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 her slip of paper with the title of her favorite book. I smiled as I collect 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 prep course) was ending in November, but my students didn’t take their ACT test until April. They were freaking out. (Or “tweaking,” as they would say.) We’d brainstormed what they could do to prepare in the 4 months leading up to the big test day and hovered on a powerful action: reading. My students knew that at least 75% of the ACT test is reading comprehension. (You could argue more because the math section is word problems. And of course, all this reading and comprehending must be done in 2.5 seconds. Or that’s what it feels like.) The more my students strengthen their reading skills, the better they’ll do on the test – and they were itching to do well.
That’s what ignited this compiling of a book list for high schoolers. (And when you’re looking for compelling books for teens, you go straight to the source.) I asked my students to submit their favorite book(s). 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. And don’t we all want this next generation to be wise?
I had to share this book list with you. Every book is recommended by a high school student and/or teacher. There are a wide variety of topics and reading levels. As always, not every book is right for every person, click on the link to read more about the story and see if it’s for you. And if you want me to send you a concise pdf reading list to download, click below and it’ll show up in your inbox!
Yes, I want the list of books for high schoolers!
Let’s help our teenagers connect, prepare for the ACT, and become wise. Let’s encourage them to read!
Related article: 146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that also Build Character
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.
*This blog post contains affiliate links*
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Proposal (Jasmine Guillory) – What happens when a public proposal doesn’t have the fairy tale ending.
- The Hunger Games Series (Suzanne Collins)– Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute for the Hunger Games when her sister’s name is called.
- Vienna Prelude (Brock & Bodie Thoene) – Stories of brave characters who, starting in 1936, resisted the German Nazi movement.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Lightning Thief Series (Rick Riordan)– Percy Jackson shows great perseverance as he is tested through adventures with Greek gods and monsters.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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)
- First Time She Drowned (Kerry Kletter) – Cassie O’Malley restarts her life after spending two years in a mental hospital.
- John Grisham Books – From The Firm to Pelican Brief, these highly engaging books are about the adventures of the lawyers, crime, and justice.
- Adrift (Steve Callahan) – Five friends from working-class to privileged backgrounds find themselves adrift at sea for days.
- 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.
- 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)
- Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson) – A story about a young lawyer determined to defend those most desperate and in need.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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)
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Angela Duckworth) – A book that will build your “grit.”
- Plainsong (Kent Haruf) – “A heart strong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.” (Amazon review)
- Hidden Life of Trees (Peter Wohlleben) – Peter Wohlleben makes a convincing argument that trees are social beings and forests are social networks.
- 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)
- 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.
- One Handed Catch (MJ Mutch) – Norm loses his left hand in an accident – will he ever be able to play baseball again?
- 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)
- 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.
- 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)
- Heat (Mike Lupica) – A book for baseball lovers.
- Gym Candy (Carl Deuker) – A book for football lovers.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- The Last Song (Nicholas Sparks) – Veronica is angry and bitter about her parents’ divorce; this is a story of healing and love.
- 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.
- Evicted (Matthew Desmond) – Have you ever thought about the side-effects of eviction on a person?
- The Round House (Louise Erdrich) – A compelling story of Native-American life wrapped in coming-of-age, mystery, family, and tenderness.
- 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?
- Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll) – A sequel to Alice and Wonderland, Alice now enters a fantasy land through a mirror.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- Impossible Knife of Memory (Laurie Halse Anderson) – Hayley’s father suffers from PTSD from the Iraq war.
- The Kingdom Keepers (Ridley Pearson) – Teen Disney guides fight against villains to protect the theme parks.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.)
- Wonder (R. J. Palacio) – A beautiful book about a boy with a facial disfiguration who tries to fit in at school.
- 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)
- People Like Us (Dana Mele) – Kay’s perfect high school life turns into the nightmare of a murder investigation.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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)
- I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Erika Sanchez) – Julia’s perfect sister dies – but Julia finds out some unsettling secrets.
- 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?
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- Prisoner b3087 (Alan Gratz) – Yanek is a Polish Jewish boy living in a concentration camp in the 1930s.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle) – A story of three friends adventuring through space and time in search of Meg’s scientist father.
- 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.
- 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 super powers 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)
- 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.
- Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling) – Three Hogwarts School of Wizard & Witchcraft misfits come together to battle the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.
- The Hardy Boys (Franklin W. Dixon) – Two brothers work together to solve mysteries.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) – The classic tale of three young friends and one inspiring garden will warm your heart.
- 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)
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Nancy Drew Diaries (Carolyn Keene) – A strong girl unravels mysteries.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Traveler’s Gift (David Ponder) – “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)
- 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)
- 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.”
- 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)
- 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.”
- 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)
- 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)
- Septimus Heap Book Series (Angie Sage) – These New York Times bestselling series are thrilling tales laced with magic and wizards and mysterious experiences.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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!
- Becoming (Michelle Obama)
- True Love (Jennifer Lopez)
- Spoken from the Heart (Laura Bush)
- Lucky Man: A Memoir (Michael J. Fox)
- Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story (J. Randy Taraborrelli)
- Jimmy Butler: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball’s Best All-Around Shooting Guards (Clayton Geoffreys)
- Against All Odds (Shannon Kerr)
- The Time of My Life (Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi Swayze)
- 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)
- 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)
Get a FREE printable of these book recommendations for high schoolers.Yes, I want the list of books for high schoolers!
Related article: 146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that also Build Character
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.
- Parenting Humor: When You Just Gotta Laugh
- Funny Mom Story: Disastrous Day Turned Parenting Win
- Graduation Sentiments: Class of 2020, Your Graduation was Extra Beautiful
- Importance of Motherhood: The One Thing Moms Do That Forever Sticks
- Distance Learning Students – you nailed it and we are so proud
- Best Family Movies for Tweens and Teens
- Momma, is God in more control of your life than you think?
- A Mom’s Prayer: Transform Your Anxious Thoughts Through Prayer