Finding Christmas books for teens that are worth reading can be quite a challenge. At this point, books often include too much foul language or inappropriate content, so I am not quite ready to hand to my teenager.
But out there in the world of young adult literature, there are also fantastic gems for the holiday season and this list includes my top three recommendations.
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Christmas Books for Teens
I requested a huge stack of Christmas books from the library when I decided to write this post. I almost gave up after the first two, but I am glad I kept reading because I found a few gems that I am happy to recommend.
My goal was to find fun literature for teens that doesn’t include too much language or sexual content.
Everyone has different standards when it comes to making book choices for their teens so you certainly don’t have to agree with my choices. My goal is to provide some good information so you can make your own informed decisions.
Recommended Christmas Books for Teens
This section includes three Christmas books for teens that I enjoyed and heartily recommend. The stories were fun and engaging and the overall content was wholesome. I did include a few “heads-up” as everyone has different ideas of wholesome books for teens.
Ten Blind Dates
My Thoughts: When Sophie’s parents head out of town to visit her pregnant sister, Sophie is ready for some time on her own and with her boyfriend, Griffin. Unfortunately, Griffin wasn’t quite as enthusiastic to spend time with Sophie and the couple breaks up. When Sophie arrives at her grandmother’s house she is a mess from her break up so her grandmother hatches a plan: every member of Sophie’s extended family will arrange a blind date for her over the holiday break. She agrees and the blind dates begin.
If you enjoy Hallmark movies and want one in a book version, this book makes the top of the list. The characters are a ton of fun and even though the book was predictable (at least the guy she will end up with). The concept of the 10 blind dates arranged by her family was clever and I enjoyed reading about each of the dates.
It’s an easy one to recommend because there is a ton of wholesome goodness in this holiday romance. First, Sophie’s relationship with her very large, extended family is so much fun. I love their importance in her life. Second, there is little to no sexual content in the book. Nothing more than a kiss happens between Sophie and any of her dates. Finally, there is no bad language. It’s a triple win.
Heads up: In the first chapter, Sophie heads to meet her boyfriend at a party where there is drinking. One of the dates is a complete disaster, arranged by her evil cousins, and she ends up at a drive-in watching a porn movie. There is very little detail given about the movie or the associated shop and Sophie exits the date and calls a ride to rescue her right away.
The Afterlife of Holly Chase
My Thoughts: On my quest for a few teen holiday reads, I was absolutely delighted to find this book. The story was a delightful play on the Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Holly, the main character, is a modern-day Scrooge who failed to change her ways. After she dies, she is recruited by the Scrooge company and must serve her time as the Ghost of Christmas Past to save other “Scrooges.” When the Scrooge team begins to help a high school boy, Ethan, from his greedy, sad ending, Holly finds herself a bit too entangled in the story.
The connection to A Christmas Carol makes it a great addition to your high schooler’s December literature list, especially as a follow-up or companion read. It was a delightful tale with light romance that was overall age-appropriate.
More Detail: I only recall 2 curse words in the book. The sexual content is most often descriptions of their attraction (and there are quite a few). The couple “makes out” one time in the back of a theater, but it is one paragraph without many specifics. Nothing really progresses beyond kissing.
Carols and Chaos
My Thoughts: It is Christmas time, December 1817 and a party is being hosted at Shackleford Park. Kate Darby, the lady’s maid at Shackleford is clearly happy to see Matt Harlow, Ben Steeples’ valet, among the guests. As they begin to reconnect, Matt’s friend Johnny disappears under mysterious circumstances. Matt and Kate set out to find Johnny, but instead, unravel a much deeper plot happening in the town.
This book did not disappoint. The romance is sprinkled throughout the story remains at a PG level. The historical setting was reminiscent of my time watching Downtown Abbey and I loved it. Finally, the counterfeit coin mystery adds quite a bit of action to this story. It does include some violence, but nothing seemed too intense for young adults. You should be aware that there is a kidnapping and some hand-to-hand fighting.
While the book was a great read as a young adult holiday book, as an adult reader, I found Kate and Matt’s immediate romance a bit unbelievable and overdone. Later, I learned that this is a companion book to another book, Suitors and Sabotage. I suspect the history of these characters would have made the relationships a bit more clear but I was able to enjoy this book without reading the other one.
Overall, I recommend this one as a great addition to a holiday booklist for teens.
Additional Christmas Books for Teens
This section includes other holiday books that I can not heartily recommend. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t give them to an older teen in my house, but they contain more mature content and/or language.
Honestly, it was disappointing to see so much language and sexual content in books for teens. There was more contained in some of these books than I would tolerate in a book for myself.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
My Thoughts: Dash is wandering the bookstore when he spies a very out-of-place red notebook sitting in the bookcase. Inside the book, he finds a written message from a mysterious girl. The quirky message challenges him to a few dares in the bookstore and upon completion of the dares, requests for him to write back. He accepts the challenge and a back and forth relationship through the notebook begins.
Honestly, I loved the concept of this book and wanted to like it, but I just didn’t buy into the chemistry between these two characters. Lily was quirky and fun, but Dash seemed a bit of a downer. When they do finally meet, they don’t seem to have any chemistry at all. And once they meet, the lack of chemistry makes the remaining chapters a bit dull.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of F-words and quite a bit of sexual content. There aren’t any extremely graphic sexual descriptions, but there is talk about making it to third base and other general sexual references. In addition, Lily’s brother is sleeping with his boyfriend though details aren’t given. Finally, the opening chapter involved a dare with the “Book of Gay Sex” and a misreading with the word “c@ck.”
Overall, while nothing sexual was particularly graphic, I didn’t enjoy this one enough to recommend this one for teens. That said, if my 15+ teen was dying to read this because of the Netflix tie-in, I would let them, but that’s a personal choice.
Let It Snow
John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
My Thoughts: This book contains three short stories that overlap one another. The first story, “The Jubilee Express,” was a delightful snowy romance for teens. I loved it and wish it was the only one in the book.
The middle story, “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle,” was the least enjoyable and I found myself debating if I would even recommend this book for teens. It contains quite a bit of foul language and sexual conversation/humor. Everyone is an as$h@t and there are a lot of sexual comments about the cheerleaders. It was disappointing compared to the first story.
The final story in the trio, “The Patron Saint of Pigs,” was not nearly as enjoyable as the first story in the book. The plot was only okay for me so I wasn’t really drawn into the story or attached to the characters. The language and sexual content in this third story were tamer than the one by John Green.
Overall, this wouldn’t be the worst option for an older teen but it wasn’t a favorite for me. Again, there is a Netflix movie tie-in, which makes it attractive to teens. If you want to preview the content, you can stick with the middle story and know the other two are fine by comparison.
Love and Other Train Wrecks
My Thoughts: Love and Other Train Wrecks begins on a train where Ammy and Noah are strangers next to each other on a train. Ammy is heading to her father’s wedding with his new wife, and Noah is heading home to win his ex-girlfriend back. A massive snowstorm is happening and the train breaks down. In order to get to their destinations in time, Ammy and Noah hop off the train and that’s when their adventures begin.
Honestly, I was looking for a fun, holiday read and on that note, this book does not deliver. It is mentioned on plenty of YA holiday lists because it takes place during Christmas Break, but the holidays aren’t really part of the story at all.
In addition, this isn’t really a “light and fun” holiday read. Ammy is struggling to sort through her feelings about both her parents’ divorce and her mother’s mental health struggles. Noah has his own set of issues, but I could never quite get my finger on them. Ultimately, he doesn’t really reach any remarkable conclusions about himself or life.
I loved the revolving point of view between the two characters. It helped me get to know each of them a little more as I learned what was in their head.
There is a big twist in the book that I didn’t see coming. Unfortunately, it made me sad for Ammy because it only serves to further complicate the happy ending she is trying to have with her father and his “new family.”
The ending of the book left me wanting to know more about how things turned out, so that is a good sign. I was invested mostly in Ammy’s story and wanted to know how her family situation was resolved. I was not as invested in her romance with Noah, but I could see that a YA reader might be. The epilogue does give the reader a little bit of that hint at a resolved future without a ton of detail and that was enough.
As a holiday read, I give this book 1 star because it just isn’t a holiday read in my opinion. As a YA book, I give it two because it does a good job of exploring some heavier topics such as divorce with an adventurous romance for teens.
Note: The book has quite a bit of language though it doesn’t feel overdone because the curse words are scattered. There isn’t any graphic sexual content though it is implied that people have slept together in different conversations. Ammy and Noah also spend a night in a motel together making out, but there aren’t overly graphic descriptions.
Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless
My Thoughts: Honestly, I gave up after reading half of this book. I didn’t care for the amount of bad language in the book. That said, if the book was particularly enjoyable, engaging, or worthwhile in some way then I can certainly overlook the cursing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t interested in the plot or the characters even halfway through the book.
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
My Thoughts: Honestly, I only read the first three before I tossed this one in the “nope” pile. So there might be a gem of a story hidden in there, but after the language and content of the first three, I was done searching.
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