Classic books are timeless. Even though they came from the older era, the stories are relevant forever. The story of a classic book usually revolves around fundamental human problems, thoughts, and feelings. While not everybody can understand classic literature, it can actually help you expand your horizon. Classic books may seem a little intimidating to read. However, there’s a lot to learn from them. Classic stories are highly recommended to read because it opens up a new perspective to different worlds. Reading classic books can also help teenagers like you to improve their vocabulary and enhance their writing skills. Writers from the old era usually have unique writing styles, which also make these the best classic books for teenagers.
Another good reason why a teenager like you should read classic books is that they can improve your language ability and impact how well you communicate. Classic books usually express complex emotions into phrases that help your ability to speak. And last but not least, studies have shown that people who read classic literature tend to have better social cognition. However, for lighter reading, you can opt for books to read while traveling. Or if you prefer to listen to someone reading the book, these audiobooks for a road trip are also fantastic.
How to Choose the Best Classic Books for Teenagers?
Finding the best classic books for teenagers can be quite challenging. Even though you have hundreds and hundreds of titles to choose from, it doesn’t make the task any easier. There are a few aspects you need to consider before picking your first classic book. These simple guidelines will help you find the best book that matches your preference.
First and foremost is the theme of the book. Make sure you know what you want and what you like. The six common themes in classic literature are love, good vs. evil, coming of age, revenge, courage, perseverance, and redemption. Picking the right theme ensures that you’ll stay engaged when reading the book. However, the most common classic books for high school usually revolve around love.
If it’s your first time reading a classic book, you need to take it easy. Start with a classic story that’s not too long to avoid exhaustion. Since you know that classic books can be pretty challenging to read, it’s important to start slow and easy. If you start with a book that’s over 500 pages, you’ll quickly lose interest.
While this has nothing to do with the story, it’s pretty hard to not judge a book by its cover. Whether you accept it or not, the book’s cover plays a significant role in your decision process. Pick a book that has an interesting cover that sparks your curiosity. This way, you’ll want to read it more and more. Also, a classic book with a unique cover looks good as a décor in your room.
On the list below, we show you the best classic books for middle school and high school. However, don’t forget to consider the age rating when picking a classic book. Read a book that’s appropriate for your age. Some books are suitable for 10 to 13 years old, while others are suitable for 18 years and above. Choosing the proper age rating ensures you’ll comprehend the story better.
What are good books for high schoolers?
There are many excellent classic books for high school. When you’re in high school, you’re ready to read stories that offer more complexities. It gives you the learning opportunity to nurture your love of reading and improve your reading skills. The Great Gatsby and To Kill A Mockingbird are some of the best classics for high schoolers.
What are the longest classic books?
Want to challenge yourself by reading the longest classic books? It requires you to be more patient, but it helps you become a better reader. If you want the biggest challenge, you should spare your time to read In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, which contains 3408 pages across 6 volumes. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo is also an excellent start for a long-form story as it has 1456 pages.
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the most popular classic novels of all time. It makes sense why this book made it to the list of the best classic books for teenagers. This is currently Austen’s most famous novel about the unforgettable story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. This novel was nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’ The Great American Read. Jane Austen wrote popular romance stories, and there are four novels published in her lifetime.
When Elizabeth Betten first meets Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks he’s conceited and arrogant. Later, Elizabeth discovers that Darcy has been involved in the troubled relationship between his friend and his sister. In the comedy of manners, Austen shows us the folly of judging by the first impression.
Teenagers aged 18 years and above
Written by the American Novelist Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is a coming-age novel that was originally published in 1868. The story is about the lives of four sisters. It’s about the journey of Meg, Amy, Beth, Jo from childhood and womanhood. Scholars classify it as semi-autobiographical since the story is loosely based on Alcott and her three sisters’ lives. Little Women was a critical success and immediate commercial. People wanted to know more about the character. Finally, Alcott released the second volume a year later, titled Good Wives.
Even though the title of the second volume wasn’t coming from Alcott herself, Good Wives was also a big success. And in 1880, the two volumes were issued as a single novel called Little Women. It’s definitely one of the best classic books for middle school. Young girls have to at least read this novel once. There are many lessons to be learned. One of the most powerful messages is young girls should know how to support themselves without waiting for a man to do it for them.
Teenagers aged 12 years and above
The Great Gatsby
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels, it makes sense why The Great Gatsby is one of the best classic books for teenagers to read. It’s the third book of the famous author F. Scott Fitzgerald, and this book stands as the highest achievement of his career. Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, this novel tells a story about the narrator’s interactions with a mysterious millionaire called Jay Gatsby. Published in April 1925, this tragedy novel received favorable reviews even though some critics said it wasn’t as good as Fitzgerald’s previous work.
The Great Gatsby was a commercial failure and only sold about 20.000 copies in the year it was released. However, amid World War II, the novel became a core part of most American high-school curricula. After that, there were also numerous stage and film adaptations followed. That’s why it’s still one of the best classic books for high school. Until now, The Great Gatsby continues to attract widespread attention. The moral of the story is that the American Dream is unattainable, and money can’t buy you love.
Teenagers aged between 12 to 14 years
Sixty years after its publication, the novel Fahrenheit 451 has become classic world literature set in a bleak dystopian future. Now, the message has grown more relevant than ever before. This is a dystopian novel written by American writer Ray Bradbury. Critics recognize this novel as one of Bradbury’s best works. That’s why it’s currently one of the best classic books for teenagers to read. The book is about the future of American society.
The main character of the story is Guy Montag. He’s a fireman who becomes disillusioned with his role of destroying knowledge and censoring literature. Eventually, Montag quits his job, and he’s committing himself to the preservation of cultural and literary writings. From this book, you’ll discover that self-centered desires always lead to unhappiness.
Teenagers aged 14 years and above
The Catcher in the Rye
Suppose you’re familiar with J.D. Salinger’s popular stories like A Perfect Day for Bananafish and The Laughing Man. In that case, you’re gonna love this one since it’s also one of the best classic books for teenagers. The Catcher in the Rye tells a story about a depressed 16 years old Holden Caulfield, who lives in an unspecified institution in California after World War II. From this book, you’ll learn that growing up means you need to channel your frustration towards something productive.
The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951 and was initially intended for adults. However, this novel ends up being popular among adolescents for its themes of alienation and angst. As of today, The Catcher in the Rye has sold more than 65 million copies. The novel’s lead character Holden Caulfield has become the icon of teenage rebellion. The story also expresses complex issues like identity, innocence, connection, loss, and depression.
Teenagers aged 14 years and above
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the best classic books for middle school written by the famous writer Mark Twain. It was first published in the United Kingdom in 1884. A year later, it was published in the United States. This novel is among the first major American literature to be written throughout in vernacular English. This book is known for its colorful description of people and places around the Mississippi River.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was highly criticized upon release because of its extensive use of coarse language. Despite arguments that the tenor of the book is anti-racist, people continue to criticize the book. However, there’s so much to learn from this book. First, you need to be willing to face life as it is. Second, having a playful attitude is crucial as you have to experience life as an adventure. And last but not least, it’s important to be open to the risks in life.
Teenagers aged 13 years and above
The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has become a world classic. It’s a reminder of the horror of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. This book is also known as The Diary of Anne Frank. It was written by Anne Frank when she was hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1942 as a Jewish girl. She was cut off from the outside world and had to face constant cruelties of living in confined quarters.
In The Diary of a Young Girl, Frank recorded a clear impression of her experience during the hardships. The story is touching, thoughtful, and surprisingly humorous. It’s a truly remarkable book and still one of the best classic books for teenagers to read. The moral of The Diary of Anne Frank is the power of hope and faith in horrible circumstances.
Teenagers aged 11 to 14 years
Romeo and Juliet
Name a love story that’s more popular than Romeo and Juliet. We bet you can’t! It’s hard because there’s no love story more legendary than the story of Romeo and Juliet. This is Shakespeare’s most influential work in the world of literature. It makes sense why it’s one of the best classic books for teenagers to read. There’s no other love story that comes even close to the popularity of this book. Until this day, Romeo and Juliet is one of the most frequently performed plays. The story is timeless, and people can always relate to the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet’s plot is based on an Italian tale titled The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke, released in 1562. Shakespeare borrowed the character and expanded the story by adding more names like Paris and Mercutio. One of the most famous lessons taken from Romeo and Juliet is that love is blind. However, love also brings out the best in us.
Teenagers aged 13 years and above
Written more than seventy years ago, George Orwell’s dystopian vision of a government that will do anything to control the narrative is now more relevant than ever. This book was a chilling prophecy about the future. The story centers on the consequences of mass surveillance, totalitarianism, and repressive regimentation of people’s behaviors within society. 1984 explains the role of facts and truth within politics and how they are manipulated.
Published on 8 June 1949, the plot took place in an imagined future in 1984. The world has fallen victim to omnipresent government surveillance, propaganda, and perpetual war. This novel has become a classic literary example of dystopian fiction. So far, it’s one of the best classic books for high school. From 1984, you’ll learn that your voice matters. Every time you speak up publicly, you help society steer away from a nightmarish future.
Teenagers aged 17 years and above
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children is a New York Times #1 best-selling contemporary fantasy novel written by American author Ransom Riggs. It tells a story about a mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage, and a collection of strange photographs. This groundbreaking novel mixes photography and fiction in a thrilling reading experience. The story begins with the horrific tragedy of 16-year-old Jacob Portman and his journey to a remote island off the coast of Wales.
This book was originally intended to be a picture book featuring various photographs collected by Ransom Riggs. However, after getting some advice from his editor. He used the photographs to create a narrative. It resulted in a story about a boy who follows clues from this grandfather. The clues lead him on an adventure to an abandoned orphanage. The main message of this book is about trusting people. Besides that, you should never be afraid of the unknown. Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children remains one of the best classic books for middle school. It’s so great that it was made into a movie!
Teenagers aged 13 years and above
Jane Eyre is one of the greatest literary love stories of all time. It’s not wrong when we say it’s one of the best classic books for teenagers. This novel tells a story about a woman who’s not afraid to speak her truth even when she has to risk everything in her life. In her life, Jane has to endure harsh schooling, cruel aunt, and limitations placed on her gender. This is an autobiography of the writer Jane Eyre which follows the experiences of her growth to adulthood and Eyre’s love for her employer.
Jane Eyre revolutionized prose fiction by focusing on the protagonist’s spiritual and moral development through an intimate first-person narrative. The book contains a strong sense of Christian morality and some elements of social criticism. This novel was an immediate success and has thrilled millions of readers all around the world. From Jane Eyre, we learned that we should never pretend to be happy for other people’s sake.
Teenagers aged 13 years and above
For those who love adventurous tales, they’ll take The Hobbit to their hearts. It’s a glorious story of magnificent adventure filled with suspense and topped with quiet humor. It’s one of the best classic books for high school written by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. This book was released in September 1937 and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. It was also awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for Best Juvenile Fiction. Until this day, The Hobbit remains one of the most popular classic literature.
Forms of heroism and personal growth are the core theme of The Hobbit. The author’s interest in fairy tales and mythology are noted as influences of the story. It follows the quest of Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon. The journey takes him from rural surroundings into more spooky territory. This book was a critical and financial success.
Teenagers aged 11 years and above
To Kill a Mockingbird
Listed as America’s Best-Loved Novel, it should come as no surprise that To Kill a Mockingbird sits on top of the list of the best classic books for teenagers to read. This is Harper Lee’s Pulitzer masterwork of honor. This masterpiece is one of the most cherished stories of all time. Until this day, the novel has been translated into more than 40 languages. The books have sold for more than 40 million copies and served as the basis for a popular motion picture.
The characters and plot are loosely based on the author’s observations of her family, neighbors, and everything that happened near her hometown of Monroeville in 1936. The novel is known for its warmth and humor, despite telling about serious issues like racial inequality and the destruction of innocence. The lesson to be learned from this book is that you have to always treat everyone equally and with respect.
Teenagers aged 13 years and above