22 YA Novels to Help Students Process the Pandemic (or Forget It for a Bit)

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Preteen and adolescent teachers frequently select books that provide windows and mirrors for their students to look through. This permits individuals to gain a better understanding of themselves as well as others. Students’ understanding of the unexpected changes in their life that have occurred as a result of the coronavirus outbreak is greatly enhanced by the use of literature.

Because I worked as a school librarian for many years and served as president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), I read a lot of books. There have been more than 600 young adult books published in the previous three years alone. Middle and high school students should pay attention to the following four categories of recommendations: developing resilience and flexibility, responding to crises, finding laughter and joy, and exploring dystopias.


These difficult times necessitate the adoption of new ways of life that necessitate the development of resilience and adaptation. To succeed, students must learn to adapt to changing environments. Students can benefit from reading about people who have overcome difficulty and their experiences because it can help them see their circumstances in a different light.

Insignificant Events in a Cactus’s Life

Aven, a 13-year-old girl who was born without arms, is the protagonist of Dusty Bowling’s story. The opportunity to work as a manager at a neglected theme park is presented to Aven by her adoptive father, who forces her to make the switch. Conner, a teenage guy with Tourette’s syndrome, becomes her friend. They uncover a terrible reality about the enigmatic theme park owner, which they are shocked to learn. Aven, with the help of her parents, develops into a self-assured young lady. (Recommended for Grades 5-8; 262 Pages)
The Amazing Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Dan Gemeinhart’s novel depicts Coyote with her father, who travels around the country in a school bus following the tragic auto accident that claimed the lives of her mother and two sisters. Coyote learns from her grandmother that her old community park will be demolished. She knows that she must return to retrieve the memory box she and her sisters buried there. Coyote devises a plan for her father to allow her to return. (Suggested for Grades 5-8; 344 Pages)

Deborah Wiles’ Sixties Trilogy is about Franny, an 11-year-old girl who grew up in Arlington, Virginia, in 1962. Franny is the protagonist of the trilogy. When Russia launches a nuclear strike on the United States, children are trained to duck and cover in place. In addition, they construct bomb shelters in their backyards. Franny must summon the strength to get through this terrifying moment, even though she is terrified and confused. (Suggested for Grades 5-8; 377 pages) (English)

The Night Diary
The story of Nisha and Amil (12 years old), who live with their grandmother Kazi, their father, and their grandmother, is told in Veera Hiranandani’s novel, which is set in 1947 India and follows their lives. Kazi’s family is Hindu, and his father is Muslim. As a result of the end of British control, the family relocated to Pakistan. They are required to travel to India, but Kazi is unable to accompany them on their journey. They walk for hours to reach safety, and they almost lose their lives in the process. The Newbery Award for the year 2019 went to a story about resilience. It is based on genuine occurrences that many kids may not be aware of at the time. Recommended for Grades 5-8 (about 267 pages).

With Fire on High

In this novel by Elizabeth Acevedo, Emoni, a 17-year-old woman who lives with her grandmother in Philadelphia with her 2-year-old daughter, is introduced. Her mother has passed away, and her father is currently in Puerto Rico, so she is alone. She is having difficulty balancing academics, work, and parenting her child. She enrolls in a culinary arts class at the school where she works. She meets the head chef for the first time, but she quickly becomes his staunchest supporter. This book features recipes, which are a wonderful complement to this at-home time spent with the family. (389 pages; appropriate for students in grades 9-12)


When faced with adversity, many of the characters in young adult fiction respond positively. Teens can identify with the emotional responses of the protagonists to harsh situations in the novel. Books can be a valuable resource for students who are experiencing uncertainty at school or in their home lives. Those who read these books are teenagers who have conquered adversity and come out on top.

Terror at Bottle Creek
Cort and his father reside on a houseboat off the coast of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Key Watt is the author of this novel. His father prepares the boat in preparation for a cyclone and then departs to pay a visit to his mother, who continues to live on land. Cort has remained behind with the marina owner’s two daughters, who have joined him. The hurricane causes Cort’s dog to be washed into the ocean. As the youngsters attempt to rescue him, the boat bursts open. The following chapters are frightening. Is Cort going to be able to save himself and the girls? The book is aimed towards students in grades 5-8 and has 213 pages.

