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Top Teen Titles #2

#2 Outsiders, The — S. E. Hinton. Viking Children’s Books, 1967.  ISBN: 9780670532575 , 192  pp. Available today from Viking Children’s; 40th Anniversary edition (September 6, 2007) ISBN: 978-0670062515.

Publisher’s Description: First published by Viking in 1967, The Outsiders immediately resonated with young adults. This groundbreaking novel was like nothing else out there—it was honest and gritty, and was a deeply sympathetic portrayal of Ponyboy, a young man who finds himself on the outside of regular society. Forty years later, with over thirteen million copies sold, the story is as fresh and powerful to teenagers today as it ever was.

Quotes from Readers: “Timeless”

“A list like this needs something classic, and I feel like The Outsiders captures a certain vocabulary of past teens even better than The Catcher in the Rye.”

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads.

Awards: Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Secondary (1991), ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1975); ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2006.03|Criminal Elements, 2006); ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000; ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999 ; 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Susan Eloise Hinton was the first recipient of the YASD/ SLJ Author Achievement Award created to honor an author whose work has been taken to heart by young adults over a period of years, providing an “authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.” When you visit the ALA YALSA website for the now named 1988 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner, you can read “S.E. Hinton’s books have shown, over the past twenty-one years, the “lasting ability to speak to the young adult experience, to help reader to become more aware of themselves and of the world around them.” In presenting this award to S.E. Hinton for The Outsiders; That Was Then This Is Now; Rumble Fish and Tex, the Young Adult Services Division recognizes that these books provide a window through which young adults can view their world. In them a young adult may explore the need for independence and simultaneously the need for loyalty and belonging, the need to care for others, and the need to be cared for by them.”

Diane’s note: In the 1960’s fifteen year-old Susan Eloise Hinton was frustrated with the only books for teens revolving around prom and dating. When a friend of hers was beaten while walking home for being a greaser, she took her anger and wrote a novel about the cruelty of teenage life and social cliques. This changed juvenile literature in American and  began Young Adult Literature and realistic teenage fiction as we know it. When it was released, reluctant readers – especially boys- related to the story and her portrayal of conflict, brotherly love, and coming of age. Of course gangs and violence were part of the story which reflected the realism and respect for the audience.

The Outsiders remains  popular today and is often included in middle and high school curriculums. When S.E. Hinton was asked why the book has remained popular through the years, she replied:

“Every teenager feels that adults have no idea what’s going on. That’s exactly the way I felt when I wrote The Outsiders. Even today, the concept of the in-group and the out-group remains the same. The kids say, “Okay, this is like the Preppies and the Punks” or whatever they call themselves. The uniforms change and the names of groups change, but kids really grasp how similar their situations are to Ponyboy’s.”

Some schools and libraries have banned The Outsiders for the portrayal of gang violence, underage smoking and drinking, as well as strong language/ slang and family dysfunction. When I was able to convince a teacher to use The Outsiders with a group of Middle School students, it was an instant hit. Many of the students sought other realistic fiction titles afterwards, particularly those dealing with gangs and the type of daily violence to which they are exposed. I had one teacher hesitate to use The Outsiders because she thought it would be dated and students wouldn’t relate. Yet the beauty of S.E. Hinton’s writing and her impact is just as strong today. Stay gold, Ponyboy.


  1. The Outsiders is so amazing! It was hugely influential on me as a kid. If you’re interested, I wrote about it here: