father and his new family in Africa.

Bringing Asha Home - Uma Krishnaswami, (978-0140556674) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 2 - 3
Arun is excited when his parents arrange to adopt a little sister from India, his father's native country.

Bullies Never Win - Margery Cuyler, (978-0385732031) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 450, ESL level: 1 - 2
Jessica's parents suggest different ways for her to deal with the school bully, Brenda.

The Bully Blockers Club - Teresa Bateman, (978-0374376963) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 2
After Lottie tries several different ways of coping with a bully at school, she starts a club that includes everyone.

Fred Stays with Me! - Nancy Coffelt, (978-0399233944) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-3, Lexile: 430, ESL level: 2
A young girl's dog moves with her when she shuttles from her father's home to her mother's house after they divorce; he provides continuity, security, and delight in her life.

Friends at School - Rochelle Bunnett, (978-1595720405) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 350, ESL level: 1 - 2
In this book, children with disabilites join in all the school day activites that other children enjoy.

Grandma's Gloves - Cecil Castellucci, (978-0316882699) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 920, ESL level: 2 - 3
A young girl continues her grandmother's legacy by gardening with the old woman's gloves left to her.

Helen Keller - David Adler, (978-0823420421) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 1-3, Lexile: 450, ESL level: 2 - 3
Beginning with Helen's illness that left her deaf and blind, the story focuses on the relationship between Helen and her angelic teacher, Anne Sullivan, who taught her to read and communicate despite severe physical disabilites and great frustration.

Hero Cat - Eileen Spinelli, (978-1404823150) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 430, ESL level: 3
A pregnant cat without a home finds an abandoned structure to give birth in, but it catches fire while she is looking for something to eat; although she does rescue her babies, this book could be frightening for younger readers.

Keep Your Ear on the Ball - Genevieve Petrillo, (978-0884483243) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-3, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 3
Davey wants to play kickball and do everything else required of him in school without help, despite his blindness.

Kids Talk about Bullying - Carrie Finn, (978-0439660983) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 570, ESL level: 1 - 2
In advice column format, this book offers simple answers to the concerns of young children about bullies and bullying; references to other sources complete its contributions to a difficult topic.

Me and Mr. Mah - Andrea Spalding, (978-0439466608) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 410, ESL level: 2
Ian gets help adjusting to city life when he meets Mr. Mah, a kind Chinese neighbor.

Mrs. Crump's Cat - Linda Smith, (978-0060502782) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 710, ESL level: 3
Mrs. Crump expresses rejection of the stray cat she feeds, but she keeps buying things for it; she really wants it to stay.

My Mei Mei - Ed Young, (978-1590785867) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-12, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 2
An adopted daughter has to adjust to not being the youngest and most special when her family flies to China to bring home another Chinese baby for their family.

My Pal, Victor/Mi amigo, Victor - Diane Gonzales Bertrand, (978-0972019293) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 830, ESL level: 2-3
In this bilingual book containing a glossary, Dominic and Victor's friendship soars, despite Victor's being wheelchair-bound, due to Victor's vivid imagination and total lack of fear.

One-Handed Catch - Mary Jane Auch, (978-0312535759) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-2, Lexile: 710, ESL level: 2 - 3
Norman displays great strength of character when he becomes successful at art, baseball, and other school activities after losing a hand in his father's meat cutting machine.

Papa's Latkes - Michelle Edwards, (978-1600602528) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, ESL level: 1 - 2
A Jewish father struggles to make latkes with his daughters after their mother passes away.

Pinky and Rex and the New Baby - James Howe, (978-0439865463) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 460, ESL level: 2 - 3
Rex challenges her friendship with Pinky when Rex wants to spend her free time with the new adopted baby.

Sometimes We Were Brave - Pat Brisson, (978-0688099008) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-3, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 2
Jerome tries to be happy living with his father when his mother, a sailor, is deployed.

That Summer - Tony Johnston, (978-1416938866) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-6, ESL level: 1 - 2
A grieving family, experiencing the last summer of a young child's life, sews a quilt as they nurse their memories and happier times.

Turtle Girl - Carole Crowe, (978-0888998941) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 2
Magdalena finds a little of her grandmother, who has died, as she continues their work protecting the sea turtles and their nests.

The View from under the Pew - Diane Winters-Johnson, (978-0687644780) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 0-2, ESL level: 2
This books follows a week with a clergy member as her guide dog assists her with all her daily tasks.

