Top 100 Books for Teens: ParentDish Picks

Filed under: Books for Kids, Gear Guides: Teens

Judy Blume is a favorite among teenage girls. Credit: Amazon


While your teen might have some idea of what to read, the 100 listed below might give her some new ideas. Regardless of whether your teen enjoys fantasy books or not, many books a teen may pick up mimic their lives with "coming-of-age" stories as they begin to explore more adult subjects.

1. "1984" by George Orwell (1949): Life in a totalitarian regime that, although dated, is thought-provoking.

2. "The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)" by Jonathan Stroud (2003): In a country where magicians rule, Nathaniel has been sold by his parents to apprentice for a magician. The trilogy includes "The Golem's Eye" and "Ptolemy's Gate."

3. "Abhorsen" by Garth Nix (2003): The final of the Abhorsen Trilogy and a continuation of the stories of Sabriel and Lirael.

4. "Al Capone Does My Shirts" by Gennifer Choldenko (2004): Moose, who cares for his autistic older sister, is 12 years old when his family moves to Alcatraz.

5. "Alanna" by Tamora Pierce (1999): The adventures of a girl knight is the first in the quartet of the "The Song of the Lioness" novels.

6. "Annie on My Mind" by Nancy Garden (1982): A blossoming romantic love between two 17-year-old girls, Liza and Annie.

7. "Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson" by Louise Rennison (2000): A humorous, journal-entry inspired novel about Georgia, a 14-year-old British girl, coping with her adolescence, which includes the announcement that her family may be moving to New Zealand.

8. "Artemis Fowl" by Eoin Colfer (2001): In seven novels, Colfer follows the life a a teenage criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl.

9. "Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave" by Virginia Hamilton (1988): Set during the Civil War, this is a "historical reconstruction" of a common man's life.

10. "Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde" by Marc Aronson (1998): An introduction to the avant-garde for young adults, exploring its politics, culture and, of course, the arts.

11. "Big Mouth & Ugly Girl" by Joyce Carol Oates (2002): A prolific writer's first young adult novel, which explores the relationship between Ugly Girl (Ursula) and Matt through heavy high school tribulations.

12. "Birdland" by Tracy Mack (2003): What happens when 13-year-old Jed, who is making a documentary for school, meets a homeless girl and her dog.

13. "Bloody Jack" by Louis Meyer (2002): Orphaned in the 1790s, Mary transforms from a street-criminal into seafaring Jack.

14. "Buddha Boy" by Kathe Koja (2003): The novel's protagonist Justin navigates high school while trying to avoid Martin, also known as the Buddha Boy.

15. "Catalyst" by Laurie Halse Anderson (2002): Cross-country runner Kate keeps her focus on her running and off dealing with her mother's death and her father's ministering.

16. "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller (1961): The modern classic satire about the nonsense of war.

17. "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier (1974): A boys' boarding school -- with a secret society that dictates the norm -- sets the stage for abuse of power, which the protagonist Jerry challenges.

18. "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon (2003): A mystery with an autistic 15-year-old who finds his neighbor's dog and is accused of killing it.

19. "Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter" by Adeline Yen Mah (1999): The autobiography of Mah, whose mother died shortly after she died. Blamed for her mother's death, she is treated poorly by her family, including her stepmother.

20. "Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare" by Darren Shan (2000): Set up as a true story, Darren and his friend go to see a traveling freak show with consequences.

21. "A Corner of the Universe" by Ann M. Martin (2002): During Hattie's quiet summer of 1960, the arrival of Hattie's uncle she didn't know existed stirs up the calm.

22. "Cut" by Patricia McCormick (2000): A 15-year-old is sent to a psychiatric hospital to deal with the guilt she feels over her brother's death.

23. "A Day No Pigs Would Die" by Robert Newton Peck (1973): A coming-of-age story of a 13-year-old Shaker living on a Vermont farm.

24. "Dogsong" by Gary Paulsen (1985): Paulsen's love affair with the natural environment continues in this coming-of-age novel about an Eskimo boy on his bobsled.

25. "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card (1985): Boy-wonder Ender must save the world. The first is followed by Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind.

26. "Eragon: Inheritance, Book I" by Christopher Paolini (2003): The first in the Inheritance Cycle about Eragon, a dragon rider, and his dragon Saphira in the fantasy world of Alagaësia.

27. "Eva" by Peter Dickinson (1989): A 14-year-old wakes up from a crash in a hospital in the future, where they decide to put her brain in a monkey's body.

28. "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury (1953): Set in the future, where books are burned by firemen and the books' owners are put away.

29. "Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers (1988): A novel about Perry, a Harlem teen, who ends up on the frontlines of the Vietnam War.

30. "Fat: A Love Story" by Barbara Wersba (1987): Rita, an overweight 16-year-old, charts her way through romances.

31. "Fault Line" by Janet Tashjian (2003): Becky, a seemingly healthy and happy 17-year-old girl, finds herself in an abusive relationship.

32. "Feed" by M. T. Anderson (2002): A tale of the future about a boy living where computers and televisions are implanted in people's brains.

