Over 20 of the Best Books To Read With Your Teenager

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Reading books with my teenager is just as important to me as reading books with my younger kids. I have never stopped reading aloud (or listening to audiobooks) with my kids, even as they entered their teen years.

My high schoolers and I continue to enjoy listening to a great story together. Of course, I have worked hard to find titles that will engage their interests so that listening doesn’t feel like a chore.

The following list includes many of our favorites as well as books that are on my list to read with them this coming year.

A list of over 20 fabulous books to read with your teenager.

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Books to Read With your Teenager

Reading with my kids has always been one of my favorite activities. I didn’t want our time spent in a book together to end when my kids became teenagers. But books to read with your teenager can be harder to find.

You need books that will capture their maturing minds. I love to look for books told through the eyes of teenagers so my own teens can more easily relate to the events and emotions. We also enjoy historical fiction, fantasy, and even the occasional non-fiction. These books to read with your teenager are some of our favorites over the years as well as books recommended to our family that I have added to our own reading lists.

Salt to the Sea
Ruth Sepetys

Publisher’s Description: “Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept . . .”

My Review: This historical fiction records the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in the Baltic Sea, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history. On January 30, 1945 this German Cruise liner was ferrying wartime personnel and refugees when it was sunk by a Soviet submarine. More than 9000 people lost their lives that day but many people never learn about this tragedy.

Ruth Sepetys expertly weaves together four different stories in this tragic and memorable historical fiction book. Please be aware that this story includes many harsh realities of WWII and this devastating tragedy. If you have a highly sensitive teen this might not be the best choice.

Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Born a Crime (Young Readers Edition)
Trevor Noah

Publisher’s Description: Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

My Review: While driving across the country with my kids, we enjoyed the audiobook version of this story. We learned so much about South African history while being completely entertained to giggles with Trevor’s stories of his childhood. The audio version is read by Trevor Noah and it is a delight to hear his accent as he reads. It is also a great way to hear the Afrikaans and Zulu languages included in the book.

That said, the original version contains quite a bit of language, one or two chapters in particular. If you are not comfortable with so much language, then do not get the audio version. Instead, grab a copy of the young reader’s edition to read with your teens.

Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein

Publisher’s Description: Oct. 11th, 1943 – A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

My Review: We listened to this story on audiobook and we were captivated and intrigued by the many twists and turns. It captures a beautiful story of friendship in the midst of a well-told historical fiction.

Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


The Martin (classroom edition)
Andy Weir

My Summary: Mark Watney and his crew became the first people to walk on Mars, but after a dust storm almost kills him, he finds himself completely alone on the planet. Believing he was dead, the rest of his team evacuated, leaving him with no way to signal Earth to let them know of his situation.

Now it is up to him to make a plan to survive the elements, the lack of food, the damaged equipment, and every other situation stacked against him. Will his determination and resourcefulness be enough to keep him alive despite the circumstances?

My Review: I read this title to three of my kids when they were teens and tweens and we loved it. The story kept us on edge of our seats wondering if Mark’s plan would work out. Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong and the suspense kept us wondering. The story was believable despite being an unbelievable situation.

This book also has one of the most fantastic opening hooks we have read recently, but it does include the “F word” in the original version. It’s appropriate for the situation, but might not be appropriate for your kids. In fact…

NOTE: The original version of this book is full of curse words, including the F word. I read the book out loud and had control over the bad language, which I occasionally threw in for effect. The classroom edition eliminates all of the curse words if you prefer a clean version.

Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Refugee
Alan Gratz

Publisher’s Description: Three different kids. One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.”

My Review: This story, in particular, is great for middle school age tweens and teens. This story includes a few tragic realities of the journey of a refugee so, once again, use discretion with this historical fiction when it comes to more sensitive kids. My entire crew was captivated by these stories, eager to make the connections between them, and know how their journeys end.

Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


I Must Betray You
Ruth Sepetys

My Review: All over Europe, communist regimes are collapsing but not in Romania. Romanians are still bound by the rules of a tyrannical dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. Cristian Florescu, a student in Romania, is forced to become an informer and decides that instead, he will try to use his position to inform on the Romanian government.

This was a fantastic young adult read that I enjoyed with my teens. It was our second book by Ruta Sepetys and it did not disappoint. Ruth does an incredible job of opening a window into life during the Romanian Revolution as experienced through a teen boy. The paranoia and fear that Cristian is forced to live with on a daily basis were eye-opening to us as we learned about life under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu.

NOTE: This book is definitely for young adults as there are descriptions of violence during the revolution that might be difficult for younger or sensitive kids. The physical romance in the book does not develop beyond a kiss.

