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Compelling Books that High Schoolers will WANT to Read

(Inside: Book recommendations for high schoolers. A list of compelling books that high schoolers will want to read. Help your teen find a book he/she will love. Improve your student’s reading skills.)

 

“I love that book!” one student declared to another as she passed me a slip of paper scribbled with her favorite book title. I smiled as I collected more book recommendations. My high school ACT prep class is incredibly diverse, from social-economic class to race, religion, and culture. Yet, here we were all connecting over books. Oh, my heart.

But besides a chance to connect, why was I compiling this list of book recommendations for high schoolers?

The trimester (and my ACT prep course) was ending in November, but my students didn’t take their ACT test until April. They’d put so much work into learning grammar, practicing math, conquering the science section (and more), they were freaking out about losing some of what they’d learned. So we were setting up a continued study plan for the 4 months leading up to the big test day.

Because an important component to succeeding on the ACT test is to be able to read quickly without losing comprehension, we’d hovered on one powerful (and enjoyable) way they could strengthen their reading skills: read for fun. 

Which meant we needed a great list of book recommendations for high schoolers.

And when you need an awesome list of books teenagers would actually want to read, you go straight to the source: I asked my students to submit their favorite books.  Then, of course, I had to ask the other teachers as well – they have a great pulse on what highschoolers would like to read.

My final list of books is below. I’m excited for my students to enjoy all this reading as they prepare for their ACT test. And I loved watching them connect over this topic. But, even more…

I love that they are reading because they are doing more than connecting and preparing for a test. My students are becoming wise – through stories, diverse perspectives, and education.

I hope you enjoy the reading recommendations too. If you want me to send you this list in a concise pdf to download, click below and it’ll show up in your inbox!

 

Yes, I want the list of books for high schoolers!

 

 


Related article: 146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that also Build Character


book recommendations for high schoolers

Book Recommendations for High Schoolers

  • All books are recommended by high school teachers and/or high school students.
  • This list contains various reading levels.
  • All books are compelling reads – you’ll find something you’ll like!
  • Some books have hard topics – read more about the book before you decide if it’s right for you. (I have not read every book.)
  • Click here if you want instant access to the freebie library to download a concise pdf of this book list.

 

*This blog post contains affiliate links*

 

  1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer)– Because William Kamkwamba’s family was devastated by the famine in Malawi, Africa, he couldn’t pay his school fees and was forced to drop out. Determined to continue his education, William began reading science books from the village library. He learned how to make a windmill out of bicycle parts and scrap metal. Soon he brought electricity that could pump water to his family’s farm.

 

  1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows) – This small European island was occupied by the Nazi’s during WW II. Island natives deal with this tragedy by forming a book club – then, their world collides with a famous London writer. This story is about people, relationships, and love.

 

  1. A Walk to Remember (Nicholas Sparks) – A popular boy falls for a socially-invisible girl. Then he finds out her horrible secret. This book is a tear-jerker.

 

  1. Mark of the Lion Series (Francine Rivers) – A Christian slave girl falls for a handsome aristocrat. This book is set in the time of Roman rule.

 

  1. Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream (Ibtihaj Muhammad) – A story told by Ibtihaj about her journey to be the first Muslim American fencing Olympic medalist. Heartfelt and compelling, this is an inspirational read.

 

  1. The Proposal (Jasmine Guillory) – What happens when a public proposal doesn’t have the fairy tale ending.

 

  1. The Hunger Games Series (Suzanne Collins)– Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute for the Hunger Games when her sister’s name is called.

 

  1. Vienna Prelude (Brock & Bodie Thoene) – Stories of brave characters who, starting in 1936, resisted the German Nazi movement.
  2. Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand) – Louie Zamperini ‘s (Olympic athlete, Air Corps officer, P.O.W.) Olympic career was cut short by WWII. While serving in the US military, Louie’s plane goes down over the ocean where is stranded at sea for days on end. Once he’s rescued, it’s by the Japanese and he is sent to a POW camp. Read his harrowing true story. It’s a story of struggle, survival, redemption, and inspiration.

 

  1. When Dimple Met Rishi (Sandhya Menon) – Funny and sweet, this novel is about two American-Indian teens whose parents are determined to arrange their marriage.

 

  1. The Lightning Thief Series (Rick Riordan) – Percy Jackson shows great perseverance as he is tested through adventures with Greek gods and monsters.

 

  1. Flipped (Wendelin Van Draanen) – She flipped for him and he ran – but, that was in the second grade. What happens between these two love-birds years later?

 

  1. Before I Let Go (Marieke Nijkamp) – In Lost Creek, Alaska, best friends, Cory and Kyra and inseparable until Corey moves away. Later, Corey finds out Kyra has died – but something isn’t adding up.

 

  1. Dear Martin (Nic Stone) – “Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. First Time She Drowned (Kerry Kletter) – Cassie O’Malley restarts her life after spending two years in a mental hospital.

 

  1. John Grisham Books From The Firm to Pelican Brief, these highly engaging books are about the adventures of the lawyers, crime, and justice.

 

  1. Adrift (Steve Callahan) – Five friends from working-class to privileged backgrounds find themselves adrift at sea for days.

 

  1. I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban – As a girl, the Taliban shot Malala because she was vocal about a girl’s right to education. Read the bestselling memoir by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

 

  1. Afterward (Jennifer Mathieu)  – “When Caroline’s little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself.” This book is filled with trauma and healing. (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson) – A story about a young lawyer determined to defend those most desperate and in need.

 

  1. Lab Girl (Hope Jahren) – “Lab Girl is geobiologist Hope Jahren’s revelatory treatise on plant life — but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility, and passion that drive every scientist.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Educated (Tara Westover) – An inspirational story of a young girl who was seventeen the first time she entered a school. Determined, she transformed her life through education and earning her Ph.D. from Cambridge University.

 


 

  1. Team of Rivals (Doris Kearns Goodwin)“Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Angela Duckworth) – A book that will build your “grit.”

 

  1. Plainsong (Kent Haruf) – “A heart strong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.” (Amazon review)

 

  1. Hidden Life of Trees (Peter Wohlleben) Peter Wohlleben makes a convincing argument that trees are social beings and forests are social networks.

 

 

  1. The Book of Unknown Americans (Cristina Henriquez) – “When fifteen-year-old Maribel Rivera sustains a terrible injury, the Rivera’s leave behind a comfortable life in Mexico and risk everything to come to the United States so that Maribel can have the care she needs.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Everything, Everything (Nicola Yoon) – A girl with a rare disease in which she can’t touch anything falls in love with the boy next store.

 

  1. One Handed Catch (MJ Mutch) – Norm loses his left hand in an accident – will he ever be able to play baseball again?

 

  1. Tuesdays with Morris (Mitch Albom) – Mitch Albom rediscovered his former professor, Morrie, in the last months of the older man’s life. “Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live.” (Amazon review)

 

  1. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom) – Eddie dies at age 83 and discovers that heaven is a place where 5 people you know – from strangers to loved ones – help you understand your life.

 

  1. Black Like Me (John Howard Griffin) – “In the Deep South of the 1950s, a color line was etched in blood across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross that line. Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Heat (Mike Lupica) – A book for baseball lovers.

 

  1. Gym Candy (Carl Deuker) – A book for football lovers.

 

  1. My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult) – A girl was “created” so that her blood/bone marrow could help her sister fight leukemia. She is suing for the rights to her own body.

 

  1. Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates) – This book is an attempt by Ta-Nehisi to answer questions about the hard parts of America’s history (slavery/race issues) in a letter to his teenage son.