The Breadwinner
Parvana, an 11-year-old girl who grew up in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, is the main character in Deborah Ellis’s book. Her mother and sister are reliant on her to provide for the family after her father was arrested for domestic violence. The character Parvana is a young girl who can pass for an adult male when she wants to go out in public. It is, however, against the law for girls to be alone in public places, according to the legislation. She is willing to put herself in danger to save her family. This book is appropriate for students in grades 5-8.

I Will Not Save You The First

In addition to being Maddie’s best friend, Logan also happens to be her father, who is the head of the President’s Security Team. After her father is killed during a kidnapping attempt, she and her family go to Alaska. Logan gets taken by the bad guys six years later, and Maddie is the only one who can save him. This novel by Ally Carter features numerous amusing passages, as well as some romance and exciting action. (304 pages, recommended for students in grades 9-12.)

I Am Still Alive
After her mother is killed in a car accident, Jess is left to live with her father and her brother. He lives in a hut in the Canadian woods, where he has no access to contemporary luxuries. After her father is slain and her father’s cottage is destroyed, Jess must find out how she is going to survive. The main character, Jess, has to overcome numerous challenges, including loneliness and despair, in this fast-paced narrative by Kate Alice Marshall. (336 pages; suggested for students in ninth through twelfth grades)

When We Were Lost
A group of high school students survives an airplane crash in the forest with the help of a jungle guide. They just don’t know where to look. Tom, a loner college student, does not believe himself to be a leader. His ability to lead is gradually shown to the reader, who is impressed by his character. Kevin Wignall’s work depicts the hazards of the jungle, which include snakes and caimans, as well as drug dealers, in which the protagonist finds himself. Tom puts himself in grave danger to save his buddies. This book is an excellent choice for reluctant readers who appreciate action-packed stories. 306 pages; recommended for students in grades 9-12.


Students need to be able to read lightheartedly even in the middle of a pandemic. Laughter helps relieve stress and reminds teens and preteens that they are not the only ones.

Dear Sweet Pea

Following the death of her mother in a vehicle accident, Jess is forced to live with her father and brother to survive. He makes his home in the Canadian forests, where he does not have access to modern conveniences such as electricity or running water. She must figure out how she is going to survive after her father is killed and the cottage where he was staying has been destroyed. In this fast-paced tale by Kate Alice Marshall, the main character, Jess, must face a variety of obstacles, including loneliness and despair. Three hundred and thirty-six pages; recommended for students in ninth through twelfth grades

Unbeatable Squirrel Girls: Squirrel Meets World

Shannon and Dean Hale have written a novel about Doreen, a young woman who has recently relocated with her family from California to New Jersey. She is having difficulty adjusting to her new school. Doreen, an eighth-grade student, is not your typical young lady. She has the tail of a squirrel, and she possesses incredible powers. When Squirrel Girl’s tail falls off and she battles bullies, she becomes a legend in her own right. Squirrel Girl is a superhero who will be familiar to fans of Marvel Comics. Because of the internal jokes and Doreen’s comments in the footnotes, this book is a joy to read and will make you laugh. This book is recommended for students in grades 5-8. It contains 323 pages.
The Truth
Andrew Smith has written alternate chapters for Sam, who is four years old, and Sam, who is eleven years old. After falling into a well and spending three days with an armadillo, young Sam decides to go on a camping trip. The preteen Sam skips a grade because he finds the middle school experience too difficult. In this case, Sam’s locker neighbor James was the one who was responsible for his fall down the well. Sam is convinced that James will assassinate him. But, over time, he comes to discover that not everything is as it appears to be. The lads create a bond as a result of a humorous story about friendship, understanding, and togetherness. The book is aimed towards students in grades 5-8 and has 266 pages.

All Happies

Vic throws a surprise graduation party for his friends. However, readers quickly know that things are about to go insane. Things can go wrong at any time. However, this is frequently the case. Throughout the novel, there is a love story. In Rachel Cohn’s books Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Eli, readers will not be surprised by the graphic language, sexual scenes, and underage drinking. Recommended for grades 9-12 (includes 279 pages).

