Books for Teens and Young Adults: Grades 5 and up (see also Grades 2 to 6) Many readers switch to adult novels in their teens. We comprised a list of classics your teen would not want to miss. These books have been enjoyed for generations and are considered classics by many. This list of good books for teens and young adults, is powered by Amazon for your shopping ease. Please click on the link and read the summaries carefully, as some of these books are considered controversial.
Thief of Always Ages 10 and up.
This scary book was a favorite in my family. It was shared and enjoyed by teens and adults.
From Amazon: “Mr. Hood’s Holiday House has stood for a thousand years, welcoming countless children into its embrace. It is a place of miracles, a blissful round of treats and seasons, where every childhood whim may be satisfied… for a price!”
The Westing Game Age Range: 8 and up Grade Level: 5 – 7
Children love the humor, quirkiness and crazy characters this book offers. And of course there’s also the mystery…
From Amazon: “A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!”
Age Range: 8 – 12 years Grade Level: 5 and up
This book is not for everyone but many kids love it. The main character is a rough, tough talking foster child who does a lot of maturing throughout the story. While some adults find the book depressing, students seem to feel mostly empathy for the main character.
From Amazon: “Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s disliked them all. She has a county-wide reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters — by far the strangest family yet — Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. “
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 2) Age Range: 8 and up Grade Level: 4 and up
This fairy tale, which is part of the series, The Chronicles of Narnia, focuses on the battle between evil-doers like the White Witch and the forces of good, led by Aslan, a lion. Children also triumph in this story.
From Amazon: “A beautiful paperback edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, book two in the classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Four adventurous siblings step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.”
The Giver Age Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up
As an adult, I read this book in one afternoon. At the time, it was the most unique book I had read and I found it very thought provoking.
From Amazon: “The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. “
Age Range: 10 – 14 years
This was the first book I ever read that was set in a science fiction setting. As an adolescent, I found the use of physics in this story very interesting and sometimes a little scary. While I did not understand everything I read, the author left me with much to ponder.
From Amazon: “Fifty years ago, Madeleine L’Engle introduced the world to A Wrinkle in Time and the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe. When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil–a journey that threatens their lives and our universe.”
Mark Twain called this book “a history of a boy.” He also stated that the characters and plot are based on real people and events from his own childhood. This is one of the great American author’s best-loved novels.
Age Range: 11 and up Grade Level: 6 and up
From Amazon: “Take a trip to a simpler time, seen through the eyes of a very special boy named Tom Sawyer. It is a dreamlike summertime world of hooky and adventure, pranks and punishment, villains and first love, filled with memorable characters. Adults and young readers alike continue to enjoy this delightful classic of the promise and dreams of youth from one of America’s most beloved authors.” Also, don’t miss: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Boy’s Life Age Range: 13 and up.
This is an adult novel but due to content covering such themes as bullies, death, racism, courage, and friendship, children 13 and up can relate. The writing is excellent and the story fast-paced.
From Amazon: “Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson—a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake—and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible vision of death that will haunt him forever. As Cory struggles to understand his father’s pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that are manifested in Zephyr.”
The Cay Age Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up
This is not a well known book, but many of our students loved this tale of courage and friendship.
From Amazon: “Phillip is excited when the Germans invade the small island of Curaçao. War has always been a game to him, and he’s eager to glimpse it firsthand–until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed. When Phillip comes to, he is on a small raft in the middle of the sea. Besides Stew Cat, his only companion is an old West Indian, Timothy. Phillip remembers his mother’s warning about black people: “They are different, and they live differently.” But by the time the castaways arrive on a small island, Phillip’s head injury has made him blind and dependent on Timothy.”
East of Eden Age: 17 and adult
This is definitely a book “for mature audiences only”. I consider this Steinbeck’s best work and one of my favorite all-time books.
From Amazon: “Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. The masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. East of Eden has remained vitally present in American culture for over half a century.”