 

  1. The Road to Character  (David Brooks) – “Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character.” The book is about “deeper values that should inform our lives.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr) – This beautiful novel is about a blind French girl and a German boy. Their lives collide as they try and survive WW II.

 

  1. Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese) – This book is about orphan brothers, coming of age, a love for medicine, and their country (Ethiopia) on the brink of a revelation.

 

  1. When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi) – “At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence (Danielle S. Allen) – “Combining a personal account of teaching the Declaration with a vivid evocation of the colonial world between 1774 and 1777, Allen, a political philosopher renowned for her work on justice and citizenship reveals our nation’s founding text to be an animating force that not only changed the world more than two hundred years ago but also still can.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Carol S. Dweck) – A life-changing book that will empower you to grow from your mistakes and move forward with confidence.

 

  1. Lorien Legacies Series (Pittacus Lore) – As Amazon review puts it, “Nine Loric children were sent to Earth to live in hiding until they grew up and developed their Legacies, powers that would help them fight back—and help them save us. Three of them are now dead. John is Number Four, and he knows he’s next….” This starts book 1 in the Lorien Legacies Series.

 

  1. The Last Song (Nicholas Sparks) – Veronica is angry and bitter about her parents’ divorce; this is a story of healing and love.

 


 

  1. The Fablehaven Series (Brandon Mull and Brandon Dorman)  Fablehaven is a hidden refuge for mystical creatures to prevent their extinction. The caretaker of Fablehaven is siblings Kendra and Seth’s grandfather. Let the adventures of trolls, fairies, imps, and more begin as good fights evil.

 

  1. Evicted (Matthew Desmond) – Have you ever thought about the side-effects of eviction on a person?

 

  1. The Round House (Louise Erdrich) A compelling story of Native-American life wrapped in coming-of-age, mystery, family, and tenderness.

 

  1. The Shadow and Bone Trilogy (Leigh Bardugo)– Alina Starkov discovers her dormant powers as she learns to live in the kingdom of Ravka. Can this frightened girl become a leader?

 

  1. Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll) – A sequel to Alice and Wonderland, Alice now enters a fantasy land through a mirror.

 

  1.  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Jenny Han) – “Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. All the Rage (Courtney Summers) – Bullied and abused, will Remy learn to stand up for herself and others? This is a hard book to read, it’ll tear you apart but also create a great empathy in you.

 

  1. The Black Stallion (Walter Farley)– These are the adventures of a boy and a horse stranded on an island after their ship went down at sea. This classic story has been enthralling readers for years.
  2. Complete Guide to Money (Dave Ramsey) – Learn how to budget and use money wisely to achieve your dreams. (Yes, this was recommended by an 11th grader!)

 

  1. Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawls)– Billy is finally able to purchase his dream – two hound dogs. Together Billy with Old Dan and Little Ann roam the Ozarks and become the finest hunting team around…until challenges strike. Can these friends persevere? This classic tale is beloved by many.

 

  1. Ghostlight (Sonia Gensler) Avery and her brother love spending the summer at their grandma’s farm. This summer they meet a new kid, Julian. He hatches a plan to film a story at the Hilliard house, a vacant mansion Avery’s grandma forbids them to go in. But, they film anyway and discover strange and eerie things.

 

  1. Impossible Knife of Memory (Laurie Halse Anderson) – Hayley’s father suffers from PTSD from the Iraq war.

 

  1. The Kingdom Keepers (Ridley Pearson)  Teen Disney guides fight against villains to protect the theme parks.

 

  1. Please Ignore Vera Dietz (A. S. King) – Vera’s been secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie, forever. But then Charlie dies and Vera knows secrets…

 

  1. House Arrest (K.A. Holt) – Timothy finds himself on house arrest after stealing a wallet. He is forced to keep a journal. His thoughts, frustrations, fears, and honesty are much to learn from.

 

  1. The Seventh Most Important Thing (Shelley Pearsall) – In 1963, Arthur, 13, throws a brick at an elderly man’s head. This impulsive action carried out in a moment of rage earns him community service time. His place of service is with the same man he threw a brick at helping him with junk collection. Here Arthur learns so much.

 

  1. The Selection Series (Kiera Cass) – Would you want a chance to be one of the 35 girls who will live in the palace and compete for the prince’s heart? What if you envisioned your life differently?

 

  1. The Graphic Library Series (Gary Jeffrey and Nick Spender) – Graphic Novels about real people and historical events. (Jackie Robinson, Salem Witch Trials, The Boston Tea Party, Thomas Paine…etc.)

 

  1. Wonder (R. J. Palacio) – A beautiful book about a boy with a facial disfiguration who tries to fit in at school.

 

  1. Samurais Rising (Pamela S. Turner) – “Stirring narrative nonfiction recounts the rise of Minamoto Yoshitsune from seemingly doomed infant to immortal warrior-hero (and one of the most famous samurai in Japanese history).” (Amazon review)

 

  1. People Like Us (Dana Mele) Kay’s perfect high school life turns into the nightmare of a murder investigation.

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  1. Refugee (Alan Gratz) – Three stories of refugees including Joseph, a Jewish boy fleeing Germany in the 1930s,  Isabel traveling from Cuba to America in 1994, and Mahmoud trekking towards Europe from Syria in 2015.

 

  1. White Fang (Jack London) – This is the classic tale of White Fang, the wolfdog, and his journey from the wild to living among different harsh owners. This story takes place in the Yukon Territory, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. Will White Fang ever find an owner who will show him true friendship and love?

 

  1. Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer) – A bitter, affluent young man gives away all his money and heads to Alaska to try and live off the land.

 

  1. Mary Rose (Geoffrey Girard) – Simon Blake found out his fiancé disappeared when she was a little girl and was rediscovered 33 days later with no memory as to what happened. Simon becomes obsessed with unraveling the mystery of this past event.

 

  1. Code of Honor (Alan Graz) – A popular kid and high school football star, Kamran Smith can’t wait to join his brother, Darius, in the army. These brothers’ family is from Iran, but they’ve always felt accepted as Americans. Then something happens and Darius is accused of being a terrorist. Then Kamran too. Can they get through this challenge?

 

  1. The Giver (Lois Lowery)  This 1994 Newbery Medal winner will make you think. This story is about 12-year-old Jonas and his changing perspective on the world. If you like this tale, read the novels that go with it: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

 


  1. Ender’s Game – The Ender Quintet (Orson Scott Card) – These are fascinating books about kid soldiers trained by the government to defend their world against a hostile alien race. These epic tales bring up many philosophical and ethical questions.

 

  1. I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives (Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka)– As a class assignment, Caitlyn (American) had to write to someone far away. Her letter ended up in the hands of Martin, from Zimbabwe. These pen pals wrote for 6 years, becoming best friends and learning so much about each other and themselves. As Amazon review says: ”Their story will inspire you to look beyond your own life and wonder about the world at large and your place in it.”

 

  1. Projeckt1065 (Alan Gratz) – Michael O’Shaunessey, from Ireland, lives in Nazi, Germany. Even though he despises all Hitler stands for, he still joins the Hitler Youth because Michael and his parents are spies.

 

  1. The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris) This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov — an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.” (Amazon review)

 

  1. I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Erika Sanchez) – Julia’s perfect sister dies – but Julia finds out some unsettling secrets.

 

  1. Holes (Louis Sachar) – Boys in a detention center, Camp Green Lake, are forced to build holes five feet deep and wide. This is supposed to be character building. But, Stanley, the main character sent unjustly to this horrible camp discovers the warden is trying to find something by having these holes dug. What is it? What is going on?

