Subscribe to SLJ
Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Coming of Age (updated list)

Let’s examine what’s new in Coming of Age titles. 

Previously I had blogged in October, 2007 on Since I am solely blogging here, it’s time to move this over and update my links.

April 22, 2007

I asked for help finding possible novels that deal with rites of passage or coming of age that would be appropriate for advanced 7th graders. I have had a librarian friend at the middle school age ask for these titles. She has looked in the public library listings and Ingram. She is most interested in learning which search terms you suggest and your favorite sources for searching these topics.

See the blog from Ann Marie Grumm. This is a “booktalk” she does with her kids

* Search for the terms “coming of age” , “rites of passage”, and . Then limit with the search terms, “novel” or “children’s literature.”
* Coming of age–Fiction
* When I tried “coming of age” as a keyword search (interest level grades 5-8 and fiction as a parameters), Follett’s titlewave returned four pages of “hits.”
* The search term is “bildungsromans” which is used both in Sears and in LC as a subject heading for coming-of-age novels. The other limiter you would have to use is the age or grade range.
* Bildungsromans — novels about someone’s formative years
* The term I learned in Cataloging class was “bildungsromans” Never heard of it, but there it is in a lot of MARC records that we get! A variation is bildungsromane.

Here are some we have with that subject heading (many also have headings such as Teenagers, Teenage boys (or girls)
Annie John / Jamaica Kinkaid
Boy meets boy / David Levithan
An Egg on three sticks / Jackie Fischer
Friction / E. R. Frank
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Mark Twain
??etting it / Alex Sanchez
House on Mango Street / Sandra Cisneros
The Gospel according to Larry / Janet Tashjian
Kite Runner / Khaled Hosseini

Wikipedia has a selection of such novels post-1930 at the following location

Several of the titles on this list, e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, might be appropriate for an advanced seventh-grader. Many young adult books are by their very nature such books. In my high school library I have 169 titles with that subject heading some of which include The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, The Bee Season, Bless Me, Ultima, The House on Mango Street, The Chosen, Tangerine. Jane Eyre, Meely LaBauve, Postcards from No Man’s Land, The Red Pony, Seventeen, The Summer of My German Soldier, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

This year’s Newbery Honor book Hattie Big Sky would be perfect for this theme.
A Girl Named Disaster (Farmer)
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – the reading level is mid grade 7
Princess Academy
Enna Burning
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Mark Twain
Am I right or am I right? / Barry Jonsberg Originally published under the title, It’s not all about you,
Amazing grace / Megan Shull Abstract: Tennis has a new “it” girl and her name is Grace Kincaid. The only problem is — Grace has suddenly realized that being a teen sensation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. With fame and fortune just a backswing away, all she really wants is to be Normal!
As simple as snow / Gregory Galloway
Better than yesterday / Robyn Schneider
Corbenic / Catherine Fisher
Crane / Jeff Stone.
Dear Zoe / Philip Beard
Deerskin / Robin McKinley.
Destination unexpected : short stories / edited by Donald R. Gallo
Eva underground / Dandi Daley Mackall
Everything is illuminated : a novel / Jonathan Safran Foer
Firegirl / Tony Abbott
Flight of the goose : a story of the far north /Lesley Thomas.
The foretelling / by Alice Hoffman
Getting it / Alex Sanchez
Highest tide : a novel / Jim Lynch
How it happened in Peach Hill / Marthe Jocelyn
The hummingbird’s daughter : a novel / Luis Alberto Urrea
I am a taxi / Deborah Ellis
Keeper / Mal Peet
Knights of the hill country / Tim Tharp
Kringle / by Tony Abbott ; illustrated by Greg Call
Last child / Michael Spooner
The life all around me by Ellen Foster / Kaye Gibbons
The long hunter / Don McNair
Looking for Lucy Buick / Rita Murphy
M.C. Higgins, the great / Virginia Hamilton
Make me over : 11 stories of transformation / edited by Marilyn Singer
The melting season / Celeste Conway
Mercy on these teenage chimps / Gary Soto
My lost and found life / Melodie Bowsher
Princetta / Anne-Laure Bondoux ; [translated from the French by Anthea Bell].
Probably the world’s best story about a dog and the girl who loved me / D. James Smith
The problem with paradise / Lesley Dahl
Rex Zero and the end of the world / Tim Wynne-Jones
SilverFin : a James Bond adventure / Charlie Higson
Singer in the snow / Louise Marley
Singer of souls / Adam Stemple
Snow apples / Mary Razzell
Stephen Crane’s the red badge of courage : the graphic novel / adapted by Wayne Vansant
The telling pool / David Clement-Davies
Theories of relativity / Barbara Haworth-Attard
Throwing stones / Kristi Collier
To light a candle / Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
Twins / Marcy Dermansky
Upstate / Kalisha Buckhanon
Voices / Ursula K. Le Guin
The Wish House / Celia Rees
Suggest books by Joan Bauer.

