A teenage girl holding a stack of books

A teenage girl holding a stack of books (Photo by Roman Samborskyi on Shutterstock)

The young adult fiction category is typified by coming-of-age stories where the protagonist discovers their hidden powers and important destiny. On the other hand, there are also many works of half-fiction that create a driving narrative based on real-world events. In either case, there are simply some titles that are a great fit for teens. These books explore what it means to grow up and how to address those changes. Our list of the top seven best books for teens could be a useful resource for teen readers and parents alike.

Kids who read “often” and “very often” generally have a more active imagination than those who rarely or never read. Children who read more also take a more proactive approach to resolving negative situations and problems. While 49 percent who rarely read don’t attempt to resolve difficult situations, 52 percent who read often try to resolve the situation themselves, and 69 percent who read very often turn to their parents for help.

Also, teens who spent their childhood reading may have bigger brains than those who did not, according to a recent study. These book lovers tend to also end up happier and smarter, with less mental health problems. Picking up a good book comes with many benefits aside from just enjoying a compelling story.

There’s no doubt that reading is good for a person’s wellbeing. Building a love of reading at a young age can inspire and influence teenagers to help them find success in life. Our trusted sources helped us wade through an ocean of great literature to find the best books for teens. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

A girl reading a true crime novel
A girl reading a novel (Photo by Lijphoto on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Books for Teens, According to Experts


1. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (1960)

This is classic American literature at its finest. Harper Lee weaves a thought-provoking narrative about justice and race. BookBub raves, “One of the best-loved stories of all time, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a long-standing favorite read among adults and teens alike. Featuring one of the most revered coming-of-age stories, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is the story of Scout, and her father Atticus as they work to fight and understand prejudice in their small community. Even years later, this classic novel offers insight and lessons to teens today.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (1960)
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (1960)

Josh Shipp praises, “This is very nearly the perfect book for teenagers and a classic American novel. The novel’s themes of racial and social injustice are tough to watch unfold, but the story is told with such goodness (and warmth and humor) that it’s nearly universally loved… it can build empathy for the ‘other.’  And if there’s one thing teens need in today’s world, it’s more empathy.”

very well family exclaims, “A classic for good reason, this masterpiece has racked up accolades and should be appreciated by a new generation of readers. Though set in the 1930s, the coming-of-age story will still resonate with readers today, inspiring important discussions and deep thoughts.”

2. “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika Sánchez (2017)

As the title suggests, this book is about growing up as a girl in a Latino household. Through her stories, readers are able to identify with struggles that are common to all growing teens. Country Living says, “The teenage years can be a confusing time… In this often-hilarious book, we meet a young Mexican American girl who’s trying to navigate the loss of her sister and the pressures put on her by her family.”

“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika Sánchez (2017)
“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika Sánchez (2017)

Seventeen describes, “After the tragic death of her sister, Julia attempts to keep her family together and live up to her sister’s memory. Follow along as she struggles to find herself and cope with the pressures and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American household.”

Good Housekeeping elaborates, “After Julia’s sister Olga passes away tragically, her broken family looks to her to hold them together. But Julia isn’t the perfect daughter her sister was. Then again, was Olga? This story delves into the pressures of being a Mexican American daughter and what it means to carry the weight of loss on your shoulders.”

3. “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (2020)

This is a fast-paced mystery thriller. Avery is an extraordinarily clever teen that is out to chase down a fantastic fortune. Beyond The Bookends comments, “In this story, Avery, a poor orphan is told she’s just inherited a billionaire’s fortune… I flew through this story and can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy! This is one of my favorite books for 13-year-olds and one of the best mystery books for teens.”

“The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (2020)
“The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (2020)

Reading Middle Grade adds, “Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why — or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.”

Good Housekeeping details, “When a billionaire dies and leaves Avery Grambs his entire fortune, she has to move into his mysterious estate, Hawthorne House, to claim it. But what awaits her there are the four boys who thought they’d be the old man’s heirs, and they’re not happy. This series is as full of twists and turns as the mansion itself, and great fun for puzzle fans.

4. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

“Little Women” is a classic piece of fiction that deals with American life during the 19th century. It has been adapted numerous times across many forms of media. “Teens should read ‘Little Women’ because this heartwarming story about family, dreams and enduring love is full of wholesome life lessons. In late 1800s Massachusetts, the four March sisters – gentle Meg, tomboyish Jo, quiet Beth, and practical Amy – rely on each other for companionship and support,” explains tolstoy therapy.

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

Beyond The Bookends offers, “I remember reading this coming-of-age novel with my grandmother when I was young. It features a family of four girls who are trying to support each other and their mother while their father is away at war.”

BookBub states, “‘Little Women’ is a timeless story about sisters, family, and love. Recently adapted into a new take on the story, readers today are more likely than ever to find a connection to the March sisters. When their father goes away to war, they stay behind to help their mother and navigate their own lives and loves as they come of age. It will make you laugh, cry, and hug your sister just a little harder.”

5. “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas (2017)

This modern book confronts the very real problem of police brutality. Understanding this complex issue is difficult, but Angie Thomas manages to convey the urgent distress that systemic racism places on people of color. Seventeen reviews, “This riveting novel puts the police brutality and racial injustice prevalent in today’s society into perspective. ‘The Hate U Give’ is now thought of as one of the best pieces of young adult literature in history, continuing to break records today.”

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas (2017)
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas (2017)

“This challenging book pushes teens to consider how police shootings affect underprivileged neighborhoods and minority communities within American cities. It has drawn attention and criticism along racial and political divides and was inspired partly by the shooting of Oscar Grant,” claims family education.

“This bestselling, award-winning, and highly praised YA novel is an important read. The story of a police shooting told through a young girl’s eyes is a highly relevant, impactful, and fast-moving story. Heartbreakingly topical, this book is suitable for teens as well as their parents,” relates very well family.

6. “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros (1983)

This perennial classic is a slice-of-life book that seems to showcase that the more things change, the more they stay the same. “The House on Mango Street” is about American life in Chicago, and it is surprisingly relatable to today’s world. “The House on Mango Street is a series of vignettes surrounding the experiences of Esperanza Cordero, a Latina girl living in Chicago. It will take readers along a coming-of-age story that explores happiness, heartbreak, and everything in between,” according to family education.

“The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros (1983)
“The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros (1983)

Good Housekeeping asserts, “Esperanza Cordero is a young Latina who’s just trying to figure herself out while growing up in Chicago. Sandra Cisneros first penned ‘The House on Mango Street’ more than 25 years ago, but her lessons on challenging stereotypes of the immigrant experience still hold up today.”

Seventeen evaluates, “A Mexican American girl named Esperanza lives in Chicago. At 12 years old, she’s finally settling down with her family on Mango Street after moving frequently. Following a year of her life, we get to see the main character start to develop into the woman she’s met to become while fighting against gender stereotypes, racism and physical and sexual violence.”

7.“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins (2008)

What if society collapsed and the wealthy used the lives of workers as blood-sport entertainment? Suzanne Collins takes this scenario and creates a compelling world that has gone wrong. Seventeen compliments, “For years, ‘The Hunger Games’ was the buzziest book on shelves, but I can promise you, this trilogy deserves alllll the hype. It’s a thrilling tale of a post-apocalyptic society where the government forces teenagers to kill each other on live television. Only the winner makes it out of the arena alive.”

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games

Good Housekeeping assures, “If your teen missed the sensation before it became a blockbuster, slide this dystopian adventure their way. You’ll root for Katniss Everdeen as she fights for her life in Panem’s annual Hunger Games in a world that’s eerily similar to our own even as it feels foreign.”

Reading Middle Grade articulates, “I loved following Katniss, Peeta, and Gale through all three books in this series. It’s set in a dystopian world ruled by The Capitol… I was HOOKED to this book and the other two in the series when I read it.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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