 

  1. I am the Messenger (Marcus Zusak) – “Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.” That’s when he becomes The Messenger…

 

  1. Hana’s Suitcase (Karen Levine)– Based on a true story, Fumiko Ishioka is the curator of a newly set up Holocaust educational center in Toyko. She leads a group of children dedicated to helping educate Japan about the Holocaust. The center receives a small brown suitcase from a museum at Auschwitz.  Painted on the suitcase in large white letters is, “Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Orphan.” The children and Fumiko wonder who Hana Brady is. They set off to find the answers. This story is hard and redeeming and connects unlikely people.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia Series (C. S. Lewis) – A sibling group stumbles into the magical land of Narnia and grows in courage as they travel through.

 

  1. Mark of the Thief Series (Jennifer A. Nielsen) – Nic, a slave in the Roman mines, finds a cavern with Julius Caesar’s lost treasure including an ancient bulla filled with magic. Now, he has power. Can he use it to become free? Can he use it to make a better Rome?

 

  1. Prisoner b3087 (Alan Gratz) – Yanek is a Polish Jewish boy living in a concentration camp in the 1930s.

 

  1. Maniac Magee (Jerry Spinelli) – Orphaned and living with his unkind aunt and uncle, Jeffrey Magee decides to run. When he does, Jeffrey’s kindness and wits help him overcome his obstacles as he learns about himself and makes a positive impact on others.

 

  1. Terror at Bottle Creek (Watt Key) – Cort, age 13, has learned much from his expert hunting and swamp lore father. They live in lower Alabama where deadly hurricanes sometimes strike. Cort is put to the test when exactly that happens.

 

  1. Runs with Courage (Joan M. Wolf) – In 1880, the Dakota Territory is changing. Four Winds, a ten-year-old Lakota girl is taken away from her family and sent to a boarding school. (Without her family who’d been moved to a reservation.) Can Lakota stay true to herself in her new environment?

 

  1. A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle) –  A story of three friends adventuring through space and time in search of Meg’s scientist father.

 

  1. A Piece of Cake (Cupcake Brown) – A heart-wrenching, brutally honest story of a girl trying to survive in the foster care system. This book is not for the faint of heart.

 

  1. Arca Book Series (Karen Diem) – “Adrenaline junkie and almost-respectable accountant Zita Garcia wouldn’t know a superhero from some dude in his pajamas. As a result, the second-to-last thing she expected was to wake from a spontaneous coma, quarantined, and with superpowers she has to hide from everyone, including her family. Now Zita must master her new abilities while dodging kidnappers, evading government inquiries, and finding her missing brother.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Elijah of Buxton (Christopher Paul Curtis) – This Newberry Honor and Coretta Scott King Award Winner novel is about Elijah, the first child to be born free in Buxton, Canada. This small town is close to the American border and home to runaway slaves. A thief steals money from his friend who has been saving the cash to free his family. Elijah makes it his purpose to find this thief and the adventure begins.

 

  1. Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling) – Three Hogwarts School of Wizard & Witchcraft misfits come together to battle the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.

 

  1. The Hardy Boys (Franklin W. Dixon) – Two brothers work together to solve mysteries.

 

  1. The Lord of the Rings Series (J.R.R. Tolkien) – What an adventure this series is. The ring threatens Middle Earth with pending doom. Only these companions can unravel the mysteries, fight the opposition and conquer evil.

 

  1. The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) – If you like the Lord of the Rings, read about how the adventure of the Companions of Ring began in this epic book.

 

  1. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) – The classic tale of three young friends and one inspiring garden will warm your heart.

 

  1. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) – “Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Old Yeller (Fred Gipson) – The classic story of Travis, a kid trusted by his dad to take care of their wilderness Texas frontier along with his faithful dog, “Old Yeller.”

 

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie) – “Dale Carnegie’s rock-solid, time-tested advice has carried countless people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.”

 

  1. The One and Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate) – This Newbery Medal Winner and New York Times bestseller tells the story of an unlikely friendship. Based on a true story, Ivan, a gorilla has lived 27 years behind the walls of a zoo. He is used to people watching him and never thinks of his life prior to captivity. Then the baby elephant, Ruby is captured from the wild and placed in the same zoo…

 

  1. Peter and the Starcatcher’s Series (Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson) – The story of how Peter Pan and the orphans became “Peter Pan and the orphans.” Adventure with these friends through this delightful series.

 

  1. Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss) – A family gets shipwrecked on a small tropical island. They work together not just to survive but also to thrive.

 

  1. The Little House on the Prairie Series (Laura Ingalls Wilder) – A pioneer family travels in their covered wagon to being a new life out west. If you love this series, check out Farmer Boy, the story of Laura’s husband and his experiences growing up on a farm.

 

  1. Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery) – A delightful red-headed orphaned girl transforms the lives of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, her appointed guardians. You will see why generations have fallen in love with the chatty and delightful Anne.
  2. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) – This beloved classic is about four March sisters growing up together. Their mother is supporting the family as their father is away at war.

 

 


 

  1. When Calls the Heart (Jeanette Oke) – A wealthy young Canadian lady decides to move out west to teach school. Coal Valley is suffering from a coal mine accident left much of the town widowed and sonless. Read a sweet story of perseverance, growth, love, and family.

 

  1. The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare)  In this 1959 Newbery Medal winner, the story of Kit Tyler living during the colonial times (1687) in Connecticut unfolds. Kit finds a much-needed friend in Hannah Tupper, who the colonist believe is a witch.

 

  1. The Nancy Drew Diaries (Carolyn Keene) – A strong girl unravels mysteries.

 

  1. Number the Stars (Lois Lowry) – Annemarie Johansen is a part of the Danish movement to smuggle the entire Jewish population (nearly 7,000) to Sweden during WWII.

 

  1. The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom) – This is the story of a family of Dutch watchmakers who hide Jews in their home during WWII. Caught and sent to concentration camps, Corrie lives to tell her and her family’s story of courage and faith.

 

  1. Maus Graphic Novels (Art Spiegelman) – This Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel is set during WWII with the mice representing the Jews and the cats, the Nazis. The author retells his father’s stories of the Holocaust.

 

  1. The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls) – Born into a dysfunctional family with an intelligent yet alcoholic father and free-spirited mother who runs from responsibility, the kids learn to take care of themselves and thrive.

 

  1. Traveler’s Gift (Andy Andews) – “Join David Ponder in The Traveler’s Summit on his incredible journey to discover the Seven Decisions for Success that can turn any life around, no matter how hopeless a situation may seem.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) – “In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines–puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Looking for Alaska (John Green) – “Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words—and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for Culver Creek boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called “The Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including clever, beguiling, and self-destructive Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.”

 

  1. Winds of War (Herman Wouk) – “Wouk’s spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events, as well as all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II, as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war’s maelstrom.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Between Shades of Gray (Ruta Sepetys) – “Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life — until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives.”

 

  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein) – “A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope–a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Salt to the Sea (Ruta Sepetys) – “Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories. Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept. “ (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Septimus Heap Book Series (Angie Sage)  These New York Times bestselling series are thrilling tales laced with magic and wizards and mysterious experiences.

 

  1. Heidi (Johanna Spyri) – This classic is the story of an orphan, Heidi, who went to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Heidi captures the heart of her grumpy grandfather, the neighbors, and mountain town residents. That’s only the start of this delightful, uplifting story.

 

  1. Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washington (Mary Higgins Clark) – “Dispelling the widespread belief that although George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, he reserved his true love for Sally Carey Fairfax, his best friend’s wife, Mary Higgins Clark describes the Washington marriage as one full of tenderness and passion, as a bond between two people who shared their lives — even the bitter hardship of a winter in Valley Forge — in every way. In this author’s skilled hands, the history, the love, and the man come fully and dramatically alive.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Memoirs: People are fascinating and reading their memoirs is even more so. Below are a few good ones. But, if you are a fan of someone, google them and see if they wrote a book. You’ll learn so much!

 

 

  1. Twilight Saga (Stephenie Meyer) – “Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear.” (Amazon Review)

 

  1. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) – “Jane Austen is one of the founders of classic novels for women. Her most famous novel Pride and Prejudice is rightfully considered to be the masterpiece of the world of literature. Walter Scott, Somerset Maugham, Virginia Woolf, and Richard Aldington admired the talented “First Lady” of the English literature. Wittily and directly described actions of the Pride and Prejudice happens in provincial England at the end of the eighteenth century. For about two hundred years readers have been mesmerized by the love story of Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth who managed to correct the mistake of pride and prejudice.” (Amazon Review)

124. Without a Trace (Rock Harbor Series, Colleen Coble) – This is the first book in the mystery series. “It’s been months since the crash. K-9 search-and-rescue worker Bree Nicholls knows the chances of finding her husband and son in the vast wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula grow more remote by the day. But her heart and her faithful dog, Samson, demand she keep searching.” (Amazon Review)

 

Get a FREE printable of these book recommendations for high schoolers.

Yes, I want the list of books for high schoolers!

 

 


 

 

For more ideas read the full “Entertaining Tweens and Teens” series.

The other day, I saw of picture of when my kids were little (like when I wrote this post), and I thought I so deeply want to go back to this season of life. I miss it.

But just as quickly as that thought came, another thought followed Someday, I will see pictures of my current parenting phase (raising tweens and teens) and wish to come back to today. 

So, I want to do my best to enjoy this season of life. These ideas on how to connect with and entertain tweens and teens can help…

 

Entertaining Tweens and Teens Series

INSPIRATION
How a Messy House is Good for Your Kids

IDEAS
85+ Kids Activities That Promote Creativity

READING
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that will Also Build Character
Compelling Books That High Schoolers Will Want to Read

EXERCISE
Home Exercises for Your Teens & the Whole Family (Feel Healthy & Happy)

 

 

book recommendations for high schoolers

 

 

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You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, feel empowered in your personal growth, and celebrate the awesome momma you are.

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gifts for moms

 

 

 

book recommendations for high schoolers

book recommendations for high schoolers

 

 

 

 

 

Related article: 146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that also Build Character

146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that will Also Build Character

(Inside: 146+ best chapter books your tweens will love that will also help them develop positive character qualities. For late-elementary/middle school-age kids.)

“My mom always tells me that people in third world countries are starving, and I should appreciate what I have,” my 12-year-old son wrote. “But I just didn’t get it. We live in a nice house with a big backyard and a refrigerator full of food. It wasn’t until I read the Hunger Games that I could really feel what it’s like to not have food. Now I understand what my mom was saying. It makes me feel sad for the hungry. “

I held my son’s school writing assignment in my hands like I’d discovered the end of the rainbow. That book that I’d debated if he was old enough to read…transformed my son’s thinking.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Moms, we can preach like seasoned professionals, but until our kids get a chance to stand in someone else’s shoes, see life from the character’s perspective, and feel his/her pain and joy, they don’t really understand. Stories move us emotionally and intellectually. They give us unique experiences, shape our character, and transform us into better people.

I’m trying to raise my children to be men of character and seeing this small success drove me to create a list of best books for tweens. This list is intended for late elementary school age through middle school age. Each book is categorized in character qualities we are trying to grow in our kids. The list also has a wide variety of reading levels and topics; hopefully, every kid can find something they like. Almost every book has been recommended to me by a teacher, parent, or kid, but still, the entire list might not be right for every kid so click on the title and read more about the book if you’re questioning.

If you’re thinking, that’s great but I’m busy…please don’t make me read this whole blog post, click on the button below I’ll email you a condensed book list to print for your kids. (Actually, I’ll email you two book lists – one for tweens and one for teens)

Yes, I want the booklists for tweens & teens!

What best books for tweens do you like?

And if I missed any books, leave me a comment. Let’s raise the next generation to grow their character through the power of reading.

[bctt tweet=”146+ Best Books for Tweens (That also build postitive character qualities!) Get the list here. #reading #raisingtweens #parenting” username=”@cheryldonely”]

146+ Best Books for Tweens
(That also builds positive character qualities.)

**This blog post contains affiliate links which means if you use my Amazon affiliate link, I get a small commission at not extra cost to you.**

Creative Thinking

Fantasy and other fiction books that will spark your imagination and help you think creatively and innovatively.

1. The Unwanted Series (Lisa McMann) – Full of suspense and adventure, this series has been described by Kirkus Review as “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.” (New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller)

2. The Twenty-One Balloons (William Pene du Bois) – Professor William Waterman Sherman failed attempt to fly him across the Pacific Ocean landed him on the wondrous land of Krakatoa. Let the adventures begin. (1948 Newbery Medal winner.)

3. The Tale of Despereaux (Kate DiCamillo) – This Newbery Medal-winning tale is about the Despereaux Tilling (a mouse), Roscuro (a rat), and Miggery Sow (a slow-witted serving girl). Their adventure includes a dark dungeon, a beautiful castle, and much more.

4. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket) – Beloved tales of the unlucky Baudelaire orphans and their alarming and entertaining adventures.

5. Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Silverstein) – From the brilliant Writer of The Giving Tree comes a book full of poems and illustrations. You’ll be inspired by reading this humorous and interesting work.

6. The Ralph S. Mouse Collection (Beverly Cleary) – Ralph, a mouse, loves to ride his favorite toy motorcycle straight into adventures. You’ll enjoy these delightful stories. (Newbery award-winning author)

7. The Warrior Series (Erin Hunter) – These fierce warrior cats set upon epic adventures in an electrifying fantasy world. Spin-off series include: Seekers, Survivors

8. The Cricket in Times Square (Garth Williams) – This 1961 Newbery Honor Book is about Tucker, the mouse, and his friend Harry Cat. This New York City street-smart duo live in the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket, hungry for liverwurst, jumped from his Connecticut meadow into a traveler’s picnic basket and ended up in New York. Tucker, Harry, and Chester become fast friends as the two NYC natives teach Chester the ropes. But, it’s Mario, a boy, who discovers Chester’s hidden talent…

9. The Fablehaven Series (Brandon Mull and Brandon Dorman) – Fablehaven is a hidden refuge for mystical creatures to prevent their extinction. The caretaker of Fablehaven is siblings Kendra and Seth’s grandfather. Let the adventures of trolls, fairies, imps, and more begin as good fights evil. 

10. Wings of Fire Series (Tui T. Sutherland) – Read all about the adventures and wars of the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. (New York Times bestseller)

11. Lorien Legacies Series (Pittacus Lore) – As Amazon review puts it, “Nine Loric children were sent to Earth to live in hiding until they grew up and developed their Legacies, powers that would help them fight back—and help them save us. Three of them are now dead. John is Number Four, and he knows he’s next….” This starts book 1 in the Lorien Legacies Series. (#1 New York Times bestseller)

12. The Shadow and Bone Trilogy (Leigh Bardugo) – Alina Starkov discovers her dormant powers as she learns to live in the kingdom of Ravka. Can this frightened girl become a leader? (New York Times bestseller)

13. The Land of Stories Series (Chris Colfer) – Twins, Alex and Connor, mysteriously find themselves in a wondrous, magical land interacting with the fairy tale characters they’d grown up reading about.  (#1 New York Times bestseller)

14. Gregor the Underland Chronicles (Suzanne Collins) – Gregor and his little sister discover the dark Underland beneath their home of New York City.  Amazon continues to describe this thrilling book saying: “There, a conflict is brewing between the humans and the giant creatures that live below. Gregor must find his place in the frightening prophecies he encounters, the strength to protect his family, and the courage to stand up against an army of giant rats.”

15. Star Darlings Collection (Shana Muldoon Zapp) – Join Piper, Astra, and Tessa who live in Starland on their adventures.

16. Septimus Heap Book Series (Angie Sage) – These New York Times bestselling series are thrilling tales laced with magic and wizards and mysterious experiences.

17. Keys to the Kingdom Series (Garth Nix) – Amazon says,”This series is full of fantasy novels. This series provides an original twist on traditional fiction in that the reader takes control of the stories.”

18. Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll) – A sequel to Alice and Wonderland, Alice now enters a fantasy land through a mirror.

Perseverance

Experience how these characters persevere through hardships. Feel empowered to tap into your inner strength and endurance as well.

19. The Prince Warriors Series (Priscilla Shirer) – Two brothers and their friends enter the mysterious land of Ahoratos. They grow in wisdom, strength, and skill as they battle a very real enemy.

20. The Lightning Thief Series (Rick Riordan) – Percy Jackson shows great perseverance as he is tested through adventures with Greek gods and monsters.

21. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer) – Because William Kamkwamba’s family was devastated by the famine in Malawi, Africa, he couldn’t pay his school fees and was forced to drop out. Determined to continue his education, William began reading science books from the village library. He learned how to make a windmill out of bicycle parts and scrap metal. Soon he brought electricity that could pump water to his family’s farm.

22. The Woods Runner (Gary Paulsen) – Samuel, age 13, enjoys his life with his parents on the frontier of British America. Until the revolutionary war begins and Samuel’s parents are taken captive by the Iroquois and British soldiers. Now, he must find his parents.

23. The Red Pencil (Andrea Davis Pinkney) – A Somalian girl caught in a war-torn country starts the long journey to a refugee camp. Along the way, she finds a red pencil that sparks hope.

24. The Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor) – The Depression has hit Mississippi hard. Despite racism and social injustice, the Logan family forges on to take the high road with integrity. Cassie Logan learns why it’s so important to her family to own their own land and much more. (Newbery Medal winner)

25. The Trumpet of the Swan (E. B White) – The trumpeter swan, Louis, has a problem – he can’t let out the beautiful, joyful trumpet sound like the rest of the swans. His love, Serena, won’t pay any attention to him. How is Louis going to win her heart? So, Louis’ father nabs him a brass trumpet…will it work? Will Serena now notice Louis?

26. The Black Stallion (Walter Farley) – These are the adventures of a boy and a horse stranded on an island after their ship went down at sea. This classic story has been enthralling readers for years.

27. Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawls) – Billy is finally able to purchase his dream – two hound dogs. Together Billy with Old Dan and Little Ann roam the Ozarks and become the finest hunting team around…until challenges strike. Can these friends persevere? This classic tale is beloved by many.

28. Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School)  (Gail Carriger) – Sophronia, a spunky 14-year-old, starts finishing school in England (1821). Except the students learn more than proper dance, trending fashions, and expected etiquette….they learn espionage.

29. Keeper of the Lost Cities Series (Shannon Messenger) – Twelve-year-old Sophie is a telepath, someone who can read minds. She’s a misfit among her peers until she meets Fitz, also a telepath. Sophie’s adventures begin as she discovers who she really is. And why she was hidden among humans. (New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller)

30. Ghostlight (Sonia Gensler) – Avery and her brother love spending the summer at their grandma’s farm. This summer they meet a new kid, Julian. He hatches a plan to film a story at the Hilliard house, a vacant mansion Avery’s grandma forbids them to go in. But, they film anyway and discover strange and eerie things.

31. Goosebumps Series (R.L. Stine) – Beloved books about wonderful characters with wild happening, challenging situations, and scary adventures.   

32. Nerds Series (Michael Buckley) – A group of unpopular 5th graders secretly run the National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society.

33. The Kingdom Keepers (Ridley Pearson) – Teen Disney guides fight against villains to protect the theme parks.

 

Related article: Best Books for Teens

 

Wisdom

Learn from each story and build your wisdom.

34. Don’t Know Much About Series (Kenneth C. Davis) – This series of books talks about topics from American history, to geography, and more. These interesting books will capture your attention as you learn about the world around you.

35. Ordinary People Change the World (Brad Meltzer) – This series is about Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein and more people who made an impact. Read these interesting true stories and feel empowered to use your gifts and talents to better the world we live in.

36. Hello Stars (Faith Girlz / Lena in the Spotlight Series) – This book is one in a series. The story starts here with Lena, an ordinary girl who goes to an audition and becomes a real-life actress. Lena faces the challenges of everyday life, acting, and tough choices with perseverance, wisdom, and hope.

37. House Arrest (K.A. Holt) – Timothy finds himself on house arrest after stealing a wallet. He is forced to keep a journal. His thoughts, frustrations, fears, and honesty are much to learn from.

38. The Seventh Most Important Thing (Shelley Pearsall) – In 1963, Arthur, 13, throws a brick at an elderly man’s head. This impulsive action carried out in a moment of rage earns him community service time. His place of service is with the same man he threw a brick at helping him with junk collection. Here Arthur learns so much.

39. The Selection Series (Kiera Cass) – Would you want a chance to be one of the 35 girls who will live in the palace and compete for the prince’s heart? What if you envisioned your life differently? (#1 New York Times bestseller)

40. The Graphic Library Series (Gary Jeffrey and Nick Spender) – Graphic Novels about real people and historical events. (Jackie Robinson, Salem Witch Trials, The Boston Tea Party, Thomas Paine…etc.)

41. Who Was Series (Various Authors and Who HQ) – Intriguing books about real people including Jane Goodall, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and many more individuals. 

42. What Was Series (Various Authors and Who HQ) – Interesting books about historical events including Pearl Harbor, Titanic, the Statue of Liberty, the Ice Age…etc.

43. The Wish Fairy Series (Lisa Ann Scott) – Brooke rescues a fairy and is granted seven wishes. What will she wish for? Will she be careful with her choices?

44. Camp Confidential (Melissa J. Morgan) – This series is about girls and what they learn about everyday life from their adventures at camp.

Empathy

Build your empathy for others by reading these impactful stories. Walk in these character’s stories – see what they see and feel what they feel.

45. I Am Malala Young Readers Edition (Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick) – As a girl, the Taliban shot Malala because she was vocal about a girl’s right to education. Read the bestselling memoir by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

46. Wonder (R. J. Palacio) – A beautiful book about a boy with a facial disfiguration who tries to fit in at school. (#1 New York Times bestseller)

47. Jacob Have I Loved (Katherine Paterson) – Set in WWII on an Island off of Chesapeake Bay, this is the story of twin girls…one who shines and the other who doesn’t. This Newbery-winning classic is about sibling rivalry.

48. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (Bette Bao Lord) – In the 1940’s, Shirley Temple Wong moves from China to Brooklyn, New York. The language barrier proves hard for Shirley to make friends. But then, she discovers baseball and Jackie Robinson (superstar of the Brooklyn Dodgers) and life begins to look up.

49. The Sign of the Beaver (Elizabeth George Speare) – Matt (13 years old) is left alone by his dad to guard their new wilderness cabin. Except Matt doesn’t know how to hunt, protect himself or survive…that is until he meets, Attean. This tale unfolds the story of a relationship between settlers and Native American during the 1700s. (Newbery Honor-winning story)

50. Refugee (Alan Gratz) – Three stories of refugees including Joseph, a Jewish boy fleeing Germany in the 1930s,  Isabel traveling from Cuba to America in 1994, and Mahmoud trekking towards Europe from Syria in 2015.

51. White Fang (Jack London) – This is the classic tale of White Fang, the wolfdog, and his journey from the wild to living among different harsh owners. This story takes place in the Yukon Territory, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. Will White Fang ever find an owner who will show him true friendship and love?

52. Sticks and Stones (Abby Cooper) – Elyse starts middle school at age 12. Except, she is different – she has a rare genetic disorder where the words said about her show up on her skin. A note finds its way into Elyse’s hands saying: “I know who you are, and I know what you’re dealing with. I want to help.” Can Elyse find who sent this to message to her? In her quest, she learns valuable lessons that empower her to become her best self.

53. Code of Honor (Alan Graz) – A popular kid and high school football star, Kamran Smith can’t wait to join his brother, Darius, in the army. These brothers’ family is from Iran, but they’ve always felt accepted as Americans. Then something happens and Darius is accused of being a terrorist. Then Kamran too. Can they get through this challenge?

54. The BFG (Roald Dahl) – Two unlikely friends, Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant team together to protect children in England.

Critical-Thinking Skills

Learn from characters who display critical thinking skills like the below from Thinker Academy:

  • Suspending judgment to check the validity of a proposition or action
  • Taking into consideration multiple perspectives
  • Examining the implications and consequences of a belief or action
  • Using reason and evidence to resolve disagreements
  • Re-evaluating a point of view in light of new information

55. The Giver (Lois Lowery) – This 1994 Newbery Medal winner will make you think. This story is about 12-year-old Jonas and his changing perspective on the world. If you like this tale, read the novels that go with it: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

56. Matilda Series (Roald Dahl) – This is the story of a delightful girl who discovers she has a unique power to stand up for herself against her kid-hating teacher and other life challenges.

57. Ender’s Game – The Ender Quintet (Orson Scott Card) – These are fascinating books about kid soldiers trained by the government to defend their world against a hostile alien race. These epic tales bring up many philosophical and ethical questions. (Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards)

58. I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives (Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka) – As a class assignment, Caitlyn (American) had to write to someone far away. Her letter ended up in the hands of Martin, from Zimbabwe. These pen pals wrote for 6 years, becoming best friends and learning so much about each other and themselves. As Amazon review says:”Their story will inspire you to look beyond your own life and wonder about the world at large and your place in it.” (New York Times bestseller)

59. The Inventions of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick) – What happens when Hugo’s, an orphan/clock-keeper/thief, life intertwines with a bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth? Mystery, adventure, and this great book.

60. Projeckt 1065 (Alan Gratz) – Michael O’Shaunessey, from Ireland, lives in Nazi, Germany. Even though he despises all Hitler stands for, he still joins the Hitler Youth because…Michael and his parents are spies.

61. The Shadow Children Series ( Margaret Peterson Haddix) – The world only allows parents to have two children. The shadow children – all an illegal third child – must hide or face death. This series is about the tales of the third born. 

62. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson) – This classic tale tells the story of a man with two opposing personalities, one good, and one not-so-good. This combination of thriller and moral allegory will make you think.

63. Holes (Louis Sachar) – Boys in a detention center, Camp Green Lake, are forced to build holes five feet deep and wide. This is supposed to be character building. But, Stanley, the main character sent unjustly to this horrible camp discovers the warden is trying to find something by having these holes dug. What is it? What is going on? (Newbery Medal, National Book Award, #1 New York Times bestseller)

64. Hana’s Suitcase (Karen Levine) – Based on a true story, Fumiko Ishioka is the curator of a newly set up Holocaust educational center in Toyko. She leads a group of children dedicated to helping educate Japan about the Holocaust. The center receives a small brown suitcase from of a museum at Auschwitz.  Painted on the suitcase in large white letters is, “Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Orphan.” The children and Fumiko wonder who Hana Brady is. They set off to find the answers. This story is hard and redeeming and connects unlikely people.

65. Restart (Gordon Korman) – Chase fell off the roof and gets amnesia. He doesn’t remember who he is. As Chase goes back to middle school, he learns about himself through the reactions of his classmates. The problem is, he doesn’t like what he’s learning about himself…

Strength

Learn how these strong characters (both fiction and nonfiction) overcome and thrive in life’s challenges.

66. Scholastic Biography Series (Margaret Davidson) – From Jackie Robinson to Hellen Keller to The Wright Brothers, these are true stories about strong people.

67. The Chronicles of Narnia Series (C. S. Lewis) – A sibling group stumbles into the magical land of Narnia and grow in courage as they travel through.

68. The Hunger Games Series (Suzanne Collins) – Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute for the Hunger Games when her sister’s name is called.

69. The Redwall Series (Brian Jacques) – The mice of Redwall Abbey battle Cluny the Scourge and the skilled rats to keep the peace.

70. Mark of the Thief Series (Jennifer A. Nielsen) – Nic, a slave in the Roman mines, finds a cavern with Julius Caesar’s lost treasure including an ancient bulla filled with magic. Now, he has power. Can he use it to become free? Can he use it to make a better Rome?

71. Prisoner b3087 (Alan Gratz)Yanek is a Polish Jewish boy living in a concentration camp in the 1930s.

72. Maniac Magee (Jerry Spinelli) – Orphaned and living with his unkind aunt and uncle, Jeffrey Magee decides to run. When he does, Jeffrey’s kindness and wits help him overcome his obstacles as he learns about himself and makes a positive impact on others. (Newbery Award Winner)

73. Gabriela 3-Book Box Set (American Girl: Girl of the Year 2017) (Varian Johnson) – All of the American Girl Book Series tell empowering stories of girls. In this book, Gabriela, a lover of dance and art, is confronted with a problem. The city is closing the community arts center. Can Gabriela change their mind?

74. Terror at Bottle Creek (Watt Key) – Cort, age 13, has learned much from his expert hunting and swamp lore father. They live in lower Alabama where deadly hurricanes sometimes strike. Cort is put to the test when exactly that happens.

75. Runs with Courage (Joan M. Wolf) – In 1880, the Dakota Territory is changing. Four Winds, a ten-year-old Lakota girl is taken away from her family and sent to a boarding school. (Without her family who’d been moved to a reservation.) Can Lakota stay true to herself in her new environment?

76. Nicola Berry Series (Liane Moriarty) – Can Nicola Berry, earthling ambassador, and her friends save the galaxy one more time?

77. Wolves of the Beyond Series (Kathryn Lasky) – This spinoff of the Guardians of Ga’hoole is about a baby wolf, born with a twisted paw, deemed unworthy to be a part of the pack. The anguished mom knows he will be taken from her and abandoned. As Amazon says, “This is his story – a story of survival, of courage, and of love triumphant. This is Faolan’s story, the wolf pup who rose up to change forever the Wolves of the Beyond.”

Develop Humor

Get big laughs out of these stories. Feel how smiles and humor make life better.

