Oh my sons loved Chasing vermeer and Wright 3 back when they first came out. And yes, love those read-alouds you've mentioned, as also the Percy Jackson series. Will check out Storytime. My older son just finished Uglies and started "Double Helix" last evening. He loves books with historical connections and also Science mystery novels - like Micheal Crichton's Andromeda Strain and Congo.
My 10-year old is reading Once Upon A Marigold, and his librarian has also given him The Nine Pound Hammer: Book 1 of The Clockwork Dark and Wednesday Wars.
I read reviews of some of the popular YA authors Megan mentioned below. Reviews that include words like "sexual tension" and 'gut wrenching prose" are red flags for me not to mention them to our kids--I've always got a group of 6th grade girls that would jump at the chance to read stuff they might not be ready for! (haha)
I've heard The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing is really good.
My recommendations come as the librarian for a rural 7-12 school who is also an English teacher. I see a lot of students checking out or carrying their own copies of books by Ellen Hopkins; I wouldn't use them in a classroom because they're pretty mature, but the students love them. I would say that anything by John Green is worth reading and could be used for older students in a class if you get parental permission. But my highest recommendation right now goes to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It's very thought-provoking, good for girls and boys, and works for middle school or high school. I'm also a huge fan of Deadline by Chris Crutcher, and my students are loving the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare (I'm just now getting to these books, but they all seem to love them). I also highly recommend Laurie Halse Anderson's books, particularly Speak, Twisted, and Wintergirls.
Just as a side note to consider though, several of these books have been challenged by adults who haven't actually read them because they are, as you say, cutting edge. If you plan to use them or include them in a library's collection, it would be a good idea to make sure your school has a challenge/reconsideration policy that will protect you and your school.
Megan, As I mentioned earlier--I'm always in a sticky situation because my kids are young, 11-12, but reading at an adult level. I think that's why they love Hunger Games--it's edgy, raw and intense. For some of the kids it's their first foray into YA. I'll look into some of your recommendations. N
It's touchy in my library since we're 7-12. All of our students are required to read 2 novels of their choice from their reading list each grading period and take the corresponding Scholastic Reading Counts quiz. I've basically divided the collection into a middle school list and a high school list, and it's worked well. The only issues I have are with middle school books because of the wide range of maturity levels in the students.
I serve kids from public, private and parochial schools so I always have the added excitement of parental censorship. If I have concerns on a read aloud (I read them first) I email the parents and give them options to read the book along with us.
Kite Runner for 16yrs and up has wonderful results for me in the classroom. The author also has wonderful podcasts on his site about the writing process. Its not for all districts but if you have an open admin it opens so many doors and helps students understand much about the modern history of the Afghan people.
The Book Thief is an amazing story which is told by Death! It's about a German girl growing up in Germany during the second world war. It has powerful themes about doing the right thing, amazing language, and great historical references. I LOVED this book.