High school students enjoy reading books that interest them and that they can relate to. They don’t want to read your dusty yellowed copy of Gone With the Wind. YA books today are highly engaging and share important glimpses into the lives of today’s teens. Life looks a lot different now that social media has ingrained itself into the lives of teens.
It is important to encourage teen readers to continue this habit by providing them with access to interesting and engaging books. This book list for teen readers is a mix of new and old titles that would be a great addition to any bookshelf, classroom or school library.
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The list below is a great starting point when looking for Young Adult (YA) books for high school students.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Realistic Fiction)
Clay Jensen arrives home from school and finds a box with his name on it. Inside the box are cassette tapes recorded by his former classmate Hannah Baker who explains why she committed suicide two weeks earlier.
Paper Towns by John Green (Mystery Fiction)
Quentin Jacobsen begins an adventure in the middle of the night with his childhood best friend Margo Roth Spiegelman. Q has been in love with Margo for a long time and is thrilled that she has chosen him for this adventure until morning arrives and she has disappeared.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Romance/Realistic Fiction)
Two teenagers sit together on the school bus and a love story develops in 1986 Omaha, Nebraska. Eleanor and Park are complete opposites – Eleanor comes from a difficult home life and has developed quirky coping mechanisms and Park, a comic book fan who is struggling with his own identity
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (Science Fiction)
Set in the future where the citizens of North America have destroyed most of the lands due to their extravagant lifestyles leading to global warming. The scientists believe that the cure for the demise of the non-Indigenous population is to hunt down all of the Indigenous peoples and harvest their bone marrow. This story follows Frenchie and his companions as they struggle for survival and race against time.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Realistic Fiction)
Junior lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation and has difficulties fitting in. He decides to leave the school on the reservation and attend a nearby school where the student body population is not diverse and the school mascot is a First Nations person.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Historical Fiction)
Amir and Hassan are best friends and live in Kabul before the Soviet invasion and Taliban rule. They love to fly kites a popular local past time. There are two major differences between Amir and Hassan the wealth of their families and their castes. Once war breaks out in Afghanistan one family flees, leaving the other to survive the war alone.
The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (Science Fiction)
Set in a future society where everyone is “ugly” until their 16th birthday where they undergo extensive plastic surgery to make them “pretty”. Not everyone wants to adhere to this ritual – Tally Youngblood goes against society and does not want to become “pretty”.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved by Jenny Han (Realistic Fiction)
Lara Jean keeps a box of addressed love letters in her room. At different points in her life she has written these letters to help her process her feelings. One day she discovers these letters have been mailed and received by her former crushes. Her love life goes from non-existent to full speed ahead.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Realistic Fiction)
During the summer between middle and high school Melinda is sexually assaulted by a senior student at a party. She calls 9-1-1 to report this incident but loses her voice and does not speak to the dispatcher. The police arrive at the party and Melinda’s fellow students know she called the police, but do not know why. Her peers do not treat her kindly until the truth is revealed.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Realistic/Historical Fiction)
A plane crashes in a deserted island leaving a group of boys to fend for themselves. Chaos slowly ensues on the island leaving every boy fending for himself.
Share this list of best high school books with other high school ELA teachers and teen readers so they can find their next great read.
Other Book Recommendations
- 10 Books for Teen Readers
- Text Selection and Young Adult Literature
- Book Review What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee