20 Books Every Teen Should Read Before Turning 20!

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Navigating through teenage years can be as thrilling as it is challenging. Books, with their profound insights and imaginative realms, offer guidance, solace, and inspiration. Here’s a curated list of 20 must-read books for teens, each promising to enrich a young person’s worldview before they step into their twenties.

1. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel delves into serious themes such as racial injustice and moral growth. Through the eyes of Scout Finch, readers experience the innocence of childhood amidst profound conflicts, learning about empathy and integrity along the way.

2. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

This classic novel captures the teenage angst and alienation many feel as they transition into adulthood. Following Holden Caulfield’s escapades in New York City, it speaks to the rebel in every teen while exploring complex issues of identity, belonging, and connection.

3. “1984” by George Orwell

Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece is a crucial read for its stark portrayal of totalitarianism and surveillance. It pushes teens to question authority and the power of government, making it essential for fostering critical thinking and understanding the value of freedom.

4. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Austen’s witty exploration of manners and marriage in the 19th century provides not just romance but a sharp commentary on societal norms and the pursuit of happiness. It’s perfect for understanding character development and human motivations.

5. “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s poignant diary offers a deeply personal insight into the horrors of war and the enduring spirit of hope. It teaches resilience and the importance of voice, providing a historical perspective that is both educational and deeply moving.

6. “Among The Giants” by Jesse LeBeau

I may be a little biased on this one but my first book has a ton of awesome life lessons for teenagers to help them navigate their path to adulthood. If you want your kid to have the keys to be confident, resilient and happy then this is a must read!

7. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

Through a series of letters, Chbosky’s novel addresses the tumult of adolescence, from first loves to the impact of trauma. Its frank discussion of mental health and belonging makes it a powerful read for any teen.

8. “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton

Written when Hinton was just 16, this novel offers a look at the conflicts between two groups—the Socs and the Greasers—highlighting issues of class and violence. Its raw, honest voice resonates with young readers, emphasizing empathy and understanding.

9. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

This novel follows the lives of the four March sisters, detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. It champions the different aspirations of each sister, promoting individuality and resilience through adversity.

10. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

A tale of a group of boys stranded on an island, this novel explores the descent from civilization to savagery. It’s a compelling study of societal structures, human nature, and leadership.

11. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

This philosophical book tells the story of Santiago, a young shepherd on a quest to find worldly treasure. Its core message about following one’s dreams and listening to one’s heart resonates deeply with those pondering their future paths.

12. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

In a future where books are banned and ‘firemen’ burn any that are found, Bradbury’s work is a powerful advocate for freedom of expression and the critical role of literature in society.

13. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green

Green’s novel explores the emotional upheaval of boarding school life and the impact of new friendships and first loves. It deals thoughtfully with themes of grief and the search for meaning in life.

14. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry

This dystopian novel focuses on a society that has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. It’s a thought-provoking novel about the importance of human emotions and the sacrifices that come with utopia.

15. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

This novel tackles heavy themes such as cancer and death through the eyes of teenage Hazel Grace Lancaster. It’s a heart-wrenching but ultimately uplifting tale about love and the human spirit’s endurance in the face of mortality.

16. “Matilda” by Roald Dahl

Dahl’s story of a young girl with extraordinary intelligence is not only entertaining but also celebrates the resilience of children and the transformative power of learning and kindness.

17. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

Set during WWII in Germany, this novel is narrated by Death and follows a young girl’s relationship with her foster parents, the other residents of their neighborhood, and a Jewish fist-fighter. It emphasizes the power of words and resilience in dire times.

18. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell

Through the allegory of a farm, Orwell explores themes of power, corruption, and betrayal, mirroring the events leading up to the Russian Revolution. It’s a brilliant political critique and a staple for understanding historical and political structures.

19. “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle

This science fiction fantasy about a young girl’s adventure through space and time to save her father offers a blend of science, spirituality, and philosophy, making it a captivating read that challenges perceptions about the universe and personal destiny.

20. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

Angelou’s autobiographical work discusses the early years of her life, facing racism, and living in economic hardship, but it’s also a story of overcoming adversity and emerging stronger, urging readers to find their own voice.

Each book on this list offers unique perspectives and valuable life lessons, making them essential reads for young adults looking to broaden their horizons and deepen their understanding of the world and themselves.