Recommended! Outstanding Books for the College Bound


*This post was originally published in the course blog of INFO 266: Research and Discussion Forum

I’m sure many teachers and librarians are well-acquainted with the Young Adult Library Association’s online list Outstanding Books for the College Bound, but you may not know there is a book by the same title. The book version expands on what is available online by describing how librarians can use the Outstanding Books list in different library settings, including public, academic and school libraries.

The chapter “Outstanding Books for School Libraries,” explains how the Outstanding Book list helps school librarians find the perfect match between “classics, YA literature, and resources to support the curriculum” (p. 21). There is detailed advice for how to incorporate the list into a school library program through summer reading, curriculum connections, and teacher or classroom collaborations. You can even find sections about marketing the Outstanding Books list, which books are best for book talks, and which to books to use with book clubs.

curious 2In my opinion, the Outstanding Book list is perfect for high school readers who want to challenge themselves and widen their interests. For those of us who work with junior high students, there are still many titles appropriate for early adolescent readers. The ones that jump out to me from the English list are The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime by Mark Haddon and The Book Thief by Mark Zusak.
I recommend that junior high school librarians do a little more research on the titles before providing a revised Outstanding Book list to their patrons. Still, Outstanding Books could help all educators interested in vertical articulation between grade levels because it provides clues as to what students will be expected to read in high school and beyond.
In fact, I liked this list so much I added the following titles to my own Goodreads “want to read” list:


 Rotten English, edited by Dora Ahmand


Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design by Deborah Nadoolman Landis.


If Outstanding Books made me want to stretch myself as a reader, I imagine it will inspire younger readers in the same way.

 As an English teacher (and aspiring school librarian), I generally like to have students read whatever they want, provided they read widely and consistently. However, I agree that “…teachers have an obligation to ensure that the reading relates to their curriculum and is substantial enough to merit study and analysis” (Dando, p. 221). In other words, we need to help students challenge themselves and find new reading opportunities. The lists and annotations provide by Outstanding Books for the College Bound does just that. I not only recommend this book, but I think it a must-have for all librarians who work with young adults.


Dando, P. (2011). Outstanding books in school libraries. Carstensen, A. (Ed.). In Outstanding books for the college bound: Titles and programs for a new generation (pp. 21 – 28). Chicago, IL, USA: ALA Editions. Retrieved from


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