As a teenager, sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one feeling confused, angry, or scared. You may not know how to express your feelings, or who to talk to about them. Reading can be an important way of discovering yourself—not just who you are but what you care about. These five books for teenagers are ones that I’ve found helpful in my own life. They helped me explore my own emotions and find ways to work through what I was feeling. Whether you want to find out more about yourself and your place in the world, or you’re looking for ways to handle difficult situations and tough emotions, these five books for teenagers might be just what you need!
I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS BY MAYA ANGELOU
To find out how Maya Angelou overcame many obstacles as a black female, you need to read this amazing autobiography. In it, Angelou talks about her upbringing, her love for her brother, and her abortion, and her journey to becoming the poet we know and love.
WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
Harper Perennial, January 2017
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria, and attended Oxford University to study anthropology. Her book, We Should All Be Feminists, was a New York Times best seller. In this book, she encourages people to think critically about the meaning of feminism and what it means to be a woman in the world. We should all be feminists, she writes, because “we should also be humanists, because even if women cannot reach equality in all spheres of human life, equality in men’s sphere is not only vital but achievable.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes about the fight for gender equality, yet encourages people to think about other aspects of life, too.
THE BOOK THIEF BY MARKUS ZUSAK
I first read The Book Thief when I was 12 years old. I remember getting a paper back on it for English class. After reading the first few pages, I was hooked. It was incredibly powerful and sad, and I never wanted it to end. It was the first book I ever read that really made me feel like I was living through it. I later read the movie as well, which I also highly recommend!
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE BY J.K. ROWLING
This book by J.K. Rowling is what I consider the first “grown-up” book that I read. When I was a teenager, it was exactly what I needed. It opened my eyes to something deeper than I had previously understood and gave me a deeper understanding of myself and how to handle my emotions. When I was a teenager I found myself living in a fantasy world of boy wizards, and I was the only one that thought that the games, movies, and TV shows about these characters were as real as the rest of the world. Rowling inspired me to find an escape for what I was feeling. The magic of this book helped me come face to face with who I really was.
There are so many great lessons to be found within this book and there are many types of students and adults that I’d recommend it to.
THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS
If you like young adult books, you’re going to love this novel. It takes place in the “GTA” of New York City and revolves around five teens—two boys, a girl, a black lesbian, and a male struggling with his sexuality—who become close friends. The story, like real life, is about relationships, overcoming obstacles, and the importance of being yourself.