In 1965, a sixteen-year-old girl who loved to read decided she didn’t like the books that were being written for young adults and decided to write her own. Two years later, Susan Eloise Hinton published The Outsiders. Forty three years later, I am still giving this book to young adults of both genders who do not like to read. In most cases, this book changes their minds.
This book is written for a reading level of fifth grade and an interest level of sixth through twelfth. Classically known as a coming of age story, The Outsiders tells the story of adolescent struggle to fit into a difficult world. With honorable action and shared interests as underlying values, the fast paced action of this story includes family dysfunction, gang rivalry, murder, law evasion, heroic rescue, and ultimate redemption. Many issues that concern teens are explored: friendship, treachery, bullying, compassion, grief and loss, forgiveness.
Finding the second book for young teens who hate to read but have finally found a book they really enjoy can be harder than finding the first one. Fortunately, S.E. Hinton followed The Outsiders with That Was Then, This Is Now, a book with similar themes and one which most teens like as much as they like The Outsiders. However, I have found that the books that follow these two, seem not to spark the same interest level.