I was first introduced to "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton back in eighth grade. At that point in my life, I'd lost my passion for reading, so it was one of the first required readings I had to do for a class that I found myself really invested in. I'm not sure what it was about it, but I found myself really interested in the class discussions. It wasn't just me that was enthusiastic about it; it felt like the whole class's attention had been captured.
I think one of the most important things about "The Outsiders" is how it brought everyone together. S.E. Hinton noticed the social separations that often drives wedges between children in schools and didn't try to hide them in her novel. The division wasn't based strictly on stereotypes like "the nerd" and "the jock"; "The Outsiders" tackled the issue of class. It showed a more realistic reason students find themselves gravitating to certain groups and showed the consequences of such alienation.
While "The Outsiders" doesn't cover every single social issue students face, there's a good reason my future teachers also chose to have my class read this book. Both my 9th grade and my 10th grade English teacher also assigned S.E. Hinton's novel to my class. Each time, I noticed people not particularly interested in reading get really into the class discussion. Students that didn't usually participate in English class would read ahead in the book to find out what happened next; it got to the point where the teacher had to specifically ask students to be careful about spoiling the book for those who hadn't caught up yet.
This book doesn't just have a good message; it also inspires interest in reading. I believe we need more books like "The Outsiders". It's possible these books already exist, it just takes the right person to discover and popularize them inside classrooms. If students are allowed to be inspired to read, they will read more on their own.