It seems like there’s a never-ending stream of young adult books coming out on the
market. As a parent, how can you possibly read each one to make sure that you want your
kid reading them? Sometimes you just can’t. So here’s my answer: read the old ones! I
went ahead and made this incredibly helpful list of awesome books that I read when I was
a teenager. A lot of these books I still read, because they’re that good. Unless I have the
memory of a goldfish, all of these books have a PG rating unless otherwise noted.
1. Singularity, by William Sleator. If you want to feed a budding mind, many of
Sleator’s books are perfect for helping the average person understand intriguing and
difficult concepts. I read Singularity when I was in junior high and it turned me on to
nonfiction books by Michio Kaku, a physicist who writes about theoretical physics for
2. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey. I read this series in junior high and loved it. I’m
pretty sure if you have ever fantasized about having your own dragon, the Pern books
will do you good. Dragonflight is great because you get Lessa, the first woman to be a
dragon-rider. So if pioneering women is your thing, and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t
be, then this is a read for you. This one is more of a high school read.
3. Alanna, by Tamora Pierce. The start of a great series about a girl who becomes a
knight disguised as her twin brother. Need I even mention that I wanted to be a knight, as
well? I did. I wanted to be Alanna.
4. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. I read it as a teen and loved it. It was the first
sci-fi book for me and it’s been a major influence on me regarding leadership, honor,
and character. High school, perhaps, but if you’re concerned, read it first then let your
fourteen-year-old try it.
5. The Girl with the Silver Eyes, by Willo Davis Roberts. I read this when I was pretty
young, but it stuck with me for a long time. The main character is an introvert with the
ability to move things with her mind. I really identified with her because I, too, can move
things with my mind. No, but seriously, she’s a bookworm and I was too.
6. The Boy Who Reversed Himself, by William Sleator. OK, so this seems like cheating,
but Sleator’s books actually deserve to have multiple spots on this list. This book was so
good at helping me visualize what a higher dimension would look like for human eyes,
and not only that, it’s got a thrilling plot that makes you want to keep reading!
7. Seventh Son, by Orson Scott Card. An excellent story. It was such an influence on me
that I really believed I might be able to learn to communicate with cockroaches. Never
happened. But I still love the book.
8. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. I remember thinking it was
such a stupid title. When I finally read it, I really just wanted every book to be this
awesome. But they’re not. Because there can only be one book that is this fantastic,
beautiful, magical, and moving.
9. The BFG, by Roald Dahl. There are so many great books by Roald Dahl, it was hard
to pick just one. I chose this one because it’s the first book of his that I read and it led me
to read all of the others. I’m pretty sure I hoped that I’d get kidnapped by a big, friendly,
giant after I read this book.
10. Strange Attractors, by William Sleator. Yes, yes, I know this list just looks like a
promo piece for Sleator, but I just found out he died in 2011 and I had no idea. I met him
in 2010 at the Southern Festival of Books, and I’m just glad I got to run into him before
he died. He really, really influenced my appreciation for story and science. Strange
Attractors helped me grasp Chaos theory and the book is written as a compelling thriller.