78. Amelia Bedelia Chapter Book Series (Herman Parish) – Hilarious stories of the quirky Amelia Bedelia.

79. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series (Jeff Kinney) – Read about all the crazy things that happen to and around Greg in middle school. This wildly popular series will make you laugh out loud.

80. Big Nate (Lincoln Peirce) – “Middle school is a breeding ground for mischief and dreaming big for Big Nate and his pals!” (Amazon review)

81. Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn) – Ella was happily living South Carolina’s island, Nollop, until the community’s decision makers started banning the use of certain letters in the alphabet. In this hilarious tale, Ella fights for freedom of expression, among other things. Word lovers will enjoy this story.

82. Henry Huggins Series (Beverly Clearly) – Books about an average boy whose ordinary life is lively.

83. Roald Dahl Series (Roald Dahl) – Fun and silly books about lovable characters including 1. The Witches, 2. The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, 3. Matilda, 4. The BFG, 5. Going Solo, 6. George’s Marvellous Medicine, 7. Danny the Champion of the World, 8. James and the Giant Peach, 9. The Twits, 10. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, 11. Boy Tales of Childhood, 12. Fantastic Mr. Fox, 13. Esio Trot, 14. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and 15. The Magic Finger

84. Captain Underpants (Dav Pilkey) – Tales of tweens’ lives that unfold in silly ways.

85. Dork Diaries (Rachel Renée Russell) – Nikki Maxwell’s hilarious tales of all the ups and downs of middle school. (#1 New York Times bestseller)

86. House of Robots (James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein) – Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez lives with his genius mom in a house full of robots. His life is full of fun and humor.

87. The Ramona Quimby Books (Beverly Cleary) – These award-winning books are the tales of the hilarious elementary-age Ramona Quimby. Once you pick these books up, you won’t be able to set them down.

88. The Horrible Harry Series (Suzy Kline) – This endearing trouble maker always has something up his sleeve, especially when he’s at his elementary school. You will laugh at Harry’s silliness.

89. Judy Moody Series (Megan McDonald) – Elementary age Judy Moody stumbles into daily adventures with her many moods and hilarious antics.

90. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Judy Blume) – Hilarious stories of Peter and his little brother Fudge. Grab this popular book or check out the series. (#1 New York Times bestselling author.)

91. Middle School, the Worst Years of my Life (James Patterson) – This book addresses bullies, first crushes, and discovering what makes each middle schooler special through a laugh-out-loud-funny main character and engaging in-text illustrations. (#1 bestseller)

best books for tweens

Problem-Solving Skills

These stories are about characters who are forced to often think outside the box as they solve problems. Come away from reading these tales with confidence and motivation to find solutions as well.

92. A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle) –  A story of three friends adventuring through space and time in search of Meg’s scientist father. (963 Newbery Medal winner)

93. The Nancy Drew Diaries (Carolyn Keene) – A strong girl unravels mysteries.

94. Magic Tree House Series (Mary Pope Osborne) – Siblings go on adventures through a magical tree house. (#1 bestseller)

95. I am Princess X (Cherie Priest) – In this graphic novel, 5th grade best friends Libby and May wrote stories and illustrations about their invented Princess X. Then, Libby unexpectedly dies in a car accident. Or that’s what everyone thinks. Years later, May finds their make-believe Princess X showing up everywhere, on stickers, graffiti, and patches. Then she finds a whole Princess X underground culture. Could Libby still be alive?

96. The Boxcar Children Series (Gertrude Chandler Warner) – The Alden’s make their home in a boxcar as their life unfolds with adventure and mystery

97. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (John Grisham) – Theo Boone is 13 years old and wants to be a lawyer. He pursues adventures until justice is served.

98. 39 Clues Series (Rick Riordan) – In her will, Grace Cahill gave her descendants an impossible choice: “You have a choice – one million dollars or a clue.” Amy and Dan race around the world unearthing clues and finding hidden secrets about the powerful family they come from. Their greatest question: What REALLY happened to their parents? (#1 bestseller)

99. I Survived Series (Lauren Tarshis) – Different stories about families who survived the real-life natural disasters that made headlines. If you were tested by nature, what would you do to survive?

100. Encyclopedia Brown Books (Donald J. Sobol) – Kid detective Encyclopedia Brown lives to solve mysteries and crack cases.

101. The Treasure Hunter Series (James Patterson) – Follow these kids as they hunt for treasures, and whatever other mystery they stumble upon.

102. Nate the Great (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat) – Nate the Great solves everyday mysteries. This series is a good fit for readers just starting chapter books.

103. Down the Rabbit Hole (Peter Abrahams) – Ingrid Levin-Hill, age 13, is a soccer player, actress, and reader of Sherlock Homes. Her skills are put to the test when she finds herself wrapped up in a police investigation following an eccentric woman’s murder.

104. The Sisters Grimm (Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson) – Orphaned sisters, Sabrina and Daphne, are sent to live with their newly discovered grandmother. There they learn they’re descendants of Brothers Grimm whose book of fairy tales is actually real family history. The sisters become fairy tale detectives and go on all sorts of adventures. (New York Times bestseller)

105. Brixton Brothers Mysterious Case of Cases Series (Mac Barnett) – Seventh-grader Steve Brixton, with the help of his fictional friends from a mystery book series, the Bailey Brothers, becomes America’s top sleuth.

106. Choose Your Own Adventure Books (R. A. Montgomery) – From the snowy mountains to the depths of the sea to mysterious space you decide which path you will choose in the adventures.

Friendships

Stories that help you understand what makes a good friend, how you can be a good friend, and the type of friends you need.

107. Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling) – Three Hogwarts School of Wizard & Witchcraft misfits come together to battle the evil wizard Lord Voldemort. (#1 bestseller)

108. The Hardy Boys (Franklin W. Dixon) – Two brothers work together to solve mysteries.

109. The Lord of the Rings Series (J.R.R. Tolkien) – What an adventure this series is. The ring threatens Middle Earth with pending doom. Only these companions can unravel the mysteries, fight the opposition and conquer evil.

110. The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) – If you like the Lord of the Rings, read about how the adventure of the Companions of Ring began in this epic book.

111. Charlotte’s Web (E. B White and Garth Williams) – This classic and beloved tale tells the story of the runt pig Wilbur who desperately wants friends. Read why this story is so beloved as you watch his friendship built with the girl, Fern, and spider, Charlotte – both who play a role in saving Wilbur’s life.

112. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) – The classic tale of three young friends and one inspiring garden will warm your heart.

113. Old Yeller (Fred Gipson) – The classic story of Travis, a kid trusted by his dad to take care of their wilderness Texas frontier along with his faithful dog, “Old Yeller.” (Newbery Honor Award)

114. A to Z Mysteries (PJ Ryan) – Rebekah, a lovable and spunky 9-year-old, solves mysteries with her best friend, Mouse, in the small town of Curtis Bay.

115. Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson) – Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke bonded over being two of the fastest runners in the fifth grade. These two became best friends and spend most of their time in their invented enchanted land (Terabithia) behind Leslie’s home. Then tragedy strikes. (Newbery Medal Winner)

116. The Whipping Boy (Sid Fleischman) – The story of a prince and a pauper who are forced into trading places. This book full of unexpected adventure…and unexpected friendship. (Newbery Medal Winner)

117. The One and Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate) – This Newbery Medal Winner and New York Times bestseller tells the story of an unlikely friendship. Based on a true story, Ivan, a gorilla has lived 27 years behind the walls of a zoo. He is used to people watching him and never thinks of his life prior to captivity. Then the baby elephant, Ruby is captured from the wild and placed in the same zoo…

118. Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo) – Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni planned to pick up groceries at the local store, but instead came home with a dog. The friendship Winn-Dixie provides India grows in the child all sorts of courage. See how this adopted dog changes India’s life. (Newbery Honor Book)

119. Indian in the Cupboard (Lynne Reid Banks) – In this classic bestseller, Patrick gives his best friend Omri a small, toy Indian. Disappointed, Omri puts the plastic warrior in a metal cupboard securing the door with his great-grandmother’s skeleton key. But the key is magic. The toy is transformed into a real-life warrior in a different time and place. Omri and the former toy, Little Bear, become good friends. Will anyone discover Omri’s secret?

