Stay Gold (texts to accompany The Outsiders)

Thank you, Mary Stassen, for inspiring this text list!  As requested, you will find books, videos, and a Newsela text set to serve as additional resources when you read The Outsiders with your class.  When you can, buy your books at an independent bookstore.  Anderson’s Bookshop is one of my favorites!


Newsela.Com text Set “Stay Gold!


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander      

Josh Bell is a baller and a twin brother.  He needs to sort out what he has in common with his brother and how he is different.  He also needs to face the medical issue going on with his dad.


Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess  

This novel-in-verse tells the story of Blade and his broken rock-n-roll family.  Blade grieves the loss of his mom and the shame of  his drug-addicted father by writing his own songs.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Melinda is miserable at school.  Kids laugh at her and make it obvious that they are doing so.  They are still mad at her about something that happened over the summer.  As she struggles through each day, she is trying to heal.  She was the one who was hurt, but nobody will know until she finds her voice.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous 

This book is the diary of a high-school girl who Runs away from home, and gets mixed up with drugs.  At some points she seems like she has the world ahead of her.  Other times, she seems so lost . . .


Tyrell by Coe Booth  

Tyrell can’t get a break.  His mom is useless.  His dad is in jail.  He’s got a kid brother that needs too much from him, and a girlfriend that wants too much from him. All he wants is a place to live, and a new start.

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes   

Wesley doesn’t write the required essay for Mr. Ward’s class, but he writes a poem. This leads to an open mic poetry event every week in Mr. Ward’s class.  Girls and boys from different races, cultures, and circumstances open up to each other through their shared words.

Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes (Available February 2018)
In this companion/sequel to Bronx Masquerade, Darrin is a  budding news reporter.  He and Mr. Ward bring back open mic poetry and a new group of students learn about each other through shared vulnerability.


Joseph: A Novel by Sheila P. Moses  

Joseph is about to start at a new school.  The problem is, it’s hard to get to know anyone when you can’t talk about your life.  Joseph and his mom live in a homeless shelter, because she can’t keep a steady job with her drug and alcohol addictions.  Joseph is trying to figure out how to help her while he also tries to deal with his own life.

Bottled Up by Jaye Murray  

Pip is desperate to escape his life – he skips school, drinks, and gets high trying to escape.  When Pip gets in trouble at school,  the principal gives him an ultimatum:  See a counselor, or his dad will be called.  Pip will do ANYTHING to avoid his father, so he sees the counselor, who wants him to see what he’s doing to himself and to his little brother.

Handbook for Boys by Walter Dean Myers   

Jimmy and Kevin could really use a guide to life.

Their activities almost land them in juvenile detention until Duke employs them in his Harlem barbershop. Duke has rules for everything. But is he offering good advice or just more aggravation?

Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers    

Lately everybody’s messing with Jamal. His teachers, the kids at school, even his dad. And now that Jamal’s brother Randy’s in the slam, Crazy Mack has a crazy idea. He wants Jamal to take control of the Scorpions and run crack.

All the gang jive–Jamal has no use for it. Unless, like some say, it’s the only way to “get money” for Randy’s appeal…

The story of twelve-year-old Jamal, whose life changes drastically when he acquires a gun.


I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets:
Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure
by Larry Smith

Based on Earnest Hemingway’s six-word-story, teens wrote their own six-word-memoirs—powerful, vulnerable, truth-telling memoirs.


Boot Camp by Todd Strasser   

After getting caught with drugs, fifteen year-old Garrett is sent to Lake Harmony, a disciplinary boot camp for troubled teens.  At the boot camp, Garrett is abused and controlled until he “obeys all orders immediately and without hesitation.”  Part of him wants to escape, and part of him is terrified to break any more rules.  Can he escape while he still has his own personality?

Teen Angst? Naaah… by Ted Vizzini  

Ned’s angsty teen memoirs can be read in order, or not.  Each chapter is complete and can  stand alone.


Thug Notes: The Outsiders (Warning: Explicit Language)

Gone With the Wind in 60 Seconds

Bunnies: Gone With the Wind

Interview with S.E. Hinton

Robert Frost recites “Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Stop-Action Animation “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (Good For CCSS RL7)



 Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers

Grades 8 and up

Lil J has been shot, so he rushes into an abandoned building as he tries to hide from the police.   While he is inside the building, he meets Kelly, a man who asks Lil J just the right questions, and may have an answer or two.  Together, they talk through what happened, and the events leading up to the situation that Lil J is in.  Lil J has a chance to get honest while he also decides how to get away before the police find him

My Rating:  3.5 Stars

The Get Rich Quick Club by Dan Gutman

Grades 1 through 5

Gina and her friends are determined to have a great summer. They decide to make summer better by finding a quick, easy way to make a million dollars.  They form a club, with 5 members, and start working, scheming and deceiving.

My Rating: 2.5 stars


Biographies, Memoirs, and such…

Odd Boy Out:  Young Albert Einstein

by Don Brown

Ages 5 to 20

Odd Boy Out:  Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown, is a short biography of Albert Einstein, highlighting his younger years.  As a children’s picture book, the text is not lengthy nor is it extensive in details.  It is, however, written accurately, citing several sources in the bibliography.   Brown also included some supplementary details in his “Author’s Note.”

