HomeAll postsList of recommended texts for high school English literature classes

List of recommended texts for high school English literature classes

Lorena Carrington was mourning the list of readings for high school English literature classes in 2020.

Carl Teegerstrom uses a dead white guy’s writing to explain why we don’t need to study more dead white guys.

Clare Fallon talks about how reading only dead white guys is a mistake that impoverishes us. While also recounting how tabloids whip up white supremacist hysteria with their excuse for journalism.

A New Literature List in Xcel with a reading for teachers

So I compiled a list of recommendations, mostly works by women and all of which deal with important social issues. This list is fully visible in the below table. However, this link takes you to an Xcel spreadsheet, which includes links to reviews as well as DMZ author interviews, panels and book launches.

LlLIf you’re a teacher considering what to study next year, I highly recommend reading Patricia Dunn’s Disabling Characters, which does an expose of the mostly poor quality texts and even poorer teaching focus on disability in classrooms. If you consider yourself a feminist or a feminist ally, please read this book. It’s short, easy to read, and gets to the point quickly. I recommend also reading my review of the book, which points out a few flaws to take into account when planning your classes.

10,000 doors of January

Harrow, Alix E fantasy YA race
A Lifetime of Impossible Days

Bird, Tabitha fantasy adult child sexual abuse, mental health, recovery
Bee and the Orange Tree Ashley, Melissa historical fiction adult gender politics
Black Glass Mundell, Meg dystopian YA homelessness, marketing
Bone Sparrow Fraillon, Zana literary fantasy YA refugees, poverty
Bruny Rose, Heather thriller adult politics
Chimes, The Smaill, Anna dystopian YA social structure, disability
Clancy of the Overflow French, Jackie historical fiction YA gender politics
Cloudwish Wood, Fiona contemporary YA minority representation
Courier’s New Bicycle

Westwood, Kim dystopian adult queer rep in oppressive society
Dark Matter Paver, Michelle horror adult isolation, mental health
Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Tayor, Laini fantasy YA new Romeo and Juliet
Disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks Lockhart, E contemporary YA feminism
Dragonfly Song Orr, Wendy historical fiction YA disability
Dreamers Pool

Marillier, Juliet fantasy adult & YA gender politics; PTSD
Earth Girl

Edwards, Janet spec fic YA disability
Ember in the Ashes

Tahir, Sabaa fantasy YA disability, race
Emergency Contact

Choi, Mary H K contemporary YA romance, race
Fire Sermon

Haig, Francesca fantasy YA disability, discrimination, social control
First Third

Kostakis, Will contemporary YA race
Foreign Soil Beneba-Clarke, Maxine contemporary adult race

Plozza, Shivaun contemporary YA poverty
Friday Brown

Wakefield, Vikki contemporary YA poverty
Gracefully Grayson

Polonsky, Ami contemporary children/YA trans
Guardian Angel’s Journal Jess-Cooke, Carolyn fantasy adult domestic abuse, recovery
Handmaid’s Tale Atwood, Margaret dystopian adult gender politics
Heir of Night

Lowe, Helen fantasy female lead, social issues
I Am Change Zail, Suzy contemporary YA gender politics
In Love With George Eliot O’Shaughnessy, Kathy historical fiction adult gender politics
Looking for Alibrandi

Marchetta, Melina contemporary YA coming of age, race
Machine Man

Barry, Max spec fic adult disability
Mortal Fire

Knox, Elizabeth fantasy YA
Natural Way of things Wood, Charlotte dystopian adult gender politics
Ninth House Bardugo, Leigh fantasy YA gender politics
Peeling the Onion Orr, Wendy contemporary YA disability
Pure Baggott, Juliet dystopian YA symbolism
Razorhurst Larbalestier, Justine historical fiction YA poverty
Remind Me How This Ends

Tozer, Gabrielle contemporary YA trauma recovery
Sidekicks by

Kostakis, Will contemporary YA race, queer
Starless Sea

Morgenstern, Erin fantasy YA
Stravinsky’s Lunch

Modjeska, Druscilla nonfiction adult gender politics
Tall Man Hooper, Chloe Contemporary adult racism
The Ones That Disappeared Fraillon, Zana literary fantasy YA refugees, child slavery, poverty
The Stars of Oktober Bend

Millard, Glenda contemporary YA disability
There Will Be Lies

Lake, Nick fantasy YA disability
This is how it always is

Frankel, Laurie contemporary adult & YA normalises family issues including being trans
When Michael Met Mina Abdel-Fattah, Randa contemporary YA race
When Mister Dog bites

Conaghan, Brian contemporary YA disability
Whisper to Me Lake, Nick fantasy YA mental health
Windup Girl

Bacigalupi, Paolo dystopian adult & YA disability, climate change
Winter Be My Shield Spurrier, Jo fantasy adult social issues

Boorman, Kate dystopian YA disability, social control, queer oppression

Wang, Gabrielle fantasy children/YA race

Jacobson, Meg contemporary YA poverty
Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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