The Suzumiya Haruhi franchise all started with a little book that many adults would scoff at just from looking at the cover. But inside this little book is some heavy, mind-boggling, hilarious, and thought-provoking material. Excellent reading fodder for young people, and people young at heart.
It's a very strange story, with a premise that could go very wrong - have gone very wrong in the hands of a less talented author than 谷川 流 Tanigawa Nagaru. It's a very modern story - or at least, it speaks in a very modern way about very ageless things. A quick google search will provide loads of background, and a video search will provide the youtube links to the actual film, so I won't say much about the plot here.
I will say a little bit about why I want this series to be apart of my classroom/personal library. I go for quality reading material, and I walked into my job on the first day vowing that I will never fill my shelves with "filler" books. It's much more effective to have a small, carefully chosen library than shelves and shelves of penny paperbacks where the next book is as dry as the paper it's printed on.
Smart, fun reading material for middle school is few and far between, despite the huge army of YA authors out there. I blame Stephanie Meyers. Let's actually take a look at the books I have in my collection so far, and their respective publishing years, and discover a pattern:
Wolves of Wiloughby Chase, 7-9 novels, depending on who you talk to, by Joan Aiken (1963)
Anne of Green Gables, 8 novels, by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
Fruits Basket, 23 manga volumes, by 高屋 奈月 Takaya Natsuki (1999)
Harry Potter, 7 novels, by J.K. Rowling (1997)
The Hunger Games, trilogy, by Suzanne Collins (2008)
The Golden Compass, trilogy, by Phillip Pullman (2007)
Target audience age range: ~10 to ~16
The odd Diana Wynne Jones, and some pre-20th century classics are thrown in as well, but the above forms the core of my classroom library. All have spent time on my personal bookshelves long before they migrated to school. Maybe with the exception of The Hunger Games.
The Suzumiya Haruhi series is quite something else - very different from the above, but excellent story-telling like the above. There's something else to it too, I can't quite put words to describe it. Something intellectual about the S.H. series, deeply so, and it's all hidden in the folds of a sci-fi/fantasy light novel WITH ILLUSTRATIONS. To the people who say nothing intellectual can come out of a book with illustrations, I say you haven't met the great Haruhi and her minions.