My Rating:  5 stars


Bad Boy:  A Memoir by Walter Dean Myers

Ages 14 and up

Walter Dean Myers attempted to give a balanced depiction of himself, and his own life in Bad Boy: A Memoir.  At the end of his book he wrote “In my heart I’ve always wanted to do the right thing and be thought of as a good person.  Even here I see that I’ve excluded many of the discipline problems I had in school.” (p. 205).  Myers describes his humble beginnings, living in a flat in Harlem.  “The apartments weren’t designed for that many, but that was what Harlem was about working people doing the best they could.” (p. 22).  Myers discusses the fights he got into, his best friend who had been homeless, and the poverty of his own family.  He also shared how his father’s advice was about hard work providing the only success “The white man won’t give you anything, and the black man doesn’t have anything to give you.  If you want anything out of life, you have to get it yourself.”  (p. 122).  This statement is consistent with portraying a subject (or in this case oneself) accurately, as it glorifies the eventual hard work that Myers put into writing rather than any superhero gifts that he was  showered in from birth.

My Rating:  4 stars


The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler

by James Cross Giblin

Ages 15 and up

Giblin, in trying to reflect Hilter fairly, wrote The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler as a balanced look at a human being.  Giblin wrote of Hitler’s early years, with a father who took his rage out on his sons, including Adolf.  (pp 6-7).  Giblin also described the shame that Hitler felt when rejected twice from art school in Vienna, and how he stayed on in Vienna regardless.  (pp. 10-13).  Once Hitler joined the German army and began his rose to power, he showed signs of stress and anxiety.  Giblin mentioned these episodes of anxiety several times throughout the book, including page 66 “… he admitted to the local Party leader that he suffered constantly from outbreaks of perspiration, trembling in his arms and legs, and severe stomach cramps. “  Giblin was also sure to include times when Hitler felt the opposite, like on page 156 “He might still suffer from stomach upsets and sleepless nights, but he confided in one Nazi commander that he felt as if he had evolved into a ‘superhuman state’ so that he was now ‘more godlike than human.’”  Giblin also was certain to incorporate the several times that Adolf Hitler contemplated suicide, right before being arrested in 1923 (p. 44), in 1932 when Hitler was trying to become the Chancellor of Germany (p. 70), again in January, 1945, after Hitler’s defeat in the Battle of the Bulge (p. 201), and finally when he and Eva (his wife of about twelve hours) ended their lives on April 29, 1945.


My Rating:  5 stars



And Now for Something Completely Different… Poetry

My man Blue by Nikki Grimes

This picture book by Nikki Grimes, was illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue in acrylics.   While it is written in poetry form, and each poem can stand alone, the book really tells a story about a boy, Damon, who eventually accepts his mom’s “old friend.”  Together, they face a class bully, anger, fear, and trust.


Here in Harlem:  poems in many voices by Walter Dean Myers

In this tribute to W. B. Yeats, Walter Dean Myers captures a vignette of Harlem.  Through 54 poems, Myers introduces the different people that made up the community of his childhood home, and gives voice to each of them.  Some of the people represented through poem include:  a retiree, a nanny, some students, a janitor, a hairdresser, and a street vendor.


Dark emperor & other poems of the night  by Joyce Sidman

This picture book by Joyce Sidman, and illustrated by Rick Allen is a picture book, a non-fiction book, and a poetry book all in one.  Allen illustrated using “relief printing” which involves blocks of linoleum, ink, and in this case gouache (an intense watercolor).  Sidman alternated between poetry that focuses on nature and a non-fiction explanation of the living things mentioned in the poem.


Snow, snow:  winter poems for children  by Jane Yolen

Photography by Jane Yolen’s son, Jason Stemple, is highlighted in this book.  Yolen wrote 13 poems to go along with, and inspired by, the photography.  The style of each poem varies, but the topic is the same: they are all about snow.


Two Tough Topics

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Ages 15 and up

Logan, is a regular high school guy who is working on getting over a girl who he dated for three years.  One day, Sage, a new girl, shows up in biology class.  Logan is instantly taken by her, and it seems the she likes him back.  He gets mixed messages from Sage.  Sometimes she seems really attracted to Logan, and other times she says that she is not allowed to date.  She says that she was home-schooled for a few years.  Logan is respectful of all of that, but he wonders why Sage’s younger sister was not home-schooled and is allowed to date.  As he discovers Sage’s secret, Logan is forced to decide how much he cares about Sage, and how much he cares about what others think.

I was expecting a “girl book” because of the cover, but I found a rich, story with a dynamic male protagonist.  Once I got into the story, I could not put the book down.

My Rating:  5 Stars!

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

Grades 7 and up

Reese is in a juvenile detention center, serving time for stealing prescription pads.  Regardless of his best efforts to keep his nose clean, Reese gets in several fights, and keeps losing privileges while he is locked up.  Fortunately, he participates in a work program, so he gets to work at a home for Senior Citizens.  Reese is assigned to work with the difficult, angry Mr. Hooft.  At first, Reese finds Mr. Reese as intolerable as everybody else does.  As he continues to work with him, however, they learn a bit from each other.

My Rating: 5 Stars