High school can be a stressful but formative time. At this critical age, absorbing good literature can help students understand the world. Developing a love of reading will benefit them no matter what career path they choose later in life.
Studies from the National Research Council shows that over 40% of high school students are disengaged from school. Reading is a great way of encouraging students to engage in their studies.
There are many incredible classic and modern works of literature out there. Having access to these materials can prove to be beneficial in any child’s life.
Read on for 8 books that should be on every high school reading list.
1. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Almost every teen can find something in common with Holden Caulfield, the novel’s teen protagonist. Written in 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is a classic novel that was originally published for adults but has since become popular with teenagers because of its themes of teenage alienation.
This classic novel has been translated into all of the world’s major languages and around 1 million copies are sold each year. Holden Caulfield has become a classic icon of teenage rebellion. The character represents the quintessential struggle teenagers face during the coming of age phase.
2. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
At the age when many teenagers are experiencing the first taste of love, there is no better novel to dive into then a classic romance novel. Anna Karenina is a classic novel written by Leo Tolstoy that revolves around desperation and romantic decisions.
Written in 1878, the novel still remains popular. In a 2007 Time poll of 125 contemporary authors, Anna Karenina was voted the “greatest book ever written.”
Anna, the story’s tragic protagonist, deals with many of the same thematic issues that teenagers of our time are dealing with. She must negotiate with the hypocritical standards of society while trying to follow her own heart.
3. Reality Hunger, David Shields
Reality Hunger by David Shields is a great read for the modern teenager. The novel deals with the obstacles that happen when growing up in a culture of mixed media.
Teenagers in the modern day are bombarded with all kinds of social media that previous generations did not have to deal with. According to a study done by Common Sense Media, teens spend about 9 hours a day using media.
This novel is a great addition to any high school reading list as it exposes modern teens to their own reality. Only by putting things in perspective can these young adults learn to control their own lives.
4. Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman has been lauded as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century. It was the recipient of the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play.
Death of a Salesman focuses on Willy and his struggle as a failed salesman. It centers around the idea of the pursuit of the American Dream. The themes of the play can be very beneficial for today’s youth. Especially when it comes to better understanding the struggles of their parents.
5. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare’s most well-known play, Romeo and Juliet, is already very familiar to most high schools students. They probably have seen the various adaptations of it on film or television.
Although the language is difficult to navigate, there is something so beautiful and classic about Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare’s play, although hundreds of years old, covers the issues of love, jealousy, and violence. All of these issues are and will continue to be prevalent even in society today.
6. 1984, George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell is set in London where a ruling party controls all aspects of its citizens. The party prohibits free thought and individuality. The story follows the protagonist, Winston Smith, who becomes frustrated with his government and joins the rebel party.
Orwell’s political novel highlights the dangers of totalitarianism and communism. It also serves as a warning to nations who were unsure of their stance on communism. 1984 is a beautifully written novel and is a great addition to any high school reading list.
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird can be found on any high school reading list, and for good reason. Many high school students consider this one of the most influential books they have read.
Harper Lee’s award-winning novel is set in Maycomb, Alabama and follows the trial of a black man who is accused of raping a white woman. The story highlights the harsh racism that African-Americans suffer in this country. Although this novel was written a long time ago, certain themes are still very relevant today.
This novel is not only a great read but also an extremely educational story that exposes the racist underbelly of this nation’s history. Learning about the world begins with having access to these types of stories.
8. Sara’s Game, Ernie Lindsey
A time travel science fiction novel, Ernie Lindsey’s Sara’s Game is the first installment of The Sara Winthrop Thriller Series. This first novel is a USA Today bestseller and is a thriller that is intense but filled with humor.
It is a great read with an enthralling time travel story that most teens will devour in one sitting. Although it is not a difficult read, it allows the reader to engage in their imagination and get fully lost in the story. Learn more about the author and the rest of the installments.
Ready to Build a Great High School Reading List?
Reading is one of the best ways for any youth to learn and understand the world. Whether it be history, culture, or social changes. Reading has a varying array of crucial purposes, one of the most important is that the reader will grow – empathetically and intellectually.
There are many great pieces of literature out there, and exposing teenagers to these novels will only help them as they learn to navigate their place in the world. It may even inspire them to begin writing their own novels.
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