The Wall - Eve Bunting, (978-1551431772) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-4, Lexile: 270, ESL level: 2
A boy goes on a long trip with his father to visit the memorial wall and to search for his grandfather's name on it.

Winter's Gift - Jane Monroe Donovan, (978-0763650421) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-4, Lexile: 770, ESL level: 1 - 2
A widower farmer finds meaning in rescuing a horse about to give birth during a blizzard.

Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

100 Days and 99 Nights - Alan Madison, (978-0884483137) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-6, Lexile: 970, ESL level: 3 - 4
Esme thinks about her life on base with her family and her father's deployment as she categorizes her stuffed animal collection.

All the Broken Pieces: A Novel in Verse - Ann Burg, (978-0545080927) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 4 - 5
Although Matt has a new adoptive home in the U.S., memories of his years in war-torn Vietnam haunt him until he is able to confront secrets he left behind.

Amber Brown is not a Crayon - Paula Danziger, (978-0152052607) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 2 - 3
Amber's friend Justin will soon be moving to another state so she is trying to cope with her sadness about losing him.

Ben and the Sudden Too-Big Family - Colby Rodowsky, (978-0440416616) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, Lexile: 1010, ESL level: 3 - 4
Ben must adjust his "philosophy"" of life after his father remarries and his new stepmother receives the baby from China she had previously arranged to adopt; he is not sure if this is going to be a good thing or not."

Bethany Hamilton: Follow Your Dreams! - Michael Sandler, (978-0808526865) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-6, Lexile: 620, ESL level: 3
This book is the biography of Brittany Hamilton, who lost her arm to a shark and went back to surfing soon afterwards.

The Bully - Paul Langan, (978-0679882039) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-10, Lexile: 700, ESL level: 3
Darrell's anxiety about moving to California is made worse by his becoming the target of the freshman class bully.

Colder than Ice - David Patneaude, (978-0807581360) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-7, Lexile: 550, ESL level: 3
Overweight Josh has high hopes for his move to a new school in Idaho, but he encounters bullying there despite the support of new friends.

Combat-Wounded Dogs - Sunita Apte, (978-0152058562) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 920, ESL level: 4-5
This book describes the lives of dogs in the military and the ways the government assists them when they are wounded, using a series of stories about real life canines.

Dancing Wheels - Patricia McMahon, (978-0395888896) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 1-6, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 2 - 3
Mary Verdi-Fletcher used her interest and determination to begin a wheelchair dancing troupe, despite her spina bifida; wonderful photos add depth and realness to her story.

Edward's Eyes - Patricia MacLachlan, (978-1584302599) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-8, Lexile: 470, ESL level: 3
Edward's close family always revered his beautiful eyes, so when he dies suddenly, wrenching the entire family, his eyes go to an eye bank.

Family Reminders - Julie Danneberg, (978-1580893206) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 2 - 3
Mary encourages her father to try and earn a living creating crafts and performing music; she also tries to earn money for them because he lost his job and his leg in an accident in a mine.

A Friendship for Today - Patricia McKissack, (978-1416902447) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 670, ESL level: 3
Rosemary has to confront changes in her family life during her parents separation as well as in her school life as she befriends a girl from another race during the 50's in the U.S.

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck, (978-1585362318) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 3 - 4
A poor Oklahoma farm family move to California during the Great Depression to try to find jobs there picking fruit.

How I Became a Writer and Oggie Learned to Drive - Janet Taylor Lisle, (978-0545040426) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-6, Lexile: 630, ESL level: 3 - 4
Pre-teen Archie tries to take care of his six-year-old brother as they are shunted back and forth between their two parents' homes.

I Was a Rat - Phillip Pullman, (978-0689825484) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 3 - 4
When an elderly couple try to provide a home for an abandoned child who appears at their door, he thinks of himself as a rat and acts accordingly!

Julia's Kitchen - Brenda Ferber, (978-0064408653) , Fiction
Interest level: 0-8, Lexile: 620, ESL level: 3
Cara uses her family members, her cooking talent, and her personal resilience to help her father and herself survive after her mother sister die in a house fire.

Just Kids: Visiting a Class for Children with Special Needs - Ellen Senisi, (978-0525456469) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-5, Lexile: 690, ESL level: 3 - 4
Cindy learns a lot about special children when she visits classes for those with special needs.

The Last Girls of Pompeii - Kathryn Lasky, (978-0670061969) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 3 - 4
Although pre-teen Julia does not know a volcanic eruption is about to destroy her city and its place in history, she enjoys a special friendship with her personal slave, Sura, whom she depends on because of physical disabilites.

