Choosing Fiction for Teenagers and Young Adults

Written by: Mike Turner



Time to read 3 min

Following our recent blog of Top Reading Picks for the Summer, I’ve been asked about some recommendations for some teen and young adult fiction to freshen up the classroom-taught titles. I always recommend extensive reading for EFL students as well as students in mainstream education, as it is a great way of extending their vocabulary, and fiction is a great place to start.

A couple of years ago, I put together a list for English language and literature teachers I was working with in Luxembourg, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to update that list. The original list was not intended to be exhaustive (nor is the current list) but in putting it together I cast my net fairly wide. The resulting titles were based on:

  • An extensive search of online reviews on sites like Good Reads and recommendations on the World Book Day site.

  • Interviews with a local bookseller responsible for the Young Adult and children’s books section.

  • A number of personal recommendations from teachers in the UK and overseas.

  • Recommendations from students.

  • One or two personal favourites.

I have divided the titles into categories, so it is easier for you to find the kind of thing you are looking for. It’s a pretty eclectic mix, so hopefully, you will be able to find something suitable for your students. If you have any recommendations of your own, it would be great if you could share them in the comments section below. The recent releases are based on the promotional lists from UK bookshops and publishers, cross-referenced against blogs and book reviews. As they are very recent publications, I can’t guarantee that they are all great reads – but should be worth checking out. The recommended authors section is very much a personal choice, informed by conversations with parents and teachers, and comprises a small list of authors who, aside from being great writers, seem to deal with interesting and important issues.

Of course, the best people to ask are the students themselves and, if you are choosing a book to study together as a class, it’s important to consult them. This doesn’t necessarily involve giving them free rein, but you could offer them a few different options. I hope this list will be a good starting point. Remember, always read the book first yourself to make sure it is appropriate for the class – and so you are aware of any potential content or themes that could have personal resonance for certain students. This will enable you to plan how you want to deal with any contentious or potentially upsetting issues.

Popular Science Fiction and Fantasy Series

  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

  • Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness

  • Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth

  • Gone by Michael Grant

  • Harry Potter by J K Rowling

  • His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

  • Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

  • Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore

  • Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

  • The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K Le Guin

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Some Popular Action-Adventure Series

  • Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz

  • CHERUB by Robert Muchamore

  • Hive by Mark Walden

  • Maximum Ride by James Patterson

  • Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

  • Young Samurai by Chris Bradford

Teacher Recommended Picks for Teenagers

  • Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green

  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry

  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  • The Outsiders by S.E Hilton

  • The Owl Service by Alan Garner

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  • Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Some Classic Books for Teenagers

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

  • Lord of the Flies by Wiliam Golding

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Recent and Forthcoming

  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

  •  Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

  • Chameleon by Sarah Holding

  • Felix Ever After by Cacen Callender

  • Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

  • Forever Ends on Friday by Justin A. Reynolds

  • Hide and Secrets by Sophie McKenzie

  • Loveless by Alice Oseman

  • The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff

  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

  • The Last Paper Crane by Kerry Drewery

  • Trouble by Non Pratt

  • When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle

  • When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

Some Recommended Authors for Teenagers

  • David Almond

  • John Green

  • Mal Peet

  • Malorie Blackman

  • Meg Rosoff

  • Melvin Burgess

  • Michael Morpurgo

  • Patrick Ness

  • Sarah Crossan

  • Sophie McKenzie

I hope you enjoy exploring some of these books and authors with your students as much as I enjoyed putting them together.