The Lincoln Award is voted on every year by high school students throughout Illinois. Learn more about the Lincoln Award here.
Grade Level Interest
M: Middle School (defined as grades 6-8).
S: Senior High (defined as grades 9-12).
A/YA: Adult-marketed book recommended for teens.
2012 – The Maze Runner by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.(M, S)
2011 – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. (M, S)
2010 – City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? (S)
2009 – Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Sixteen-year-old Kristina first tries crank, or crystal meth, while visiting her long-estranged father, a crank junkie. Bree is Kristina’s imagined, bolder self, who flirts outrageously and gets high without remorse, and when Kristina returns to her mother and family in Reno, it’s Bree who makes connections with edgy guys and other crank users that escalate into full-blown addiction and heartrending consequences. (S)
2008 – Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret. (M, S)
2007 – Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday means being turned from an “ugly” into a “pretty,” and in just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally’s friend Shay doesn’t want to be pretty, and when Shay runs away, Tally learns about the dark side of the pretty world. Now Tally has been offered a terrible choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. (S)
2006 – My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
By age thirteen, Anna has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate – a life and a role that she has never challenged. But now, in an effort to claim her life for herself, Anna makes a decision that will tear her family apart. (A/YA)
2005 – A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
This book tells the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable mother: a mother who played tortuous, unpredictable games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother’s games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an “it.” (A/YA)