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8 must reads for high school students in 2020

The right book can open your world to new ideas and opportunities. Be inspired by our 2020 list of award-winning books suitable for students aged 11+ handpicked by Ms Curley, Secondary Librarian at the British International School Ho Chi Minh City. Head to the Virtual School Library to find out more. Happy reading!

8 Must Reads for High School Students 2020 | British International School HCMC

1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo was announced as the 2019 winner of the CILIP Carnegie Award.

This is a novel about first love and finding your own voice. Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Bone said: "I felt very emotional reading this book, not just because the story and words themselves were so beautiful, but because I knew it was going to make so many teens, who felt like no one cares about them or listens to them, feel seen."

Recommended: 13+

2. The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf

This book won the Blue Peter Best Story Award and the Waterstones  Children's Book Prize 2019.

A poignant, adventurous refugee story which highlights kid activism. Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Children’s Buyer said: "In this future classic, Raúf has distilled what it means to be a genuine and positive person into a story that sparkles with kindness, humour and curiosity. Her characters step out of the book with a warm smile, ready to take you on an ambitious adventure which is both fun and exceptionally gripping."

Recommended: 11+

3. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Man Booker Winner 2019

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. Author Margaret Atwood said: "Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in."

Recommended: 15+

4. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Waterstones Children's Book Prize Older Fiction Winner 2019

A young adult fantasy inspired by West Africa: princesses, betrayal and persecution in the first in a series about a magical kingdom.

"They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. Now we rise." - Zelie Adebola, protagonist

Recommended: 13+

5. Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard

YA Book Prize Winner 2019

Fresh-voiced and thought-provoking contemporary YA exploring friendship, trust, messing up and trying to do the right thing in the aftermath of a teen girl going on the run with a teacher.  

"When I was wild, you were steady...Now you are wild - what am I?" - Eden McKinley, protagonist

Recommended: 14+

6. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

UKLA Award Winner 2019

Long Way Down is a lyrically rich telling of a boy, Will, whose brother was killed and now he has to follow "The Rules" to avenge his death. 

"The author Jason Reynolds has said that he planned not to write boring books, so young people who think they hate books will learn that they don’t. He’s succeeded in his aim by a million degrees: this is one of the most exciting books written for young people or anyone." - Booktrust

Recommended: 13+

7. I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

Brandford Boase Award Winner 2019

A timely, thought-provoking coming of age novel that packs in powerful universalisms about growing up, falling in love and discovering who you are. 

"Young adult books set in secondary schools are ten a penny — but this one is special." - The Times

Recommended: 12+

8. Armistice Runner by Tom Palmer

FCBG Book Award Winner 2019

An emotive story of a serious, dedicated young girl who’s keen to be the very best at her sport woven into an intergenerational tale of the fell-running messengers on the front-line of war.

"Powerfully poignant…If there is one WWI story you read this year, let it be this one!" - LoveReading

Interest level: 11+

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