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9 Powerful Realistic Fiction Books For High School Readers

Use this list of realistic fiction books for high school students to help your classes find great books to read.

High school is when students grow, change, and explore the world around them. They can often look to literature to learn more about the human experience, whether it’s understanding themselves, their peers, or complex issues. Realistic fiction books for high school readers offer a powerful lens through which young adults can explore the complexities of the human experience. 

Realistic fiction can not only provide an escape for avid readers but also help readers dive deeper into important issues such as identity, social justice, and mental health. It is also a powerful tool to help build empathy in your students and critical thinking skills. 

In this blog post, we will recommend nine realistic fiction books for high school readers that will be thought-provoking, powerful, and will leave a lasting impact. 

This Realistic Fiction Books for High School blog post contains affiliate links that are of no cost to the reader. If you make a purchase through the provided links, this blog will receive a small commission to help with the financial costs of maintaining the site.

Realistic Fiction Books For High School

The List by Siobhan Vivian

This book follows eight teenage girls at Mount Washington High School who are each labelled “pretty” or “ugly” based on their looks. The labels are assigned by an anonymous person and posted on a bulletin board just before homecoming for the entire school to see. The story explores how the girls react to their labels and how the labels affect their relationships with each other and their self-esteem.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This is the story of Violet and Theodore, two high school students who meet on the ledge of their school’s bell tower. Despite their differences, the two become unlikely friends and embark on a journey to explore their home state of Indiana together. The story deals with themes such as mental illness, grief, loss, and the power of human connection.

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman

This story follows Lara, a high school student cyberbullied by Christian, a boy she thought liked her. It explores Lara’s struggles with her self-esteem and the fallout of Christian’s hurtful comments on her mental health. As the online world collides with real life, the consequences of Christian’s actions escalate and have devastating consequences for everyone involved.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This is the story of 12-year-old Jerome, a Black boy shot and killed by a white police officer while playing with a toy gun. Following his death, Jerome becomes a ghost and observes the aftermath of his killing, including its impact on his family and community. The novel is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of race, police brutality, and the lasting impact of violence.

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

A teen baseball player is in a car accident before her softball season begins, and desperate not to lose her spot, she takes pain medication, leading to addiction. She risks losing everything she has worked so hard to achieve, including her athletic career, relationships with friends and family, and even her life.

Hey, Kiddo: A Graphic Novel by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

This graphic memoir is about Jarrett, who lives with his grandparents and turns to drawing to help him cope with his less-than-perfect family life, his mother, who is an addict, and the father he doesn’t know. Once he becomes a teen, he decides to find his father. The story explores themes of addiction, family, resilience, and the power of art to heal and connect us to others.

Homeboyz (Hoopster Trilogy) by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

When Teddy’s younger sister Tina is killed in a gang-related drive-by shooting, Teddy, who was left paralyzed from the waist down, is determined to get vengeance. Still, he is caught and must tutor an orphan as part of his community service. With the help of his family and friends, Teddy must find a way to overcome his anger and find a new purpose in life.

Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña

Danny Lopez, a biracial teenager, is a baseball player. But every time he steps up to the pitch, he chokes. He’s got bigger problems, though. His dad is deported back to Mexico, and Danny is convinced it’s because of him. During the summer, Danny visits his father’s family in Mexico and discovers his passion for baseball, which he hopes will bring him closer to his father and help him find his place in the world. This story explores themes of cultural identity, self-discovery, and the power of sports to unite and inspire.

The Day Tajon Got Shot (Shout Mouse Press Young Adult Books) by Beacon House Writers

Ten teenage girls wrote this story during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s the story of Tajon, a Black teen shot by a police officer in his neighbourhood. They each write about the events from the perspective of someone close to Tajon in his community in a series of interconnected narratives and show all sides of humanity. The story addresses police brutality, racial injustice, and the impact of violence on individuals and communities.

12 Genre Book Reports Assignment


Love teaching with genres?

Help your students dive deeper into their reading with these 12 different genre-focused book report assignments. Each assignment enables students to showcase their creativity while meeting curriculum standards. This assignment covers both fiction and non-fiction books. The assignment structure rotates every three months helping students achieve proficiency, while still providing student choice. Assignments can be used in any order. A sample teaching schedule is provided.

Included Genres

  • Realistic Fiction
  • Mystery Fiction
  • Graphic Novel
  • Science Fiction
  • Biography & Memoirs
  • Historical Fiction
  • Classical Fiction (pre-1970)
  • Fantasy Fiction
  • Non-Fiction
  • Traditional Literature vs. Fractured Fairy Tales
  • Sports Fiction
  • Free Verse Fiction

Assignment Types:

  1. Written Response – critical thinking and written reflection assignment.
  2. Creative Choice Board – students are provided with 3 options and must select which creative option they want to produce.
  3. Oral Presentation – a book talk format assignment.
  4. Student-Created Lesson based on a non-fiction book
  5. Traditional Literature vs. Fractured Fairy Tales Comparison Assignment

Find the 12 Genres Book Reports resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD.

For more great middle school books, check out this blog post – Best Middle School Book Recommendations. Also, check out some fantastic YA books in this blog post – High School Book Recommendations.

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