Getting Teens to Read

Did you know that humans have a need to read? Some of my students don’t always agree with this sentiment, so every semester I begin with choice reading. By giving students choices in their reading, I hope to help them find the one book that will turn them into life-long readers. Over the years, I’ve learned which authors and books are most popular with my students.

Students gravitate toward young adult literature. I remember authors Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton, and Beverly Clearly, who made me feel normal and helped me deal with the turbulence of adolescence. Here are popular authors and books with my current students.  (I've recently updated this post with new recommendations from 2019!)

Books Popular in 2019

These are books that have been popular with my students for choice reading and literature circles (which I call Roundtables).

Dear Martin by Nic Stone
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Refugee by Alan Gratz
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (soon to be a series on Hulu)
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Favorite Authors for Teens

John Green
If you’ve seen the movie, The Fault in Our Stars, then you’re already familiar with this award-winner author’s books. Besides writing books that appeal to teens, he hosts the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube. 
Here are a few of his books:
Turtles All the Way Down
An Abundance of Katherines
Looking for Alaska
Paper Towns
Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Sarah Dessen
Labelled "something of a rock star in young adult fiction" by the Los Angeles Times, if you mention her name to a student, he/she will no doubt ooze admiration for her realistic-fiction stories. Teens relate to topics in her books such as getting along with family, dating, and friendship.
Keeping the Moon
This Lullaby
The Truth about Forever

Walter Dean Myers
Winner of the Coretta Scott King award, Myers books grapple with issues of race, gender, and war, and have at times been challenged for their realistic language. With over 100 books, students can find books on just about any topic or genre from this prolific writer. 
Fallen Angels
The Greatest: Muhammad Ali

And here are more YA books my students are reading right now:

Ask Me How I Got Here by 
Christine Heppermann
Darkness Before Dawn by 
Sharon Draper
The Hate You Give by 
Angie Thomas
After Ever Happy by 
Anna Todd


I always loved fantasy and science fiction when I was a younger reader, too. Favorites included Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series (I can't wait to see the movie), Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern series, and, of course, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. Fantasy and dystopian novels are more popular than ever before. Almost all of my students have already read The Hunger Games and Divergent series; now they're reading these:

Wool, Shift, Dust by 
Hugh Howey  
Wither (
Chemical Garden Triology) by Lauren Destefano
Unwind Series by Neal Shusterman
Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard

Literary Merit

I also loved classics when I was growing up. I read Little Women (can't wait to see the new movie) repeatedly and loved Lord of the Flies. These books
are still read today but there are modern books of literary merit students love now.

Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
There, There by Tommy Orange
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Historical Fiction & Nonfiction

And, of course, students enjoy historical fiction and nonfiction, too.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys 
Orphan Train by Cristina Baker Kline
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrel

Educated by Tara Westover

Actually, this list could go on and on...  

I'm always looking for new books to recommend to my students.  What are your students reading?

Back to Top