Life in a Mining Community - Natalie Hyde, (978-0763635633) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-5, Lexile: 810, ESL level: 3 - 4
This non-fiction book describes the daily lives and challenges of miners in the U.S.

The London Eye Mystery - Siobhan Dowd, (978-0375849763) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-8, Lexile: 640, ESL level: 3 - 4
Siblings Ted and Kat try to solve the mystery of what happened to their cousin who disappeared while waiting in line to go on the London Eye; Ted thinks differently than most and his great analytical skills help find the answer to Salim's disappearance.

Louis Braille - Madeline Donaldson, (978-0822585480) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 3 - 4
Louis Braille attended a school for the blind in France before he developed the widely adapted system of reading for blind known as Braille and used all over the world; the book also contains information about modern technological adaptations of braille usage.

Lucy Rose, Here's the Thing about me - Katy Kelly, (978-0385734066) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-5, Lexile: 1190, ESL level: 3
In Lucy's diary, readers learn about her new life since her parents separated and she moved to a new city to experience being cared for by her grandparents, making new friends, and beginning to love the class pet.

Max's Log Book - Marissa Moss, (978-0670011100) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-5, Lexile: 620, ESL level: 3 - 4
Max keeps a colorful and creative diary to express his feelings about his parents' divorce amid details of his life.

Mick Harte was Here - Barbara Park, (374-306583) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-8, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 3 - 4
Phoebe must learn how to go on living after her brother dies in a bike accident

Mindblind - Jennifer Roy, (978-0761457169) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, ESL level: 3 - 4
Nathaniel, a teen with Asperger's, wants to become eligible to join the Aldus Institute for gifted teens so he uses his talents to write songs.

Mockingbird - Kathryn Erskine, (978-0399252648) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-12, Lexile: 630, ESL level: 3 - 4
A young girl with Asperger's syndrome tries hard to cope with school during a difficult time; she wants to demonstrate that she has feelings like everyone else.

Moving - Teri DeGezelle, (978-0374399320) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 830, ESL level: 4 - 5
This non-fiction book discusses the challenges of moving for middle-school aged children and families.

Never Swipe a Bully's Bear - Katherine Applegate, (978-0375836893) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-4, Lexile: 340, ESL level: 1 - 2
Roscoe tries to even out a theft when he steals the class bully's stuffed bear.

The New Girl - Meg Cabot, (978-0763631680) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-8, Lexile: 860, ESL level: 3 - 4
Allie must deal with lots of changes including moving, getting a new pet, and anticipating a visit from her grandmother, but she does so with great aplomb.

Off to War: Voices of Soldiers' Children - Deborah Ellis, (978-0688173975) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-12, Lexile: 830, ESL level: 3 - 4
North American children discuss their feelings and coping strategies when their parents go to war.

Only One Year - Andrea Cheng, (978-0142415542) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-5, Lexile: 550, ESL level: 2 - 3
Two Chinese American sisters have a hard time dealing with their parents' decision to send their two-year old brother "back"" to China for a year; what can they tell their playmates?"

Operation Yes - Sara Lewis Holmes, (978-0689712036) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 3
A teacher on a North Carolina airbase helps her students by teaching them improvisational acting; they help her and other similarly affected families when her brother goes missing in the war.

Out of My Mind - Sharon Draper, (978-1416971702) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, ESL level: 3 - 4
Melody's photographic memory and apparent genius cannot help her to talk or communicate in any way until she discovers a special kind of technology that allows her to express herself; this amazing book does an excellent job of portraying the internal life of someone severely disabled.

Panda: A Guide Horse for Ann - Rosanna Hansen, (978-1590781845) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-6, Lexile: 910, ESL level: 3 - 5
Anne has a guide horse instead of a guide dog; this non-fiction account describes the horse's training and ways she helps Ann every day.

Penny from Heaven - Jennifer Holm, (978-0060283025) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-8, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 3 - 4
Penny begins to grow up during her twelfth summer as she learns more about the secret of the cause of her father's death.

Piper Reed, Navy Brat - Kimberly Willis Holt, (015-216636X) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-5, Lexile: 610, ESL level: 3 - 4
Pipers caring parents and annoying sisters help her adjust to a new school and unfamliar location when her military father is transferred.

The Rainbow People - Laurence Yep, (978-0395629772) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 3 - 5
This collection of traditional folk tales describe the Chinese way of dealing with magical challenges and life in a new land.

