Librarians Love: Coming of Age Stories for Male Readers

YALSA-bk is a listserv with lively discussions among librarians, educators, and beyond about all things YA lit. Sometimes one listserv member will ask for help finding books around a certain theme or readalikes for a particular title. This post is a compilation of responses for one such request.

The original request
I have a (male) teacher working with a group of Grade 7 and 8 (male students) who for various reasons need reading support but don’t read far below level. In their regular English curriculum they have been doing a lot of dystopian themed works — 1984, Animal Farm etc. — and he was seeking something that is more about overcoming the odds, coming of age, becoming a man, growing into yourself (for want of better words). It can be a short story (he was thinking Hemingway but I’m reluctant to hold him up as the sole emblem of masculine writers), short-ish novels, graphic novels…

Suggested titles

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Feed by MT Anderson
  • Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard
  • Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Master of Reality by John Darnielle
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
  • The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Downriver and River Thunder by Will Hobbs
  • Alabama Moon by Watt Key
  • The Body by Stephen King
  • Catch by Will Leitch
  • Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
  • Kick-Ass by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.
  • Bad Boy: A Memoir by Walter Dean Myers
  • A Small White Scar by KA Nuzum
  • Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
  • When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
  • Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt
  • Winger by Andrew Smith
  • Peak by Roland Smith
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • American Born Chinese and Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang
  • I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak

Suggested authors

  • Chris Crutcher
  • Gary Paulsen

Have more titles you think should belong on these lists? Add them on the YALSA wiki or leave a comment! Looking for more compiled booklists? Check out the YALSA wiki or other booklists here at The Hub.

— Gretchen Kolderup, currently rereading Flora’s Dare by Ysabeau S. Wilce