It's back to school time, which means students may be asked to select books to read independently during the school year. It also means that increasing literacy is a number one goal of school districts and families before high stakes tests. With that in mind, it is important to get teenagers reading books appropriate to their age level. Regardless of the reason your teen needs a book, there are some tried-and-true genres that young adult readers love to read about.
There is a reason why The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins is so wildly popular. Students love reading about dystopian worlds, or societies in which the government is completely unjust and things that happen to the characters in the novel are wildly unfair. This could be because they love the idea of rebellion against an unjust authority figure, or just because the action that usually takes place in these novels is non-stop. Either way, dystopian literature grabs teenagers' attention and doesn't let go. Some other titles to consider in this genre are Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Anthem by Ayn Rand, A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, and The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Did your teen fawn over Twilight? Did she read that entire brick of a book in one night? This could be because she loves the idea of vampires, but it is more likely because it is a compelling romance. Romance novels for teens are a huge hit because so many of them are just trying out their first romances and they want to know how it's done. Plus, many of these couples in young adult romance novels face situations that just aren't fair and that keep them apart unnecessarily, and young adult readers tend to really respond to those themes. If your student devours romance novels, some titles to consider are the Perfect Chemistry books by Simone Elkeles, Forget You by Jennifer Echols, and The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen.
If your teenager grew up with Harry Potter, there's a good chance, he or she is mourning the end of the series as well as the final movie that came out this year. Rather than read the whole series again, there are some great science fiction and fantasy novels out there that will have your students taken away to a new world in no time. The best thing about science fiction and fantasy novels is that they usually come in series of multiple books, so it is really easy for your child to pick up the next book in the series when he or she is done with the first. Some books in this genre include The Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, and Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
While not fiction, memoirs can provide the same character development and plot intrigue for young adults as fiction stories can with the added benefit of being totally true. Teenagers love a true story because they can know for sure that it actually happened at one point in time. Memoirs are true stories that read like fiction, rather than like a dry biography. Some great memoirs that grab students' attention are A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer, Trouble In My Head: A Young Girl's Fight with Depression by Mathilde Monaque, Freedom Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine, and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
If your young adult devours all the books on this list, check with a local librarian or bookstore. They have great suggestions, too!