25 Best Books for Teenagers You Must Read

Discover the best books for teenagers and encourage your son or daughter to read. They’re all award-winning and or highly rated. 

Whether you are trying to encourage a teenager to pick up a book instead of a phone or you have a bookworm in your home, you’re going to need a list of the best books for teens. Many novels create lasting impressions on their readers, even when those readers are young people.

While the novels on this list may not be trending on social media, you will find that the stories and themes will engage your teen. Whether they are looking for a fantasy world to escape to or want to read about other teens like them, one of the books on this list will likely fit well. Head to Amazon to get them today to start stocking your booklist. From dystopian fiction to autobiographical works, this list of books for teens has something for those who want to read more often

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Best books for teenagers

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling 

A list of books for teens would not be complete without a tribute to one of the best fantasy series in modern time, Harry Potter, published in 1997. This is the highest-selling series of all time with over 500 million copies, including 120 million of the first book alone, sold.

Harry Potter follows the coming-of-age of a young boy who discovers he is part of a hidden world of wizards. Through the seven-book series, Harry and his friends must battle magical foes to restore balance to the wizarding world while learning about their own histories and character. Check out our explainer on YA literature.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Philosopher's Stone
  • Hogwart's
  • Dumbledore
  • Magic
  • School Days

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is the first in a dystopian trilogy that follows the story of Katniss Everdeen. The strong 16-year-old heroine is taken to battle to the death with other teenagers in a tribute, a televised game designed to keep the people in subjection to the governing class. 

Among young adult books, this one has a tremendous following, and the book series has over 36.5 million copies in print in the United States alone. The first book in the series hit the shelves in 2008.

“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.”

Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games (Book 1)
  • The Hunger Games (Book 1)
  • Suzanne Collins (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 07/03/2010 (Publication Date) - Scholastic Press (Publisher)

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Set in Nazi Germany, The Book Thief is unique among many World War II books in that it shows the perspective of a German girl, not a Jew. This 2005 book has Death itself as the narrator.

The main character, Liesel, is living in Nazi-occupied Germany and has to steal books marked for Nazi bonfires in order to read. She also comes to learn about risk by helping her family hide a Jew in their home.

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

Markus Zusak
THE BOOK THIEF
  • ZUSAK MARKUS (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/08/2016 (Publication Date) - RANDOM HOUSE UK (Publisher)

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This heartbreaking tale tells of two teenagers, Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, who, like many teen novels, fall in love. However, Hazel has cancer, and that creates an added layer of tragedy as the two learn how to overcome difficult circumstances and celebrate the life they have.

John Green published The Fault in Our Stars in 2012. The end of this book is sad, but the story itself has beautiful themes of love, friendship, and life.

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”

John Green
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The Fault in Our Stars
  • John Green
  • romance
  • Death & Dying
  • Green, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

5. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is a classic piece of literature that follows themes of friendship, sacrifice, and loyalty. The 1937 novel follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins as he journeys to Middle Earth in a magical world of dwarves, hobbits, elves, and wizards. 

This grand adventure changes the young hobbit as he learns how to move beyond himself and sacrifice for those he loves. If your teenager is a fan of fantasy books, this one will please, though the reading level is a bit higher because it was published in 1937. 

“Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

J.R.R. Tolkien
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The Hobbit
  • J. R. R. Tolkien (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 300 Pages - 09/18/2012 (Publication Date) - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Publisher)

6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 

This autobiographical account is one of the few nonfiction books that make this list. The diary tells how Anne and her family hide from the Nazis for two years. It gives a first-hand account of the horrors of World War II and how strong a 13-year-old girl can be. The Diary of a Young Girl came out in 1947 published originally in Dutch. It has translations in over 70 languages

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition
  • Frank, Anne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 02/03/1997 (Publication Date) - Bantam (Publisher)

7. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muno Ryan

In this historical fiction novel, Esperanza is the daughter of a wealthy ranch owner in Mexico. She has everything she wants, until her world is turned upside down, and she must flee to California to settle on a farm camp where she learns about economic needs. 

Throughout Esperanza Rising, she gains quite a bit of grit as she and her mother weather the Great Depression together in this award-winning book, which originally hit the shelves in 2000.

“We are like the phoenix,” said Abuelita. “Rising again, with a new life ahead of us.”

Pam Muno Ryan
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Esperanza Rising (Scholastic Gold)
  • Ryan, Pam Muñoz (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 262 Pages - 05/01/2002 (Publication Date) - Scholastic (Publisher)

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This book takes an honest look at the everyday life of teenagers, and that makes it popular with this age group of readers. The Perks of Being a Wallflower talks about hard topics, like drug abuse and teen pregnancy, through the eyes of a 15-year-old main character. 

