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Best Books for Young Adults: Novels That Everyone Should Read

Updated on August 1, 2014
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.


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I love young adult books over pretty much every other genre. As I reached high school, I started branching out a little more. More than ten years later, I have a handful of other authors that I follow and truly enjoy. But I still have a real weakness for young adult books and pick up new ones pretty regularly. Here are a few of my favorites.

I didn't put the Harry Potter series in my list because I think that it deserves its own category. It's really not a kids' series, particularly the later part of it. That doesn't mean that the books are not appealing to kids, but more than they are appealing and appropriate for people of a wide variety of ages. They are also way up there on my all-time favorite book list so I highly recommend it if you haven't read them yet.

1) Holes by Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar has been one of my favorite young adult authors since I was in middle school. I really can't pick one favorite, but Holes is definitely one of the best. If you're looking for another book of his to check out, I would skip the Holes sequel and read any of the Wayside School books or There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom.

2) Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

One of my co-workers recommended this to me 5 years ago after she'd used it for a 4th grade reading group. Although I am not currently working on any creative writing pieces, this is the book that I always wanted to write. Chicago, kids, art, mystery, architecture (any other Frank Lloyd Wright fans out there?) has pretty much everything that I could want in my ideal young adult book. And Balliett has an amazing writing style that will suck you in right from the beginning. The other two books in this series are just as good.

3) Just as Long as We're Together by Judy Blume

I don't know how many times I've read this book. I'm sure it's at least 7 or 8. I've read and enjoyed almost all of Judy Blume's books, but this one has always stuck with me. Even if you are well past junior high or high school age, reading any of Blume's books will make you remember everything that was good and bad about that time of your life. This book is no exception.

4) Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein

I enjoy watching basketball, but I don't read a lot of sports writing of any sort. When John Feinstein published his first young adult novel, my dad recommended it to me. It's also a mystery, which is my second favorite genre, so no one needed to twist my arm to pick this up. It's no secret that Feinstein has a gift for writing compelling sports tales, but he also has a natural knack for writing about children.  Also, anyone who has ever attended an NCAA championship game will appreciate a lot of the little details in this book.  Feinstein has a handful of other young adult mysteries about these same characters, all of which are excellent.

5) the Fudge series by Judy Blume

I was really torn about which Fudge book I wanted to include in my Top 10 so I decided that I wasn't going to pick. I really don't have a favorite. I re-read Superfudge and Fudge-a-Mania at least half a dozen times each growing up. I enjoyed Double Fudge as well, which was just released in 2007. After Just as Long as We're Together, these are some of my favorite Judy Blume books.

6) the Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald

Like Chasing Vermeer, this is a young adult book set that I did not start reading until I started teaching.  I have only read a couple books from this series, but they have both been really good.  It seems like every time I turn around, a kid is telling me about or is reading one of the newest books in the series.

7) Scat by Carl Hiaasen

I was reluctant to check this out because so many of Hiaasaen's books are either trashy or written purely for the purpose of executing a political message.  This book has a slight political bent but is mostly about the story, which is very well done.

8) Daphne's Book by Mary Downing Hahn

This is not a book that I have re-read many times, but it's has a plot and a main character that have always stuck with me.  I can't relate to a lot of things that happen in the protagonist's daily life, but she has a similar personality and some of the same interests that I did in middle school.  I'm also a big fan of Mary Downing Hahn's The Wind Blows Backward, which is one of my picks for my 10 Books Every Woman Should Read hub.

9) The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

This has become a classic and with good reason.  I hope that many of you reading this have already read this book.  If you haven't read it since childhood, I highly recommend pulling it out again.  I'm not a huge fan of Konigsburg's other work, but this is one worth reading and then re-visiting.

10) Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary

I'm not sure why I saved this one for last, except for the fact that it was the last one in the series when I was growing up so it seemed kind of fitting.  (Ramona's World wasn't released until 1999.)  I love the entire Ramona series, but I've always been a big fan of this book in particular.  It's really neat to see how much the girls have grown up and how the whole family pulls together more than ever for all of the family events that take place.

Midwest Local Bookstores

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Top 10 Modern Young Adult Books (and Series)


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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great list, Rose. I've read most of those books on your list. Voted up!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, ITcoach, ChitrangadaSharan, and HouseBuyersUS! It's always great to meet fellow readers.

      Thanks, Thundermama! I hope that your daughter enjoys Judy Bloom just as much as you do.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      I loved this hub. I am a huge fan of Judy Bloom and am thrilled to have a preteen daughter to share my love of young adult lit with now. Lots of great title son here for us to check out. Voted UP!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      You have given a very good and selected list. Thanks. A book is a great companion, will never make you feel lonely.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great, Julie. :)

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      This brought back some memories! Thank you :)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thank you!

    • Tuneinnow profile image

      Tuneinnow 5 years ago from South Africa

      Well crafted

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much, drspaniel!

    • drspaniel profile image

      drspaniel 5 years ago from Somewhere, where the sun shines once a year...

      Hi, I really enjoyed your Hub! Keep up with the amazing work! :)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's awesome, Kelley! It's great that those books have continued to have staying power for future generations.

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      kelleyward 5 years ago

      What a great list! I love the Fudge series by Judy Blume! I read those to my boys and they can relate. Voted up and shared!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's awesome, Cyndi! J.K. Rowling is one of my heroes, too. She really inspired my own writing back in HS and college. Maybe I'll have to write a separate article about Harry Potter sometime.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      So many books you have listed here are some of my favorites, too. Beverly Cleary, Sachar, Judy Blume - I still have ALL those books on my bookshelves.

      Harry Potter? I agree - it needs its own category. But, J.K. Rowling is one of my personal heroes. Because of her, I started writing. Really. I love learning about her life and her story is so touching and powerful. This is an awesome list!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You're welcome! I'm glad that this is helpful.

    • profile image

      Helpful Hanna 6 years ago

      You have put together a great list. Thanks for the information!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much! Holes is definitely a good read-aloud book.

    • shellyakins profile image

      shellyakins 6 years ago from Illinois

      This is a great list. I need to check some of these out. I love Holes. It's a great book for reluctant readers and an awesome read-aloud to classes.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I enjoy reading Young Adult books myself. I will check out some of these.