With the government and the American people at an impasse regarding gun control laws and a seemingly unending list of schools experiencing violence, finding the right words, if there are such things, can be challenging. Political feelings aside, many of us can feel helpless in the aftermath of a shooting, such as the events of yesterday at Umqua Community College in Oregon. I by no means believe that books alone can stop future school shootings, but I do believe they can help.
Many years ago, I read Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser, which was inspired by the events of the Columbine massacre. My middle-school self felt strongly that the book should be included as a part of the local curriculum (and, if I had my way, imposed nationally). I wrote a letter to the district once I’d finished, explaining that the book gave examples in empathy and understanding, taking care to address a turbulent topic in a moving way. I don’t recall if I sent the letter; if I did, I did not receive a response.
As I work toward becoming a librarian (and, perhaps, a librarian with a focus on young adult services), I now have slightly more influence, and will continue to have greater influence still. If you are already in such a position, I hope you find the list below to be helpful. Alternatively, if you are not a library professional but are looking for something to mitigate the process of, well, processing, fictional looks at gun violence in schools, such as the ones below, may assist you.
While the items in this list are strictly about gun violence (before, during, after, and perhaps even preventing), there are a myriad of published novels about school violence beyond guns, including bombings, fist fights, and other methods of hurting others. It goes without saying that the books in this list may be upsetting or triggering. I recommend proceeding with caution should you feel any of these might be detrimental to your psyche or well-being. Many of these books are written for teens; you’ll find this material appropriate for teenagers and adults.
Please note that I have not personally read all of the titles myself. You’ll find the list in alphabetical order by author with links to purchase items in the titles. I encourage you to recommend additional materials or ask questions in the comments. The intent of this post, however, is not to incite a political debate. I thank you for respecting the intent of this list and refraining from such discussion.
- Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash (Goodreads)
- Hate List by Jennifer Brown (Goodreads)
- Monday, Monday by Elizabeth Crook (Goodreads)
- Just Another Hero by Sharon M. Draper (Goodreads)
- Endgame by Nancy Garden (Goodreads)
- Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan (Goodreads)
- Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson (Goodreads)
- The Brimstone Journals by Ron Koertge (Goodreads)
- The Last Domino by Adam Meyer (Goodreads)
- Shooter by Walter Dean Myers (Goodreads)
- Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (Goodreads)
- Vernon God Little: A 21st Century Comedy in the Presence of Death by D. B. C. Pierre (Goodreads)
- After by Francine Prose (Goodreads)
- Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon (Goodreads)
- Project X by Jim Shepard (Goodreads)
- We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Goodreads)*
- Boo by Neil Smith (Goodreads)
- Give a Boy a Gun by Tod Strasser (Goodreads)
- Aftershock by Andrew Vachss (Goodreads)
- Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave (Goodreads)
- Quad by C. G. Watson (Goodreads)
*Not gun violence, but related.