For Read 180 and English Learner students

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High Interest Series

Check for these books in our new library section: 372.41

 Choices series:

The Choices series is for teens who are emerging readers. They are not complete stories. They set up situations that require teens to make a choice. The choice is one that teens might have had to make in the past or will make in the future.

The books are about 50 pages long. They work best for teens who are learning English. If you can already read at the 4th grade level or above, you might find Choices too easy. It may bore you. If you are learning to read English, you might like the Choices series. You might enjoy thinking about what you would do in the same situation.

Sample title:

Friend or Foe?

Two friends are running for class president. A third friend (Jazz) tells one of them (Cory) that he will vote for Cory. But Jazz would make a better class president. Should he keep his promise or should he run for class president?

 Orca Soundings series

The books in Orca Soundings vary a lot. They cover a lot of situations. They are written for teens who read below grade level. Most of the books have a 2.5-6 grade level of reading, but they have a lot of action. The pace is really quick. The topic are sometimes for mature readers—teenage sexuality, underage drinking, bullying. These are not books for students in grades 2-6.

I found the Orca Soundings books that I read to be interesting. I wanted to know how things would turn out. They are the same number of pages as the shorter books in the Bluford series. (I discuss the Bluford series next—see below.) Still, Orca Soundings books are a little shorter than Bluford books. The print is bigger.

Since the books aren’t connected as they are in most series, I’ve got three sample titles to give you an idea:


Ria is rich, pretty, popular, and has a great boyfriend. Her problem is that her parents are getting a divorce. She blames her mother because her mother wanted the divorce. Ria enjoys her father’s positive attitude about life. She enjoys how he is always doing something fun.

I liked this book because I wasn’t able to guess what would happen. When Ria’s father won’t take her on a plane trip, I thought Ria would find out that her father was having an affair—and that she had misjudged her mother. But Ria’s father is very bad in another way, one right out of today’s headlines. He’s bad in a way that affects a lot more people than just his family.


Charmed is for the very mature student.

Izzy is embarrassed of her mom’s boyfriend, Rob the Slob. He’s a racist. In fact, he’s a jerk in a lot of ways. The man of Izzy’s dreams is Cody Dillon. Cody’s a good-looking high school dropout and he’s popular with some girls. But Izzy thinks the “bada#$” boys are the best ones. And even with Rob the Slob as proof that she’s wrong, Izzy won’t listen to anyone about Cody.

When Izzy’s mom chooses Rob the Slob over Izzy, Izzy thinks Cody Dillon is her ticket out of the mess of her life. Bad choice.


Although Chill has a disability, he doesn’t let it affect him. He’s a great artist and he works on his strengths. He stood up to bullies when he was a kid in elementary school, so by high school, people respect him. But then a new teacher comes to town. And he truly is a bully, not just to Chill, but also to all of the students in his class. He seems to want to break their spirits. But he acts like a completely different person around other teachers, so the staff has no clue.

Through his talent in painting, Chill is able to stand up to Mr. Sfinkter. (Yes, ha, ha. Great name.) His story is also the story of friendship and how to learn to forgive friends when they let you down.

The Bluford Series

The books in the Bluford series are connected. They all take place at Bluford High, and some of the same characters appear in various books. Some are sequels, but the series isn’t one continuous story. If you want to know which books are sequels, check the link here or look under “Readers’ Advisory” on Colony Library Lady. It has a list of all the books and a quick blurb about each one, which tells you which are sequels.

The Bluford books are a little longer—150-180 pages—so they are able to more fully develop the characters. You feel like you get to know some of them. They have very real high school problems. They have a subplot, or second story line so the world of Bluford High seems real, with multiple problems. If you read one, you may get hooked. (And that’s a good thing.)

Sample title:

Pretty Ugly

Jamee Wills feels like she can never live up to her parents’ expectations because her older sister, Darcy, is the smart one. Darcy studies hard and plans to get a scholarship to college next year when she is a senior.

Jamee loves cheerleading because she’s a talented athlete, good at jumps, dance steps and tumbling. But of she doesn’t keep up her grades, she’s going to fail math—and then it won’t matter if she makes the cheer squad. But in order to go to practice, she lies to her parents about staying after school to get help from her math teacher.

In cheer practice, it becomes obvious which girls are the school’s queen bees. Particularly awful is Vanessa Pierce. Vanessa makes fun of Angel, a shy girl who is trying out. She goes on to bully Angel. When Jamee stands up for Angel—and for what is right—she also becomes the target of Vanessa’s attacks. With all the girls afraid to stand up to Vanessa (or they will be next), the attacks become worse and include cyber-bullying.

I particularly liked Pretty Ugly because it shows how hard being an outsider in high school can be.


About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
This entry was posted in Controversial Issue/Debate, Family Problems, Fiction, Hi-Low/Quick Read, Mature Readers, Read 180, Young Adult Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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