Top Books for Teens

There might not be much left of summer, but you can still encourage your teenagers (whether they’re daughters, sons, nieces or nephews, or the neighborhood children) to spend some of it reading. Studies have shown that one of the best ways to improve reading speed is to become more adept at the process of reading, and like any other skill, that’s something that improves with practice. To put it simply, the more you read, the better you’ll be at reading, and that means you’ll start to read faster. It’s important to keep this in mind if you’re a parent, because you’ll be able to help your children learn to speed read just by helping them pick out interesting books. Libraries are open all year, and many often have summer reading programs that offer games and prizes for kids who participate. At the very least, there’s usually a free t-shirt – but if nothing else, children of all ages will expand their reading horizons and increase their reading speed, and their love of reading, by taking the time to find new and interesting material to read.

National Public Radio, the public broadcasting system in the United States, did a survey of their readers and asked for suggestions for books for teenagers. We’ve got the full list here from the more than 70,000 responses to the survey. Teenagers, young adults, and even grownups will find books that will intrigue them on this list, which includes perennial favorites like Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as well as newer hit series like Rowling’s “Harry Potter” stories and Susan Collins’ “Hunger Games” (recently made into a movie).

Speaking of movies, if you know a child who’s not interested in reading but who really likes going to the cinema, you can get them involved in reading something like the “Hunger Games” series by taking them to the first movie. If they enjoy the movie, they’ll probably be interested in reading the second and third books of the series, which haven’t been made into movies yet. Get them interested in one set of books, and soon they’ll be looking for others of the same genre, which will lead them to searching out new material for a change of pace, and soon they’ll be reading books all the time!

We’re putting Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” Kristin Cashore’s “Graceling” series, and Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street” on our must-read list for August. What are your favorite teen novels?