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7 Books for Your Teenager to Read

As the parent of a high school student there are a lot of issues to deal with. It can be easy to forget about the importance of reading in the life of your teenager, but this activity can be a way for the two of you to connect. It can also be the perfect opportunity to help your child deal with the unique struggles he or she is facing at this stage of life.

Many of the novels your child enjoyed (or maybe didn’t find the time to enjoy) in middle school are still perfect for him now that he’s a few years older. This is also a great time to introduce your child to the classics, books that he otherwise might not choose to read.

There are more books for your child to discover than he will ever find time to read. I think it’s important that he still reads for the pure joy of it. I hope the rigors of education have not stolen this experience from him. I hope he doesn’t equate reading with book reports or tests. But, even if he does, these final years of high school can be a chance for you to help him rediscover the thrill of reading he experienced so long ago, when books were simply a way to engage his imagination. After all, that’s what books should be for all of us.

7 great books for teens

There are many books I could put on this list, but here are seven for your high schooler (and you) to enjoy:

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This story will take your high school student on an adventure where he will fight alongside the characters as they struggle with good versus evil, usually in the form of the characters they will, most likely, recognize from their own life experiences. Great Expectations is an excellent story, but it’s more than that. It allows us to explore different personalities, explore love and what that word means, and explore the struggle to overcome obstacles.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Historical fiction is a way to learn about more than just our past. It’s also a chance to think about human nature, including our own. This story, set in WWII, shares the importance of words, the sacrifices of friendship, and how to overcome impossible difficulties. This is an excellent book to read before or with your child as it lends itself to meaningful discussions. And who doesn’t want an excuse to talk to your teenager more often?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Your teenager will quickly identify with the four March sisters as they travel, over the pages of this story, from childhood to adulthood. This time of transition is one your child is experiencing too. Reading Little Women will bring about an appreciation of the way the characters interact with their mother, with those who are less fortunate than them, and with the all-too-familiar friend/love interest. Some things in life never change. This book will help remind your child that those from the past aren’t so different from them and what they are experiencing today.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This fantasy book deals with the death of a parent. This novel, complete with illustrations, will encourage your child to empathize with others. It also is the perfect choice to explain to him how hope can follow great loss. Although this book would be considered a middle school choice, it is one that your young adult will enjoy as well. This story shares the important message of how life is not free from pain while exploring how it can be overcome.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This novel will introduce your teenager to complex characters, a quest of heroic dimensions, and growth through adversity. This series, technically only two books, also includes other books from J.R.R. Tolkien which take place in the fantasy world he created for his readers. This story, with elements similar to the fairy tales your teenager is most likely familiar with from his childhood, offers an engaging world for him to get lost in.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

There are many popular dystopian novels for your teenager to read, but the Hunger Games trilogy (along with the newly released prequel) is especially hard to put down once the first page of the first book is opened. These stories are more than just a chance for your child to go on an adventure with the characters. They explore the themes of sacrifice, friendship, love, and survival.

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

This allegory of the life of a Christian will take your teenager on an important journey with the protagonist. While they travel together, your child will experience the obstacles and trials the protagonist, Christian, faces. He will also enjoy triumphs along with Christian as he makes his way toward the Celestial City. At this point in your child’s life, when he is on the very cusp of adulthood and ready to venture out on his own, this book is a good reminder of what life is really all about.

Audiobooks are a great option

The days of taking your child to a story hour at the library are long gone. He most likely no longer asks for money to buy books at his school’s book fair. In fact, reading may not be a subject he discusses with you at all. But this stage in his life is the perfect time for you to open up the world of reading for him. Don’t forget that books don’t have to be made of paper. Audiobooks and ebooks are both great choices for readers of every age. Reading is reading; no matter how it happens.


Sandy Brannan, author of Becoming Invisible, So Much Stays Hidden, Masquerade, and Frozen in Time, teaches middle school and high school English. Sandy's idea of a perfect day is one spent creating memories with her grandchildren. This usually includes coloring and reading a lot of books. You can read more of Sandy's work on her blog at

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