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7 Must-Read Classics for Teens

Updated on October 30, 2015

There is no shortage of brilliant modern authors that come up with wonderful reads for teens these days. It is great to see that even with the deluge of shows on TV and the internet, these authors make teens want to pick up books and lose themselves in the magic of the written word. As great as these modern writers are, it seems that the classics are slowly being forgotten and that is a shame indeed.

Teens and Classics

These classics might strike teens as old and outdated since they were written several generations back, and people have to admit that those times are far different from today. However, it must also be taken into account that the classics are called “classics” for a reason. That is, they are written in such a way about issues that are relevant until now. These books have withstood the test of time and as anyone who has read such books will tell you, they are still wholly relevant. They might not reflect the times now but they will certainly give you a greater understanding of history, people, and even yourself.

It has to be said that teens will not usually be so keen to read the classics. That is a shame because reading classics might just lead them to a whole lot of ideas about their personality and the world in general. When teens divulge in classics and actually read them, maybe it is best if they were to start with those that they can form a connection with. After all, the more they identify with a book, the more they will want to read. Below is a list of some of the best classics teens should read and they might just learn a thing or two.

Recommended Classics for Teenagers

These classics are sure to grab the attention of any teen but more importantly, they are short and provide a nice gateway for teens to get engrossed in the stories of old. These stories might be short on words, but surely, they are not short on lessons.

  • The Red Badge of Courage This is a short classic and is one of the very best ones out there. This is a tale of fiction written by Stephen Crane. What it lacks in words it makes up for in emotional charge. The story is in the viewpoint of a soldier during the American civil war. He wanders around and sometimes takes part in the battle and other times he just runs away. Literary critics have often said that this book gives remarkably accurate details of the war and happens to be very on-point historically speaking. Indeed, for a teen who is just beginning to discover classic books and stories, this is a great start and gives a great idea as to what fighting is all about.

  • The Little Prince – This is the most famous novel ever written by Antoine de Sainte-Exupery. He was a French author, aristocrat, and aviator and what is so neat about the story is that it features a pilot. He crashes on an island and there he meets a little boy. The little boy is actually a prince that had fallen from an asteroid and dispenses the most wonderful advice. This book might appear fanciful but it is an allegory of the author’s life and is also philosophical. It has a lot of social criticism and remarks about the strangeness of adult lives. The original book has about 140 paragraphs and has illustrations drawn by the author himself.

  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow This is a wonderful and slightly creepy book by Washington Irving. Some young readers may already be familiar with the story since it was turned into a movie a few years back. However, as good as that movie was, it doesn’t hold a candle to the book. For parents who want their teens to learn more about the geeky schoolmaster, his object of affection who is the daughter of a rich farmer, and another man named Brom Bones who wants her too, this is a story for the ages. The guy with a pumpkin for a head running around also makes things very interesting.

  • The Metamorphosis – Teens love it when something unexpected happens and in this tale by John Kafka, something unexpected happens indeed. The hero is named Gregor Samsa and one day he falls asleep only to wake up as a giant cockroach. It doesn’t get any more unexpected (and more gross) than that. This book, depending on the publisher, is anywhere between 94 to 210 pages. The longer ones usually use larger fonts and have illustrations.

19th and 20th Century Classics for Teens

Those great short tales are enough to make any teen want to read more of the classics and perhaps by this time, they will be ready to tackle longer stories. If you are preparing a book list for your teenager kids, these 20th century classics are sure to tickle their fancy.

  • Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens wrote this wonderful tale and it is as full of twists and turns as any modern movie or tale. In fact, it has so many twists that anyone who reads it will never have a dull moment figuring it all out. The story is about Oliver Twist who is sent to a child farm when his mother dies, runs away to London, joins a gang of rather unsavory characters and goes through a lot of scary situations before finding out that he is an heir to a fortune. What a twist indeed.

  • Animal Farm – This isn’t some cutesy novel about animals in a barn. Rather, this novel by George Orwell is a dystopian view of society and what happened in the year leading up to the Russian revolution. Without going too much into it, this book might just turn young readers into temporary vegetarians. Orwell’s 1984 book is also a great read for those who love dystopian worlds where there often seems to be a power struggle.

  • Lord of the Flies – This book by William Golding is pure genius. To make a long and very interesting story short (but no less interesting), the story starts with some boys struggling to survive in an island after their plane crashes. As the story progresses, they are not content with hunting games and they start to hunt each other. It gets quite creepy so consider yourself warned.

These books form the very top of the iceberg and there are so many others that teenagers should check out. Some other great books include Jane Eyre and Little Women and as one may have guessed, they were written by women. This will certainly give young girls something to think about as they go through life and try to find themselves.

Classics for Lessons and Entertainment

These books are indeed great reads and they will quickly make any teen realize that not all classics are stuffy and boring. These very clever pieces have indeed survived the test of time and will surely continue to do so. What makes these tales so great is that they not only impart wisdom to the reader but also give a glimpse of history in a way that is not boring. Teens who will read these books will find that even though they were written ages ago, they are still relevant today, and more importantly, they will inspire young minds and make them think about things that really matter in life.

Have you read any of these books?

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    • kgmonline profile image
      Author

      Geri Mileff 2 years ago from Czech Republic

      @Susan Deppner - Thanks for the comment, Susan. I agree with you that teens should not be confined to just reading YA literature. An exposure to the classics will be a great help to their reading life, too! :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I'm excited, too, that it's once again "cool" for teens to read. There's nothing like classics, though. This is a great start to what could be a very long list of books I'd recommend for teens. Very nicely done!

    • kgmonline profile image
      Author

      Geri Mileff 2 years ago from Czech Republic

      Thanks, Rakim :)

    • Rakim Cheeks profile image

      Rakim Cheeks 2 years ago

      Great posts. You're 100% right. You Rock

    • kgmonline profile image
      Author

      Geri Mileff 2 years ago from Czech Republic

      Thank you, Jackie! Totally agree with you :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Those are great books for anyone! Great review. ^+