80 Good Books for Teens

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Young adult (or YA) books aren’t just good books for teens — a lot of us adults read and enjoy these books as well. Ever since the beginning of Imagination Soup, I’ve reviewed all kinds of books, mostly picture books and middle-grade books. BUT, I’m a HUGE fan of YA so I had to include good books for teens — and those of us who just love young adult books and aren’t teens.

And be aware that this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the hundreds of amazing YA books in the world. Just some that I’ve reviewed on this blog.

I include the book’s genre to help you scan and bolded a basic summary of the plot as well.

Please note that I also indicate if the book is mature because I know many adults are looking for advanced books for younger readers. Hopefully, the maturity notice will help you pick which books are appropriate for readers under age 13 or 14.

If you’re looking for classic books like Lord of the Flies or Catcher in the Rye that might be used in high school English classes, you WON’T find those titles on this list. This is a contemporary fiction and nonfiction book list.

books for teens

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Books for 8th Graders (13 Year Olds)

Nonfiction Books for Teens

Audiobooks for Teens

Good Books for Teens

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
A mesmerizing, award-winning story about a girl named Petra who is on a spaceship with her family, traveling to a new home after the Earth is destroyed, that is also about humanity, storytelling, and survival. When Petra wakes up, she learns that her parents have been killed, her brother is missing, and all the other humans’ memories have been erased. Since she’s the only person who knows the truth about the past, Petra is determined to foil the sinister Collective’s plan. Había una vez…

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
This is a stunning, twist-you-heart-inside-out, beautiful coming-of-age story of three friends who are all outcasts in their small, narrow-minded town. It’s about learning to accept your past, present, and future, not letting your circumstances (including your parents) define you, and finding hope in the midst of difficulty. I HIGHLY recommend you race to the bookstore or library and get this book — it’s a book that will linger with you.

If Ur Stabby by Kaz Windness
We all have those stabby days this book illustrated in comics is guaranteed to make you laugh because you will RELATE! Other unicorns are sunshine and rainbows but Staby is sarcastic, hostile, boated, and gassy. Learn how he became the unicorn he is today with his many job FAILS, his family situation, introverting adventures, and more. Give this to yourself if you need a pick-me-up.


Best Boxed Chapter Book Sets for Kids and Teens
(Lunar Chronicles)
by Marissa Meyer
This is one of the best series for teens who are transitioning from middle grade to YA books. When Prince Kai asks Cinder, a human with cyborg parts, to fix something for him, she becomes entangled in a plot that puts her life at risk and puts the entire country’s fate is hanging in the balance. This is an AMAZING can’t-put-it-down series based on fairy tales like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Red Riding Hood! And, every book is just as good as the previous book.

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel
by Jason Reynolds
An illustrated version of Jason Reynolds’ free verse book about Will, a teenager who witnesses his own brother get shot. He needs to follow The Rules and take revenge on the killer. But, as he travels seven floors in an elevator, each level provides an encounter with a deceased person, and their conversations halt Will’s plans and reveal to him the bigger story of what really happened with his brother. 

Maze Runner
The Maze Runner
 by James Dasher
What a wild ride! Kids can’t put these books down. In this dystopian world, kids are either killed or must kill to survive. There are tons of plot twists that kept me surprised and entertained. Boxed Set HERE. (Check out the movie adaptation!)

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Set on Mars in a color-coded caste society, Darrow, a low-caste Red, infiltrates the ruling Gold caste’s special training school. His training is to kill or be killed, lead an army or be enslaved. It’s better than The Hunger Games — especially for teens who don’t want to read about romance and who really get enthralled with battle strategy. Every book in this unique sci-fi series is addicting — I dare you to put it down, it’s one of my favorite books EVER and a New York Times bestseller. *some mature content — nudity and swearing

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
by V.E. Schwab
This book makes my top ten EVER for its world-building and storytelling — it’s a mesmerizing and totally unique story about relationships, identity, loneliness, and hope. Born in 18th century France, a desperate (and naive) Addie makes a deal with the devil to live forever and he curses her to always be forgotten. When no one remembers your name, you’re not just lonely, but it’s a struggle to make money, eat, and find shelter. We meet Addie again 300 years later and not much has changed — until the day she encounters a man who remembers her. *mature content

good books for teens (YA)
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
Starr’s life is sharply contrasted between her two worlds– her family’s urban poor neighborhood and her fancy suburban school. Then when riding in a friend’s car in her neighborhood, her (unarmed) friend is shot by a policeman. People are rioting, the police officer who works with Starr’s uncle isn’t punished, and Starr needs to decide if she’ll speak out about what really happened. What plays out is a gut-wrenching drama that will make you think, question, and connect. *Language and some mature content.

