Top Ten Tuesday: Required Reading for Teens

by Tee

The subject of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is Top  Ten Books I’d Make Required Reading for Teens.  Let me just make a disclaimer now: alot (but not all) of the books I chose should probably be considered Required Reading For Teen Girls.  I can’t help it. I like the girly stuff. So while these might not all be the types of stories that are discussed in school, these are the books I hope my children read someday (they’ve already started thanks to my careful brainwashing).

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- If you’ve visited this blog more than once, you knew I was going to say that, right?  And whatever with the fact that many schools already require this one. I was never required to (I suspect because of some of the language, maybe?  I have no idea) and so I didn’t take the time to read this one until I was an adult who was already totally in love with the film.  I think it would have had as tremendous an impact on me as a teenager as it does every single time I read it.  It’s just that good.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- This one broke my heart too.  I thought it would be so dark to read a book narrated by Death and yet it wasn’t.  This one has alot of good characters too.  I think there are many incredible stories about the atrocities of WWII and Hitler’s reign, but I haven’t read many that touch on the fears of the non-Jewish, especially those who see the horrors going on and are virtually powerless to stop it. This story touches on the big and small ways people fight back.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- I don’t know how else to say it.  Jane was a butt-kicking female heroine before female heroines were butt kickers.  She obviously didn’t so it with brute force or harsh words, but in her means of survival, in her refusal to take a life that was lacking in decency and in the unyielding way she loved.  And I can’t help it, I love Mr. Rochester.

4. Night by Elie Wiesel-Have you read this?  It’s about the time the author and his father spent in concentration camps in Nazi Germany.  It is painful and difficult to watch the transformation of the main character into one who despises God and resents having to watch over his father, but his honesty is so courageous.  It’s a tough read but a necessary one.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- Why?  Because it’s awesome.  Katniss, though she is pretty wishy-washy and dense when it comes to boys, is fierce about defending her little sis and those she cares for.  She is a fantastic portrayal of a strong heroine surviving the worst odds and fighting to the death for what is right.

6.  Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling- Where do I even start?  I think many people, myself included, tend to avoid blockbuster-y types of stories because it seems they can never live up to the hype.  But this series is amazing.  And once you read the first book, you’re in.  You’re hooked.  It’s all over baby.

7. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver- Though I did not fall in love with the main character in this book, I felt it was so beautifully written (I know. Hello, it’s Lauren Oliver. Of course it’s beautiful).  It’s an interesting look at the Queen Bees of high school, what makes them tick and how deeply felt are the wounds they inflict.

8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott- Many of you know, I’ve never actually read this (for shame), but I recently started it. Yeah, I had to borrow it from my nine-year old, who is completely obsessed with all things Little Women and who names her Barbies Jo and Laurie.  There are worse things she could love.  Already, I love the camaraderie between the sisters and their relationship with their mother.  I can see that it’s full of strong, believably flawed females who are not looking to change the world, but to live the lives they dream of.  And while whimsical fantasy stories are fun and breathtaking, I think stories about normal girls like these, are the best.

9. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine- I’ve never read anything by this author that I’ve not thoroughly enjoyed.  Ella has an especially good story because elements of the tale of Cinderella are thrown in with funny bits of magic and humor, leaving us with a brave, funny heroine and a swoony Prince.  The love story is very sweet and romantic without being unbelievable like all the “real” fairy tales we were raised on.

10. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart- I just think this is such a clever, funny book about a girl who is brighter than even the smartest boys at her elite school.  Also it’s pretty hilarious.


23 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Required Reading for Teens

  1. I thought The Book Thief would be dark too. I love death’s portrayal in this novel. What you would expect to be gruesome and scary is instead beautiful and touching.

  2. My daughter suggested that I include Harry Potter but I resisted because the first book is not the best book and I can’t imagine requiring that a kid read all seven books. Otherwise our lists are surprisingly similar.

    • Hi Anne, I have to insert my two cents, though I’m not the author of this article. I read the HP series because my eldest was getting to the age where I knew any day now he’d ask to read the books. I wanted to know what all the hype was about. Mind you, this was when the hype was years old, which was part of the reason I couldn’t (wouldn’t) read them. I read the first book and I thought, well, it wasn’t breathtaking but it was a sweet story. As I continued progressively through each book I became more and more passionate, until I’ve come to the point of writing a paragraph long response! 🙂 As I worked my way through the series the books became more interesting, exciting, and the magic of the story, the core that ties them all together came through for me. And there I was last Friday weeping as the last scene of the movie unfolded. I think the message carried in this series, that is that hate and greed will do nothing but poison you (and in contrast that love and compassion will carry you through victorious) make these books very worthy “required reading” candidates for teens. Sorry, went cray-cray, but I really think this is true!

    • I agree that the first is not the best, but it grabbed me and I was so hooked. I don’t know if I cold pick a favorite. It’s all just one big story to me!

      • i liked the first one, the second one was my least favorite & took me forever to read. if i had not gotten through that one, though, i would have missed out on SOOO MUCH!

      • I felt the exact same way! Had a tougher time with #2 until the last third. Then I went nutso for Azkaban again. Chamber of Secrets is my least fav of the books and films even though overall it’s a good story, it’s just not AS good as the others.

  3. Tee, fabu list, one again! And how much do I love that your young Padwan and I both are on the Little Women train? She is so my people.

    • She is. Just like Ben is mine with his love of Harry Potter. We won’t discuss the fact that my daughter WON’T EVEN READ THEM! (weeps silently). She loves Little Women though. I think if I loved Harry less, she’d be more interested.

    • Nooooooo! Don’t say that! Jane is awesome. And really, Mr. Rochester is too. You know why I love him? He’s totally and completely flawed so he seems real and believable. But I’m the same with Anne of Green Gables. I mean, I made a commitment that I would try to read it this year but it doesn’t even sound appealing. I’ll get over it though. I promise.

  4. Before I Fall is such an interesting choice! I don’t know that I’ve seen it on any other (wishful) required reading lists. Love that you branched out and included a lesser picked book for this type of list.

    • You know, I wanted something about bullying and how kids treat each other and, in all honesty, I avoid topics like that often (as you will see next week when we have to discuss Top Ten Issue Books). This one had enough “issue” for me without being too, too heavy. Plus I love Lauren Oliver.

  5. Oh my goodness, yes! Frankie Landau-Banks!!! I love that girl and her spunkiness SO much. I didn’t love Ella Enchanted all that much, but I do think it’s a good pick as an introduction to fantasy/fractured fairy tales. Nice list!

    • My daughter and I read The Two Princesses of Bamarre (Gail Carson Levine) and we enjoyed it too. I guess I just have a thing for her books. But Frankie…oh how I love her. I think all E. Lockhart should be on the list!

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