12 Best Books for Your 13, 14, & 15 Year Olds

Barbara

If you think being a teenager was hard, think again. Raising a hormonal teenager is a lot harder. Beginning at thirteen, your kids will be wanting (demanding, actually) more freedom and independence. They already what their interests and wants are. But that doesn’t mean you should stop guiding them (especially when it comes to reading).

Being in their early teens will make or break their reading habits. Some kids will love books and their reading hobby might flourish during this time. Others might start disliking reading in general. Whether you’re dealing with a kid who doesn’t like to read or one who loves to, suggesting a few best-selling books is a great idea.

Here are 12 highly recommended books to get your teenagers:

Top 12 books for 13, 14, & 15 Year Olds

# Name Genre Ages
1 The Martian: Classroom Edition Science Fiction, Action, Adventure 13+
2 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Fiction, Historical, Friendship, Racism 13+
3 The Hunger Games Science Fiction, Dystopian, Action, Social Issues 13+
4 The Ruby in the Smoke Fiction, Historical, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Suspense 13+
5 Eragon Fiction, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Epic 14+
6 Fangirl Fiction, Social Issues, Family, Coming of Age 14+
7 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Fiction, Magic, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Humor, Mystery 14+
8 Big Bones Fiction, Youg Adult, Social Issues, Family Issues 14+
9 Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Fiction, Young Adult, Social Issues, Friendship, LGBT 15+
10 Code Name Verity Fiction, Historical, Action, Adventure, Friendship 15+
11 The Book Thief Fiction, Historical 15+
12 This is Where It Ends Fiction, Social Issues, Bullying, LGBT 15+

The Martian: Classroom Edition by Andy Weir

The Martian: Classroom Edition by Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Adventure

Book Summary: In the year 2035, NASA sends off the crew of Ares 3 to Mars for a planned month-long stay. However, a strong storm threatened to trap them on the planet and a hasty evacuation ensues. Mark Watney is left behind when he was presumed dead. Now, he has to learn how to survive alone in another planet until help comes back for him.

Review: Your kids can now understand how dangerous real-life can be, and this Mars mission is a definite plausible scenario that we face today. Not only is The Martian a great fiction novel that will keep your kid gripping his seat and turning the pages, but it’s also an enjoyable read for adults (it was written for us in the first place). The only difference about the Classroom Edition and the original novel is that this has school-appropriate language (meaning it’s censored! Bleep!).

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Genre: Fiction, Historical, Friendship, Racism

Book Summary: Bruno is a nine-year-old during the Second World War. He moved to Auschwitz with his family when his father was promoted as a Commandant. When he explores his new home, he meets a boy wearing striped pajamas who lives at the other end of the fence. They become fast friends.

Review: The Holocaust was a dark time in our history, and is the epitome of how cruel men can be to their fellow men. It’s definitely a hard story to tell, especially to those who have personal links to the people who were both victims and perpetrators of this inhumane crime. This novel provides you with a great way to introduce the Holocaust to your kids without it being too brutal yet without it being too sugarcoated as well.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Action, Social Issues

Book Summary: Katniss is sixteen years old when she volunteers to be District 12’s tribute to save her sister from the 74th Hunger Games. She is joined by Peeta Mellark. Now all she has to do is survive a contest that pits 24 teenagers among each other in a televised fight to the death.

Review: The Hunger Games is a good beginner book for kids who want to try reading dystopian stories. Its shows a plausible future and touches many relevant social issues of today if you read closely enough. Regardless of whether you want your kids to learn more about social issues or if you just want them to read something interesting, this novel offers action-packed drama that will keep them engaged until the last page.

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

Genre: Fiction, Historical, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Suspense

Book Summary: Sally Lockhart’s father has just died when she receives a very puzzling letter. This leads her to investigating the business her father was involved in and Sally is lead in different directions. She discovers a sinister plot and together with her loyal friends, she embarks on a journey to solve the mystery of her identity through the intriguing story of a missing ruby.

Review: If you’ve read Nancy Drew before, then you’ll appreciate Sally Lockhart all the more. Think of going mystery solving in Victorian England! This touches both history and suspense and will keep your kids enthralled from the very first scene up until the last. But the ruby isn’t the only important thing in this novel. Your kids will also learn that the government isn’t always white. Sure, it’s good to trust authority but it is also wise to learn how to question them, as well.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Genre: Fiction, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Epic

Book Summary: Eragon is a fifteen-year-old farmer boy who lives with his uncle and cousin in the quaint village of Carvahall. He leads a very normal life until he finds a blue dragon egg in the Spine and witnesses its hatching. He names the dragon Saphira and raises her in secret and here is where their story begins.

Review: Eragon is one of those books which transports you to another dimension altogether without even trying. You actually feel all the adrenaline in your body as you journey with Eragon and Saphira all over the land. It’s truly an epic of great proportions! Plus, it’s a good start-up book if you want to introduce novels like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones to your kids. This is a definite must read!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Fiction, Social Issues, Family, Coming of Age

Book Summary: It’s Cath’s freshman year in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her twin sister wants nothing to do with her. She’s having a hard time adjusting to life in college because of her social anxiety disorder. Add in a challenging fiction-writing class, a friendly writing partner, a new roommate, and a complicated relationship; and what do you get? An interestingly baffling life that is, and all Cath wants is to finish her fan fiction in peace.

