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5 books your teen should read on summer break

Getting teens to open a book over summer break can be more challenging than hiking up a mountainside. Outside of required summer assignments, many middle and high school students don’t want to be bothered reading anything that isn’t a social media post from their friends. Recreational reading, however, is an excellent method for bolstering AP, SAT and Achievement Test scores. Regular readers have a larger and diverse vocabulary, which translates into being a prolific writer. Sharp reading and writing skills benefit teens in the classroom and on the standardized tests needed for college. The key to getting teens to spend time with books over the summer is finding relevant titles they’ll enjoy. Here are five books teens won’t want to put down this summer.

teen boy reading in the grass
Naypong Studios/Shutterstock

Everything, Everything

Written by Jamaican-American author Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything is a page-turner even adults will be drawn to. Yoon’s debut novel focuses on Madeline, who is an 18-year-old suffering from SCID, more commonly known as bubble baby disease. Maddy is confined to her home and is treated by her physician mom. When new neighbors move in, Maddy’s world is turned upside down. Her budding romance with the troubled boy next door unravels a shocking deep dark secret that’s kept Maddy a prisoner in her own house since early childhood.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

When never-been-kissed, shy Lily leaves her red notebook with a list of dares on her favorite bookshelf inside New York City’s famed Strand Bookstore, life gets interesting and confusing. Cynical Dash finds the notebook and writes back. What ensues is a delightfully delicious romance in the making set against the backdrop of NYC at Christmas time. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is written by New York Times best-selling authors David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. The book is a binge-worthy Netflix series directed by The Wonder Years’ Fred Savage. It’s an ideal Christmas in July beach read for teens and grownups. It has also spawned popular sequels, The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily and Mind the Gap. The latest Dash and Lily adventure is set in London.

Teen girl enjoying a summer read on a dock

Cater Street Hangman

Teens may roll their eyes at Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but mystery queen Anne Perry cut her teeth reading both esteemed novelists. The Cater Street Hangman is the fist Victorian mystery written by Perry in her extremely popular Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. The gripping thriller is also an intriguing work of historical fiction, giving a glimpse into the Victorian society in England in the late 1880s. Teens will get into the suspenseful tale full of twists and turns, as well as a surprise ending.

The School for Good and Evil

Fantasy and Harry Potter fans will want to dive into the New York Times bestseller, School for Good and Evil. Based in a fictional world of fairytales, kids are sent to two different schools. Good girl Sophie is certain she will follow in the glass slippers of Cinderella at the school for good, while black cat-loving Agatha is destined for the school of evil. When Agatha finds herself in the school of happily ever after with a bunch of Prince Charmings and Sophie is learning how to launch curses, both girls must discover who they really are or are destined to be. This book launches a series, which is always great to get teens into. It’s also being made into a Netflix movie.

Teen enjoying a summer read in the park

The Book Thief

Not a light read, The Book Thief is another bestseller ideal for teens. The book by Markus Zusak has been translated into over 60 different languages. It’s recommended for teens 14 and up because it’s set during World War II in Nazi Germany and deals with heavy issues. Liesel is the book thief, who steals books and teaches herself to read. Against the backdrop of the Holocaust and the darkness of the world she lives in, books are her only solace. Liesel and the Jewish boy hidden by her family, Max, are the only characters who come out of the war alive. The compelling plot concludes with a cliffhanger.

The mark of a good book is one that stays with you long after you’ve read the last page. All five titles fit the bill as engrossing reads that will draw even the most reluctant teen reader in. Teens do need a break during the summer after a challenging and demanding academic year, but it’s still important to encourage teens to read. Summer is perfect for reading because a teen’s often full schedule does calm down during the long break. Recreational reading is quite different than reading for school assignments, and it’s necessary to do both. Teens who are avid readers tend to perform better on standardized tests and in the classroom because reading outside of school expands the mind while improving vocabulary and writing skills. Three out of the five titles have sequels, which just might be a springboard for your teen into a summer full of reading in between catching up on Snapchats and tweets, of course.

Editors' Recommendations

Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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