- What are the benefits of reading for teenagers?
- Interesting books for teenagers today
- Books for teenagers who have read everything
- Books for 12-13-Year-olds
- Books for 14-16-year-olds
- Books for 17-18-year-olds
- Famous books for teenagers
- What books should every teenager read?
- Books for teenagers who do not want to read
The UK's Secondary school curriculum is crammed with some important books for teenagers to read such as The Crucible, Lord of the Flies and Of Mice and Men. 📕
However, studying a book in the classroom is not the same as devouring a book during your free time and being transported to another world for a while.
We’re sure that you already know a lot of famous and interesting books that are usually recommended for teens such as the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, Twilight and Divergent.
In this article, we’ve passed by some of the obvious, but nonetheless brilliant books for teenagers to give you some inspiration for more original reads. This list explores 16 titles of our top books for teens that will genuinely interest and engage you in reading. ✔️
If you’re a teenager currently going to school in the UK, you may have noticed that your required reading list features almost no BIPOC writers – in fact, recent research shows that less than 1 per cent of GCSE students in England study a book by a writer of colour. There’s no doubt that pupils in the UK should have access to a diverse range of books during their educational experience, and several organisations are currently campaigning for a more inclusive curriculum.
Some of the best titles have been separated by age, but we’d encourage you to do your own research on the key themes and age demographic of books on our list before you begin reading. Keep in mind that some teens can handle more mature works than other people their age, while others may enjoy a book we’ve recommended for a younger age group.
This is all about fostering a love of reading, so it doesn’t matter what you read as long as you’re enjoying the book! If you’re a pre-teen reader, check out this excellent list of books we’ve hand-picked for children in primary school.
Reading for fun can be challenging for teenagers who already have a busy school timetable and plenty of compulsory reading. If you’re struggling to stay focused and would like to start reading more, why not get in touch with one of our GoStudent tutors who can help you fall in love with reading?
What are the benefits of reading for teenagers?
A teenager's literacy level can’t be underestimated as a stepping stone for academic success. Almost all major exams in secondary school require teens to read and carefully consider questions using a large range of vocabulary.
- Reading attainment and writing ability;
- Text comprehension and grammar;
- Breadth of vocabulary;
- Greater self-confidence as a reader;
- Pleasure in reading in later life;
- General knowledge;
- A better understanding of other cultures;
- A greater insight into human nature and decision-making
We’d be lying if we said that we hadn’t enjoyed reading or re-reading many of the books on this list into adulthood – reading really can bring lots of enjoyment and fun as well as learning! Many of our Top 16 Books for Teenagers can be read and enjoyed into adulthood, as a love of good stories is universal across all ages! 📚
Interesting books for teenagers today
Timely and significant commentary on the world that relates to headlines today in these interesting books for teenagers.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood:
A frightening tale that creeps under the skin, set in an alternative land in the not-so-distant future. Get to know this misogynistic society where women are not allowed to read and an environmental disaster has caused infertility among most women.
‘Handmaids’ refer to the minority of women who can biologically have children. The Handmaids face a terrible fate as they are assigned to high-ranking households to reproduce and hand over the children for another family to raise.
2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini:
Gripping from the start, teens will be swept away by this story of our imperfect protagonist growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan. Against the backdrop of his country's destruction, Amir searches for redemption after badly letting his friend down and seeking his father's approval. Scenes are painted in a vivid warmth but cover serious content including an assault, which may be disturbing for some teen readers.
Books for teenagers who have read everything
So, you’re an avid reader who has read just about everything in the Amazon bestseller list? That’s fantastic – but you probably haven’t read these great books!
3. Educated by Tara Westover:
A girl raised by parents in the USA who did not believe in going to school won a scholarship to study at Cambridge University. This is a powerful memoir of Tara’s tumultuous start in life through the 1990s.
Her mother is a self-taught herbalist and midwife, her father owns a junkyard where Tara spent many of her days doing dangerous and gruelling work. Her parent’s total distrust of modern medicine and the government made for an isolated start to life. At the age of 17, Tara entered a classroom for the first time and began to experience formal education. She inhales the opportunity, while Tara’s parents turn their back on her for pursuing academia.
4. The Children Act by Ian McEwan:
A judge in London must decide on an emotionally complex case. In this case, a boy named Adam who is a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday denies a life-saving blood transfusion as it conflicts with his religious beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witnesses. Adam writes letters to the judge from his hospital bed to supplement his point of view showing an articulate, kind and talented young man.
High Court judge Fiona must decide whether the hospital may proceed with the transfusion or if the patient is allowed to refuse the treatment, leading to certain death.
Books for 12-13-Year-olds
The adventures of life are told in an entertaining way with these great books for 12-13-year-olds.
5. Going Solo by Roald Dahl:
Before becoming a well-known author, Dahl lived a very adventurous life. In this autobiography of early adulthood, he tells stories of sailing from England to Africa in search of excitement after finishing school. Then joining the Royal Air Force and surviving an aeroplane crash, even being bitten by a poisonous snake and seeing a lion carry a woman in its mouth.
Going Solo is written with the humour and charm of a classic Roald Dahl story. A truly fascinating account of some of the life experiences that created one of the UK's most cherished children's authors.
6. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher:
A 10-year-old boy, Jamie tells in his own words of life after the death of his older sister 5 years earlier. His sister died suddenly in a London terrorist attack. Jamie tries to come to terms with the new and sad dynamics of a family torn apart by sadness.
Jamie tells his story with simplicity and innocence. This is a fresh and timely exploration of the many colours of grief as well as sensitively addressing prejudices in the UK, mental health issues and alcoholism.
