Summer is an excellent time to stimulate your brain and improve critical thinking skills, especially for teenagers. With all the video games and Netflix binge-watching, you may find it challenging to get your kids interested in reading recreationally. Not to worry – we gathered a list of fascinating reading suggestions for middle and high school students. Your teens will be hooked from page to page once they start reading these remarkable novels!
Middle School Suggestions
by R.J Palacio
August Pullman seems like an ordinary kid due to his love for Star Wars, his dog, and his great sense of humor. However, his life has never been normal. He was born with a genetic defect causing his facial features to be severely deformed. Despite his differences, August and his parents decide to transition him from being home-schooled to attending a private school. Will he be able to make friends? Will others around him learn to see past his appearance?
by Candy Gourlay
Andi is short and has a lot of wishes. She wishes she could be taller, play on the school basketball team, and have her own room. Most of all, Andi wishes her long-lost half-brother, Bernardo, could come live with her in London. To Andi’s surprise, Bernardo comes to London, but he’s not exactly what she expected. Bernardo is eight feet tall and is troubled by secrets he believes led to his phenomenal growth. This humorous story emphasizes the importance of sibling bonds despite major differences and family secrets.
Planet Middle School
by Nikki Grimes
Told through free-verse poems, this heartwarming story captures the craziness of adolescence and first love. Playing basketball with the boys used to be all it took to make tomboy Joylin happy, but her world is suddenly changing as she’s getting older. She starts doing things she would have never expected – like wearing makeup and trying on dresses to impress a boy. However, her best friend and basketball buddy, Jake, doesn’t like it one bit. Is Joylin trying to be something she’s not, or is she just naturally growing up?
Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos
Dead End in Norvelt is an edgy comedy following the story of twelve-year-old Jack during the summer of 1962 in Norvelt, Pennsylvania. Jack’s summer plans are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents. As a punishment, his mom loans him out to a feisty old neighbor to help with the unusual task of typing obituaries. This whacky summer job leads Jack to the adventure of a lifetime that he’ll never forget.
by Brian Selznick
Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different – Ben longs to know his absent father and Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she documents. When the stars align, they both set out on desperate quests to find what they are missing. Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories intertwine in unexpected ways. Wonderstruck is sure to surprise, challenge, and leave readers breathless with wonder.
Small Acts of Amazing Courage
by Gloria Whelan
Six months after World War I, Rosalind awaits the return of her father from the war. While it’s common practice for British children to go to boarding school at the age of six, her mother insists that Rosalind lives and goes to school in India. As Rosalind gets older, she wants to start making her own decisions despite her mother’s wishes. This coming-of-age novel details the hardship of life for Indian people and the rise of Ghandi during the early 1900s.
The Maze Runner
by James Dashner
Thomas awakes alone and confused in an elevator. He can’t remember how he got there and doesn’t know anything about himself besides his name. When Thomas gets out of the elevator, he finds other boys, and they discover they’re all trapped in a small patch of land surrounded by a brick wall called the Glade. Thomas discovers he must tap into his dark memories to lead everyone out of the immense maze which envelops the wall. Mysterious, action-packed, and suspenseful – once you get hooked in, you might not be able to get out!
High School Suggestions
by Susan Shaw
Liza’s world is turned upside down when her mom is murdered in a train underpass. Even worse, Liza finds out that she was the target and is nearly killed again hours later. Leaving behind everything she’s ever known, Liza and her dad are placed in a witness protection program where they’re always moving. Unsure of who to trust or where to go, they’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive.
Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men tells the tale of an unusual friendship between two migrant workers, George and Lennie, during the Great Depression. Lennie is big and strong but has a mental disability that requires ongoing assistance from George. George and Lennie travel from farm to farm together, looking for work so they can own their own ranch one day. A series of events occurs throughout their travels, and they must rely on each other to make it through. This classic novel takes readers through emotions of hope, jealousy, loss, and commitment.
by E. Lockhart
If you could live your life again, what would you do differently? After a near-fatal family catastrophe, Adelaide Buchwald begins to experience unusual, intense feelings about love. It’s the summer before her senior year, and she can’t help but fall in and out of love repeatedly. It’ll take self-discovery, human connection, and forgiveness to break the habit. Again Again is a raw, funny story that deals with the beautiful and terrible problem of loving other people.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school from the perspective of Charlie, an outcast starting his freshman year. Charlie has dealt with a lot of loss at his young age and desperately wants to live a normal life. Told through a series of letters, Charlie shares his failures, successes, disappointments, questions, and observations throughout his freshman year. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a compelling coming-of-age story about the world of first dates, mix tapes, family dramas, and new friends.
The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A true classic of American literature, The Great Gatsby follows narrator Nick Carraway’s friendship with the mysterious Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a confident, charming man who lives a life full of wealth and elegance that fascinates his neighbor, Nick. When Nick learns his married cousin, Daisy, and Gatsby were once in love, he agrees to help Gatsby reunite with Daisy. The Great Gatsby will give readers a taste of the glitter and charm of the Jazz Age, as well as the troubles.
Looking for Alaska
by John Green
Miles “Pudge” Halter leaves home to enroll at a coed boarding school in Alabama to shake up his play-it-safe lifestyle. There, he becomes friends with his edgy roommate, Chip, and Chip’s beautiful friend, Alaska. Chip and Alaska are the perfect cure to Pudge’s boredom with their wit, pranks, and unpredictable behavior. Pudge starts to develop a strong liking to Alaska – who can be dangerously moody and self-destructive. How can Pudge resist falling in love with a girl who mesmerizes everyone she meets?
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
by Jeannette Walls
Jeannette Walls shares the story about her dysfunctional parents, whose ideals and nonconformity were both their curse and salvation throughout her childhood. When sober, Jeannette’s father was a brilliant, charismatic man who taught his children how to embrace life fearlessly – but he was destructive and dishonest when he drank. Her mother was a free spirit who didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned how to take care of each other, and eventually found their way to New York to make a life for themselves. The Glass Castle is an incredible memoir about the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
The Things They Carried
by Tim O’Brien
The soldiers in this collection of stories carried rifles, machine guns, plastic explosives, hand grenades, flak jackets, and other dangerous weapons. They also carried letters from home, pictures of their loved ones, extra food, and comic books. Every man carried what he needed to survive, and those who did survive carried their shattering stories home from Vietnam to a nation that would never understand. This New York Times bestseller has become a staple in the classroom and will surely pull the heartstrings of readers everywhere.
We hope we’ve provided you with some valuable suggestions that will help spark the interest of your teens. Meanwhile, if you have young readers in the house, check out these informative blogs on reading suggestions and techniques: