It wasn't easy, but I used discretionary department funding to get a classroom set of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. All of history is about war. This was a good way to teach the students what it's all about and how to know when you've won or lost. The bookstore I ordered them from got them out of the business section. Yes, business is war. Football coaches at all levels use it as their bible.
One of the most unique novels I've ever read. It covers history from mankind leaving the cave and starting farming and building houses to 1960, when it was written. There's the archaeologists on a dig and their story. Then a short story is about each artifact they find. I bought at used bookstores over the summers close to a hundred copies of the book in the 1990's. It was amazing how many copies were out there, and it was still in Borders and Barnes and Nobles brand new in hardback. The original paperbacks held up to years of students reading them. The newer editions crumbled to pieces in no time. Why I had to buy so many. I could use a short story out of the book for about half of every unit. It was the perfect supplement.
While teaching 7th and 8th grade literature I found that there wasn't a problem getting girls to read. Boys were another story. I found Barry Sadler and his first 22 Eternal Mercenary series. Once I read the first book to the class, the boys couldn't read enough of them. There are now over 50 books in the series, most written by Tony Roberts with new ones coming out every year.
The word social in the title placed the elective in social studies. The teacher who was teaching it retired and no one else in the department wanted to pick it up. I was dept. chair and reluctantly agreed to teach the subject. I had a three hour course in college twenty years earlier and was considered qualified by state standards. Very few boys took this elective the first few years.
Human Development was the unit in the book that got the most student interest and part of that unit was marriage and parenting. The books were too expensive for a classroom set so I read the book with handouts of most pertinent quotes and there was lively discussion. It also sold the class to next years students to sign up for it. Once word got out that the cheerleaders were all taking the class the boys followed.