Reading is vital for young adults. It expands their vocabulary, and enhances creativity. I am a teen myself, so I know from experience that my top 10 favorite reads are optimized for teens.
These books can also be a great gift option for friends and/or young family members. If you are looking into buying a young friend or family member some books, then here are a couple of my personal recommendations:
Keep in mind: If you are only looking to buy one or two of these books, look for the ones labeled “Top 3”. Those are, in my opinion, the best books on this list. Anyway, here are my recommendations for the best reads for teens:
1. The Hate You Give By Angie Thomas (Top 3)
Starr is constantly switching between two worlds–the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. This uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the shooting of her once best friend by a police officer. Facing pressure from her friends and family, Starr needs to find her voice and decide to stand up for what’s right.
2. The Continent By Keira Drake
For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the gift she has wanted all her life—a trip to the “Continent”. It seems an unusual destination for a holiday, because it is a cold, desolate land where two nations are constantly in combat. Most citizens who have the opportunity to tour the Continent observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long gone in the peaceful realm of the Spire. For Vaela, the war isn’t actually too interesting. As a smart and talented apprentice cartographer and a descendent of the Continent herself, she sees the journey as a dream come true: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the maps she’s drawn of this huge, icy land.
3. Across the Nightingale Floor By Lian Hearn
Takeo was brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a group of spiritual people who have taught him only the ways of peace. But, little does he know, his father was a celebrated assassin and a member of the Tribe, an ancient network of families with extraordinary skills. When Takeo’s village is raided, he is rescued and adopted by the mysterious Lord Otori Shigeru. While being raised by this Lord, he learns that he too possesses the skills of the Tribe. And, with this knowledge, he goes off on a journey that will lead him across the famous nightingale floor—and to his own unpredictable destiny.
4. Oliver Twist By Charles Dickens
Oliver twist is the story of a young orphan who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse, and is then placed under the care of an undertaker. He is not given adequate food, and has to fend for himself, battling a rather tough childhood. He later escapes from this dreadful place and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger; the leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets.
5. Mortal Engines By Philip Reeve (Series)
Thousands of years after all of civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller “traction towns”. Tom Natsworthy–who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London–finds himself fighting for his own life after he meets the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw. Two people with totally different personalities whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely friendship that is destined to change the course of the future.
6. The Invention of Hugo Cabret By Brian Selznick (Top 3)
Hugo Cabret is an orphaned boy who lives behind the walls of a train station in Paris, working as his uncle’s apprentice as the station’s clock keeper. When his uncle goes missing, Hugo has no choice but to keep tending to the clocks, pretending his uncle is still around in order to not raise any alarms, and have a place to live. Most of his free time is spent around his father’s broken automaton, rescued from the ruins of an old museum–that burnt down with his father in it–and the notebook that contains directions on how to fix it. Hugo believes that once fixed, the automaton will relay a message from his father and since all of his hopes and dreams rely heavily on this belief he will stop at nothing from making it happen.
7. Quiet Power By Susan Cain
Too quiet to change the world? No such thing. Introverts throughout history have accomplished incredible things because of their quiet personalities, not in spite of them. From class presidents to musical theatre performers to video gamers to explorers, introverted teens are often able to use their quiet nature to their advantage. Find out how you, too, can inspire those around you.
8. Wonder Struck By Brian Celznick (Top 3)
Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never had. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both characters set out on desperate quests to find what they are missing. Fifty years apart from each other, these two stories–Ben’s told in words, and Rose’s in pictures–intertwine extremely well, and when the two characters finally interact, the result is astounding.