Top Ten Tuesdays: Required Reading For Teens

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and Bookish with a new list subject every Tuesday.

This week’s Top Ten is Top Ten Books You Believe Should Be Required Reading For Teens. Straight away I think this might be a tough one. I can already think of ones that adolescents shouldn’t be forced to read… Not ones that they should be reading. So here goes.

  1. Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden – Apart from being a well written book, the main characters are all young adults and I think age set is important when trying to find something that a certain demographic can identify with. Plus it’s set in the bush, the Aussie bush, and at the same time it isn’t written in such a way where kids who have grown up in suburbia can’t enjoy it as well. It’s not about the bush, but it still utilises the isolation that is part and parcel of Australia.
  2. Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta – Unlike the above book mentioned, this one is a novel I read in my teens. For someone who went from kids books straight to adult books, quite a few books I came across that were aimed at young adults felt condescending. Looking For Alibrandi was one of the novels that didn’t feel condescending at all. It’s a great read and from what I remember (I’m not that old, but it’s still been a long time…) it’s a great look at multiculturalism in Australia.
  3. Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks – Another book I read in my teens and just as with the top two, it opens up perspective as well. It’s a girls diary following her journey and battle with drugs. It’s not exactly something pleasant to read, but that makes it even more readable and more of a must read.
  4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee Harper – This is one of the few I read during school that was part of the curriculum (a lot of the time we chose our own books and I don’t know why). It’s also one of the few school reads that was actually well received and I enjoyed. Unfortunately I haven’t read it since, but I would recommend it to anyone, especially adolescents. The consequences and issues of racism are delivered in such a way that all sorts of people can be moved by it.
  5. The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein – I don’t think the Moth Diaries is the type of novel you expect and I think it would also be a good read for those kids who have an interest in the supernatural, are possibly a little weird themselves, and like art that is on the unorthodox side. Basically how I was in high school… I think this story has a lot to do with fear and acceptance, which is something we all have to deal with throughout life.
  6. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank – If you haven’t heard about Anne Frank then I don’t know where you’ve been. Living under a rock perhaps? Who cannot be moved by the true story of a child living through the Holocaust? Who can’t get emotional about that? Just thinking about it gets me choked up and the idea of someone not having read it before leaves me flabbergasted.
  7. Finding Fish by Antwone Fisher – This biography has also been made into a movie and is probably better known because of its film. I read this after I watched the film and it has stayed with me ever since. It’s about a child living through foster care, suffering abuse at the hands of his guardians and his struggle and journey through life.
  8. The Art of War by Sun Tzu – Maybe this is an odd choice because it’s a non fiction based around war, but there’s a lot of underlying messages going on in there. This is a war book that isn’t really about war, when you think about it.
  9. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – I know this is a violent one, but the text isn’t violent and it’s actually following the journey of someone in their teens. It’s colourful and yes the content is dark, but I think it addresses a lot of issues. It also helps that it’s well written and ok I’m just in love with this book…
  10. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel – I’m a little iffy about this one, mainly because it’s also one of those books that I describe further down. I also think it’s a great philosophical read though so I’m torn.

There’s a reason why I didn’t choose that much classic literature or classic anything else for this list. I can understand the need to analyse text and how classic literature is a great format for that, but I don’t agree with expecting someone to read something at a certain time because it’s decided for them. I’m all for people reading something when they’re ready for it because there are certain texts where you won’t benefit from reading it when you’re not ready for it. Say The Lord of The Rings for instance, granted it’s not classic literature, but it’s still a classic piece that I feel everyone should give a go at some point. The thing is, I believe LOTR is one of those books that shouldn’t be forced on anyone to read, but should be picked up when a person is ready. So whether an adolescent is ready for a specific written work or not isn’t up to me and probably shouldn’t be up to anyone, but more about where they are at that point.

10 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesdays: Required Reading For Teens

  1. +JMJ+

    A Clockwork Orange is on my list, too! =D You’re right that it addresses a lot of issues that are important to teens (and well, to everyone), such as what “goodness” and “badness” are, and why a good education or the best of culture isn’t enough. People have to want to be good. I think teenagers instinctively understand that, while their teachers (who are, ironically, requiring the reading) more often forget.


  2. Go Ask Alice is a fantastic addition and one I did not think about. I also think Tomorrow When the War Began is also a great choice. I think I could have added at least fifty more to my list.


  3. Interesting point on not forcing LotR (which I did have on my list!) on anyone. I’d agree but I’d also extend the argument to all books (apart from set texts at school which are unavoidable). I enjoyed your list – there are some on there that I had not heard of.


  4. Your explanation at the end is why I made it ‘recommendations’ instead of ‘required reading.” I don’t know that that phrase is quite the right one. One the other hand, there are many classics that are great to be introduced to at a young age, mainly because, what we get out of them at that stage is very different from what we get out of them as adults. Both are incredible experiences!!

    Your list is interesting, though I was quite startled to see Sun Tzu there!…. There was a time when I longed to give Life of Pi a go…not any more, thought.:-/

    Risa from Bread Crumb Reads.:)


  5. I think To Kill a Mockingbird might just be on every list — it certainly should be. I always loved reading, but that book really changed my life. Great list! I’ve heard a lot about Go Ask Alice — I really need to check it out, especially if it’s a must read!


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