Top Ten Books I Think Teens Should Read for "Required Reading"

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by my other blog, The Broke and the Bookish, and the letter Z. Because I am rather fond of the letter Z.

For this list I’m envisioning books that I would want to see maybe required to read in a school setting where there could be some great discussion on some of these books that have some tougher issues or some easily discussable themes. I think that some of these would just be great additions to the required reading for the fact that they might just really be enjoyable for teen’s and keep their attention.

1. The Book Thief — I think everybody in the WORLD should read this but I especially this this would be a great addition to any required reading list and it would really be one that could grab reluctant readers. I’d also recommend I Am The Messenger.

2. The Outsiders– I loved this book when I read it in high school and again when I read it in college. I think that it explores a lot of issues despite how short it is. I’d love to maybe find a book similar to this that is a little more modern for teens but I think this still works well…although I think the culture of the greasers and what not would be lost on a lot of these teens who haven’t seen Grease. We all knew about Grease from our parents and watched it countless times….at least in my family.

3. Speak — Without a doubt, every teen should read this and talk about it. So many things to talk about and rape is something that tends to get pushed to the side. This book starts the discussion and I think it would be a valuable experience for teens.

4. Thirteen Reasons Why — This one would be ideal in a classroom setting where it could be discussed since it is pretty weighty and controversial. I think aside from the “think how you treat people” lesson there are numerous lessons to be learned from this book that could really help some teens.

5. To Kill A Mockingbird – This should never ever be taken off any curriculum. I want my kids to be required to read this and if they aren’t..I will read it with them at home. One of my favorite books that I read in school..and just in general.

6. The Curious Incident of Dog in the Night Time– I think this would be such a unique novel for teens to read in school. I don’t have any really concrete reasons why but I just think it would be. I thought that after the moment I read it.

7.Handmaid’s Tale/ 1984: Have to throw in a dystopian classic novel here. I read 1984 in school and DEVOURED it. I remember that the discussion was always interesting. Definitely a required reading selection that I will always agree with.

8.  The Secret Life Of Bees– I think that this is definitely a crossover that would appeal to high school students. I think with the backdrop of this novel being the Civil Rights Movement it could be a good tie-in to those history lessons about that era and perhaps bring in some text from that time for them to sample. I remember we watched MLK’s speech in English class. I can’t remember what book we had to read that tied-in but I will always remember listening to that speech. Lots of great themes to explore and watching the movie could be an added bonus.

9.  The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – I had been searching for this before to see if it was part of any curriculms after having a discussion with a friend about the teachability of the book and how we both could see it being a good one in a classroom. I had found a teacher who was teaching it in his sophomore English class and the discussion questions that he used were excellent! Definitely a controversial book but I remember so many of the books in high school being that way.  Nothing wrong with a little thinking about tough issues that people don’t like to talk about. What a better way to have that discussion with a fictional story.

10. The Hunger Games — Not only do I think there are some kickass themes to talk about in this book, it would be appeal to guys and girls and has a plot that certainly doesn’t drag which was my complaint about some of the selections I had to read as a high schooler. I needed a mix of things that were just slow moving and beautiful to read and then something that wasn’t a major Snorezilla.

Others: Hamlet, Lucky by Alice Sebold, The Glass Castle, Cry! The Beloved Country, Crank

What about you? What books do you think teens should read or would be a great addition to a curriculum? What do you think makes a GOOD required reading book in a classroom setting?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Jenna (Novella Reviews) says:

    Other people who have read Perks of Being a Wallflower have raved about it – or at least said it was *very* moving. The reading level is 720L which is very doable for most readers. I have a struggling reader at home who is in seventh grade. He can handle books around the 600L to 700L mark at this point.

    Thanks for creating this list – great books for teens.


  2. We Heart YA says:

    YES! The Book Thief and Secret Life of Bees are great on this list. We'd pick Handmaid's Tale over 1984.

  3. Allison says:

    The Hunger Games would be an awesome book that would appeal to both girls and boys, great point there.

    I think all these would prompt great discussions, definitely.

  4. christina says:

    The Secret Life of Bees is such a good addition. Haven't heard that one suggested yet. Nice!

  5. Jenni Elyse says:

    I think Speak is a definite must. Not only to help those that have been assaulted, but to open the eyes of those around them to know what the assaulted person is going through.

  6. KThomas5 says:

    I forgot about The Outsiders! and The Curious Incident of Dog at Midnight! Both of these were required reading for me in school. Someone else told me I should add The Book Thief, but I haven't read it yet! but seeing the title repeated like 10 times in two days, it will definitely be wish listed.

  7. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    I want to have multiple copies of The Perks of Being Wallflower in my classroom one day, ready to pass out when needed. That book is so profound!

  8. I'm The Bookie Monster says:

    I think the Hunger Games is great because not only does it have a message, it's also a book that easily leads to discussion. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books. I'm glad it was on my school's curriculum.

  9. Meredith says:

    The Secret Life of Bees actually is one of my required summer reading books this summer! 😀 I'm reading it right now! My English teacher also did an optional 13 Reasons Why Reading Group too! SO FUN! Great List!!


  10. abookandashortlatte1 says:

    I Am the Messenger is one of my all-time favorite. Nice list!

    My top 10:

  11. Amy @ bookgoonie says:

    Excellent list.

  12. Diva Schuyler says:

    AWESOME to see the dystopian recommendations on here! I think teens can relate to dystopian fiction more than adults realize–or maybe want to realize.

  13. 1984 was my favorite book in high school. I think adolescence is the best time to read dystopian fiction.

    Come visit me at The Scarlet Letter.

  14. Shirley @ My Bookshelf says:

    I definitely agree with a few of these and, shamefully, admit to having not read some of them yet. To Kill a Mockingbird is an all-time favourite which should be required reading!

  15. Ryoutarou says:

    I think everything on that list except for The Hunger Games would make great required reading. The Hunger Games always struck me as a book that just barely touches the surface of its issues in a more superficial manner. I loved it and all, but I think there are more books out there that merit its spot more. The Giver would be a great addition to the list.

  16. Melissa (Avid Reader) says:

    I've read everything on your list but #4 and I love them all. Wonderful choices!

  17. Enbrethiliel says:


    Dystopians are always great additions to a reading list. I think Brave New World would inspire more discussion than Nineteen Eighty-Four, though. I recently reread the former and was surprised to see how moving it can be if you read it in the right mood.

  18. Great list! The Giver by Lois Lowry would be good too. And Life As We Knew Iy by Susan Beth Pfeffer, or something similar about the effects of what we do to the climate.

  19. Loads of fantastic reads on this list. All worthy of being required reading for us all!

  20. Great book list! I need to still read a few of those.