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Selected Speculative and Science Fiction for Children and Teens

Compiled by Megan Schliesman and Merri Lindgren
© 2011 Cooperative Children's Book Center; updated annually

Speculative and science fiction can imagine futures that challenge children and teens to think critically about society today. It can also offer intriguing perspectives on what life on earth, or in space, might look like in the coming centuries. Whether funny (occasionally) or frightening (from a little to a lot), it's a genre that is rich with possibilities.

The books on this list are divided into the following thematic categories:

  • Too Close for Comfort? Eye-opening--and sometimes unsettling--looks at the present or future that shed light on our society and our world today

  • Travels through Time: From time-bending journeys into the future to alternate histories recasting the past

  • Aliens Here, Aliens There . . . : Close encounters with beings from other worlds often illuminate human nature

  • Dystopias and Disasters: Whether the breakdown of society is caused by war and greed or global warming, these bleak futurescapes offer hope, usually in the form of one or more young protagonists in search of something better

In cases of series (e.g., "The Hunger Games," we have only listed the first book.)

Many of the books could have fit in more than one category. And a number of them span both the speculative/science fiction and fantasy genres. So you might also be interested in our two CCBC fantasy bibliiographies:

Fantastic Fiction: Great Fantasy Books for Ages 11-17.

Fantasy for 9 to 12 Year Olds: Borrowers, Boggarts, Broomsticks and Beyond

Click on underlined book titles to see the CCBC review of the book, and/or the cover image.
Complete list of CCBC bibliographies

Too Close for Comfort?

    Anderson, M.T.. Feed. Candlewick Press, 2002. 237 pages. Ages 14 and older

    Bachorz, Pam. Candor. Egmont, 2009. 256 pages. Ages 13 and older

    Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. A Tom Dougherty Associates Book / Tor, 2008. 382 pages. Age 13 and older

    Duyvis, Corinne. On the Edge of Gone. Amulet Books/Abrams, 2016. 456 pages. Age 14 and older

    Farmer, Nancy. The House of the Scorpion. A Richard Jackson Book / Atheneum, 2002. 380 pages. Age 11 and older

    Hautman, Pete. Rash. Simon & Schuster, 2006. 249 pages. Age 12 and older

    Johnson, Alaya Dawn. Love is the Drug. Arthur A. Levine/ Scholastic, Inc., 2014. 335 pages. Ages 14 and Older

    King, A. S. . Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. Little, Brown, 2014. 306 pages. Age 14 and older

    LaFleur, Suzanne. Beautiful Blue World. Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2016. 210 pages. 8-12

    Mariz, Rae. The Unidentified. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2010. 296 pages. Ages 13 and older

    McCafferty, Megan. Bumped. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2011. 323 pages. Age 13 and older

    McCloud, Scott. Sculptor. First Second, 2015. 487 pages. Age 15 and older

    Ness, Patrick. More Than This. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2013. 472 pages. Age 13 and older

    Ness, Patrick. The Rest of Us Just Live Here. HarperCollins, 2015. 317 pages pages. Age 13 and older

    Pearson, Mary E.. The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Henry Holt, 2008. 266 pages. Age 12 and older

    Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life as We Knew It. Harcourt, 2006. 337 pages. Age 13 and older

    Porter, Sarah. Tentacle & Wing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 263 pages. Ages 9-13

    Ruby, Laura. Bone Gap. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2015. 345 pages. Age 14 and older

    Shusterman, Neal. Unwind. Simon & Schuster, 2007. 335 pages. Age 13 and older

    Silvera, Adam. More Happy Than Not. Soho Teen / Soho Press, 2015. 295 pages. Age 14 and older

    Smith, Andrew. Grasshopper Jungle. Dutton, 2014. 388 pages. 14 and older

    Tan, Shaun. Tales from Outer Suburbia. U.S. edition: Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2009. 92 pages. Ages 12 and older

    Thompson, Kate. Origins (The Missing Link Trilogy: Book Three). U.S. edition: Bloomsbury, 2007. 313 pages. Age 12 and older

    Westerfeld, Scott. Uglies. Simon Pulse, 2005. 425 pages. Ages 13-16

    Westerfeld, Scott. Pretties. Simon Pulse, 2005. 370 pages. Ages 13-16

    Whaley, John Corey. Noggin. Atheneum, 2014. 340 pages. Ages 13 and Older

    Zevin, Gabrielle. All These Things I've Done (Birthright: Book the First) . Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2011. 368 pages. Age 13 and older