Books for 14-16-year-olds
Make history come alive with some great books that are well-suited to 14-16-year-olds.
7. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne:
Two boys aged 9 years old meet through a barbed fence of Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The boy outside the fence is the son of a high ranking military commandant, the other is a Jewish boy who wears striped “pyjamas” every day. They strike up a friendship and meet up daily to share stories, leading to tragic consequences.
The story is narrated from the perspective of a young boy who is naïve to the realities of Poland in the 1940s and how exactly his father plays a part in the suffering of his Jewish friend. This is a work of Holocaust fiction, written as a fable that portrays friendship, bravery and ultimately tragedy.
8. Animal Farm by George Orwell:
It may have been some time since your teen has read a book all about farm animals, but Animal Farm is a good one to break the ice. At a surface level, the farm reflects society today as we know it. The pigs take the place of good, strong leaders (at the start of the novel at least) with each animal having their part to play in the rebellion against the farmer to finally be free.
Reading between the lines, your teen may notice the political satire laced throughout this short story which resembles the Russian Revolution of 1917. Farmer Jones represents Tsar Nicholas and a large Boar named Napoleon is in the place of Joseph Stalin.
Books for 17-18-year-olds
The hardships of life aren’t sugar-coated-in these brilliant books for 17-18-year-olds. However, you should be aware of content warnings that include language, abuse, assault, mental health issues and death.
9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou:
A famous writer tells her coming-of-age story in the 1960s USA compellingly and directly. The early years were not easy for Angelou, facing a childhood riddled with racism and sexism. Some days love of literature was her only crutch.
Angelou thoroughly inspires with her strength of character and maturity to overcome some of the cruellest fates that life has dealt her up until the age of sixteen. The book is not needlessly graphic, but matter-of-factly describes horrendous situations, interspersed with poetry, beauty and sensitivity.
10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon:
A mystery novel is written from the perspective of endearing 15-year-old boy Christopher. One night Christopher finds the neighbour's dog has been viciously murdered by a pitchfork, he sets out to investigate who committed this violent act.
Christopher is a brutally honest voice in his own story, and it’s heavily implied that he has autism. The investigation leads Christopher to discover some unexpected truths closer to home that will intrigue readers until the last page.
Famous books for teenagers
These well-known titles suitable for older teens feature on many “must read”-lists. Even if you’re a voracious reader, you may not have read these famous books yet – now could be a perfect time!
11. On the Road by Jack Kerouac:
This is classic Americana literature telling the story of a young man with little money in his pocket going on a series of road trips across the United States. This is a revealing story of the underbelly of American culture and lost youth in the context of life after war, and life with jazz, poetry and drugs.
The story was written while the author traversed America in search of inspiration, and many have credited a desire to take a road trip in their youth to reading On the Road. In fact, this book is generally considered to have paved the way as the first of many novels about road trips.
12. The Catcher in the Rye by JD. Salinger:
A teenage story that conveys how the Second World War shaped Americans growing up. The narrator, Holden, is a likeable albeit flawed 16-year-old boy whose voice is fairly modern despite the fact that the story is set in the early 1950s. Holden takes the reader on a journey through a few days of his life in December, grieving the loss of his brother Allie and carrying the burden of expectation from his private school education. His own worries lead Holden to have a psychological crisis that unfolds on the page.
At one time the book was banned from the classroom for themes including strong language, sex and violence. Today, the novel is considered ultimately to be about preserving the innocence of children.
What book should every teenager read?
Powerful, essential and poignant messages are communicated in these timeless books for teenagers that every teen should read.
13. The Help by Kathryn Stockett:
The novel is an example of historical fiction, and it is set in 1960s Mississippi. The voices of three women Aibileen, Skeeter and Minny show courage as they try to publish a book about life as an African-American maid during the civil rights movement taking care of prominent white families.
The author encapsulates some of the hypocrisy of American society during this time and demonstrates the complex relationship between black maids and the families that they worked for including both hate and love, distrust and dependency, abuse and attachment.
14. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank:
A Jewish teenager receives a blank diary on her 13th birthday just a few weeks before she and her family are forced to hide in an attic in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. The diary of Anne Frank details the daily musings of an incredible, spiritual and resilient teenager enduring the horror of war.
The book stands apart from other accounts of the Second World War since it was written in real-time and with all the honesty of a teenager who would never have imagined that their diary would one day be read by millions of people across the world.
Books for teenagers who don't want to read
If you feel as though you should read more but are struggling to make it happen, check out these intriguing and relatable novels for teens that are sure to draw you in and spark an interest in reading.
15. Solitaire by Alice Oseman:
A realistic and comforting portrayal of the trials and tribulations of secondary school without falling into any clichés. The main character Tori battles undiagnosed depression as she tries to find joy in her life.
The book touches on tricky topics such as growing up in the UK as a young person identifying as LGBTQ+ and juggling secondary school alongside mental health issues. The author herself has written a list of content warnings to help guide teens and their parents to determine whether this book is suitable.
16. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman:
The first book in a powerful trilogy portrays segregation in a parallel universe where the Noughts (light-skinned people) are underclass to the ruling class Crosses (dark-skinned people). Two childhood friends, one a Nought and another a Cross grow up and begin to develop a romance that is forbidden and dangerous.
The universe in which Noughts and Crosses live is similar technologically to Britain today, and the trilogy is a new way to explore prejudice, power and racism.
We think it’s fantastic that you’d like to read more, and you’re likely aware that reading for teenagers has important advantages not just for your schoolwork but also for your quality of life outside of school. If you’d like some help with developing an interest in reading, get in touch with us at GoStudent – we’d be happy to help you, and you can book a trial session for free!