Roxie and the Hooligans - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, (978-0399243394) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-5, Lexile: 930, ESL level: 3 - 4
Roxie follows her explorer uncle's survival advice after encountering bullies and bank robbers while lost on an island.

Rules - Cynthia Lord, (978-0439443838) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 780, ESL level: 3 - 4
Catherine grudgingly gets used to life with an autistic brother who needs lots of rules to understand life, so her new friendship with a paraplegic further demonstrates her learned empathy.

Sees Behind Trees - Michael Dorris, (978-0786813575) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 840, ESL level: despite the boy's poor eyesight."
A gifted Native American boy uses his almost extra-sensory abilities to "travel"" to far lands to consult with an old warrior

Strider - Beverly Cleary, (978-0316014557) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-7, Lexile: 840, ESL level: 3
Leigh keeps a diary to help him deal with the split up of his parents' marriage, his adoption of an abandoned dog, and his competition in track and field.

Take Me with You - Carolyn Marsden, (978-0060116347) , Fiction
Interest level: 2-12, Lexile: 640, ESL level: 3
Two friends in an Italian orphanage have conflicting desires - to be adopted, but not to be separated from each other.

The Hundred Dresses - Eleanor Estes, (978-1561455379) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-8, Lexile: 870, ESL level: 3 - 4
Everyone teases new student Wanda until they find out her boasts of having 100 dresses in her closet is true.

The Totally Made up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish - Claudia Mills, (978-0684833668) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-6, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 3
Amanda uses her writing project of a Civil War diary to help her cope with her family's possible divorce and separation from her best friend.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - Donna Getzinger, (978-1590782620) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 1030, ESL level: 5
This book tells the story of a tragic factory fire, the factory's history, a girl who survived, the jobs that were lost, and remembrances of others' deaths in the fire.

The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous - Suzanne Crowley, (978-0061231971) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 800, ESL level: 3
Young teen Merilee tries to measure out her life and its requirements, due to her Asperger's, but she finds it a challenge to accommodate a newcomer to her small Texas town and to her family.

The Vile Village - Lemony Snicket, (978-0061242632) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 1080, ESL level: 4
Although Klaus, Sunny, and Violet Baudelaire have already been adopted by a mean and greedy count, in this book of the series, an entire town adopts them.

Waggit's Tale - Peter Howe, (978-0761452232) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, Lexile: 910, ESL level: 4
First Waggit is adopted by a pack of wild dogs, but eventually he finds another adoptive home with a very kind woman.

We the Children - Andrew Clements, (978-0385734592) , Fiction
Interest level: 1-6, Lexile: 860, ESL level: 2 - 3
Ben gets involved in an effort to save his school from the wrecker's ball after he is befriended by an elderly janitor.

What Do Fish Have to Do with Anything? - NA Avi, (978-1416927440) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 500, ESL level: 4 - 5
This group of short stories details problems typical to adolecents: divorce, loss of a parent, suicide.

Window Boy - Andrea White, (978-1933979144) , Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 700, ESL level: 2 - 3
Twelve-year-old Sam brings his imaginary playmate, the famed Winston Churchill, along on his first day of school to help him be accepted, despite his disabling cerebral palsy.

You Wouldn't Want to Sail on an Irish Famine Ship!: A Trip across the Atlantic You'd Rather Not Make - Jim Pipe, (978-0152015985) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 890, ESL level: 3 - 4
Many Irish escaped to America in the 1840's to survive the results of the Irish potato famine; life on the ships going to the U.S. was rough and treacherous.

Middle School to Young Adult Books

The Trial of the Scottsboro Boys - David Aretha, (978-0778750871) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 1180, ESL level: 5
This book details the trial and reaction of nine African American boys who stood trial, falsely accused of raping two white women in the 1930's.

10 Things to Do before I Die - Daniel Ehrenhaft, (978-0316113540) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, ESL level: 4 - 5
Ted eats french fries laced with poison from the oil and knows he will die within several days; he tries to fit in all the things a 16-year-old boy should do, including losing his virginity

Are You in the House Alone? - Richard Peck, (978-1405239660) , Fiction
Interest level: 9-12, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 4-5
Gail must provide evidence that she was raped in order to be sure justic is done to the rapist.

Behind You - Jacqueline Woodson, (978-0439669962) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 720, ESL level: 4 - 5
After a young African American teen dies as a result of a police shooting, his family members and group of friends must learn to cope with his loss.

