100+ Novels Every High School Student Should (Consider) Read(ing)

Novels Consider Reading

What books should high school students read? If you’re a more traditional teacher, you may have visions quietly reading your favorite novels from the Western canon and discussing them with your students. This is where I started.

But after five years of classroom experience and trying to figure out how to convince actual high school students to enjoy reading, I realized that the traditional Western literature canon only appeals to a small subset of students. A very small subset. If I wanted to convince more of my students to value reading inside my class and once they leave my class, I’d need to find books that either mirror their experiences, or serve as windows into the current world. (Thank you, Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop for that metaphor!)

For this reason, I’ve included a list of books divided by class subject. For example, “Introduction to Literature” could be taught in the 9th grade. At my school in Oklahoma, “American Literature” is taught in the 11th grade.

Personally, I think it would make more sense to teach the introductory course freshman year, then broaden student horizons to reading American literature sophomore year, and expand to world literature junior year. I also think, if we’re going to divide literature this way, we should continue with an overview of world literature during senior year instead of narrowing the focus to British literature.

Truth be told though, I think it would make more sense to focus on themes or topics each year and provide students with opportunities to choose what they want to read independently and in literature circles. We should focus our reading instruction on the students in front of us and their interests, not on a prescribed list or a literary canon dominated by dead white men.

Introduction to Literature

  1. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  2. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  3. A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer
  4. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  5. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  6. Dune by Frank Herbert
  7. Frankly in Love by David Yoon
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  10. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  11. The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
  12. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  13. His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
  14. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  15. House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
  16. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  17. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  18. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  19. The Maze Runner series by James Dashner
  20. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  21. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
  22. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  23. The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot
  24. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  25. Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson
  26. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  27. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  28. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

For more recommendations, check out our list of Books for Secondary English Class.

American Literature

  1. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
  2. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  3. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  4. Anthem by Ayn Rand
  5. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
  6. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  7. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  9. Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
  10. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  11. Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
  12. Delirium series by Lauren Oliver
  13. Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
  14. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
  15. Every Day by David Levithan
  16. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  17. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
  18. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  19. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  20. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  21. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  22. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  23. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  24. Holes by Louis Sachar
  25. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  26. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  27. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  28. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  29. Jubilee by Margaret Walker
  30. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  31. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  32. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  33. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Frederick Douglass
  34. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  35. Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck
  36. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  37. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  38. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  39. Paper Towns by John Green
  40. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  41. Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill
  42. Roots by Alex Haley
  43. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares
  44. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  45. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  46. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  48. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

World Literature

  1. 1984: A Novel by George Orwell
  2. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  5. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
  6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  7. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
  8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  11. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  12. The Hobbit series by J.R.R. Tolkien
  13. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  14. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  15. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  16. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

British Literature

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  3. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  4. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  6. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  8. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  9. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
  10. The Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
  11. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  12. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  13. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  14. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  15. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (especially if you’re a Twilight fan)

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

  1. Hi Mrs. Waters,

    I would like to use your list of “must reads” for teenagers for my sophomores. How would you like me to credit you for the list? Further, where did the list come from?

    Really enjoyed your blog.

    Gillian V.

    1. Sure! You can use the list — and I’d love for you to credit me. My sources for this list include my kids, including the ones who live with me, multiple Good Reads recommendation lists, and my own experience.

  2. Thank you for sharing the great information piece. This will must help every high school reading, keep sharing

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}