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Popular Young Adult Books

Updated on March 1, 2014

Curious what to read next? This list consists of both classics and less known pieces of literature that have proven to be engaging thoughtful works. While the books are broken down by age ranges, they can truly be enjoyed by anyone of any age.

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Books for Pre-Teens

This short list contains classic works that every child should be exposed to, if not in the class room, outside of it. Ranging from fantasy to historical fiction these books are sure to engage any young adults attention.

  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hilton

Two rival groups, the Greasers and Socs, dominate the rough-and-tough city of the 60's. Violence forces the Ponyboy and Johnny to hide out in a church while the street fighting persists. Ponyboy must face the realities of gang violence and loss in this coming of age novel.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Jem and Scott Finch are two children growing up in the Deep South of the 1930s. Their father, Atticus Finch, is lawyer to a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Confused by the racist ideologies, the children are forced to come to their own conclusions about the town in which they live.

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Four siblings find an unlikely world of fantasy in an ancient wardrobe. It is a place filled with centaurs, lions, witches, queens and kings. These children discover their destiny in this fairyland series.

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Meg and her brother, Charles, are catapulted on an adventure through dimension and time as they search for their missing father in this science fiction childhood fantasy.

  • The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Set in a majestic castle, mouse, Despereaux Tilly finds himself on an adventure to save the princess, whom he's formed a close friendship with. At the same time, mouse Chiaroscuro seeks revenge on Princess Pea and servant Miggery Sow, wishes to someday take the princess's throne.

  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Harry had never quite fit in, with the lightening scar on his forehead and his strict aunt and uncle. It isn't until he learns of his true past and destiny as wizard, whereupon he attends Hogwarts, making both friends and enemies as he fights the wizard who killed his parents - Lord Voldemort.

  • Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

New in town, Opal saves a dog in a supermarket, interestingly enough, naming him Winn Dixie. It is through this dog that she makes friends in the community and is able to mature without the influence of her runaway mother.

Books for Teens

  • My Name is Memory by Ann Bradsheres

Daniel finds himself searching not just one lifetime, but countless lifetimes, for his soul mate, Sophia, in this fantasy novel by the author of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.

  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Popular Samantha has everything going for her - the friends, the boys, the status - until she doesn't quite make it to see the next day. Before she can truly pass, she gets seven chances to relive her last day and make things right.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky

Charlie begins high school as somewhat of an outcast, with lost friends and a tragic family secret, he is at a lose. Until, of course, he meets Sam and Patrick who take him under their wing and show him what it means to "feel infinite".

  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Colin, true genius, always finds himself in love with a Katherine. Each and every time, Katherine is the one to drop Colin. The boy begins his search for the mathematical formula for relationships, upon where he meets Lindsey Lee Wells. A girl unlike many of the Katherines.

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield is a rebellious angst-filled teenage boy who often criticizes the society of teachers and "phonies". He is trapped in a state of alienation and isolation as an adolescent boy purely wishing to stop the cycle of the loss of innocence.

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette belongs to a family of mysterious non-conformists who carry on a unique nomadic lifestyle of constant confusion. Walls conveys the true story of a girl growing up and getting out of her past lifestyle.

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda can barley utter a word as she harvests a traumatic secret of last summer as she begins high school. She has lost her friends and begins slowly slipping out of touch with reality until her secret comes back to haunt her and she must speak up.

  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia is caught in between a state of life and death as she watches her body in a dismal hospital slowly sink into peril after a tragic car crash. She must make a choice as she continues viewing not only herself but all of her family and friends.

  • Slaughterhouse VI by Kurt Vonnegut

Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time. Or at least this is what he claims after making a trip to the planet of Tralfamadore following the war in Dresden. He is able to jump from time to time, place to place, living the world in a sort of never-ending time continuum.

  • A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

This heartbreaking love story follows the unlikely pairing of preachers daughter, Jamie, and rebel, Landon.

  • The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty

Evelyn Bucknow must learn to live on her own in this chaotic world in which her absent mother has now begin dating. The ten year-old takes on the role of adult in this story of the bond between mother and daughter.

  • Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Set in the New York suburbs of the 1950s, Doris conveys the true story of her family's love of baseball in time of Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers.

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Set in a future of genetic engineering and destined class, Huxley tells the frightening story of what could become our lives.

Books for All (17+)

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini
  • Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
  • The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond
  • Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridg
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

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    • brutishspoon profile image

      Amy 3 years ago from Darlington, England

      Was supposed to read To Kill a Mockingbird at school but could never get into it. I own a copy now but still find it hard to read.

      I left school in 1997 around the time the Harry Potter bocks first came out but never came across them till the movies started to come out. Ive got them all now and read the last 3 fully.

      I had The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in my Childhood book collection but for me it was Enid Blyton's Famous 5