Whether you’re spending your holidays at the beach, the mountains or just in your own back garden there is no better time to get into a good book. For teenagers, especially those learning English as a second language, reading opens up a whole new world of vocabulary and expression. We’ve picked the following books for kids aged 14 and up, divided by genre.
The Kingkiller Chronicle – Patrick Rothfuss
Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.
His Dark Materials – Phillip Pullman
His Dark Materials is an epic trilogy of fantasy novels consisting of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.. It follows the coming of age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes meeting danger and adventure in equal measure.
A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men… all will play the Game of Thrones. Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plot, lusts and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; all the way to the frozen north, where a 700-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. The Game of Thrones. You win, or you die.
Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien
Originally published in 1954, The Lord of the Rings set the framework upon which all epic/quest fantasy since has been built. Through the urgings of the enigmatic wizard Gandalf, young hobbit Frodo Baggins embarks on an urgent, incredibly treacherous journey to destroy the One Ring. This ring – created and then lost by the Dark Lord, Sauron, centuries earlier – is a weapon of evil, one that Sauron desperately wants returned to him. With the power of the ring once again his own, the Dark Lord will unleash his wrath upon all of Middle-earth.
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, widely beloved British children’s book by Lewis Carroll, published in 1865. With its fantastical tales and riddles, it became one of the most popular works of English-language fiction.
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Red Rising Trilogy – Pierce Brown
Born a diminutive Red in the mines of Mars, Darrow of Lykos was recruited by a revolutionary group, Carved into a fearsome Gold warlord, and subsequently led the Rising to victory across the solar system. But in the ten years since, Darrow has discovered that it is easier to break an empire than it is to build one. Will he and his loved ones achieve their ultimate goal of freedom for all colours, or will his brave new world come crashing down around him?
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.
Between Shades of Grey – Ruta Sepetys
Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life — until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father’s prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Set in the 1950s American South, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.
Witch Child – Celia Rees
When Mary sees her grandmother accused of witchcraft and hanged for the crime, she is silently hurried to safety by an unknown woman. The woman gives her tools to keep the record of her days – paper and ink. Mary is taken to a boat in Plymouth and from there sails to the New World where she hopes to make a new life among the pilgrims. But old superstitions die hard and soon Mary finds that she, like her grandmother, is the victim of ignorance and stupidity, and once more she faces important choices to ensure her survival.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbours for her family’s erratic and eccentric behaviour-such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce-no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama.
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, a veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great grey hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, was their only hope for survival.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation #1 – M.T. Anderson
It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only persons in their household assigned names. As the boy’s regal mother, Cassiopeia, entertains the house scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians’ fanatical studies. Only after he dares to open a forbidden door does he learn the hideous nature of their experiments — and his own chilling role in them.
Code Name Verity – Elizabeth E. Wein
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. They’ll get the truth out of her. But it won’t be what they expect.
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.
One of Us Is Lying – Karen M. McManus
Pay close attention and you might solve this.On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention, Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
A Northern Light – Jennifer Donnelly
It is 1906 and Mattie Gokey is trying to learn how to stand up like a man — even though she’s a sixteen-year-old girl. At her summer job at a resort on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack mountains, she will earn enough money to make something of her life. That money could be a dowry to wed the handsome but dull Royal Loomis. It could save her father’s brokeback farm. Or it might buy her a train ticket to New York City and college and a life that she can barely allow herself to imagine.
I Am Still Alive – Katie Alice Marshall
After: Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.
Before: Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.
After: With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.
Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father…and she wants revenge.
Need – Joel Charbonneau
One by one, the teens in Nottawa, Wisconsin join the newest, hottest networking site and answer one question: What do you need? A new iPhone? Backstage tickets to a concert? In exchange for a seemingly minor task, the NEED site will fulfill your request. Everyone is doing it. So why shouldn’t you?
Kaylee Dunham knows what she needs –a kidney for her sick brother. She doesn’t believe a social networking site can help, but it couldn’t hurt to try.
And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…
A Long Way Home – Saroo Brierley
When Saroo Brierley used Google Earth to find his long-lost home town half a world away, he made global headlines. Saroo had become lost on a train in India at the age of five. Not knowing the name of his family or where he was from, he survived for weeks on the streets of Kolkata, before being taken into an orphanage and adopted by a couple in Australia. Despite being happy in his new family, Saroo always wondered about his origins. He spent hours staring at the map of India on his bedroom wall. When he was a young man the advent of Google Earth led him to pore over satellite images of the country for landmarks he recognised. And one day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for. Recently made into a film, named Lion, the book teaches children about the importance of culture and identity.
Phones Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science – John Fleischman
Phineas Gage was truly a man with a hole in his head. Phineas, a railroad construction foreman, was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a thirteen-pound iron rod was shot through his brain. Miraculously, he survived to live another eleven years and become a textbook case in brain science.
At the time, Phineas Gage seemed to completely recover from his accident. He could walk, talk, work, and travel, but he was changed. Gage “was no longer Gage,” said his Vermont doctor, meaning that the old Phineas was dependable and well liked, and the new Phineas was crude and unpredictable.
His case astonished doctors in his day and still fascinates doctors today. What happened and what didn’t happen inside the brain of Phineas Gage will tell you a lot about how your brain works and how you act human.
A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
In A Short History of Nearly Everything, the bestselling author of One Summer, confronts his greatest challenge yet: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as his territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilisation, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us
The 57 Bus – Dashka Slater
If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.
Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly
Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award winner Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers!
Do You Know Who You Are? – Dorling Kindersley – (interactive book)
Learn about your skills, dreams, desires, and personality with Do You Know Who You Are?, a guided journal for young adults who want to discover more about themselves. Part quiz book, part self-help book, and part activity book, Do You Know Who You Are?is packed with questionnaires, creative activities, fascinating analysis, and psychological wisdom.
We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story – Josh Sundquist
Josh Sundquist is in his mid-20s and has never had a real girlfriend. In fact, his longest relationship lasted only 23 hours. So he decides to do some scientific investigation to see if he can find out what’s keeping him from true love: He revisits awkward and sometimes painful memories of all the girls he’s loved before — and then actually visits them in real life or over email to see what they were thinking all those years ago.