33. "Fire Bringer" by David Clement-Davies (1999): A young buck tries to survive and is chased by a cutthroat herd of deer that murdered his father.

34. "The First Part Last" by Angela Johnson (2003): New father Bobby is struggling at the age of 16 to deal with his increased responsibilities, as well as school.

35. "The Folk Keeper" by Franny Billingsley (1999): The only Folk Keeper in her town, Corinna is summoned to the estate of Lord Merton where she learns about her family.

36. "Forever" by Judy Blume (1975): Seniors in high school, Katherine and Michael struggle to determine if theirs is a love forever.

37. "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley (1818): Scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a being who has a likeness to man.

38. "Gingerbread" by Rachel Cohn (2002): Cyd is kicked out of boarding school and is sent to the other coast to live with a father she's barely met.

39. "Girlosophy: A Soul Survival Kit" by Anthea Paul (2000): A book to encourage girls to be true to themselves.

40. "Go and Come Back" by Joan Abelove (1998): Two anthropologists spend a year studying Alicia's Peruvian jungle village.

41. "The Gospel According to Larry" by Janet Tashjian (2001): While Josh pines away for Beth, he creates a website that becomes wildly popular.

42. "Green Angel" by Alice Hoffman (2003): Green decides not to travel with her family to the city and must deal with the repercussions of her decision.

43. "The Haunting" by Margaret Mahy (1982): A solid ghost story featuring Barney, who communicates with dead relatives.

44. "A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich" by Alice Childress (1973): The fictional life of a 13-year-old heroin user.

45. "Holes" by Louis Sachar (1998): Stanley Yelnats IV is sent to Camp Green Lake instead of jail and begins to adapt as he realizes there is something strange going on with the Warden.

46. "The House of the Scorpion" by Nancy Farmer (2002): Set in the future in a land ruled by a feudal drug lord, Matt plots to escape.

47. "How I Live Now" by Meg Rosoff (2004): American Daisy and Edmond, her British cousin, deal with the invasion of England in this novel set in future years.

48. "I Am the Cheese" by Robert Cormier (1977): In this suspenseful novel, Adam Farmer deals with the shifting truth of his life.

49. "If There Would Be No Light: Poems from My Heart" by Sahara Sunday Spain (2001): Divided in three parts, this book of poetry is written by a youthful Spain.

50. "I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This" by Jacqueline Woodson (1994): This novel about the friendship between Marie and Lena confronts difficult subjects, including incest.

51. "In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer" by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong (1999): This autobiography tells a 17-year-old nursing student helping some Jews to escape from the Jewish ghetto.

52. "The Ink-Keeper's Apprentice" by Allen Say (1974): Post-World War II is the backdrop for this autobiographical novel about a young boy moving alone to Tokyo to apprentice with an illustrator.

53. "The Killer's Cousin" by Nancy Werlin (1998): Although David has been acquitted of killing his girlfriend, he finds himself trying to convince those of his harmlessness while finishing high school and living in his aunt's home.

54. "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini (2003): The story of the friendship of two Afghani boys from different classes as they live during peaceful and turbulent times.

55. "Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas: Further, Further Confessions of Georgia Nicholson" by Louise Rennison (2002): More journal-like entries about a British teen as she faces life as the girlfriend of Sex God.

56. "Learning to Swim: A Memoir" by Ann Turner (2000): Divided into three parts, this portrait tells of when the author was molested by a neighbor and the shame it brought.

57. "Life is Funny" by E.R. Frank (2000): The stories of 11 Brooklyn teens preparing to enter adulthood.

58. "The Life History of a Star" by Kelly Easton (2001): Kristin handles life as a 14-year-old, with her parents arguing and her brother who has returned from Vietnam, but now lives behind a locked door.

59. "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel (2001): Shipwrecked, 16-year-old Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a raft with wild animals as his companions.

60. "Looking for Alaska" by John Green (2005): Floridian Miles begins boarding school in Birmingham and falls for Alaska, a friend of his roommate's.

61. "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold (2002): Susie was 14 when she was murdered and now, from heaven, watches life on earth unfold.

62. "Lucy the Giant" by Sherri L. Smith (2002): A 15-year-old leaves her home, finding a job on a crabbing boat and pretending to be older than she is.

63. "Make Lemonade" by Virginia Euwer Wolff (1993): A single mom of two gets some help from a 14-year-old babysitter, which sets up the following two parts of this trilogy.

64. "Maus" by Art Spiegelman (1986): Interviews with the author's father, a Holocaust survivor, are the basis for this (and sequel) graphic novel about the experiences.

65. "The Middle Passage: White Ships, Black Cargo" by Tom Feelings (1995): A picture book that depicts the horrors of the slave trade and the passage of slaves to America.

66. "Monster" by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers (1999): A 16-year-old faces murder charges when he participates in a robbery that turned deadly.

67. "The Moonlight Man" By Paula Fox (1986): That Catherine had to wait at her Canadian boarding school for weeks before her father picks her up is the beginning to this novel.