After its publication in 1999, this novel became a cult classic. The role of friends and family in a young person’s life are central themes to this book.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Stephen Chbosky
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Excellent gift item
  • It is made up of premium quality material.
  • Chbosky, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Even though the narrator is a six-year-old, To Kill a Mockingbird remains a top contender for best books for teens. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960 and tells the story of Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer, who is defending a black man accused of rape against a white girl. 

Though it is full of racial slurs and sexual themes, causing it to get banned from some schools, mature teens can benefit from the realistic tale. Many literary critics consider it one of the best pieces of literature out there.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Harper Lee
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To Kill a Mockingbird
  • BRAND NEW TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD PAPERBACK BOOK
  • Harper Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 11/28/2022 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)

10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

The Hate U Give has stayed on the New York Times bestseller list since its publication in 2017. Inspired by Black Lives Matter, this book shows the difference between a poor black neighborhood and a wealthy prep school. 

Teens receive good insight into social justice concerns while reading enjoyable fiction with this novel.

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give
  • The Hate U Give Hardcover – February 28, 2017
  • Hardcover Book
  • Thomas, Angie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 02/28/2017 (Publication Date) - Balzer + Bray (Publisher)

11. Divergent by Veronica Roth 

Divergent is another novel that starts a dystopian trilogy and is very popular with the teenage reading group. In this 2011 tale, five factions divide society, and each person’s faction highlights their main character trait. 

This societal formation continues until Tris Prior, the heroine, realizes she does not fit into just one. She is divergent and must use her unique talents to save the dystopian society she finds herself in.

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

Veronica Roth
Divergent Series Box Set (Books 1-4)
  • Roth, Veronica (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1616 Pages - 02/25/2016 (Publication Date) - Harper Collins Children’s Books (Publisher)

12. The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver tells of a world void of color or much emotion, in which a young boy receives the gift of society’s memories. As he learns more of the past of the world, he discovers what he thought as a utopia is actually dystopian, and he must make an effort to change it or risk losing someone he has come to love.

The Giver has over 12 million copies in print worldwide, and it won the 1994 Newbery Medal. It has a couple of sequels that further tell the story of its characters as they discover more about their world and its realities. 

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

Lois Lowry
The Giver (Giver Quartet, 1)
  • paperback
  • Lowry, Lois (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 07/01/1993 (Publication Date) - Clarion Books (Publisher)

13. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton 

The Outsiders follows 14-year-old Ponyboy Curtis, a working-class member of a gang known as the Greasers, who takes on an upper-crust group called the Socials. Written when Hinton was just 16-years-old, the book may have birthed the young adult genre of literature. 

The main plot of the story is the struggle of three brothers to stay together in a difficult world after the death of their parents. Its first publication in 1967 broke the mold of prom and romance-heavy stories for young adults.

“Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold . . .” The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died.”

S.E. Hinton
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The Outsiders
  • S. E. Hinton (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 04/20/2006 (Publication Date) - Viking Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

14. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Speak tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a high school freshman, who suffers a rape from a classmate. The resulting trauma creates deep depression until Melinda can barely speak. 

The topics in this 1999 novel are not easy to look at, but they are important for many teams to consider. The realistic depiction of the aftermath of a terrible crime and how the novel opens the conversation about sexual harassment make it a good reading choice for older teens.

“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.”

Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak
  • Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak, paperback
  • Anderson, Laurie Halse (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 05/10/2011 (Publication Date) - Square Fish (Publisher)

15. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Published in 2018, The Astonishing Color of After is one of the newer books on this list. Its main character Leigh Chen Sanders is a half Asian, half white young woman. After the suicide of her mother, Leigh travels to Taiwan to learn more about her family history. 

This teen novel works well because it touches on the thoughts of grief along with the magical realism that teen readers love.

“There’s no point in wishing. We can’t change anything about the past. We can only remember. We can only move forward.”

Emily X.R. Pan
El asombroso color del después
  • Pan, Emily X. R. (Author)
  • Spanish (Publication Language)
  • 488 Pages - 03/02/2020 (Publication Date) - Nocturna Ediciones (Publisher)

16. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 best English-language novels, The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel that explores two days in the life of Holden Caulfield after his expulsion from prep school. The book talks about the young man’s angst at adults, which is what makes it popular with young readers, even though the original intended audience was adults. For more books like this, check out our guide to the best American authors.

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”

J.D. Salinger
Sale
The Catcher in the Rye
  • Novel by J.D. Salinger, published in 1951. The influential and widely acclaimed story details the two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, he searches for truth and rails against the "phoniness" of the adult world. He ends up exhausted and emotionally ill, in a psychiatrist's office. After he recovers from his breakdown, Holden relates his experiences to the reader.
  • J. D. Salinger (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 01/30/2001 (Publication Date) - Back Bay Books (Publisher)

17. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

This 2007 graphic novel tells three stories that show the prejudiced thinking against Chinese and Asian people in America. Through the three seemingly unrelated tales, Yang explores what it is like to be the target of prejudice. in the end, the author weaves them together in a delightful twist. 

