Top Ten Books I'd Have On My Shelf If I Was A High School Teacher

Brooke Banks | 12:00 AM | |

Hosted by the fabulous The Broke and The Bookish. This week's prompt:
August 30th: Back To School Freebie -- anything "back to school" related like 10 favorite books I read in school, books I think should be required reading, Required Reading For All Fantasy Fans, required reading for every college freshman, Books to Pair With Classics or Books To Complement A History Lesson, books that would be on my classroom shelf if I were a teacher

Every year around this time people start brushing off their old high school reads to wax poetic and others put out lists of what should be recommended now.

(Anyone else think it’s too late at this point to change this year’s curriculum but the public doesn’t want to talk about required reading in the summer? Just me? Never mind…)

I enjoy looking through those lists and always have my opinions on them but making my own version doesn’t feel right. Not only is my opinion heavily influenced by the already published lists, but I have a hard time coming up with anything new to add.

Nobody wants me to link those lists and comment on the inclusions. Though I will say I agree on every article about a replacement for Catcher in the Rye. Doesn’t matter the replacement book, if I’ve never read it. Anything would be better than Catcher in the Rye. Not only is it a terrible book IMHO, but being a rape victim forced to read that as a class was torture.

Diverse recommended reading is a must, but you should really read those articles and explore. They all do it so much better than I and there’s so fucking many great reads there’s zero excuse for a lily-white heteronormative bookshelf or reading experience.

This is all leading to why chose this week’s topic. (*whispers* And to use those links above.)

I’m not an educator or a professional in this field. My opinion on recommended reading is mostly informed by my own experiences and pop culture. I couldn’t pitch and defend a list of required reading to a school board, so I feel I fake and uncomfortable making such a list. (This is just me with MY issues (anxiety, imposter syndrome to name a few), not a comment on anyone else.)

But if I was a teacher? That’s a scenario I can work with. So here’s 10 books that would be in my classroom for my students if I was teaching high school that I’ve read and why. (The alternative to-read is too fucking enormous too cull.)

Outrun the Moon – It’s historical, has the best kind of romance, friendships, perseverance, and beautiful quotable writing. What’s not to love? Historical novels, when done right, brings the situation to life and connects better than any textbook. I was always a great student but history was just memorization. Until I read it as a story.

Who Fears Death & Akata Witch – Obviously, because everything. I can’t even think of how to defend these as pick because duh. It blows my mind. I cannot fathom people not having these and loving it.

The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian – Yeah, you’re in highschool and this is a middle schooler but Junior is amazing. It’s hilarious and real. You will learn and grow and wish you’d read it sooner. I will not fail you now.

Speak – Because I have goddamn been there and this is the book that helped me through it. I will of course have others like it (I’m dying to read Girl in Pieces, if I ever see myself as a protagonist, it’ll probably this one) but Speak will always have a place. I am here for you, I will listen and help you find your voice.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Because it is a great story, but I can still critique it and expand your mind with intersectionality. This is very important as different axis of discrimination exist and you can oppress someone on another axis while being marginalized yourself.

– because beauty standards are fucking stupid. You should feel good about yourself and love your body. It’s a rocking southern good time and Willowdeen is the protagonist I wish I had growing up. You should be able to see yourself have in a story and have a happy ending. Romance is not just for the thin or fit approved bodies.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before – Because it’s a romance with a g reat story that sweet as hell with a Korean protagonist where it’s not about her life struggles being discriminated against. I cannot wait until Forever Laura Jean comes out!

She’s Come Undone
– Another essentially me book. It’s poignant and deals with so much. It’s technically an “adult” book, but it begins when Delores is a teen. Her issues, her family issues…everything is still relevant. The technology is dated of course, at one point Delores works at a photo shop, but everything else is still spot on. Still something to connect to and think I can make it in the end.

Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) by Garth Nix – because this series is amazing and doesn’t get enough love.

The hardest part in this scenario would be controlling my automatic facial expression if a student didn’t like or insulted this portion of my bookshelf.

You’re breaking my heart here, dear student. I’m crestfallen, which I’m making a new vocab word for ya’ll.

Of course, this would be a fraction of my shelf and I’d endeavor to make it better suited for my students. I would make damn sure there will be some sparked by my collection, which will make it all worth it and keep me going.

And now I’m emotional and the scenes keep playing in my head. So I’m going to curl up with some ice-cream over a fantasy that will never come to pass.

P.S. I’m eating Blue Bunny Bunny tracks if you’re curious. Slightly melted like soft serve. And yes, I’m serious. Writing this out was hard in my current turbulent fetal position.

P.P.S. It would have been smart to include links to my reviews of each of these books instead of just the plain ol’ Goodreads page but I’m tired, just realized my mistake, and, well, lazy. If you’d like to read them, they are easy to search for though here or on my Goodreads page! I have fictional students and my struggles as a teacher to lament over.


  1. The only one of these I've read is Aristotle and Dante and I wish I put it on my list. It has beautiful prose that can be analysed but is also far more diverse than anything currently on the curriculum.

  2. What a great idea for a TTT! There are so many awful books that we are subjected to and really, there could be some better selections. I have yet to read Garth Nix, but I have heard so many incredible things that I am sure that those books are epic and would be perfect for a classroom.

  3. OOOOH! I absolutely loved Dumplin! I can't believe I'm an Indian that hasn't read the absolute true diary of a part time indian:P!

    I'll definitely be checking out the other books. Have a lovely weekend.

    Aditi @


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