Top Ten Thought-Provoking Teen Books

Teen Read Week is a great time to explore books that get everyone thinking and talking.

By Cathy Neushul


4 kids reading

When teens talk about the books on their required reading lists, they might use the word boring. This can often happen because they don’t see the stories as relevant. While an appreciation of the classics is a must, Teen Read Week, which begins Oct. 16th, can be a time to explore the kinds of literature that will get teens reading and talking.

Teen Books with a Unique Perspective:

  1. The Fault of Our Stars by John Green: One of the last things teens think about is their own death. This book explores the lives of teens with life-threatening illnesses. While it may sound like a real downer, the book is beautifully written and life affirming. 
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Any book where death is a main character is alluring. This book describes the lives of a young girl and her father in Nazi Germany. They perform acts of heroism to save the Jewish-Germans in their midst.
  3. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: Ray Bradbury’s books are works of art that all teens should have a chance to appreciate. This book is a good way to get a taste of the beauty and creativity of his prose. The premise, a world in which books are banned, leads to lively discussions.
  4. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen: While not a challenging book to read, the story it contains is entertaining and memorable. The main characters wage a battle against the owners of a pancake restaurant who want to destroy the Burrow Owl’s habitat
  5. Matched by Ally Condie: Once teens pick up this book, they might not be able to put it down. The main character is a young woman whose mate is chosen for her with the goal of producing the optimal offspring. With a creepy, yet interesting premise, this is a fun book to read and discuss.
  6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner: This book is not for the faint of heart. The main character goes through harrowing experiences to survive in a maze filled with monsters. When he finally escapes from the maze, things only get worse.
  7. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: While the writing is simplistic, the premise of the story is bound to spark discussion. When young people turn sixteen, they are turned into pretties, but there is a price.
  8. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: As an exploration of the life of a seventeen-year old girl and the writing process, this book is an interesting read.
  9. A Great and Terrible Beauty (the first in the Gemma Doyle series) by Libba Bray: Gemma Doyle, the heroine of this series, is a clairvoyant who delves into a mystery related to her new boarding school. The story is set in the 1800’s and provides a look into this historical period.
  10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: This frightening, yet entertaining, book is a must-read for teens and a guaranteed discussion starter. 

Teen Read Week Activities:

Farenheit 451

Spark discussion with these study questions. They will help your class delve more deeply into the material.

The Hunger Games

Explore the main themes of The Hunger Games.  Pupils discuss hunger and food in the book. They also make a commercial advertising the attributes of one of the tributes.


Discuss environmentalism. After reading Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, pupils learn how to write persuasive essays advocating a cause.