Even though it looks like a comic book, this unique piece of literature covers some important themes. American Born Chinese also appeals to the visually-oriented modern teen.

“It’s easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.”

Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese
  • Great product!
  • Yang, Gene Luen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 12/23/2008 (Publication Date) - Square Fish (Publisher)

18. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder tells the Cinderella story but with a sci-fi twist. In this tale, the rags-to-riches teenager, Cinder, is a cyborg. She quickly becomes entangled with a prince and starts an intergalactic dispute.

This 2012 appeals to teens because of its mixture of romance, adventure, and a fairy tale twist. It is the first of the Lunar Chronicles series, and Meyer skillfully weaves everyone’s favorite fairy tale characters into these books.

“Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?”

Marissa Meyer
Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles (The Lunar Chronicles, 1)
  • Meyer, Marissa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 02/04/2020 (Publication Date) - Square Fish (Publisher)

19. Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children is the first novel in a sci-fi trilogy that tells the story of Jacob Magellan Portman, a young man trying to discover how his grandfather, a Jew, survived World War II. It has photographs to accompany the riveting tale. 

As the 2011 novel unfolds, Jake ends up exploring an abandoned orphanage on a mysterious island, only to discover there is more than meets the eye.

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”

Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Boxed Set
  • Riggs, Ransom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1216 Pages - 10/20/2015 (Publication Date) - Quirk Books (Publisher)

20. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Though Louisa May Alcott originally published the book in 1868, its themes of powerful women and the bonds of family remain strong today. Little Woman follows four sisters as they go through life and grow into womanhood. Even when tragedy strikes, the family remains committed to one another and their love only grows.

This book was revolutionary because of how independent the women in the story were. Today, the character of Jo remains popular, especially among teenage girls, as she discovers who she truly is.

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

Louisa May Alcott
Little Women
  • Alcott, Louisa May (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 12/16/2019 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

21. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

In 1954, William Golding explored what would happen if children ran their own world. In Lord of the Flies, a group of British boys crashes on a deserted island where they must set up their own semblance of society.

This book appeals to many teens who wonder what it would be like to live without adult supervision. It clearly shows that the idyllic world of freedom is less appealing than they might think.

“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”

William Golding
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Lord of the Flies
  • School is starting, order your book today!
  • William Golding (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 12/16/2003 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

22. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

For teens that want an adventure and wilderness story, The Call of the Wild never disappoints. This 1903 classic tells the story of Buck, a dog who is stolen from his original home. As Buck goes through a series of terrible owners and becomes a sled dog, he eventually finds his way back to the wild where he belongs.

“He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time.”

Jack London
Sale
The Call of the Wild (Reader's Library Classics)
  • London, Jack (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 106 Pages - 02/18/2021 (Publication Date) - Reader's Library Classics (Publisher)

23. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

What would happen if you could live forever? The Tuck family discovers this quandary in Tuck Everlasting, a 1975 novel. The story explores what happens when a young girl, Winnie, discovers a man who claims to be 104 years old yet appears to be in his 20s.

The quandary in the story is that Angus Tuck, the old yet seemingly young man, actually wants to age, but can’t. As the story unfolds, Winnie must decide whether or not she will drink from the water that gave them their invincibility.

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

Natalie Babbitt
Tuck Everlasting
  • Natalie Babbit (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 08/21/2007 (Publication Date) - Square Fish (Publisher)

24. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl Caraway comes to a local high school with a new look that the other students just can’t quite wrap their minds around. She doesn’t care about what others think of her, which makes her appealing to Leo Borlock who has conformed to the school’s standard for all of his years there.

This 2002 book explores what nonconformity looks like and how it can be a good thing, which makes it a great choice for teenagers to read. Time Magazine calls it one of the 100 best young adult books of all time.

“The trouble with miracles is, they don’t last long.”

Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl (Stargirl Series)
  • Great product!
  • Spinelli, Jerry (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 05/14/2002 (Publication Date) - Ember (Publisher)

25. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner explores a dystopian world where a 16-year-old main character, known only as Thomas, wakes up with no memories in a maze-like labyrinth. He must work with others in the same predicament to find a way to escape.

Yet in the 2009 novel, Thomas finds the world outside the maze is not what he thinks, either. Each page leaves the reader guessing as to what will happen next. This book for teens has a Lord of the Flies and Hunger Games feel to it, so fans of these books will likely enjoy it too.

“But there was something about the largest object in the solar system vanishing that tended to disrupt normal schedules.”

James Dashner
Sale
The Maze Runner (Book 1)
  • Dashner, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 375 Pages - 08/24/2010 (Publication Date) - Delacorte Press (Publisher)

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