Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Communities and People

1984 - (ISBN: 978-0452284234)

by George Orwell

Written from the point of view of one man in a tightly controlled society, the society of the future 1984 allowed no personal freedom, even of thought. Although 1984 has come and gone, this portrayal of an individual’s fight to pursue the woman he loves in the midst of a community gone wrong is relevant today. His job, that of rewriting history to fit within the totalitarian views of his society’s controllers, has echoes in the modern world.

House on Mango Street - (ISBN: 978-0679734772)

by Sandra Cisneros

In Esperanza’s creatively crafted descriptions of past memories and neighborhood characters, the portrait of a Latino neighborhood in Chicago becomes vivid and startling. She dreams of another house for her future, but she can’t escape the effects of her first community.

Lord of the Flies - (ISBN: 978-0140283334) )

by William Golding

The survival attempts of a community of boys whose plane crashed on an uninhabited island quickly change from cooperation to warfare as groups of boys battle among themselves and also against their human and animal instincts. Many critics see this classic read as a microcosm of the modern world and its power struggles. Don’t miss reading this masterpiece!

Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen - (ISBN: 978-0060081966)

by Bob Greene

Read the true story of how members of one small town in Nebraska volunteered time, money, and affection to give comfort to soldiers passing through during the years of WWII. Because the small town of North Platte, Nebraska was at the intersection of several railroad lines, many greenhorn soldiers stopped there while on their way to the unknowns of war and possible death. In a series of true anecdotes, the author has collected testimonials to the spirit of volunteerism and sacrifice that characterizes the spirit of American people.

The Handmaid’s Tale - (ISBN: 978-0307264602)

by Margaret Atwood

This classic tale about a dystopic time when fundamentalist religion has taken control of society is very relevant to today’s political scene. Seen through the eyes of one woman whose tightly restrained actions leave her no personal freedom, the community portrayed is a chilling prediction of what might happen should fanatical religious groups achieve political control.

To Kill a Mockingbird - (ISBN: 978-0060935467)

by Harper Lee

Seen through the eyes of a young girl as she grows to maturity, the events in a racially troubled Southern town come to symbolize America’s attitudes toward African Americans in pre-1960’s times. The story of three young children trying to get a neighborhood “ghost” to come out of his house is the foreground to the trial of a black man accused of raping a poor white woman. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1961, this book is second in popularity only to the <i>Bible</i> in the United States. Every page teaches readers about themselves, their communities, their foibles, and their hopes for better lives.

Activities for this Theme

Talk about the Internet as a community for teens. For information about social networking for teens, see the report prepared by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Be sure to talk together about the pros and cons of this online communities.


Volunteer in your local school or literacy agency to help people learn to read and perform other survival tasks. Perhaps volunteer to make books on tape.


Volunteer with your entire family to build houses for Habitat for Humanity or serve food to the workers there.