40 Books for Teens to Read Outside of School

This week is Teen Read Week, which is a week set aside to encourage teens to read for pleasure, not just for school.  Did you know that nearly two-thirds of employers consider reading comprehension a very important skill for high school graduates? Yet 38% of employers consider most high school graduates deficient in this basic skill. Why? Reading scores for 12th-graders have fallen significantly in the past decade, and while teens spend on average 2 or more hours a day watching television, they only spend seven minutes of their daily leisure time reading.  The declining reading comprehension skills will not only effect their ability to get a good job, but reading comprehension has also been tied with the willingness to participate in civic and cultural events.  But, what books will engage their minds outside of school and make them want to read?

Well, I polled our 3,000 bibliomaniacs and asked them, “What books did you like as a teen, and what books would you want to read if you were a teenager now?” So without further ado, here are 40 Books for Teens to Read Outside of School.

1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 2) Divergent by Veronica Roth, 3) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, 4) Uglies by Scott Westerfield, 5) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, 6) Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce, 7) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, 8) The Fault in our Stars by John Green, 9) The Crazy Horse Electric Game by Chris Crutcher, 10) Shade’s Children by Garth Nix, 11) Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, 12) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, 13) Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, 14) Knee Deep in Thunder by Shelia Moon, 15) The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, 16) Unwind by Neal Shusterman, 17) I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, 18) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, 19) Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King, 20) Pure by Julianna Baggott, 21) Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, 22) Go Ask Alice by Anonymous, 23) Mister Monday by Garth Nix, 24) Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, 25) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, 26) Going Bovine by Libba Bray, 27) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison, 28) Battle Royale: The Novel by Koushun Takami, 29) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, 30) Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, 31) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, 32) The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour, 33) Book Thief by Markus Zusak, 34) The Diviners by Libba Bray, 35) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, 36) Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, 37) The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein, 38) City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, 39) Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, 40) Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black.

You know, several of these books have been nominated for the Young Adult Library Service Association, or YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten list at one time or another.  For more books for teens to read outside of school, check out the winners of this year’s YALSA’S Teens’ Top Ten, not to mention all the nominees.  And don’t forget to celebrate Teen Read Week by looking for these books and more at your local HPB.

Julie is Production Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

2 thoughts on “40 Books for Teens to Read Outside of School

  1. I just re-read Go Ask Alice this summer, and it's terrible. Obviously fake, and so preachy. Better classics, IMO, are I Am the Cheese, I Capture the Castle, and Jacob Have I Loved. In fantasy, the Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. For moderns: I'd add Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones, King Dork by Frank Portman, and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Oh, and where is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson?I find the Printz award a good guide, and the Alex awards, too.

  2. I've read a lot of these books but I feel like a lot have been left off. I don't know if you're choosing most recent books, but I would add The Endless Steppe, Dicey's Song, The Giver to name a few. I don't know if these are too young for the readers you are going for, but these had a profound impact on me as a kid.

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