The Marrow Thieves
by Cherie Dimaline
What a page-turner! Indigenous peoples are being hunted for their bone marrow because it gives them — and whoever steals it– the ability to dream. But when the worst happens, Frenchie isn’t even sure he can trust other indigenous people. He eventually finds a small group of people that help him survive and maybe even thrive –only if they can stay one step ahead of the government’s Recruiters and avoid the traitors among the People…It’s a harrowing quest for survival with echoes of genocide that is, unfortunately, all too familiar.

books for teens
The Selection
by Kiera Cass
Well-written and very popular, this book series for teens is about a selection process for the prince to find and marry a princess. Many girls like this love triangle story filled with drama and political intrigue. I didn’t make it through all the books — only the first three — because this type of book isn’t my cup of tea but they’re a great choice for kids who like romance.

best ya books for teens
Steelheart (The Reckoners Series) by Brandon Sanderson
I love this unique world with its plot twists and turns. Epics are super-powerful, evil god-like creatures who control the world’s cities. Because David’s father was killed by Chicago’s Epic named Steelheart, David wants revenge. He joins the rebel group, the Reckoners, to learn how to assassinate Steelheart– a next to impossible feat for a regular human like him. This is a page-turning, mesmerizing series. BOX SET (I couldn’t put this book series down!)

The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert
Alice grows up running from something but when her mother is stolen, she knows she’ll have to run toward the danger — toward Hinterland, the supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice partners with Ellery, a superfan of Hinterland, to help her find out if it’s real and where it is…Then she learns the horrifying truth about her grandmother’s past and her own shocking origins, and why her mother told her to stay away. Captivating storytelling, gorgeous world-building, and impressive characterizations add up to make one of the best books I’ve ever read. *mature content

good books for teens

The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Michael Vey #1) by Richard Paul Evans
If you like fast-paced, not too hard science fiction, you’ll love this fantastic read about a boy with electrical powers and an evil group who wants to control him and others like him. It’s an addictive series for teens who enjoy action, suspense, and adventure. BOX SET

best ya books for teens
This mesmerizing story pits a wealthy elite girl prodigy, June, against a slum-kid criminal named Day. June’s brother is supposedly murdered by Day so she decides to hunt him down. But, the truth is that the country is manipulating them both.

Rebel Spy
by Veronica Rossi
A fascinating historical fiction book about the Revolutionary War time period and a female spy. Frannie escapes from her cruel stepfather in the Bahamas and in a shipwreck opportunity, assumes the identity of a high society lady named Emmeline Coates. It takes careful observation to learn how to be a true lady but she’s successful, living safely in New York where she decides to use her wealth and position to help spy for the Patriots against the Loyalists. Action, suspense, and history — this is a wonderfully imagined adventure based on the life of a real rebel spy.

good books for teens
Shadow and Bone
 by Leigh Bardugo
Orphan, Alina, lives in a country where much of the land and people have been a darkness called the Shadow Fold. When Alina’s powers reveal themselves, surprising even her, she’s taken to the magical leader, the Darkling, to train and serve him in his fight against the Shadow Fold. Alina feels out of place without her best friend and doesn’t fit in with the other Grisha. Plus, strange things begin to happen and she must discover the secret behind the source of the Shadow Fold’s power. Excellent series! BOXED SET

The Loop
by Ben Oliver
The world is one government under the control of an AI called Happy. Luka’s a prisoner in The Loop, a barbaric prison for death row inmates who escape death if they’ll allow experimental surgeries. After Group A’s experiments turn the prisoners into smiley killers, Luka escapes when his prison warden tries to kill him. It’s a crazy, fast-paced adventure of life and death that is impossible to put down.

If I Stay
by Gayle Forman
Mia’s trying to remember what happened after her entire family was killed in a car accident. She’s trapped in a broken body and wondering if she has a life worth living anymore. It’s grief, it’s hope, it’s despair, it’s everything. . . it’s un-unputdownable. SO, so powerful!

