Teenagers and adults alike can enjoy young adult books, and there are more options than ever for a young reader. When it comes to young women, young adult literature offers many choices to cater to nearly every interest, reading level, maturity level, and genre.
Reading should be encouraged for many reasons, one of which is that kids who read perform better on standardized tests, have better concentration, and can better relate to and understand the world around them.
This article will help you narrow down the somewhat overwhelming number of options of books for you so you can find the perfect books for the young adults in your life.
From classics like Little Women and To Kill a Mockingbird to more modern hits like the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, this list is sure to have something that will entice even the most reluctant readers.
Best books for teenage girls
1. The House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)
Set up in small mini-stories that make it a little easier to digest, this is the story of a young Latina girl trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. Set in Chicago, a place with many possibilities and many obstacles, this is a story that girls of Latina heritage, girls in large cities, and girls, in general, can relate to in some way. Growing up and finding yourself and your identity is never easy, and that is the whole point of this beautiful book about the girl who lives on Mango Street.
2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
In this dark novel that inspired the Tim Burton film, a boy goes on an extraordinary and, at times, scary adventure to figure out if his grandfather had been telling the truth with his outlandish stories of a magical orphanage in Wales or if he had made it all up.
New York Times Bestseller, this book is not just a novel, but a series of photographs interwoven with stories to layout one big mystery that the main character, Jacob, feels compelled to solve. This story covers loss, family, special childhood friends, and imagination.
3. Five Feet Apart (Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott, and Tobias Ioconis)
In this love story that most people can relate to due to the pandemic, two teenagers fall in love, but they cannot get closer to each other than five feet due to health concerns. Their lives depend on it. This is an incredibly hard-hitting novel for older teens experiencing love for the first time. This emotional, sad, and beautiful story was adapted to a film.
4. Hey, Kiddo (Jarrett J. Krosoczka)
Fans of graphic novels, especially teenagers, have found a love for this story that resonates, sadly, with many children. A memoir of sorts, this is the story of a teenager who lives within a family where addiction exists. To get away from this and separate himself from the endless tribulations of addiction, he throws himself into art, which turns out to be more than an escape for him.
5. The Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling)
With the mega-popular series, J.K. Rowling has entertained nearly every age group about a boy who came from nothing and got transported overnight into a world where he and his parents are famous. A story about finding yourself and believing in yourself—Harry Potter learns about friendship, what real family is, how to be brave when things get tough or scary, and so much more. A fun book series that feels inclusive to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider—this is a book series that you must read.
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
It is probably more appropriate for older teens due to its mention and description of drugs and sexual abuse. This is the story of an introvert who writes letters that equate to the journal writing experience. Facing many traumatic events in a short time, the protagonist writes everything down to cope, and because he is such an introvert, he is free to observe the world around him almost unnoticed.
This book is more appropriate to older readers due to themes like rape, violence, death, and drugs included in this book.
7. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Erika Sanchez)
So relatable and emotional that you would swear it is a true story. This is a story of the heartbreaking death of the protagonist’s sister and the struggle and pressure she feels in trying to be perfect, thriving to keep her family afloat and okay despite her sister’s death.
Realizing that she is trying to be someone she is not, Julia has trouble handling all of the pressure she has put upon herself by playing the role of the perfect daughter to lighten the emotional strain her parents are going through. Struggling with the pressure of playing a role she does not feel comfortable with, this story is about much more than just a girl who has a lot on her plate.
This is a compelling and relatable story about the pressure young people face in our society, especially in traditional Latina households. This is one of the best books for teens who feel pressured to blend in or live a perfect life.
8. The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins)
Whether by fate or curious incident, Katniss Everdeen finds herself in a situation where she must represent her district in this dystopian series about a society that deprives its citizens of the necessities to live while the upper class lives a life of excess.
Forced to fight to the death so that her family and the people in her district are fed, The Hunger Games trilogy brings social and economic disparity to light in a creative way that readers will find entertaining and suspenseful.
9. The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
This is a truly tragic story based on true events. The story followed the author’s experience when she was a child, hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. Frank was writing and keeping a diary while hiding, which made the publication of this book possible. Frank died while she was in a concentration camp. While this book is heartbreaking, it also shares a story of hope, family, love, and strength.
10. The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)
The Hate U Give is a modern-day story that is considered one of the best books for teens in existence. It deals with racial discrimination and injustice, police brutality against Blacks, and trying to navigate life in a time when the color of your skin determines whether you can survive a situation.
11. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
This is a cautionary tale about how quickly things can go when a person is desperate to find a peer or group to be part of and experience a sense of belonging. In this story, peer pressure gets the best of a boy living in a bad neighborhood. Everything went wrong fast when he started acting desperately to find a best friend or group he could call his own. This story not only illustrates the dangers of peer pressure but is also a near-perfect case study of the mob mentality of human behavior.
12. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference (Greta Thunberg)
A collection of speeches that teenager Greta Thunberg has given about climate change, this book is meant to inspire young people to stand up for the most important issues. Teens often think that they are too young or too insignificant to make a difference, but this book is full of inspirational words from a teen talking about how we should take care of the environment and push for change.
13. Firekeeper’s Daughter (Angeline Boulley)
Firekeeper’s Daughter is a new book that tells the story of a half-white and half-native girl dealing with a lot, including having seen the murder of a friend, drugs, identity issues, and being investigated by the government. This is a story of turmoil, truth, bravery, and embracing who you are.
14. The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
This touching story written by John Green is about two teenagers who have terminal cancer. They know that the end of their lives is near, but they fall in love and devote the time they have left to experiencing life, love, and everything that comes with it to its fullest extent possible.
This book deals with the very heavy subject of death and can be intense and depressing at times.
15. The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)
This is a loosely biographical story of someone dealing with mental illness. While not entirely nonfiction because the names and places have been changed, this story is unsettling because it is the only novel ever written by Plath, who then committed suicide shortly after writing this story.
This story is about a successful, smart, talented girl affected by severe mental illness. It shows that anyone is susceptible to such struggles and that no one can avoid mental health issues entirely.
16. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
This is the story of a class of private school boys whose fate takes a shocking turn when a plane crash leaves their world turned upside down. Marooned alone on an island, these boys not only have to learn to survive without the help of adults, but they must also learn how to co-exist.
A dark story of the depravity that sometimes comes with desperation—Lord of the Flies is so unsettling how quickly high society people can regress to cutthroat and terrible behavior to sustain life.
17. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
This classic novel tells the protagonist’s life story, Jane Eyre, throughout five significant stages of her life. Beloved for generations, this story is timeless as it discusses childhood, love, loss, hope, and turmoil.
18. The Summer I Turned Pretty (Jenny Han)
This is the first trilogy romance novel Jenny Han wrote, The Summer I Turned Pretty. It gives everyone, especially teens, a fictional look into young love, family, and dealing with situations outside yourself and bigger than yourself.
Teens, especially girls, grow up wondering what romance is like, and hoping for what they see in the movies and television. Romance novels are an excellent way for teens to learn about love and make their own interpretation of it.
19. The Astonishing Color of After (Emily X.R. Pan)
This is a moving book that features a teenager named Leigh who deals with the loss of her mother by suicide. Implored by her mother to “remember”, a bird leads the young protagonist to Taiwan, where she finds out about where she and her family came from, meets her grandparents for the first time, and has to piece the story of her origin together.
In this brave tale of loss and finding oneself, Leigh travels great distances, geographically and emotionally.
20. Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)
The first book by Tomi Adeyemi is the first of what is promised to be a trilogy. A fantasy novel that any teen would love. It takes readers of any age to a different world full of fantasy, a battle between the forces of magic and non-magic, and it draws off the author’s African background to tell the tale.
Opposite sides fight it out in this incredible story that readers not only love but high school age students find relatable, as it deals with standing out, fitting in, and being true to where you came from and what you stand for.
21. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Jenny Han)
This is the tale of Lara Jean, who likes to write love letters to boys she has a crush on but never intends for them to be sent. When everything goes wrong, and the letters end up going to the recipients, chaos ensues, and Lara Jean has to figure out what to do to correct the situation.
Most teens, especially girls, will relate to Han’s amazing book, which is fun and touching about feelings, honesty, love, and vulnerability.
Reading Anything Benefits All Readers
Regardless of the book, reading anything is incredibly beneficial, especially during the difficult stages of life, including high school, learning to date, making new friends, and figuring out what being a teen entails.
Students find a high school as a place with so much division, pressure, and uncertainty. Giving a teen a book to read offers an escape from reality for a short time. Still, it is best if these students have something to learn from the books they read on navigating teenage life and making the most of it.
Whether it is fantasy, history, kids’ books, teen love stories, teen suspense, or self-help books, reading any book is a great way to expand your knowledge. It can also make you feel seen and understood, make new friends who share interests in your reading preferences, and enriches the lives of teens in general.
All kids should read, and by the time children get into their teens, they usually have a firm grasp of what they like to read. This list can provide a helpful way for a reader to find something new to dig into.