10 Books Every High School Student Should Read Before Graduation

High school is the time when our kids truly begin to test their wings and gain some freedom while still in the safe confines of their parent’s embrace. On the verge of young adulthood with many more freedoms and responsibilities than ever before, this is such a critical period of development, maturity, and decision-making for our teens that we need to set them up for success. As parents, we need to gently direct them, support them, and accept them, regardless of many of the decisions they make. Mistakes made now matter, but hopefully are still correctable with Mom and Dad’s constant love and attention. Soon our children will spread their wings and fly out into a bigger, scarier, and much more competitive world than where we have sheltered them so far. As such, our children need to learn about the past, present, and future, and there is no better way to educate oneself than to read.


History has a tendency to repeat itself, and the only way to plan for a better, more peaceful future is to understand our past. Authors, musicians, historians, scholars, and politicians frequently create, record, and document our nation’s feats and flaws in all different ways. Fictional literature itself embodies a multitude of insights our future leaders need to discover and explore. Encouraging our high school students, our soon-to-be young adults, to embrace and truly understand the value of these lessons can make a great difference in their lives.

Here are 10 Books Your Child Should Read Before Graduation

 1. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE  BY J.D. SALINGER

This fictional tale embodies the typical “cynical adolescent” high-school student who is fed up and disheartened with the world around him. The novel captures the feelings of inadequacy, alienation, and loneliness that all teens likely experience at some point during their high school years. Knowing how tough high school can be on our teens, this is a great novel to open the door to many of the discussions we should be having with our teens about their feelings.

2. A SEPARATE PEACE BY JOHN KNOWLES

3. THE OUTSIDERS BY S.E. HINTON

 4. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD BY HARPER LEE

This Pulitzer Prize winning classic is a novel on the true intricacies of human behavior during a time of historical significance in our nation. Set in a sleepy Southern town, this fictional tale touches on the reader’s emotions as Atticus Finch, a hero of morality and model of integrity for all real-life lawyers, defends a black man during a time of racial inequality and injustice for a horrific crime. This novel teaches important and unforgettable lessons in tolerance and compassion that every reader should strive to embrace.

5. THE PIGMAN BY PAUL ZINDEL

6. OF MICE AND MEN BY JOHN STEINBECK

 7. 1984 BY GEORGE ORWELL

Fear of living in a negative Utopia is nothing new as George Orwell’s 1949 classic work of fiction 1984 addressed these very concerns even back then. Engaging the reader in a life where there is no privacy or original thought allowed, this tale of a nightmare totalitarian society is a must read for our future leaders and graduating teens. During these tense, chaotic, and uncertain political years our nation is facing, there is all the more reason our young adults need to be engaging in insightful and thought-producing reads teaching them to never fear a challenge and to not sit idly by.

8. ANIMAL FARM BY GEORGE ORWELL

 9. FAHRENHEIT 451 BY RAY BRADBURY

This dystopian novel is a classic tale embodying the suppression of dissenting ideas and a contempt for mass media and technology. Fahrenheit 451 describes a future American society where books are outlawed and burned by “firemen” if found. Families are destroyed, people are tracked, and the imposing governmental body allows no freedom of choice or thought which the books are believed to promote. Eventually, as history so often repeats itself, Fahrenheit 451 relays the destruction of its own society and the outcasts who survived. The relevance of this literary masterpiece could not be more fitting to the technological era we have embarked upon, coupled with the mass media distrust that has arisen in recent years.

10. ANTHEM BY AYN RAND


Do you have a high school junior or senior this year? Trying to help them decide on a college or career? Check out one of our Daily Mom’s suggestions on Exploring the Options for Your Graduating Teen Who Is Just Not Ready for a University.

Photo Credits: Pixabay

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Kristin Depaula

Kristin is a native Floridian who loves warm weather and sunshine but owns too many scarves and boots. She lives at the World's Most Famous Beach with her husband, 3 boys and enough animals both warm and cold blooded to make up a zoo. She is a practicing attorney who spends her days working with at-risk and delinquent youth and her nights being a Montessori Mama to her independent, strong willed little humans. On the weekends you can find her at soccer games, chasing her boys at the Beach or cooking for her husband who suffers from Crohn's disease but is healing with a healthy diet. In her free time, Kristin loves reading and laying by the pool.

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