The Belles
by Dhonielle Clayton
Camilla and her sisters have beauty magic in their blood to make the citizens of New Orleans beautiful...for a price. Because, without the Belles, the people are gray and ugly. When Camilla is the second choice for the Queen’s favorite, she learns there’s a terrifying darkness to the princess. As she seeks a way to fulfill her role, she must decide if it’s worth risking her life in order to save the oldest princess, the true heir, who has been in a lifeless coma for years. I enjoyed this imaginative fantasy world where beauty is tightly controlled. Be ready for a surprise plot twist at the end.

Dread Nation
by Justina Ireland
What a unique and mesmerizing story! In this alternate history, Zombies rise during the Civil War and Negro girls like Jane are either servants or trained as attendants to fight to protect their white families. Unexpectedly, Jane and her friends are kidnapped by the town’s mayor and shipped off to a sinister utopian-like western town where Jane learns the zombies are actually powering the town. Now it’s a quest to survive and stop the evil men who are running the town.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
I couldn’t put this book down — it’s got everything: a great plot, excellent writing, and memorable characters. Of course, we aren’t sure our narrator, Mim, is reliable. We’re with her on a journey to help her mom who has been out of touch and has a disease. During her trip, we learn she’s supposed to be taking pills for psychosis and start to wonder what’s real and what’s not. Then we start to suspect that her mom might not have a physical disease…

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Wolf by Wolf is a high-stakes journey of wits and bravery, an author’s skillful writing and imagination, and a compelling story that won’t soon be forgotten. It imagines a world in which WWII ended very differently — with the Axis powers winning. Yael, our heroine, is a death-camp medical experiment escapee who can shapeshift into other humans. She braves a motorcycle race across half the world in order to first win and second get close enough to Hitler to kill him. This is a must-read novel!

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
Reading this exceptional book feels so real and honest– it just resonates. Julia struggles against her parent’s cultural expectations as she tries to make a life for herself on her own terms. Of course, her mom is happy to tell Julia just how much she’s failed as a daughter. Then when her perfect older sister is killed, things get even more complicated and strange because Julia finds out that her sister had a lot of secrets…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The writing, the concept, the plot, and the characters totally blew my mind. Taylor created a totally original, completely compelling mythical world; it’s a world split into two sides, the Chimera and the Angels. Our heroine, an art student raised by a magician named Brimstone, Karou, knows about the monsters, at least she thinks she does. Adding to the mystery and adventure is a forbidden romance between Karou and a beautiful angel named Akiva. This is one of the BEST books I’ve ever read in my life, let alone one of the best YA books for teens. AMAZING. (Some mature content.)

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Not only will you love the writing but you’ll also love the characters Eleanor and Park, teenagers who are seemingly very different yet fall in love with each other anyway. It’s such a beautiful love story, you won’t want it to end.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, et.al
Because these books zip along with fast-paced adventure and action, you’ll be hard-pressed to stop reading! John isn’t a human teenager, he’s one of 9 Loric children who were sent to Earth when their planet was attacked by the evil Mogadorians. He moves around a lot with his guardian to escape these alien killers who can only kill the kids in numerical order…Now that he’s come of age, he develops his Legacies — powers that will help him survive. But one, two, and three have been killed already. John is next.

Eye of the Minds by James Dashner
A totally compelling and unique plot (with the craziest plot twist at the end!) Imagine our world with more advanced technology that lets you “live” in a game world. (I can actually imagine this!) Players hook up their bodies to the game; while they’re in the game, food and bathroom breaks are taken care of. It’s crazy action and adventure that will keep you reading late into the night!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Part historical (ancient Rome) and part fantasy, Elias and Laia live in a world that enslaves them both in different ways — Elias to fight and Laia to serve and spy. This is an epic page-turning series with lots of mystery, action, and a hint of romance. It’s SO good that it’s one of the most popular YA books right now

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
You don’t have to be a football fan to be mesmerized by this incredible underdog story of grit with the history of football as a backdrop.You don’t really know the history of football until you’ve read the history of Carlisle Indian School and Jim Thorpe. Did you know that a whole team played on the field all at once? Or that a president had to intervene because there were so many deaths from head injuries with no helmets? Jim Thorpe was clearly one of the greatest athletes in the world of all time, and his life wasn’t what you would ever have expected.

books for teen readers

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
After Louis Zaperini’s WWII plane goes down in the open ocean — he’s starving, adrift, and prey to enemy planes. His triumphant survival is nothing short of incredible. You’ll be amazed and inspired at his incredible true story.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
In this Wizard of Oz remix, Dorothy is evil and Amy Gunn, the other girl from Kansas, is recruited to help the freedom fighters to fix and free all of Oz. Great writing plus an unexpected plot make this hard to put down!


