You might be raising a bookworm, have another not-so-little teenage bookworm in your life, or are a never-recovered bookworm yourself. Take a walk down memory lane with these classic books for teens and blossoming young adults. These are stories that are classic high school books, the ones teens gravitate towards generation after generation. Grab a bookmark or charge up your ebook: let's turn some pages.
A more modern yet instant classic young adult book, The Giver has kept a firm hold on the YA scene since 1993. It's in the same genre as classic novels for teens like Feed, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Fahrenheit 451, and the very modern The Hunger Games, still The Giver stands out in a saturated dystopian young adult list. With not only three sequels, but a film adaptation too, it's a book of doing what you think is right when so many rules don't always make sense.
The Catcher in the Rye
Few books capture the angst and perfection of an unreliable narrator like The Catcher in the Rye. An icon for the rebellious, misunderstood teenage spirit in all of us since 1951, who among us hasn't felt that pang for wanting to find their place in the world? Be right there with him as Holden Caulfield searches for his own purpose in life.
No coming-of-age novel pierces the heart like the late 1800s novel that is Little Women. Bestowed upon me when I was in high school by a family friend, it's a book that you keep on the shelf even when young adulthood has long past. Just flip through the pages to revisit Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy while they navigate their own lives from youth to adulthood.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Beloved author Harper Lee is behind the infamous novel To Kill a Mockingbird. It's a story of rights, wrongs, learning the rules, and how to play the game when the rules don't quite fit. It's not just a classic high school book: it's a story of tolerance and prejudice, and examining our own prejudices even when it's hard. The character of Atticus Finch guides his children through doing what's right, even when the odds and people may not agree.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The story follows the life of the main character, Francie Nolan, along with her parents and brother, from when she's just eleven in Book One. Their stories evolve and grow, until Francie is on the verge of turning seventeen years old, living through trials and tribulations in Brooklyn from 1912 until 1917. It's a book of love, loss, highs, and lows. It pulls back the curtain on life in early 1900s New York.
A short teen novel that would grow to become the Dangerous Angels series, the Weetzie Bat book is a story about the outlandish wishes of the eponymous Weetzie Bat after she makes three wishes from granted from a genie in a lamp. A look at the support a blended family can give with a 1980s punk spin, it's brimming with love that isn't cloying. Love, after all, is a dangerous angel.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
A coming-of-age story jumps ahead a hundred years from Little Women to the 1990s in The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Charlie, the main character, pulls the reader into his life by addressing letters to "dear friend." With tough subjects at hand, including mental health, drug use, and sexuality, it's a letter to young adults that their struggles aren't their own. And that's a reminder we all need sometimes.
Although Hatchet is a classic YA book that puts on an emphasis on the young in young adult (as the book follows thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson) this book lives rent free in the head of anyone who reads it, long, long after turning that last page. It's hard not to mull over how you would handle surviving in the wilderness as your thirteen-year-old-self.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Perhaps best known by its movie adaption, I Know What You Did Last Summer is a page turner, and we don't take that lightly. In fact, this novel is a great jumping off point for any young adult or adult to jump into all the books Lois Duncan has to offer, like Locked in Time, Down a Dark Hall, and Stranger with My Face.
The Face on the Milk Carton
A gateway book to the modern young adult psychological thrillers One of Us Is Lying and A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, Caroline B. Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton is the first in a series of five books about a missing girl in New Jersey. After all, there's not a short answer to what you would do if you saw your picture on the side of a milk carton.
You can devour any of Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew Mystery Stories in an afternoon, or on a dark and stormy evening. Don't write off these classics. Although they're written at a middle school level, the scenarios speak to young adults and make for a bite-size novel for adults - all 175 of them.
When kids graduate to something a little scarier, R.L. Stine's Fear Street stories and sagas are lurking in the shadows. Dozens and dozens of spine tingling monsters, terrors, and shivers crawling behind the pages, just waiting to be released by any unsuspecting adult - young or not.
Fresh off the press in 1995, Garth Nix's Sabriel is a young adult fantasy novel (and series). You'll immediately fall in love with the world of The Old Kingdom and all the magic across the kingdom, plus the story gives readers a strong and sharp female narrator. It's a battle against the dead that rise when they ought not to, and Nix continues to add to the series.
Young Adult Books Aren't Just for High School
There's no shame in discovering a book so many have read. That's the magic of young adult classics: they're there for you no matter when you turn that first page or even how old you are. These are some of the YA novels that stand the test of time. Reading can be such a fun thing to do for teens (and all ages) - so take some time to read the ones that live on the bookshelf for a lifetime.