Travels through Time

    Anderson, Jodi Lynn. Midnight at the Electric. HarperTeen, 2017. 257 pages. Age 12 and older

    Bray, Libba. The Diviners. Little, Brown, 2012. 578 pages. Age 13 and older

    de Fombelle, Timothée. Vango: Between Earth and Sky. Translated by Translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2014. 421 pages. Ages 13 and Older

    Engdahl, Sylvia Louise. Enchantress from the Stars. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Walker, 2001. 288 pages. Ages 11-15

    Graudin, Ryan. Wolf by Wolf. Little, Brown, 2015. 379 pages. Age 13 and older

    Larbalestier, Justine. Razorhurst. U.S. edition: Soho Teen / Soho Press, 2015. 309 pages. Age 14 and older

    L'Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1962. Ages 9 - 12

    Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me. Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2009. 208 pages. Ages 10 - 13

Aliens Here, Aliens There . . .

    Anderson, M.T.. Landscape with Invisible Hand. Candlewick Press, 2017. 149 pages. Age 13 and older

    Castellucci, Cecil. First Day on Earth. Scholastic Press, 2011. 160 pages. Age 13 and older

    Goodman, Alison. Singing the Dogstar Blues. Viking, 2002. 261 pages. Ages 13 -16

    Haddon, Mark. Boom!. U.S. edition: David Fickling Books, 2010. 194 pages. Ages 8 - 11

    Howarth, Lesley. Maphead. Candlewick Press, 1994. 154 pages. Ages 10-14

    Hughes, Monica. The Golden Aquarians. Simon & Schuster, 1995. 182 pages. Ages 9-11

    Hutchinson, Shaun David. We Are the Ants. Simon Pulse, 2016. 451 pages. Age 14 and older

    Lee, Fonda. Exo. Scholastic Press, 2017. 384 pages. Age 12 and older

    Rubinstein, Gillian. Beyond the Labyrinth. U.S. edition: Orchard Books, 1990. 245 pages. Ages 12 and older

    Scrimger, Richard. The Nose from Jupiter. Tundra Books, 1998. 156 pages. Ages 9-12

    Sleator, William. Parasite Pig. Dutton, 2002. 212 pages. Ages 11-14

    Wallenfels, Stephen. POD. Namelos, 2009. 212 pages. Ages 12 and older

    Yang, Gene Luen. Prime Baby. Illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim. Roaring Brook Press, 2010. 64 pages. Age 9 and older

Dystopias and Disasters

    Adlington, L.J.. The Diary of Pelly D.. U.S. edition: Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2005. 282 pages. Ages 12-15

    Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown and Company, 2010. 326 pages. Ages 13 and older

    Bow, Erin. The Scorpion Rules. Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2015. 374 pages. Age 13 and older

    Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2008. 420 pages. Age 12 and older

    DeVita, James . The Silenced . Eos / Laura Geringer Books / HarperCollins, 2007. 504 pages. Age 13 and older

    Dimaline, Cherie. The Marrow Thieves. Dancing Cat Books (DCB)/Cormorant, 2017. 234 pages. Age 12 and older

    Hughes, Monica. Invitation to the Game. U.S. Edition: Simon and Schuster, 1991. 183 pages. Age 13 and older

    Johnson, Alaya Dawn. The Summer Prince. Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic Inc., 2013. 289 pages. Age 15 and older

    Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Houghton Mifflin, 1993. 180 pages. Ages 10 - 14

    Lu, Marie. Legend. Putnam, 2011. 336 pages. Ages 12-15

    Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi. The Shadow Speaker. Jump at the Sun / Hyperion, 2007. 336 pages. Ages 11-14

    Roth, Veronica. Divergent. HarperCollins, 2011. 496 pages. Age 13 and older

    Schmatz, Pat. Lizard Radio. Candlewick Press, 2015. 280 pages. Age 13 and older

    Shusterman, Neal. Scythe (Arc of the Scythe, Book 1). Simon & Schuster, 2016. 433 pages. 14 and older

    Skurzynski, Gloria. Virtual War. Simon & Schuster, 1997. 152 pages. Ages 12-14

    Smith, Sherri L.. Orleans. Putnam, 2013. 336 pages. Age 12 and older

This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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