The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

  • 9781442407695_p0_v1_s260x420Lexile: 880
  • Age: 8-12
  • Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction
  • Pages: 416
  • Copyright: 2011
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Book 1 of a series

Overarching Themes:

  • Adventure
  • Family
  • Purpose in Life
  • Friendship
  • Honor and Trust


  • Alex is a thirteen year-old boy who has been deemed “unwanted” by his society. His twin brother, Aaron, has simultaneously been deemed “wanted” and is taking his new prestige to the university and leaving his “necessary” parents behind. When Alex is sentenced to death by being an “unwanted,” he instead enters a society parallel to the one he left behind. A society where magic spells and creativity rule and have the potential to threaten the society he had grown up in. When Alex is faced with the looming adventure, his connection to Aaron might be a determining factor of the outcome.


  • Books in the 5th grade literature curriculum are meant to be fun, adventurous, and teach themes about fitting in and learning about yourself. This book has each and every one of these criteria, and then adds some more. This book is so much fun to read for teachers and students alike. The dystopian setting and society are expertly crafted to bring students in and keep them guessing as to what comes next. What I as a teacher appreciate most about this book and its potential effect on 5th grade students is the emphasis on ‘being yourself’ and that ‘it is okay to be different.’ This is a very important message for students that age and this book relays that message among the excitement and adventure. Teaching these themes in the classroom is of utmost importance, so why not let a book do that for you? Let your students marvel in the magical world and give them the curriculum support they need. Trust me, you’ll enjoy this book as much as your students do and they’ll be itching to go on reading the following books in the series. 

Available Teaching Resources:

Author’s Website:

Book Trailer


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