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8 must reads for high school students in 2021

‘More than ever… the power of books should be leveraged to combat isolation, reinforce ties between people, expand our horizons, while stimulating our minds and creativity.’ - UNESCO 2020

8 Books Every Student Should Read in 2021_Widescreen-01

Continuing on from the success and popularity of last year’s 8 Books recommendations, the BIS Secondary Library Team have put together another inspiring collection for 2021.  All the books on this year’s list are best-selling award winners, and available in our library now!

Our eBook versions can be accessed on Destiny Discover, or for a better e-reading experience on your mobile devices download the new Destiny Discover app.

Lark by Anthony McGowan

‘When Nicky and Kenny head for a trek across the moors to take their minds off of everything, a series of unforeseen circumstances leaves the brothers in a vulnerable and very dangerous position. There might even be a chance that this time they won’t all make it out alive.’

Listen here to the author talking about his book and what it feels like to win this most prestigious award! 

New Kid by Jerry Craft

“About a 12-year-old boy named Jordan who lives in New York City’s Washington Heights and dreams of going to art school, but his parents instead enroll him in a prestigious private school where he is one of the few students of color… explores friendship, race, class and bullying in a fresh and often humorous manner.’ 

Find out more about Jordan, the New Kid, here.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

‘Holly Jackson’s impressively accomplished debut features a likeable teenage sleuth out to crack a cold case as part of her homework assignment. Twists, shocks and red herrings are liberally strewn about the plot, but the thrills and spills are never allowed to overshadow the novel’s tender central relationship.’

(Recommended 13+)

Let the author take you on a tour of Andi’s last known movements on the night she disappeared to see if you can solve the case!

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder

‘Life in Bearmouth is one of hard labour, the sunlit world above the mine a distant memory. Reward will come in the next life… Bearmouth explores ideas around exploitation, truth and class through the unique voice of an extraordinary young person who dares to question the status quo.’

Descend into the darkness of the coal mine with author Liz Hyder as she talks with Alex O’Connell (The Times) about her novel Bearmouth.

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

‘Susin Nielsen deftly combines humor, heartbreak, and hope in this moving story about people who slip through the cracks in society, and about the power of friendship and community to make all the difference.’

Listen to one Alberta reader’s tribute to this RMBA Winner.

Guts by Raina Telgemeier



‘Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. It soon becomes clear that Raina's tummy trouble isn't going away... and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What's going on...? Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears.’

Listen to the author talking about her latest graphic memoir here.

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan

‘There is so much beauty to be discovered in this feminist anthem. It’s the story of a fat black girl whose father is dying from cancer and an average everyday white girl who inspire each other to step out and be extraordinary. ‘

Listen to Ellen Hagan reading from their awarding winning YA feminist anthem.

Dig by A.S. King

“King’s narrative concerns are racism, patriarchy, colonialism, white privilege, and the ingrained systems that perpetuate them. . . . [Dig] will speak profoundly to a generation of young people who are waking up to the societal sins of the past and working toward a more equitable future.”—Horn Book, starred review

“I’ve never understood white people who can’t admit they’re white. I mean, white isn’t just a color. And maybe that’s the problem for them. White is a passport. It’s a ticket.”

Listen to the author read from her award winning YA novel.


For those who want to delve even further down the reading rabbit-hole, why not take a look at last year's 8 must-read recommendations too.


BIS Secondary Library Team