8 Great Books To Get Your Teen Interested In Reading This Summer

For every teen who’s under the impression that reading during the summer isn’t really their thing, there are dozens of books out there — from newer graphic novels to 500 page classics — ready to change their mind.

With the school-less summer months upon us, we have rounded up eight awesome books that will keep your teen reading into the summer months and beyond.

1. An Abundance of Katherines – John Green (2006)

Age Range: 13 and up

Following the end of high school, former child prodigy Colin Singleton is forced to confront the fact that he’s yet to become a full-fledged genius. He’s also dealing with a perpetually unsteady love life. As the title implies, he’s been dumped by more than his share of girls named Katherine.

An Abundance of Katherines is from Young Adult mastermind John Green, also responsible for the supremely popular tear-jerker The Fault in Our Stars, now also a movie. This lesser known but equally great read is quirky, light, and hits on themes like disappointment, identity, and how we imperfect humans deal with it.

2. Copper Sun – Sharon Draper (2006)

Age Range: 15 and up

National Book Award Finalist and Coretta Scott King Award winner Copper Sun is a tough read for any age, honest in its depiction of the brutal triangle slave trade to the U.S. during the 18th century. But the book is hugely impressive on two fronts: both as an unflinching glimpse into American history, and as a coming-of-age story.

The novel follows Amari, a fifteen-year-old girl who’s stolen from her African village by European slave traders and sent to America, where she meets characters of both unmatched cruelty and compassion. Sharon Draper’s words have been met with plenty of critical love for her story, which deftly balances hope with tough realism, and the universal struggles of teens with a portrait of slavery in America.

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky (1999)

Age Range: 15 and up

This ultra-quick read is written as a series of letters from a sensitive, introspective 15 year-old protagonist, Charlie, to an anonymous friend. But despite the book’s brevity, The Perks of Being a Wallflower hits on some emotionally poignant territory for any teen still slowly piecing the world — and their place in it — together.

A study of life on the outside, this book has been labelled as a Catcher in the Rye for a new generation, and has resonated with a new generation of readers in much the same way as the JD Salinger’s 1951 classic. Teens are sure to commiserate with Charlie, whose suburban life is mostly a struggle to fit in.

In 2012, it was made into a movie, giving you the opportunity to compare, contrast, and probably belly-ache over how the movie “got it wrong.”

4. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life – Bryan Lee O’Malley (2004)

Age Range: 15 and up

Want a quick read? Teens of pretty much any reading level will barrel through each volume of the six-part Scott Pilgrim series in twenty minutes max. But that’s not slight: “Pilgrim” is bright, relatable, and is the rare kind of comic that creates audible laughter — which is more than Peanuts can say.

The series follows a slacker musician in his early twenties as he goes on an epic, video game-inspired mission to defeat the evil exes of his dream girl (and on the way, even secure a bit of self-respect). Scott Pilgrim is great for teens who are somewhat averse to the whole “reading” thing. Plus, while short on words, the series brilliantly taps into the verve of 21st century video game and too-cool culture.

5. American Born Chinese – Gene Yang (2006)

Age Range: 13 and up

Another graphic novel, American Born Chinese isn’t quite as easy breezy as Scott Pilgrim, but the book has won some pretty serious accolades (including a Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature) for its sometimes dark, sometimes hilarious exploration of the intersection of race and youth in America.

The novel unravels three different narratives centered around race, including one that deals with a young second-generation Asian moving into a predominantly white, suburban community. The novel’s combination of powerful words and illustration make it an ideal learning tool for students who struggle with reading, and its themes will likely make an impact on any adult grappling with their identity and place in the world.

6. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

Age Range: 15 and up

Literary mad scientist Kurt Vonnegut’s take on the intersection of war, free will, and a race of fourth-dimensional beings known as Tralfamadorians, is a breezy read in terms of length and language, but still has as much to say about what it means to be a post-World War II human as it did when it came out in 1969. Plus, Vonnegut, as always, is staggeringly funny, so long as your sense of humor is just a shade darker than the norm.

Because of its language (occasionally vulgar) and irreverence (ceiling high), Slaughterhouse Five is one of those books that has caused controversy when it has been taught in high school. Then again, alongside Huckleberry Finn, Fahrenheit 451, and Catcher in the Rye, it’s in good company.

7. The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth (2012)

Age Range: 13 and up

Another great read hitting on difficult themes of identity and difficult clashes with the adult world, 2012’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, about a young Montana girl sent to a “de-gaying” camp after her parents are killed in a car accident, is a worthy read for LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ youths alike.

The coming-out novel from Emily M. Danforth is a meticulously crafted work of fiction that fleshes out the protagonist’s coming-out struggle carefully with a refreshing level of honesty, will likely mirror the struggles of many LGBTQ readers who might find their own stories missing from most school curriculums. Upon its release, the book was met with rave reviews and huge accolades, including a spot on the shortlist for the YALSA Morris Award for Young Adult debut novels.

8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (1979)

Age Range: 13 and up

Seeing the movie is not the same.

Douglas Adams, another master of skepticism and human ontology, has continued to gain die-hards, devotees, and bleeding hearts since The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first adapted from an eponymous BBC radio broadcast in 1979.

Famed for its wit and boundless creativity, the mind-melting The Hitchhiker’s Guide follows the extraordinarily average Arthur Dent after his world is, quite literally, altered following the planned destruction of planet Earth by an alien species. It also contains timeless words of wisdom like this: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

The novel has not lost its popularity since it was first published, and we imagine that it will continue to experience periodic resurgences in public interest – all entirely justified. If you have not read this book, even as an adult, you should read along with your teen, and who knows, you might both stay up late into the night talking about whether the answer to life, the universe, and everything is really 42.

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