68. "My Sister's Keeper" By Jody Picoult (2004): Anna has spent her life literally helping to keep her sister Kate alive. At 13, Anna hires a lawyer to gain control over her own body.

69. "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich (2001): A nonfiction account of writer Ehrenreich as she sets out to discover what it means to earn a living wage.

70. "A Northern Light" by Jennifer Donnelly (2003): In 1906, 16-year-old Mattie is torn between what she wants to do with her life and the responsibilities she feels towards her family.

71. "Nothing but the Truth: A Documentary Novel" by Avi (1991): A ninth grader gets in trouble because he hums to the national anthem.

72. "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton (1967): A suspenseful novel depicting gang members, their lives and their relationships.

73. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky (1999): Charlie, a high school freshman, discloses his social awkwardness and difficulties in a series of letters in this novel.

74. "Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood" by Marjane Satrapi (2003): An autobiographical comic book about a young girl during the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

75. "The Pigman" by Paul Zindel (1968): Sophomores John and Lorrain are bored with their lives and play lots of pranks, until they meet Mr. Pignati.

76. "Pirates!" By Celia Rees (2003): Minerva and Nancy couldn't have come from more different backgrounds in this novel set in the 1700s. Yet, the pair sail off and become pirates.

77. "Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution" by Ji Li Jiang (1997): A teenager during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Jiang details a harsh life.

78. "Revolutions of the Heart" by Marsha Qualey (1993): Corey's sorting out difficulties in her life, including her mother's failing health, when she finds herself falling for a boy of a different race.

79. "Rodzina" by Karen Cushman (2003): In the 1880s, Rodzina is packed up and put on an orphan train, which takes her from Chicago to where she fears she will end up in servitude.

80. "Ruby in the Smoke: A Sally Lockhart Mystery" by Philip Pullman (1987): Sally's father has been murdered in this thriller set in Victorian England.

81. "Rules of the Road" by Joan Bauer (1998): High school sophomore Jenna isn't the strongest student, but she excels at selling shoes.

82. "Season Songs" by Ted Hughes, illustrated by Leonard Baskin (1975): Capturing the changes in life, this is a celebration of the seasons by one of the world's most well-known contemporary poets.

83. "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd (2001): It's the early 1960s and Lily is on the run, finding refuge with some ladies who let her work their bee hives.

84. "Shizuko's Daughter" by Kyoko Mori (1993): A Japanese coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old girl coping with her mother's suicide.

85. "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" by Ann Brashares (2001): Four good friends spending a summer apart, sharing a pair of pants that seem magical. The first book spawned sequels.

86. "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999): Melinda, a high school freshman, is dealing with the loss of her voice during the school year and she's not quite sure what might be causing it. Or does she?

87. "A Step from Heaven" by An Na (2001): The tale of the difficulties faced by Korean immigrants to the United States, told through the story of a young protagonist, Ju.

88. "Stormbreaker" by Anthony Horowitz (2001): Alex is the hero of this British spy thriller, in which his uncle is not who he claims to be. Readers will enjoy this novel into the next installments.

89. "Stranded in Harmony" by Barbara Shoup (1997): Lucas is a successful high school senior who seems to have his future figured out. But he's not too sure.

90. "Straydog" by Kathe Koja (2002): Rachel is a high school misfit, which doesn't bother her as long as she can keep up her volunteering at the dog shelter.

91. "Stuck in Neutral" by Terry Trueman (2000): Born with cerebral palsy, Shawn McDaniel is a 14-year-old whose father is now considering euthanasia.

92. "Talk to Me: Stories and a Novella" by Carol Dines (1997): Six stories and a novella creatively explore teenage subjects, such as romance and family.

93. "Tangerine" by Edward Bloor (1997): Visually-impaired Paul excels at intuiting the lies of others, including his parents and brother.

94. "Tiger Eyes" by Judy Blume (1981): After her father dies, Davey and her family visit family in New Mexico and she begins to slowly heal.

95. "Time Stops for No Mouse" by Michael Hoeye (2002): Hermux Tantamoq, a watch-making mouse, finds a new career as a detective trying to find what has happened to the light of his life.

96. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee (1960): This coming-of-age story features a feisty heroine who is growing up in the prejudicial South as her lawyer father works against injustices.

97. "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer (2005): Star-crossed love between a beautiful-yet-blood-thirsty vampire and Bella. This popular book sets the scene for "New Moon," "Eclipse" and "Breaking Dawn."

98. "Uglies" by Scott Westerfield (2005): In a future world, 16-year-olds get an operation that wipes out any nonconforming ugliness. Until then, the Uglies spend their time plotting against those who are not ugly. The Uglies is followed by "Pretties" and "Specials."

99. "Whale Talk" by Chris Crutcher (2001): High school senior T. J. Jones has had a tough life, but he doesn't like it when he sees someone treated unjustly.

100. "Whirligig" by Paul Fleischman (1998): Brent must pay the consequences after driving drunk and killing a young girl.

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