You begin, and I come to an end.
Carbondale, Illinois was the location where the solar eclipse of 2017 lasted the longest, lasting a total of 79 minutes. During the eclipse, Ezra (a high school student) and Wynonna (also a high school student) switched places with their bodies. Wynonna, a tough-as-nails college student, learns what it’s like to be kind to Ezra in Preston Norton’s humorous tale. Wynonna also learns what it’s like to be a lonely little girl without the support of her parents. 419 pages; recommended for students in grades 9-12.

The Field Guide for the North American Teenager

Ben Philippe’s plot revolves around Norris, who is the main character. He is a Haitian-Canadian youngster who, with his mother, relocates from Montreal to Houston, Texas. Norris keeps a journal of his travels through Texas and the United States. He replicates field guides and divides the children at Anderson High School into groups based on their personalities. Despite falling in love with Aarti, Norris is embarrassed when his field guide is shared with the class and his classmates see his amusing comments. (372 pages; suggested for students in ninth through twelfth grades)


Although dystopian novels have been around for a long time, their popularity increased with the success of the Hunger Games trilogy. Although this topic may not be suitable for all kids, some will find it interesting to read about events that make the current situation appear less dire.

Maximillian Fly
It is discovered by scientists that cockroaches can survive any tragedy and that they can be genetically modified to transmit their genes to humans. Max is one of the people who have ended up with roach babies. One night, he comes to the aid of two wingless normal roaches who are fleeing from the authorities. Angie Sage’s book, which is now in progress while Max is occupied with saving the two, has a central topic that is not only about combating discrimination but also about not making snap judgments about people (or cockroaches) because of their appearance. Grades 5-8 (370 pages) (Recommended for Grades 5-8)

The Life We Knew

Author Susan Pfeffer discusses the devastating natural phenomena that occur when a meteor collides with Earth’s satellite, the moon. Miranda, her mother, and her brothers must find out how they will make it through the next few days. The necessities of daily existence, such as stores stocked with goods, are no longer available. Miranda’s mother is a fearless taskmaster, and it is these attributes that enable her family to survive. If young readers enjoy this book, there are other sequels available. (337 pages; appropriate for students in grades 9-12)
Dread Nation

The novel by Justina Ireland rewrites the course of history. The Civil War came to an end as the North and South faced up against a new foe: zombies. Jane and Katherine are both biracial schoolgirls who attend the same school. Jane would like to travel to Kentucky to see her mother, while Katherine would like to live in the world of the rich and famous. They uncover a sinister conspiracy that leads them to what appears to be a utopia, but in reality, it is a slave camp. Katherine’s ability to pass as a white woman helps the girls getaway. This book is jam-packed with historical information. 464 pages; recommended for students in grades 9-12.


Only three types of survivors are left after an insect-borne disease strikes the world: the true are uninfected, those who have been vexed are cured, and the wicked are infected. Two teenagers, Hank (and Astrid) are left in an experiment gone wrong. Hank is right, Astrid is troubled. Natalie, a troubled teenager, lives on an isolated island with her mother, baby sister, and wicked grandfather. These two stories are told in alternating chapters by Alex Yates in the book. They reveal an unsettling relationship between the girls. This book is recommended for grades 9-12. 361 pages

The terrifying tale of father and son authors Jarrod and Neal Schusterman is set in Southern California where severe drought has reached its peak. Alyssa, her neighbor, and her brother embark on a search to find her parents who fled to seek water. Their trip goes wrong and they experience one after another. (Suggested for grades 9-12, 400 pages).

How we became wicked
The novel by Justina Ireland has the potential to change the path of history. Zombies were the new foe that brought the Civil War to a close, and the North and South were forced to face off against each other. Even though Jane and Katherine are both multiracial, they attend the same high school together. Jane would like to see her mother in Kentucky, whereas Katherine would prefer to live in the world of the affluent and famous to be more like them. They unearth a dark scheme that leads them to what appears to be a utopia but is a slave camp, which they must escape from. Katherine’s ability to pass for a white woman greatly assists the girls in their escape. In this book, you’ll find a wealth of historical facts. Students in grades 9-12 should read this book, which has 464 pages.