Review: Cath and Wren are the two spectrums of typical teenage behavior. Wren is the party going, adventurous, social teen while Cath is the shy, ‘stay in her room’ fanfiction-writing one. They’re both very relatable and the juxtaposition of this two characters highlight both their strengths as weaknesses. This allows your kids to see what makes both personalities good (and bad). But aside from that this novel also shows how to deal with mental conditions and the general coming of age that they will experience as well.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Genre: Fiction, Magic, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Humor, Mystery

Book Summary: It’s Harry Potter’s fourth year in Hogwarts and he’s hoping that this is the year where everything becomes normal for him. Unfortunately, normal for Harry Potter involves being forced to compete in a dangerously deadly wizarding tournament which makes him battle dragons and other dark creatures. Plus, there’s also the threat of the Dark Lord rising again to kill him looming upon Harry.

Review: This is it. Goblet of Fire is the last book in the Harry Potter series that has a certain youthful feel. In this novel, the threat to Harry’s life is slowly becoming more dangerous than ever before. But it also tells of the beginnings of teenage woes (possible crushes, school dances, and whatnot). So, it’s still very relatable to your kids. However, this is the last adventure Harry and his friends will embark on before their whole world crumbles around them. After this, your kids will be reading about murder, war, and child soldiers.

Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

Genre: Fiction, Youg Adult, Social Issues, Family Issues

Book Summary: Bluebelle, or BB, is a sixteen-year-old overweight girl who was told by the nurse that she was ‘obese’ and was forced to lose weight through using a food diary. But she was perfectly happy with how she looks and uses the food diary to tell the story of her everyday instead.

Review: Body positivity is something that a lot of young girls and guys should incorporate more into their lives. We, as parents, should encourage self-confidence and having a positive outlook in body image since it affects how young people develop in the long run. Bluebelle’s outlook that you can be overweight and happy is both welcome and encouraged. Sometimes the story itself can be quite offensive and might even turn off certain people, but there are still positive learnings to be discovered in it.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Social Issues, Friendship, LGBT

Book Summary: Ari and Dante’s story begin when they meet one summer to go swimming. Following their impromptu swimming lessons, both boys become inseparable. But problems in the family, school and even with their own self-identity causes them to drift apart. Will their friendship survive?

Review: There are so many social issues tackled in this story. From racism to homophobia, heavy social themes are discussed in a way that’s both relatable and relevant to your kids as teenagers. It doesn’t go through the story quickly as well. There are so many scenarios happening that moves the story forward organically. Ari’s journey towards his self-discovery is riddled with problems that hold true and heavy consequences. It makes the whole story feel more three dimensional and real.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Genre: Fiction, Historical, Action, Adventure, Friendship

Book Summary: Maddie and Julie are best friends during the Second World War. They enter Nazi-occupied France in 1943 as a British pilot and spy. When their plane crashes, Julie is taken prisoner and Maddie is left for dead. Julie is detained in a hotel/prison where she is forced to confess what she knows about British war plans.

Review: First of all, you don’t get a lot of women soldiers in novels and getting two at the same time sends a strong and powerful message. Second of all, you can’t help but feel for both Julie and Maddie all throughout the story and you just want them to both get out of there alive. It’s heartbreaking, true. But that’s what war does to people who don’t deserve it. Emotionally heavy novels are good practice for your teens since they’ll be experiencing a lot of ups and downs from here on out in their lives.

The Book Thief by Markus Suzak

The Book Thief by Markus Suzak

Genre: Fiction, Historical

Book Summary: Liesl arrives at her new home and family, depressed and withdrawn. Her younger brother has just died. She develops a very close relationship with her foster father, Hans, who teaches her how to read. Thoroughly passionate about her new hobby and the power that the written word has, Liesl begins to steal books that the Nazis deemed inappropriate.

Review: The film adaptation of The Book Thief was a wonderful and heartbreaking movie to watch, as is with many World War II films. If you and your kids loved the movie, you will definitely enjoy reading the novel. Aside from learning how reading and writing can translate into something more powerful, the novel personalizes Death. It makes dying less distant and more relatable, something that a lot of people (even adults) can get benefits from. Mortality isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s a normal part of life and everyone will eventually succumb to death. It’s a good idea to be comfortable around it early on.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Genre: Fiction, Social Issues, Bullying, LGBT

Book Summary: This Is Where It Ends is a story about a school shooting told in a minute by minute account by four different people all connected somehow with the shooter.

Review: I know! I know! The book summary doesn’t say too much about the actual story but it’s something that you should read about first-hand. Nijkamp should be praised for her realistic portrayal of something as dark and relevant as a school shooting. Not many people write about something like this because it’s heartbreaking and sensitive. However, your kids should know about this stuff. They should realize that something like this does happen in real life so that they can be vigilant every day. They could also learn how to help prevent something like this from happening by knowing not to bully other people and being more open to others.

Conclusion

Teenagers will experience a lot of emotional dilemmas. It’s just part of growing up. Whether it’s falling in love, hurting a friend, gaining self-confidence, losing a loved one and so on, they will encounter it sooner or later. Books and stories can help them get ready for these feelings.

Or better yet, books can help feel that their not alone and that other people at one time or another also felt what they’re feeling. Some teenagers will be less inclined to talk to you about whatever they’ve read, and that’s to be expected. But if they open up and want to discuss something, do so calmly and guide them still.