The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

book-cover-the-outsiders-13740241-282-500InformationThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was originally published in 1967 by Penguin Group. Copyright was renewed again in 1995 by Speak of the Penguin Group.  ISBN: 978-0-14-038572-4

Plot Summary: The Outsiders is a compelling story of, Ponyboy, a fourteen year old boy and his brothers trying to hold their family together during tragedy and gang violence. All of Ponyboy’s friends and family are looked down on because of their poor social and economic circumstances, but they form a gang as a kind of their own family. Together they face the challenges life throws at them, including a rival gang. The story centers around one night where Ponyboy’s life is changed forever. On this fateful night, Ponyboy and his friends have to make decisions that will change how people see their rival gang and how they see themselves. Through a series of tragedies, Ponyboy learns how to be a family, understanding those outside of his circle, and the meaning of being a Greaser.

Critical Evaluation: The Outsiders is an eye-opening depiction of teens in differing communities, revealing how they see each other and themselves. Hinton examines the social and economical factors that can impact the life of teens. Through the life of Ponyboy the reader can witness the challenges that come with judgment and loss and gain understanding on how those kinds of circumstances can shape how a teen sees the world and how they view themselves. The Outsiders is a gritty novel Hinton wrote at a young age that gives an honest voice of teens facing challenges by a real teen author.

Reader’s Annotation: After Ponyboy’s best friend, Johnny, commits a terrible crime to save him; Ponyboy must decide either to face the consequences or be on the run forever. Through one night’s tragic events, Ponyboy learns the meaning of bravery, family, and what it means to be a Greaser.

Author’s Information:  S.E. Hinton was and still is, one of the most popular and best known writers of young adult fiction. Her books have been taught in some schools, and banned from others. Her novels changed the way people look at young adult literature.  

Susan Eloise Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has always enjoyed reading but wasn’t satisfied with the literature that was being written for young adults, which influenced her to write novels like The Outsiders. That book, her first novel, was published in 1967 by Viking.

Once published, The Outsiders gave her a lot of publicity and fame, and also a lot of pressure. S.E. Hinton was becoming known as “The Voice of the Youth” among other titles. This kind of pressure and publicity resulted in a three year long writer’s block (S.E. Hinton Biography).

Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Classics, Coming of Age

Curriculum Ties (Florida State Curriculum Standards):  Diverse Perspectives, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, and Knowledge of Language

Book Talk Ideas:  

  1. There is a sense of loyalty and honor among the different gang members. Did the final rumble between the Socs and the Greasers change the dynamic between them? Or did the feud between them go unchanged?
  1. How did Ponyboy’s views of the different socioeconomic classes change your view of different groups in your life?

Reading Level/Age Interest: Grades 9-12 (Scholastic) Age range: 12-16 (Lexile)

Challenged Issues: Strong language, Gang violence, Drug use, Death

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  


Hinton, S.E. (1967). The Outsiders. New York, New York: The Penguin Group. The intended audience is for young adults, from ages 12-16. The Outsiders is a story about a 14 year old who grows to understand himself, his family, and others in his life through the consequences of gang violence. The Outsiders offers a teen’s viewpoint of the world to allow other teens the opportunity to connect and grow with mutual understanding. The purpose of having The Outsiders in the collection is to show an example that teen voices can and will be heard throughout the community. While The Outsiders has been challenged for several reasons over the years, the story offers a real example of teen develop by depicting a realistic teen response and growth through difficult  circumstances. Alternative readings to The Outsiders: The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers, and Getting the Girl by Markus Zusak.

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if I do not agree


  • New York Herald Tribune Best Teenage Books List, 1967
  • Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Honor Book, 1967
  • Media and Methods Maxi Award, 1975
  • ALA Best Young Adult Books, 1975
  • Massachusetts Children’s Book Award, 1979

Reconsideration Form


Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book:

I chose this book because of its unique perspective of teens through a teen character’s narration. Ponyboy goes through a compelling transformation that forces the reader to rethink how they view others, regardless of the social or economic status.


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