Once they hit their teens, the demands on students’ time and interests are greater than ever, and they also begin to gravitate toward adult books. With these 20 titles, I’ve attempted to appeal to a wide range of interests, from Feed, set in the not-so-far future in which teens receive a constant stream of information via a microchip implanted in their brains, to Markus Zusak's novel, inspired by his mother's stories of growing up in a small village outside of Munich, Germany, during WWII. I’ve tried to flag edgier issues covered in some of the books, so that you can gauge which might be better suited to the teen in your life. Unlike the other “Twenty Classics” lists, where I tried to list the books that were more challenging in theme or readability closer to the end, here I organize the books alphabetically by title, with the idea that most teen readers are prepared for most of these books.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
Truth be told… my mother was not the one who informed me about ... read more
The Book Thief
In this story of 10-year-old book thief Liesel Meminger, Australian author Markus Zusak ... read more
The Chocolate War
Jerry Renault is a freshman with good grades who wants to play quarterback ... read more
The Contender
If you get Bob Lipsyte talking about how The Contender came to be, ... read more
M.T. Anderson, who won the National Book Award for his book The Astonishing ... read more
The Giver
Jonas, an Eleven, is nearing the time when his community’s Elders will choose ... read more
Go and Come Back
An Isabo teenaged girl named Alicia takes readers into a hidden world deep ... read more
Hatchet may well have converted more boys to readers than any other novel. ... read more
The House of the Scorpion
In the opening scene of this riveting science-fiction thriller set 100 years in ... read more
If You Come Softly
Jacqueline Woodson can slip into the soul of her characters, and she has ... read more
Make Lemonade
If Virginia Euwer Wolff was not the first to pen a free-verse novel ... read more
Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon, who wants to be a filmmaker, finds his life turned ... read more
The Moves Make the Man
This book not only made me care about Jerome Foxworthy and Bix Rivers, ... read more
A Northern Light
On July 12, 1906, in the first chapter of this page-turner, a woman ... read more
The Outsiders
The dynamics of gangs have not changed in the more than 40 years ... read more
The Pigman
Best friends John Conlan and Lorraine Jensen have something important to tell us. ... read more
So Yesterday
Chances are, the teen in your life knows Scott Westerfeld from his Uglies ... read more
Stoner & Spaz
You have to love Ben Bancroft. He is 16 years old with cerebral ... read more
Sunrise Over Fallujah
While Robin “Birdy” Perry, stationed in Kuwait, waits to be shipped out to ... read more
Brent Bishop wants to end the pain, the humiliation he suffered at a ... read more
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