A good one is Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. Our whole middle school read it to prepare for the author visit, and they all seemd to like it. Also, Among the Hidden by Haddix and The Giver by Lowry are both good.

You might want to invest in a professional book like The Big Book of Teen Reading Lists by Nancy J. Keane or Teen Genre Collections by Lucy Schall. Both are great and have booklists divided into sections like “Fairy Tale Variations”, “Interpersonal Challenges”, and “Making Choices”.

Other outstanding young adult books with rites of passage as their theme include:
Budge Wilson’s short story collection, The Leaving and Other Stories (Scholastic, 1990 ISBN 0-590-46933-9 Paperback)
Betsy Byars’ anthology
Growing Up Stories (Kingfisher, 1995 ISBN 1-85697-543-6 Paperback).

Novels about rites of passage include:
John Knowles’ A Separate Peace (Bantam, 1985 ISBN 0-553-28041-4 Paperback),
Robert Newton Peck’s A Day No Pigs Would Die (Random, 1994 ISBN 0-679-85306-5 Paperback),
Suzanne Staples’ Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind (Knopf, 1989 ISBN 0-394-94815-7
Library Binding)
Michael Dorris’s Guests (Hyperion, 1994 ISBN 0-7868-0047-X Hardcover)

These websites should give you a lot to go on, but you’ll have to weed through a lot that is inappropriate for your age group.

“coming of age” is a keyword string we use in entering our reviews of books for schools here in NC. You can access our searchable database of reviews from the Southern Regional Education Board’s Evalutech web site at: http ://

Click the link in the left navigation bar for “Search Evalutech Reviews.”
On the search screen, enter the keyword string (coming of age)
Format field – select print
Grade level – select 6-12
I came up with 105 hits – each one links to the full review.
Edward Nizalowski’s collections:
Rite of Passage

Rite of Passage designates the successful completion of some task, set of tasks or experience that places the individual or group into a new category of accomplishment of achievement. For many native peoples in often involved a period of fasting, denial and physical pain. For civilized peoples these “rites” are usually of a much less strenuous and demanding nature. Many stories have been written of young people who needed to take on adult responsibilities or who experienced traumatic situations that should normally be left to adulthood. Psychologists and others have often lamented that not having some “defining experience” as an adolescent, as is the case in many native cultures, has left many young people in a state of limbo regarding the question “when do I become an adult?”?

Bennett, James. Dakota Dream.
Bickham, Jack. Baker’s Hawk (1974)
Burks, Brian. Runs With Horses

Calvert, Patricia. Hour of the Wolf
Carter, Alden. Up Country
Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War.

Dean, Carolee. Comfort
Dougherty, Brittany. God is Laughing
Durbin, William. The Broken Blade.

Fleishman, Paul. Whirligig

George, Jean Craighead. My Side of the Mountain
Gipson, Fred. Old Yeller

Hunter, Mollie. A Sound of Chariots

Johnson, Angela. The First Part Last

Klein, Norma. No More Saturday Nights

Markle, Sandra. The Fledglings
Mikaelsen, Ben. Touching the Spirit Bear

Paulsen, Gary. The Beet Fields
Paulsen, Gary. Dog Song
Paulsen, Gary. The Haymeadow
Paulsen, Gary. Tiltawhirl John
Paulsen, Gary. Tracker
Paulsen, Gary. Voyage of the Frog
Peck, Robert Newton. Cowboy Ghost.
Peck, Robert Newton. A Day No Pigs Would Die

Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan. The Yearling

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony
Spinelli, Jerry. Wringer
Steinbeck, John. The Red Pony

Taylor, Theodore. Sniper
Twain, Mark. Huckleberry Finn

Wright, Richard. Rite of Passage
Ed’s Coming of Age

Coming of age can be a bit difficult to define. It is the normal process that most people experience when passing through childhood into adulthood. Changes in the body take place, toys start to be set aside, interest in the opposite sex begins to awaken and individual decisions of how to chart one’s life into adulthood start being made.

Blume, Judy. Deenie
Blume, Judy. Then Again, Maybe I Won’t
Bridgers, Sue Ellen. Home Before Dark (1976)
Christiansen, C. B. I See the Moon
Hall, Lynn. Flying Changes
Holt, Kimberly Willis. My Louisiana Sky
Hunt, Irene. Up the Road Slowly
Hunter, Mollie. A Sound of Chariots
Kidd, Susan Monk. The Secret Life of Bees
Mackler, Carolyn. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things
Mazer, Norma Fox. Baby Face
Myers, W. D. Fast Sam, Cool Clyde and Stuff
Paulsen, Gary. How Angel Peterson Got His Name
Rennison, Louise. Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging
Rinaldi, Ann. The Second Bend in the River
Sones, Sonya. What My Mother Doesn’t Know
Voight, Cynthia. A Solitary Blue
Woods, George. Vibrations (1970)