120. Peter and the Starcatcher’s Series (Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson) – The story of how Peter Pan and the orphans became “Peter Pan and the orphans.” Adventure with these friends through this delightful series.

gifts for moms

A Team Player Family Member

Stories that help you see how different families love, support, and work together. Learn ways that you can better support and add to or help create a strong family too.

121. Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss) – A family gets shipwrecked on a small tropical island. They work together not just to survive but also to thrive.

122. Berenstein Bears Chapter Books (Stan and Jan Berenstain) – A family of bears goes through the highs and lows of life together.

123. The Little House on the Prairie Series (Laura Ingalls Wilder) – A pioneer family travels in their covered wagon to being a new life out west. If you love this series, check out Farmer Boy, the story of Laura’s husband and his experiences growing up on a farm.

124. Watson’s go to Birmingham (Christopher Paul Curtis) – This story is about the Watson family of Flint, Michigan. This hilarious family consists of mom, dad, Kenny (son), Joetta (little sister), Byron (13yo big brother). They head to Birmingham to spend time with Grandma. While there, Grandma’s church is blown up. Read this book to find out what happens next. (Newbery Honor Book)

125. Hank the Cowdog Series (John R. Erickson) – A fun and hilarious series about Hank the Cowdog. He’s head of security on his family’s Texas Ranch. Each day presents a new adventure.

126. Sarah, Plaine and Tall (Patricia MacLachlan) – This Newbery Medal-winning book is told from Anna’s point of view. A prairie-girl from the nineteenth century, her dad places an advertisement for a wife and mother to Anna and her brother, Caleb. Sarah Elizabeth Wheaton comes all the way from Maine…will the family like her?

Athlete’s Attitude

Learn about teamwork, perseverance, and the fun of sports. Learn how to transfer an empowering athlete’s attitude into your everyday life.

127. The Million Dollar Series (by Dan Gutman) – Fun stories about the adventures of fictional athletes.

128. Roller Girl (Victoria Jamieson) – A graphic novel about surviving junior high through friendships and roller derby. This is a Newbery Award winner and New York Times bestseller.

129. The Home Team Collection (Mike Lupica) – “The Only Game” (Book 1): 7th grade is supposed to be amazing for the baseball star, Jack Callahan. Except Jack’s lost his brother and in his grief quits the team. Did he make the right decision? Most people say no. Except for two new friends who both think yes. Other books include: “The Extra Yard,” “Point Guard,” and “Team Players”

130. A Topps League Story Series (Kurtis Scaletta) – These early chapter books are full of fun and hard work as various characters strive to be skilled in their particular sport.

131. Rooting for Rafael Rosales (Kurtis Scaletta) – This story tells more than just about baseball. It weaves the story of Rafael, from the Dominican Republic, striving to play professional baseball with Grace and Maya, two sisters from the Twin Cities with dreams of becoming sports journalists.

Positive Thinking

Build positive thinking by walking in these characters’ shoes and seeing the world through their eyes.

132. Pollyanna (Eleanor H. Porter) – This classic book is loved by many. It’s about a delightful orphan girl who moves in with her Aunt Polly and changes a town.

133. Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery) – A delightful red-headed orphaned girl transforms the lives of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, her appointed guardians. You will see why generations have fallen in love with the chatty and delightful Anne.

134. Heidi (Johanna Spyri) – This classic is the story of an orphan, Heidi, who went to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Heidi captures the heart of her grumpy grandfather, the neighbors, and mountain town residents. That’s only the start of this delightful, uplifting story. 

135. Roller Skates, Book 1 of 2 in the Lucinda Wyman Series (Ruth Sawyer) – The likable ten-year-old Lucinda adventures in New York City. (Set in the 1890’s.)

136. The Flat Stanley Chapter Books (Jeff Brown) – Flat Stanley always finds adventures because he’s only 1/2 inch thick. (Thanks to the bulletin board that fell off the wall and squashed him.) But now, he can do things he could never do before – slide under doors, fly like a kite, become invisible and rescue aliens in outer space. His stories are fun to read.

137. The View from Saturday (E. L. Konigsburg) – A story about unlikely candidates who are a part of the winning six-grade Academic Bowl team and the teacher who chose them.

138. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) – This beloved classic is about four March sisters growing up together. Their mother is supporting the family as their father is away at war.

139. A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans (W. Bruce Cameron) – Amazon describes this #1 New York Times bestseller as “the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love.” W. Bruce Cameron writes other similar books including:

Discernment

Learn from the past to make a brighter future. Develop discernment as you read this historical fiction.

140. My America Series (Patricia Hermes) – A series of fictional books that tells the stories of America’s history through the diary of children.

141. The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare) – In this 1959 Newbery Medal winner, the story of Kit Tyler living during the colonial times (1687) in Connecticut unfolds. Kit finds a much-needed friend in Hannah Tupper, who the colonist believe is a witch.

142. Caddie Woodlawn (Carol Ryrie Brink) – A story of a delightful girl who loves hunting and plowing. She befriends Native Americans, avoids cooking and sewing, and breaks stereotypes. This fictional story, full of energy and joy, is special because it was written about the author’s beloved real-life grandmother.

143. Elijah of Buxton (Christopher Paul Curtis) – This Newberry Honor and Coretta Scott King Award Winner novel is about Elijah, the first child to be born free in the Buxton, Canada. This small town is close to the American border and home to runaway slaves. A thief steals money from his friend who has been saving the cash to free his family. Elijah makes it his purpose to find this thief and the adventure begins.

144. Number the Stars (Lois Lowry) – Annemarie Johansen is a part of the Danish movement to smuggle the entire Jewish population (nearly 7,000) to Sweden during WWII. (Newbery Medal Winner)

145. The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom) – This is the story of a family of Dutch watchmakers who hide Jews in their home during WWII. Caught and sent to concentration camps, Corrie lives to tell her and her family’s story of courage and faith.

146. Maus Graphic Novels (Art Spiegelman) – This Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel is set during WWII with the mice representing the Jews and the cats, the Nazis. The author retells his father’s stories of the Holocaust.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, feel empowered in your personal growth, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get inspiration, resources, and stories in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below. 

Yes, I want all of the Freebies!

For more ideas read the full “Entertaining Tweens and Teens” series.

The other day, I saw of picture of when my kids were little (like when I wrote this post), and I thought I so deeply want to go back to this season of life. I miss it.

But just as quickly as that thought came, another thought followed Someday, I will see pictures of my current parenting phase (raising tweens and teens) and wish to come back to today. 

So, I want to do my best to enjoy this season of life. These ideas on how to connect with and entertain tweens and teens can help…

Entertaining Tweens and Teens Series

INSPIRATION
How a Messy House is Good for Your Kids

IDEAS
85+ Kids Activities That Promote Creativity

READING
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that will Also Build Character
Compelling Books That High Schoolers Will Want to Read

EXERCISE
Home Exercises for Your Teens & the Whole Family (Feel Healthy & Happy)