National Public Radio (NPR) has recently published a list of the best teen novels of all time. Over 75,000 votes were tallied. Some of these titles are expected, such as the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, while others are less known, such as the high-ranking The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Many of the titles also appear on the list of the ten most commonly read books in private high schools nationwide. Here is a description of the page-turners that top the list:
Book #1: The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling tops the list, unsurprisingly. Since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997 in Britain and in 1998 in the U.S., the series has sold over 400 million copies worldwide and has inspired a new generation of readers to stay up all night to read lengthy books. There is no doubt that Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is among the most interesting (fictional) private schools of all time. While the book has elements of traditional fantasy, it is also a coming-of-age tale that includes lessons about fighting prejudice and embracing truth and courage.
Book #2: The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins comes in at number two on the best-loved list. This trilogy takes place in a dark and dystopian future in the aftermath of the destroyed United States when different regions of a country called Panem must send children to compete in life-or-death games. Readers, even reluctant readers, praise the series’ gripping writing and its engaging characters.
Book #3: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which ranks third, is simply one of the best novels for children (and adults) ever written, and it is still often read in private (and public) middle and high schools. While the title at first seems confusing, the idea of the defenseless of a mockingbird becomes clearer as readers get deeper into this tale of racial and other prejudices in a Depression-era Southern town. The book’s narrator, a tomboy named Scout, has an engaging innocence that most teenagers enjoy, and her relationship with her father is one of the most touching—and telling—parent/child relationships in all of literature. If you (or your child) is not assigned this book in school, be sure to read it on your own. It is a classic that is as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1960. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and has sold over 40 million copies worldwide. It also often tops librarians’ lists of the best books of all time.
Book #4: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is not as well known as the other top titles. Published in 2012, the novel centers on two teenagers who fall in love at a cancer support group. Unlike the other titles that top this list, this book is absent of fantasy; instead, the book deals with adult themes of love and life in a context that will appeal to teenagers.
Book #5: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien rounds out the list of the top five books in the recent NPR poll. Published in 1937, this enchanting tale follows the hearth-loving Bilbo Baggins as he reluctantly leaves home on a journey to find treasure jealousy guarded by a dragon. The Hobbit is a delightful and inspiring read for children and adults who need to be reminded, as we all do, that adventure awaits those who leave the comforts of home, albeit reluctantly.
Be sure to check out the complete NPR list of the 100 top teenage titles.