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
This story is unbelievably good. I think it would help a LOT of girls to read Xiomara’s story because it will make them think about what it means to be a woman, a poet, a teenager becoming an adult, a mixed-raced individual, a faithful believer… Xiomara’s sick of boys and her parents focusing their attention on her curves. She’s sick of the church rules. She’s just frustrated. And she expresses this frustration not to her family or friends but in verse.
*NOTE: Language and some mature content.

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
A fast-paced action book that takes place in D.C. with all the political movers and shakers. The overarching themes of friendship, forgiveness, and redemption plus lots of action make this a thrilling adventure story.

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Epic fantasy stories weave together a world of magical creatures where evil is threatening the land. The writing is complex, detailed, and intense.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
This is a powerful, well-told personal story from the wise, self-reflective perspective of Malala Yousafzai. Malala draws readers in with her accounts of daily life in Pakistan — the sounds, smells, sights, and habits. We are hooked from the first page. As the stage is set, we learn how her country used to be and the fearful place it became with the Taliban’s influence. After she is shot for her blog writing in support of educating females, she’s taken to England for recovery and safety. The confusion and contrast between the countries and cultures really stand out during this time. But what is even more striking is Malala’s hope, positivity, and belief in what she stands for.


The Shadow Hero GOOD Books for teens
Shadow Hero
 by Gene Luen Yang &  Sonny Lieu
This is the superhero story about the origins of the Green Turtle, a 1940’s masked Asian-American man. I loved everything about this man who is a reluctant vigilante! His overbearing mother pushes him to become a hero and is disappointed in him, thinking him a failure. There’s a cool element of Chinese mythology (the turtle spirit) that comes into play, affecting Hank, who steps up to fight the Chinatown gangs, a hero at last.

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez
If you love magical realism and Latin American culture, you won’t want to miss this intriguing, spellbinding story set in a Bolivian-like country. Ximena, the decoy leader of her community, is kidnapped and taken to the palace where entitled rulers fight and destroy things for power; rulers like the real Condesa’s predecessors as well as the current ruler, Atoc. Filled with magic, a hint of romance, mystery, and honor, this is a wonderfully rich tapestry that ends with the lesson of choosing what is right over tradition and loyalty.

Lockdown (Escape from Furnace) by Alexander Smith
Action and intrigue from the get-go, this is an amazing book because you, like our main character, have no idea what’s going on. Alex is framed and sent to the underground Furnace jail where the other prisoners are also under 18 and randomly killed or tortured by beast-like creatures. But Alex won’t listen to his cellmate and survive, he wants to escape.


great books for teen readers
by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess
Blade can’t wait to graduate from High School and get away from his drug-addicted rock star father. He thinks things can’t get any worse but they do — his dad crashes his graduation, his girlfriend moves on, and he finds out he was adopted. Blade leaves to Africa on a hero’s journey of sorts to find his biological mom. There he ends up finding himself. Brilliant and moving.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
ROMANCE / REALISTICWarning – you’ll laugh and cry and want more after the final page. (Okay, I didn’t just cry, I may have sobbed.) This is an amazing love story of two teenagers with cancer who learn to make the most of each day. To live. Not to wait to die. Powerful. (There is sex in this book.) *mature content

A Night Divided good YA books for teens
A Night Divided
 by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Overnight a fence is built with armed guards divides Berlin. Gerta is stuck on the east side with her brother and mother while their father and another brother already escaped to the west. Greta’s father gets her a message that set her on a course to dig a tunnel to the west. It’s dangerous but Greta’s determined. Excellent.

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
I loved this story so much! Eponine (Nina) is a survivor thanks to the protection of her older sister. But when her dad sells her older sister into prostitution, Nina knows she has to save her sister. This sends her to a new, dangerous guild for protection and alliances. While she works for the guild as a thief, she cares for a new orphan named Cosette, and makes plans to save her sister –no matter the cost…Intrigue, adventure, and an unpredictable plot make this a new YA favorite. And did I mention, it’s set in the world of Les Miserables!?

good books for teens
Rot and Ruin
 by Jonathan Mayberry
I didn’t even know what a zombie really was until I read this book. I wanted to give the zombie fiction a try. Surprisingly, I liked it a lot. The author skillfully made the zombies somewhat sympathetic, a difficult task to be sure. It’s absolutely compelling and hard to put down — don’t miss this series! BOXED SET.

Chronicles of Nick: Recommended Books for Teens
Infinity: Chronicles of Nick (Chronicles of Nick Book 1)
 by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Chronicles of Nick series is actually a magical, mythical-creatures landscape. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed adventure about a teenager who possesses powerful magic that could destroy humanity. Of course, he doesn’t know it quite yet. But he will. 🙂 

Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini
Kayla’s moved from Trinidad to Canada with her aunt after a depressive episode and suicide attempt. She’s experiencing debilitating anxiety and self-loathing, making trips to the mall or a restaurant almost impossible. Her aunt and her aunt’s girlfriend are very understanding and patient which makes a huge difference in Kayla’s recovery. A new friend’s understanding along with her aunts’ acceptance helps Kayla come to terms with her illness.

Nimona recommended graphic novel for kids
by Noelle Stevenson
This is dark humor at its best! Shape-shifter, Nimona, appoints herself the sidekick to villain, Lord Ballister Blackhart. But Nimona is way more serious about real villainy than Lord Blackhart. She kills and creates chaos whenever possible which distresses Lord Blackhart.  Nimona thinks Lord Blackhart’s rules are weird and totally unnecessary. But, despite Nimona’s dark side, together they set out to prove that the heroes are not really heroic. The main characters are very well-developed and both have back-stories that make them really interesting. I love that Nimona isn’t a sexed-up heroine, she’s just a regular-looking girl. I highly recommend this book and so does my 10-year old. Also, it on the long-list for the National Book Awards.

Agood YA books for teens and advanced readers
e in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles) by Gena Showalter
A YA chapter book about Alice and zombies — that I recommend? Crazy but true! Alice’s father has embarrassed her all her life with is paranoia, refusal to go out after dark even to a school performance, and drinking but it turns out he is right. And now he, her mother, and her sister are dead. Adventure and a little romance make this quite a unique page-turner. BOXED SET.

good books for teens
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
If you like strong girl power books for teens, you’ll love this story of five mermaids who journey to find each other and to find the sea witches. An ancient evil is being unleashed and not only is trying to kill the girls but enslave or kill their communities. Very entertaining.

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartlett
I love how the author writes this using the facts and clearly stating when there are gaps in the accounts, making conjectures very clear. It’s a great book — and frankly, fascinating to understand the details of solving and then proving that Mary was the common thread of illnesses. It also asks the questions of Mary’s rights weighted with the rights of the public. This would be a great book club selection!

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Dessen’s fiction always grabs at your heart and this is no exception. Sydney’s parents are wrapped up in her incarcerated brother. They don’t notice how Sydney’s floundering. She feels guilt for the damage her brother inflicted on a boy riding his bike, she feels scared about her brother’s best friend’s leering, and she feels hopeful about her new friend group. This is a powerful coming-of-age story.

The Rig by Joe Ducie
Oh, this was a deliciously good action story. I loved how the author wove in the science-fiction elements with a realistic story of incarcerated kids who are mistrusting, and find that there are a few people in the world that they can trust. This detention center is on an oil rig in the ocean. But Drake is determined to escape — especially after he discovers what the Rig is really doing.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
REALISTIC (Middle grade with YA themes)
Joseph is an abused boy with a violent father, a parent at age thirteen, and is now living as a foster kid with Jack’s family on their organic farm. As he learns to trust them, we slowly learn about Joseph’s deep love for a rich girl named Maddie, his daughter named Jupiter who he’s never seen, and his shattering heartbreak. This is an amazing story– painful yet filled with redemption and hope — beautifully written and one that will give readers so much to ponder.


Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham
If you love fairy tales, you must read this novel based on a comic book series. It’s based on the story of the Pied Piper and is about two brothers, one good and one evil, Peter and Max. Through the story, Max becomes more entrenched in black magic and only his brother, Peter, will be able to stop him.

Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend by Karen Blumenthal
Well-written, well-researched, and completely fascinating, this book traces the lives of these two notorious criminals starting with childhood and ending with their deaths. What struck me was the dichotomy between how much these two valued their families but not any other human lives…they killed a lot of people and yet became immortalized through the media as sympathetic vigilantes. This biography doesn’t take a side of who is right and wrong but shows the facts as best can be known.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
You’ll LOVE this unique fantastical tale. Water horses eat human flesh so it’s a sign of great skill and bravery to race one in the annual Scorpio Races. Orphan, Puck needs to win the race or she and her brother won’t have food to eat or a home.

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham
If you love fairy tales, you must read this novel based on a comic book series. It’s based on the story of the Pied Piper and is about two brothers, one good and one evil, Peter and Max. Through the story, Max becomes more entrenched in black magic and only his brother, Peter, will be able to stop him.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
You’ll LOVE this unique fantastical tale. Water horses eat human flesh so it’s a sign of great skill and bravery to race one in the annual Scorpio Races. Orphan, Puck needs to win the race or she and her brother won’t have food to eat or a home.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
What if a plane carrying beauty queens crashed on a desert island? And someone wrote the book about it? Well, it would be a hilarious satire with meaningful life lessons.

The Living  by Matt de la Pena
Shy is a teenager from the ‘hood working on a cruise line when a huge earthquake causes a tsunami that sinks the ship. As you can imagine, it’s a harrowing fight for survival on the open ocean with only a spoiled rich girl, and when they eventually make it to an island, there’s a strange illness, men with guns, and more danger than trying to survive on the ocean.

Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly
I loved this blend of the historical realities and inspiring life stories of four mathematically talented women who worked to build this country’s aviation and aeronautical programs starting from the Civil Rights era to the Space Race and the Cold War to the fight for gender equality. The text includes black-and-white photographs documenting the women’s lives and the historical events which add to the reader’s understanding. Hidden Figures educates and inspires readers.

good books for teens
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Set in Florida, the world has changed into a bleak, crime-ridden place of despair, child labor and poverty. Our hero, Nailer, scavenges boats for his “crew”. When Nailer stumbles upon a fancy boat and a rich girl it leads him to reconsider his life, his friends and his family to hope that he won’t always be a ship breaker. Have no fear, this is a dystopian-ish novel with hope. (Thank you, kind author!) I don’t doubt a future dystopia is possible (Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is my current favorite book) so I equally love and fear any dystopian book which is why I’m glad Bacigalupi gave me a glimpse of hope for the future.

Drop of Night
A Drop of Night
by Stefan Bachman
A little bit historical and a whole lot freaky, this is the story of four teens who are invited to a special archeological unveiling of a historical French underground palace. But that was a lie. Now the kids are trapped in a labyrinth of booby-trapped rooms with a dangerous killer and have no idea what’s going on. Except that it’s unlikely they’ll escape with their lives.

The Executioner's Daughter
The Executioner’s Daughter
by Jane Hardstaff
Moss hates that her father is the Tower’s executioner. She has to accompany him to collect the heads. But her father says they have no choice, he’s a prisoner. Moss escapes, determined to have a different life. She finds it harder to survive than she thought, especially because the Riverwitch is after her. An interesting story in a cool historical setting.

Good Books for Teens
 by Rachel Hartman
I loved, loved, loved this book and darn it if I didn’t find the second book a bit disappointing. 🙁 But, I still recommend reading this first story, if not the entire series. It’s about a girl named Seraphina who lives at court as a music teacher assistant and performer. She must hide that she’s part-dragon (scales and all) in a world that is mistrustful of dragons. Neither human nor dragon can be categorized into good or bad, both races do horrible things as well as show kindness. Beautifully written with evocative imagery, this is a wonderful story filled with mystery, danger, secrets, and friendship.

A Study in Charlotte Good Books for Teens
A Study in Charlotte
 by Brittany Cavallari
This Watson, Jamie, is the direct descendant of that John Watson and it’s no coincidence that he’s at the same boarding school as Charlotte Holmes who is the descendant of Sherlock Holmes. When the two are framed for the murder of a classmate both hated, they pair up to solve the crime themselves. But more crimes are committed, each with a nod to their ancestor’s famous stories, and neither can figure out who is doing it. Is there a Moriarty around? If you’re like me and an Arthur Conan Doyle fan, you’ll LOVE the details that pay tribute to the original stories! This book does mention sex and drugs.

Into the Dim Good Books for Teens
Into The Dim
 by Janet B. Taylor
Time-travel relic hunters? Romance? This new YA book for teens starts with action and adventure from the first page. (And I don’t usually like time travel books.) I love how the plot and details wove together so artfully!

good books for teens
Bomb: The Race to Build –and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Another knock-out nonfiction book from the talented Steve Sheinkin! I’m so impressed by how Sheinkin makes this story come ALIVE like it’s an adventure / mystery / thriller and not real life and true. Well, they do say truth is stranger than fiction. But usually, it’s written like it’s duller than dirt. This book is a great exception — mesmerizing. I wasn’t even interested in the topic until I started reading.

Truthwitch Good Books for Teens
Truthwitch: A Watchbands Novel
  by Susan Dennard
Safiya and Iseult are best friends and outcasts, running from life-threatening dangers. Safiya is a valuable Truthwitch and is hunted by those who want to use her for their nefarious purposes. An engaging adventure.

Red Queen
The Red Queen 
by Victoria Aveyard
Maybe a bit predictable but I still enjoyed this dystopian YA novel about a world separated into classes labeled by blood color. The elite class, those with silver blood, possess magical abilities and the rest of the world is the hard-working red class. Mare, the protagonist, is not supposed to have magic because she’s a red. To hide this truth, the royal family disguises her as a silver and she’s forced to play along. But what if she could help her red class be free of the ruling elite? Unfortunately, this series disappoints with the next books.
The Witch Hunter
The Witch Hunter
by Virginia Boecker
This is an adventurous series opener that will keep you on the edge of your seat. In a kingdom that outlaws the use of magic, Elizabeth hunts and imprisons witches (who have magic) until she herself is imprisoned. At the moment she’s to be burned, she’s rescued by a powerful wizard who shows her truths she’d never imagined and who she should really be fighting.
The Impostor Queen Good Books for Teens
The Impostor Queen
 by Sarah Fine
This is such a compelling book — in a world of magic only allowed to the queen and priests, the queen-in-training, Elli, flees the capital when the priests plot to kill her because she’s not blessed with magic. When she’s rescued by an outlander named Oskar and healed by an illegal magician, she learns she can void or expand the magic of others, making her a valuable prize for dangerous magicians.
Tell the Wind and Fire Good Books for Teens
Tell the Wind and Fire
 by Sarah Rees Brennan
Unlike most romances in YA novels, I like that this story starts with a solid partnership and is about how the duo change and grow. In this world, there are Light and Dark magicians. The Light are in control and wall off the Dark city. The plot addresses injustice and prejudice as revolution and secrets unfold.


Reign of Shadows Good Books for Teens
Reign of Shadows
 by Sophie Jordan
I can’t wait for book two!! After her parents are murdered and an eclipse darkens the world, the Princess Luna is safely taken to a tower by trusted guardians. She hates being cooped up even though the outside has flesh-eating beasts and almost total darkness. But she leaves with a mysterious archer named Fowler who is traveling to a land that is supposed to be safer. Together they encounter dangerous foes and new friends, but will Fowler’s secret destroy the little trust they have?

Rad American Women a z (Excellent Nonfiction Books To Get Kids Reading)
Rad American Women A – Z
by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
I learned a ton from this book because many of these inspiring women aren’t well known. Each woman gets a full page bio with information about what makes her a role model and “rad.” Ladies like Wilma Mankiller, Nellie Bly, Lucy Parsons, and Hazel Scott.

Bad Girls
Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves & Other Female Villains
 by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Rebecca Guay
This book has an interesting premise — so I wasn’t sure if I would like it. But I liked reading about each of the 26 women. And, I liked that after each woman, the authors debated whether or not the person was “bad” — and how it depended on your perspective. For example, Anne Boleyn. Was she smart or manipulative or both? Each of the authors takes on opposing perspectives so one thinks Catherine the Great was a good queen for expanding her countries territory while the other author says that the deaths of her enemies (Peter and others) made her a ruthless queen.

Whoppers: History’s Most Outrageous Lies and Liars
 by Christine Seifert
I read this nonfiction book aloud to my kids — it was SO fun because it prompted great discussion and interaction. They couldn’t believe that people would make up such outrageous lies. Learn these incredible wild whoppers — from people you’ve heard of like Charles Ponzi to people you’ve never heard of like George Psalmanazar who convinced people he was a native from his made-up island of Formosa. It’s book best for middle grade to YA readers.

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron by Mary Losure
Based on a true story, this is a historical recounting of a wild boy the early 1800s found in France. I found the life fascinating as the author takes us on the journey of his life. He’s studied as a beast, less than a person. In fact, scientists of the time believed he was not a human but something other. This book will make you think.

365 Days of Wonder
365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R. J. Palacio
If you’re like us and love quotes, this is the book for you. Even if you haven’t read the book Wonder, you will still find the quotes here (precepts) meaningful and thought-provoking from Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.

NonFiction Books for Kids
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods
 by Rick Riordan, illustrated by John Rocco
My kids can’t stop reading and rereading this enormous volume of Greek myths, retold Riordan style — I’m talking laugh-out-loud style. Remember all the hilarious chapter titles in Riordan’s Percy Jackson books? And the witty, sarcastic voice of Percy? Yup. All here.

NonFiction Books for Kids
National Geographic Why’d They Wear That: Fashion as the Mirror of History
 by Sarah Albee
Once my 13-year old and I started this book, we were engrossed from front to back. Albee writes fantastic chapter titles and headings: (Notice a theme? Nonfiction is getting GOOD, people!) “Caulk like an Egyptian,”  “Putting the “Protest” in Protestant,” and “Hazardous Hemlines.” The book is formatted so that you can pick and choose interesting sections such as Corsets, Dressed to Compress because the corset photo is so intriguing or the inset of information has such a tantalizing title, “Why Did Napoleon Always Have His Hand in His Coat?

NonFiction Books for Kids
National Geographic Kids 5,000 Awesome Facts 2 (About Everything)

I wasn’t sure about this book at first. It almost makes me cross-eyed to look at each two-page spread. Flip through to find a subject of interest — gemstones, famous heists, Harry Potter, or pandas, and the two-page spread has photos and facts galore. Sometimes a LOT of facts — 50 for shipwrecks– and sometimes LESS — 15 for animal athletes. I don’t think you could ever finish learning from this volume of awesome facts. Ever.

Untamed The Wild Life of Jane Goodall
 by Anita Silvey, forward by Jane Goodall
This is not your average biography for kids with small font and ugly black and white photos. No, it’s so much better! Untamed is an excellent depiction of Jane Goodall’s life with kid-friendly language using kid-appealing layouts of colorful photos. Interesting insets throughout describe tips for kids and information such as sign language. I love the Gombe Family Scrapbook at the end with some of the significant chimps in Jane’s life. I also found it really interesting to learn how this English girl read about Africa as a child and fell in love with it.

Nonfiction Books for teens Genius! The Most Astonishing Inventions of All Time Nonfiction Books for Kids
Genius! The Most Astonishing Inventions of All Time 
by Deborah Kespert
A visually appealing graphic layout makes it easy to access the invention information — in fact, it’s down-right enticing! Who knows I’d care about the Archimedes Screw and want to read all about it. Or the Elephant Clock — yes, that was a real thing which was super cool. You’ll learn about these early inventions and more modern inventions such as the space rocket. This is a well-done, readable nonfiction book.

Nonfiction Books for teens Treasury of Norse Mythology- Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love, and Revenge
Treasury of Norse Mythology: Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love, and Revenge
 by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrations by Christina Balit
This is a large, kid-friendly collection of Nordic myths with colorful illustrations and informative insets explaining more about subjects such as the Berserkers and the Norse diet. Excellent!

good books for teens

Book Lists By Age

Kindergarten Books
Books for 1st Grade
Books for 2nd Grade, 7-year olds
Books for 3rd Grade, 8-year olds
Books for 4th Grade, 9-year olds
Books for 5th Grade, 10-year olds
Books for 6th Grade, 11-year olds
Books for 7th Grade, 12-year olds
YA Books
Books Like The Hunger Games
Nonfiction Books for Teens









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  1. Good list! I write YA Science Fiction and would love for anyone to read and review my stuff. I’m an unknown and self publish on Amazon. If you’d like a reviewer copy free in return for an honest review, please look me up under Dannis Cole or dannistories, pick a story or book, and write me at dannis@dannistories.com
    I put ratings on all my stories so if it has PG-13, it has drugs or sex. What I try to do is show the aftermath of abuse. How do people cope? I often write about social issues. Homelessness. Living the low-income life. Single parenthood. Living with disabilities. Coping with trauma, whether physical or emotional or sexual. I’m physically handicapped and have been a single mom. I know first hand what it’s like to try to live a normal life when you can only imagine what that’s like. I’m in the process of shortening my main series, Home Is Not Home, into smaller books in the Adia Series. Book one is Adia, Scientist of Areon. “Adia, Scientist of Areon, researches the most volatile substance in the galaxy. Ryonne~, King of Ye~ and Most High Diplomat to the Emperor, visits Adia’s section to help find an alternate fuel for ships as intergalactic war looms closer to their star system. He soon finds out she has a secret danger more threatening for her than ANW or war!”
    Hope you’ll check out my work!

  2. a book that you could put up or read is wild bird it is a very good book

  3. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is a excellent book for young adult. It tells the story of four teenagers in World War II. Courage, hope and love the book has conveyed is so powerful. I couldn’t put it down. Check it out and maybe you can add it to the list.