Breathless - Lurlene McDaniel, (978-0531148549) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 560, ESL level: 4
Narratives from a variety of character viewpoints describe the reactions of friends and family when a teen athlete finds he has cancer of the bone.

Darkness Before Dawn - Sharon Draper, (978-0142402085) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 670, ESL level: 4 - 5
Kaisha, still in turmoil over her boyfriend's suicide and a friend's car accident, finds herself a rape victim after dating an older man.

Death Be Not Proud - John Gunther, (978-0805079500) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 1060, ESL level: 4 - 5
A father describes his son's battle with a brain tumor that led to his son's demise.

A Death Struck Year - Makiia Lucier, (978-0544164505) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-11, ESL level: 4
Cleo's relief at not having the Spanish flu on the West Coast of the US is shortlived, and she decides to volunteer with the Red Cross to help out, putting herself at peril.

Diary of a Witness - Catherine Ryan Hyde, (978-0763623197) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 510, ESL level: 4 - 5
Two friends, one overweight, and one with a serious skin problem, defend each other against bullies and dysfunctional families, but the pressure to commit violence or suicide is very great.

Fat Boy Swim - Catherine Forde, (978-0807509197) , Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 790, ESL level: 4
Jim is obese but gradually gets in shape after being taken under the wing of a soccer coach; he learns he can openly express his love of cooking then, and he also begins to learn family secrets, including the fact that his real father was a champion swimmer.

Fat Kid Rules the World - K.L. Going, (978-0061148835) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 700, ESL level: 4 - 5
A grossly overweight teen is rescued from a potential suicide when a rock group guitarist approaches him about playing the drums with his group.

Friedrich - Hans Peter Richter, (978-0431908083) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-10, Lexile: 650, ESL level: 3 - 4
Two young German boys are friends but their lives begin to differ radically during WWII because one is Jewish.

Harmless - Dana Reinhardt, (978-1422204276) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 820, ESL level: 4 - 5
When three friends create a story as to why they return home late one evening, their rape accusation has unimaginable consequences.

Looks - Madeleine George, (978-0375856846) , Fiction
Interest level: 9-12, Lexile: 1060, ESL level: 5
Two girls, each with an eating disorder on opposite ends of the spectrum, become friends.

Marcelo in the Real World - Francisco Stork, (978-0545054744) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 700, ESL level: 4 - 5
Marcelo faces the challenge of trying to work for his father's law firm and have a teen romance, all difficult because of his autism.

No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row - Susan Kuklin, (978-0395979020) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 690, ESL level: 4
This book examines the lives of five young men convicted for deadly crimes, four when they were teenagers; their lives awaiting execution offer powerful lessons for readers.

The Ocean Inside: Youth Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing - Autumn Libal, (978-0689861871) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 9-12, Lexile: 1020, ESL level: 5
The story of one boy's experiences as a result of being profoundly deaf accompanies helpful information about dealing with deafness.

Rain is not My Indian Name - Cynthia Leitch Smith, (978-0763630744) , Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 860, ESL level: 4 - 5
A Native American teen emerges from self-imposed isolation, after a good friend dies, to take on a summer assignment photographing at a camp for NA kids.

A Separate Peace - John Knowles, (978-0140322057) , Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 1110, ESL level: 4 - 5
Two roommates at a New England prep school get to know each other too well, the resulting betrayals and violence lead to a painful growing up experience.

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson, (978-1597168649) , Fiction
Interest level: 9-12, Lexile: 680, ESL level: 5
Although a young woman finds a teacher to help her recover from being raped, the perpetrator continues to threaten her.

Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust - Allan Zullo, (978-0064404419) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 5-9, Lexile: 970, ESL level: 3 - 4
This tells the true stories of nine children who were victims of the Holocaust but survived.

Sweethearts - Sara Zarr, (978-0545107952) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 720, ESL level: she has to regroup."
Jennifer has lost weight and become a new person; when she runs into a former friend from her "fat"" days

The Circuit - Francisco Jimenez, (978-0394849492) , Non-fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 880, ESL level: 4 - 5
These autobiographical stories, written when the author was grown, detail the challenges of living with a migrant family.

The Winter War - William Durbin, (978-0385746526) , Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 740, ESL level: 3 - 4
Marko serves in his country's army (Finland) despite his disability that had been caused by polio.

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson, (978-0312380205) , Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 730, ESL level: 5
Lia must deal with both her own anorexia and with the fact that her friend died of the disease.