I am one of those people who love to re-read books that I loved, or that hold some sort of special place in my heart, and very likely my bookshelf.
I did not have your typical English classes in high school. I read some of the same books as the average kid my age across the country, but my reading list was missing some “typical” books. I have still never read Lord of the Flies, not because I don’t want to, but I was never forced to and then it just never happened. Some of those typical books I ended up reading in college or on my own. Some books I tried to read multiple times as a teen and adult, and I still can’t get through them.
The books from your teens you should read again:
1. The Giver by Lois Lowry With the outbreak of dystopian novels, especially in the YA world, there is no way I could leave this book out. It would even be a great book to read with your child when they are old enough to read it. I truly believe it is a classic book, and even though I stand firm in “the book is always better than the movie” camp, even the book is very well done.
Why you should re-read it: For starters, unlike the current dystopian YA novels this book is just a book and not a series. The writing is just simply put, wonderful.
2. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (Beatrice Sparks) This book wasn’t easy to read as a teen, and it isn’t any easier to read as an adult, but it touches on issues that are still relevant, issues like drugs, sex and the struggles of being a teen.
Why you should re-read it: Again, the issues in this book are still relevant. It is a pretty controversial book, and supposedly it was taken from a diary, but now it is labeled as a work of fiction. I would also recommend It Happened to Nancy also by Beatrice Sparks.
3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: This book may or may not be on the reading list for your local high school. It has themes of gang violence, drugs, sex, etc.… If you haven’t read it (or seen the movie) I would tell you that you should read it now.
Why you should re-read it: It is a heart-warming story that you can appreciate no matter your age. Not only does it discuss issues of gangs, etc.… it also brings socioeconomic status into the picture, which is an important topic to discuss as well.
4. Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume This book is like reliving my teen years all over again. The main character, Steph, struggles with having great friends that have zero in common and don’t want to share Steph’s attention.
Why you should re-read it: I would recommend this book for any parent of a daughter. Even if you don’t remember, I feel like these issues are prominent in every girls coming of age point in life. Sometimes we forget how the things we see as trivial are so important to teenagers. I would also recommend that you re-read Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret? Which is probably the most iconic Judy Blume book for teens.
5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger This book is very similar to the Judy Blume books I mentioned. Holden Caulfield discusses the meaning of life and how what we see as trivial as adults may not be trivial to the 15 and 16 year olds of the world.
Why you should re-read it:I think it is a well-written book, and as you re-read it you may eye roll about some of the things Holden talks about, but again they are issues that todays teens still worry about and make a big deal about.
6. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank I will always suggest historical non-fiction books to a reader of any age. This story in particular is so heart wrenching and real and haunting that I hope everyone reads this book at least once in their life.
Why you should re-read it: It not only touches on the real issues the average Jewish family faced during the Holocaust, it also showed a very real side of being an adolescent girl, just one that happened to be going through adolescence during the middle of a war. I would also recommend Number The Stars by Lois Lowry if you were looking for a YA novel about The Holocaust.
7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee When you think of books for the teen audience, this one comes to mind for many people, but it is surprising considering the main characters are either very young, under the age of 10, or middle-aged adults. Not exactly what you imagine that a teen would want to read about.
Why you should re-read it: This book touches on issues of race and doing what you believe is right, and standing by how you feel regardless of what everyone around you feels like. Everyone should be able to stand your ground and be proud of how they act.
8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury In a future, dystopian world books are banned and burned. The title refers to the temperature at which paper burns.
Why you should re-read it: The themes in this book are scary real; you could imagine how this type of thing could happen now. The book is also telling us how to find the goodness and truth in the world, which is a lesson we could always use.
9. 1984 by George Orwell: This book was about big brother watching before we had that capability. Imagine if your television could monitor your every move to make sure you did what you were supposed to do.
Why you should re-read it: It touches on many issues that some may say are still prevalent in our society. Censorship, Surveillance, Nationalism, Privacy, etc.… As an adult living in a world with Wikileaks and Snowden maybe this book will be more relevant for you as an adult than it was as a teen.
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky This book will always be on one of my favorite books list, so maybe I am a bit biased. I will even admit that I think the movie was cast and produced really well. It talks about the coming of age for a teenager, and one of the few books that focus on a male point of a view.
Why you should re-read it: I think as a parent it gives us some insight as to why our teens may act out. It also touches on some very sensitive issues, like being gay in high school, sexual assault, and drugs.
There are so many great YA books out in our libraries and at our local book stores, but I never want to forget the books that encouraged my love for reading and for cultivating some of my interests that I have today. If you have a teen I would even recommend reading these books with them or when they read them for school.
What books would you add to this list?