Do you read aloud to your teens? I highly recommend it, whether it's reading aloud to high school students at school or at home. Teens may be particular about the books they choose to read independently but you can introduce them to a beloved classic, or an intriguing biography by reading aloud.
Even if you thought you were done reading aloud to your kids, I urge you to pick up a book. They may be more receptive than you think, especially if they know it's a time when you won't be asking them probing questions about their life!
This list of good books to read aloud to teenagers recommends a mix of titles, from dystopian classics, contemporary YA, historical fiction, memoirs and even poetry.
Alternatively, if your teen seems to be resistant to read alouds, try putting on an audiobook in the car or during some down-time at home. That might be just the trick to get them to listen.
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High Schoolers and Teen Read Aloud Books
by Charles Dickens
Truth be told, you could choose any of Dickens's books to read aloud to your teen. The characters and twisty-turny plots led themselves to wonderful family read alouds. After all, Dickens's works were originally consumed primarily as read alouds. I love David Copperfield more than any of his other books so that's why it's on this list. Plus the upcoming movie with Dev Patel looks like it will be fantastic!
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom
by Lynda Blackmon
This book is an appealing conversation-style first person narrative by the youngest person to march all the way from Selma to Montgomery. Lowery describes her experience being jailed nine times (all before the age of 15) and beaten on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in a way that speaks directly to teens and tells them they have a voice and can be history makers, too.
The Doorman's Repose
by Chris Raschka
I really enjoyed this book. You are probably familiar with Raschka's award winning picture books like Hello, Goodbye Window and A Ball for Daisy. Now he has written a wonderful chapter book set in a New York City apartment building. The ten chapters tell amusing and discreet stories about the building's quirky inhabitants, like a doorman who tries to learn baseball lingo, a girl who helps repair a depressed boiler, a pair of neighbors who discover a hidden room, and a matchmaking elevator. The stories have a sort of delicate and sophisticated rhythm, even with all the fantastical elements. I recommend it for experienced listeners and families who like old-fashioned read aloud books. The Doorman's Repose has the distinction of being highly appealing to adults and if you still read aloud to your teens, this is a great choice.
Poetry Speaks Who I Am
edited by Elise Paschen
A collection of classic and contemporary poems that address topics of particular importance to teens: finding their place in the world, identifying what type of person they want to be, issues of race and gender, and more.
by Ray Bradbury
A firman who is tasked with destroying books starts to question society and government when a neighbor helps him look beyond propaganda. Reading this book to your teen will open up all sorts of avenues to conversations about Bradbury's dystopian world versus contemporary society.
The Outlaws of Sherwood
by Robin McKinley
My teen really enjoyed McKinley's version of the Robin Hood legend, and I'm not surprised, given her popularity as a writer of modern adaptations of folk lore and fairy tales. I particularly appreciated McKinley's elevation of the role of women in the story. In fact, Maid Marian is the winner of the archery contest, not Robin!
by Lawrence Yep
The Golden Mountain Chronicles is a 10 book series which tells the story of the Young family over many generations and two centuries. Dragon's Gate is set in 1867. Otter has always been in awe of his father and uncle who work for the railroad companies across the sea. When he gets there himself, however, working conditions, the bitter cold, racism and his uncle's behavior serve to disillusion him. You don't need to read the series in order to enjoy them and Yep is a skilled author. Dragon's Gate is book three in the series; book one is The Serpent's Children.
I Am Malala
by Malala Yousafzai
There is a Young Reader's Edition of Yousafzai's autobiography, but with high schoolers you can read aloud the original if you prefer. Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Malala Yousafzai, was shot in the head by the Taliban at the age of 15. After her miraculous recovery, she has become a strong voice and advocate for girls and education all over the world.
Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Larson
If your family enjoyed the Little House series when your kids were younger, try reading the Hattie books now that your kids are in high school. In 1918, 16 year old Hattie, an orphan, travels to Iowa, determined to make her recently deceased uncle's homestead in Montana her own. But, she must tame the land in a year in order to keep it as her own. The narration is coupled with short articles that Hattie writes to a newspaper about her experiences and letters she writes to her friend Charlie, who is at war in France. Hattie's life is hard and she relies on her neighbors to help her out, but there are also fellow homesteaders who are not so supportive.
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
by Margarita Engle
This is a novel written in verse. Margarita was born in the USA but her mother came from Cuba. The author grew up in mid-20th century Los Angeles and feels her loyalty being tested by the two countries. She spends holidays in Cuba but that all begins to change as the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. deteriorates. Stories of immigrants are so important right now (well, anytime, really) and this is a gorgeous one about a girl who also learns to love reading and poetry along the way.
More books to love: