Full disclosure: This article does not do justice to the umpteen number of novels that should have been included in this list about the best books for teenagers. Nevertheless, it still includes some of the most powerful stories of resilience, courage, evolution and so much more.
As a young reader, it’s important to open our minds to a variety of genres, be it fiction or nonfiction, fantasy or sci-fi, historic or contemporary. And so, here’s a list of 8 books to read for teens that everyone must read once in their lifetime.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This 2017 Young Adult novel follows the life of 16-year old Starr Carter who switches between two different worlds. One is the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the other is the fancy suburban school she attends. Through this, the novel explores themes of race and identity as Starr is pulled between a primarily white world (her school) and a primarily black world (her neighbourhood).
I Am Malala by Malala Yusafzai
This 2013 autobiographical book, co-written by Christina Lamb and Malala herself is, as the cover reveals, “the story of a girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban”. It’s a remarkable tale of courage that’s gotten hauntingly more relevant these last few months. Malala has since co-received a Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of her efforts on behalf of children’s rights.
The Kite Runner by Khaleed Hosseini
Bring out the tissues because this book here is a tear-inducing masterpiece. Published in 2013, The Kite Runner is a heartbreaking story about an unlikely friendship between two boys. One, a wealthy boy named Amir and the other, Hassan, the son of his father’s servant. It’s a gripping and emotional tale of friendship, betrayal and just a tiny bit of hope. The Kite Runner is also Hosseini’s first book and fortunately, not the last of his heart-shattering novels.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Set during the Great Depression, this novel takes you to the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama where the Finch family resides. This Pulitzer Prize-winning book is a story about many things: coming of age, racism, gender roles and prejudice among other themes. In 2015, Lee released a prequel (which she presumably wrote prior to Mockingbird), Go Set a Watchman that follows the protagonist 20 years after the events of the first book.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Because no book list is complete without at least one mention of the Potter series. Comprising a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling, the book chronicles the life of a young wizard and his battles against a dark wizard. It’s one of those rare reads that will completely transport you to an entirely new universe. It’s magical, it’s filled with surprise and quite honestly, it’s a personality-defining book for so many young readers.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A published essay of Adichie’s talk, We Should All Be Feminists is personal, eloquently argued and a modern-day definition of what it means to be a feminist in the 21st Century. This is not a book for just young women, it’s an essay that every teenager and adult, regardless of gender or age, should read once in their lifetime. It’s a foundational essay for any open-minded individual out there.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is a book narrated by death about a young girl, set in Nazi Germany at the onset of World War II. A 2005 release, The Book Thief sold 16 million copies, became an international bestseller and was even translated into 63 languages. It’s a historical fiction that explores a young girl’s love for books and how it helps her build a friendship of a lifetime. It’s a rollercoaster of a novel that’ll haunt you for days to come, in the best way possible.
1984 by George Orwell
Talk about a dystopian fiction novel that’ll leave you checking for hidden cameras everywhere you go. Published in 1949, Orwell’s book explores several themes, from totalitarianism and mass surveillance to the repressive regimentation of people and behaviours within society. While it was written as a precautionary novel, it’s one of those books that’s known to have an enduring relevance as the years go by.
Bonus must-read books for teens
If you’ve still got room to read more, add these to your TBR for next month:
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- The Hunger Games Series by
- The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Which one of these books have you read already and which one are you going to read next? Tell us in the comment box below!
Start connecting with teens on the Uable app today!