Amazon | Goodreads
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Echo
Pam Muñoz Ryan

Publisher’s Description: Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica. Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, Echo pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation to create a wholly original novel that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

NOTE: The audio version of this story is particularly worthwhile because of the musical elements.

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon |. Goodreads


The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice #1)
John Flanagan

Publisher’s Description: They have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied. . . .

My Rating: TBD
Amazon | Goodreads


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Young Reader’s Edition
William Kamkwamba

Publisher’s Description: When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon | Goodreads


Dreamland Burning
Jennifer Latham

My Review: Seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property that propels her into a journey of self-discovery as she seeks answers about a brutal murder from the past. One hundred years earlier, seventeen-year-old Will Tillman is living in the midst of a town suffering under Jim Crow laws and divided by racial tension and violence. He is also on a journey of self-discovery as he is forced to make tough choices on the night Tulsa is burned to the ground.

This young adult historical fiction novel is creatively told through two timelines – one in the present and one in the past during the Tulsa race massacre of 1921. The present timeline follows a young black girl as she comes to grips with difficult realities about race in both the past and present while working hard to solve the mystery of the skeleton found on her property. The past timeline opens up a window for the reader to peek into the time period during the Tulsa race massacre as we follow a young boy working hard for his father while navigating volatile race relations in his city. It’s a page-turner that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.

The only reason this book didn’t get 5 stars is that it was very uncomfortable to read at times. Parents should be aware that racial slurs are used, especially in the historical timeline. While the language may be accurate to the time period, it was hard to read. Parents should note that there is also some cursing in the book and it is clear that one teen thinks he is “dating” a prostitute, though the details of his encounters are not described.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for older teens. It is an important window into an American historical event that is rarely taught in public schools. The writing and the content far outweighed any of the uncomfortable language or cursing in my opinion.

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon | Goodreads


Check out this list of over 20 books to read wtih your teenager that they willl enjoy.

A Long Way Home: A Memoir
Saroo Brierley

Publisher’s Description: At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

My Rating: TBD
Amazon | Goodreads


Ender’s Game
Orson Scott Card

Publisher’s Description:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut―young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Club Guide


Everything Sad is Untrue
Daniel Nayeri

Publisher’s Description: In an Oklahoman middle school, Khosrou (whom everyone calls Daniel) stands in front of a skeptical audience of classmates, telling the tales of his family’s history, stretching back years, decades, and centuries. At the core is Daniel’s story of how they became refugees—starting with his mother’s vocal embrace of Christianity in a country that made such a thing a capital offense, and continuing through their midnight flight from the secret police, bribing their way onto a plane-to-anywhere. Anywhere becomes the sad, cement refugee camps of Italy, and then finally asylum in the U.S. Implementing a distinct literary style and challenging western narrative structures, Nayeri deftly weaves through stories of the long and beautiful history of his family in Iran, adding a richness of ancient tales and Persian folklore.

My Rating: TBD
Amazon | Goodreads


Eragon
Christopher Paolini

Publisher’s Description: When fifteen-year-old Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his simple life is shattered, and, gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.

My Rating: TBD
Amazon | Goodreads


Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Publisher’s Description: Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.

My Rating: TBD
Amazon | Goodreads


The Outsiders
S. E. Hinton

Publishers Description: No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon | Goodreads


A Night Divided
Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publisher’s Description: With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors, and friends are prisoners in their own city. But one day on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Gerta concludes that her father wants her and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon | Goodreads


The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

Publisher’s Description: When Death has a story to tell, you listen. It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon | Goodreads


Night
Elie Wiesel

Publisher’s Description: “Born in the town of Sighet, Transylvania, Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. Night is the terrifying record of Elie Wiesel’s memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting the absolute evil of man. This new translation by his wife and most frequent translator, Marion Wiesel, corrects important details and presents the most accurate rendering in English of Elie Wiesel’s testimony to what happened in the camps and of his unforgettable message that this horror must simply never be allowed to happen again”

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon | Goodreads


And Then There were None
Agatha Christie

Publisher’s Description: “Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to an isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island, they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…

Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?”

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Amazon | Goodreads


Reading books with your teenager is a great way to make memories and discuss stories even as they enter their high school years. Read in the morning, after lunch, or even in the evening as a chance to wind down the day. No matter when you make time, it’ll be worth it.

And while you are reading with your teenager, tween, or younger kids, you might also enjoy these booklists:

A list of over 50 Teen books that were made into movies

These middle school biographies are perfect to inspire your teen or tween.
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1 thought on “Over 20 of the Best Books To Read With Your Teenager”

  1. Hi Mary, this list is wonderful. Some I have already read with my teens, but some I had not heard of so thank you! Do you have a more compact list I could print out? I would appreciate that so much. Warmest regards, Lynne

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