*I am editing this post on 4/27/12 in light of my recent analysis of Beastly. I have not read all the books Young Critic recommends on this list. I'm sorry I was not clear about this when I originally posted. Of the books in the comment below, I have read and recommend The Lost Hero, Rules and Matched. I have not read Small Steps or Wish.
I do not recommend A Drowned Maiden's Hair because it is largely about 19th century spiritualism, and the main characters fool the wealthy about of the money by staging seances. Though, the spiritualism in this book is shown to be a farce, and the heroine forced to participate makes it all right in the end, I steer clear of spiritualism, Ouija, seances and communicating with the dead. That stuff is dangerous.
Mea culpa. My sincere apologies.
First, I want to thank the Young Critic for her insightful comment which I am re-posting here:
Hi I am in 8th grade and find that most of the books my mother suggests are boring. So I have come up with a list of books that are not all about sex and despair and they are deemed appropriate for 7th and 8th graders. Enjoy!
1. Beastly- by Alex Finn: a classic romance novel about Beauty and the Beast retold in a modern teenage setting. There are mild curse words.
2. The Lost Hero- by Rick Riordan: Sorta of a sequel to The Lighting Thief but with different characters.
3. Rules-by Cynthia Lord: I enjoyed this book very much. It is about a young girl dealing with a brother who has a disability. You see the characters grow in this story.
4. Matched-by Ally Condle: This book was ok. Similar to the Hunger Games but without all the deaths. It had a good story but it was a little hard to follow.
5. Small Steps- by Louis Sachar: I loved this book. A sequel to Holes though you don't have to read it to understand this book. A story about a boy putting his life together and finding people in his life that truly matter.
6. A Drowned Maiden's Hair-by Laura Schlitz: This is my favorite book besides Harry Potter. It is age appropriate for younger children as well.
7. Wish-by Alexandra Bullen: This book is very fun to read. A girl gets three dresses (three wishes) and finds some surprises along the way. I wouldn't recommend it for 6th and 7th because it has the brief mentioning of gays, drinking, and some slight cursing.
I appreciate the Young Critic's comments regarding #7, and secondly, I'd like to add a few more titles and comments as well.
Flipped by Wendelin Van Drannen: A beautiful story about what I see in my own life as the "real" people and the "plastic" people. I cried. My daughters, 12 and 13 cried. Can't recommend this book enough and the movie was pretty good too.
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore: Captivating "alien in human form hiding on earth being hunted by bad aliens" story. Similar to The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. Slight cursing here as well.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Probably deserves its own post.
I have trouble with the violence. My husband notes that I, personally, have trouble with violence in movies and books. But with the Hunger Games, the mercy killing in the end of the Hunger Games is truly disturbing. When Cato is being eaten alive by mutant dogs, is it ok for Catniss to kill him with her bow and arrow? When my teens read this, we had some great discussions on intent. Was it Catniss's intention to kill Cato or was she trying to render him unconscious to spare his suffering? (I think she was guilty of the first.) Why is one wrong and the other right? The Literate Mother provides a detailed analysis of the violence in this book, which seems more disturbing listed than it did as occurring actions within the story, but I digress. In the third book of the trilogy, we see the main characters use violence more and more, to the point where our hero, Catniss, shoots a curious and innocent bystander with reaction, not thinking. These books are definitely for mature readers, high school and up.
Aurelia by Anne Osterlund: Good story of a princess who wants to be an advocate for the people but someone is trying to kill her. In the sequel Exile, she has escaped with the one person she can trust, who happens to be a guy. They are on the run for several weeks together, and though they have feelings for each other, they manage to maintain control of themselves. Barely. Enough steam in the sequel to make me reserve this one for mature readers as well.
Matched by Ally Condie: My teens and I really enjoyed this one. Romance in a dystopian society. Scary without gore, romantic without lust. Cassia is a likable heroine who discovers that that her Society is the opposite of freedom. I review the sequel, Crossed, here.
Lastly, please, read the books your kids read. I think this becomes more important, the older your children are. At least read parts of the books they are reading, and ask your child what happened later. Discuss motives, actions, characters. Discussions are teaching moments. I impart a lot of teaching in my conversations with children, but I also learn so much about how my children are are maturing, what they like and dislike, how they see the world at this point in their lives, and their understanding of justice, love, romance, war, etc. Share with them what books you enjoyed at their age. Plus, you might just enjoy reading the same kinds of books as your kids.