Finding books for teens is really hard!  This is an age where kids often drift away from reading as books compete with social media.  This article will focus on girls.  So, teachers, parents, grandparents, aunties, librarians, friends: don’t give up on trying to put engaging books into their hands. 

My own teen daughter is a reluctant reader and I know the hard work it takes to find the right book!  The teen community of girls can be tricky but to help I’ve created a tried and tested list of 20 reads – and with school holidays approaching you might find the right book for Miss 13/Miss14/Miss 15.

Approved favourites

  • Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman    In the midst of a terrible drought – or the Tap Out, as everyone calls it –  16 year old Alyssa Morrow’s life is turned upside down in the battle for survival.  Together with her brother, and other teens they must locate water in order to survive.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book – a combination of harrowing decisions, sad moments and humourous parts.  Thrilled to hear that this is going to be made into a movie!
  • Scythe by Neil Shusterman    This author is brilliant and I can recommend this one too.  In the future, death is nearly inexistant and pain is reduced. A  gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death. In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes’ apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do. 

The Wonder of Us by Kim CulbertsonRiya and Abby are best friends. Then Riya moves to a different continent. Abby’s parents divorce and she is feeling adrift and upset.  When the girls reunite, they seem more distant than ever and there are now hidden secrets.   I enjoyed this one, as it has the elements of a friendship struggling to survive secrets and individual change that make this novel relatable.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak The Book Thief is the best-selling historical fiction novel written by an Australian author. Set in the dangerous times where Hitler was gaining power over Germany, it is a story about what an average life of a young girl in this time would look like. A brilliant book and a good one to read in tandem with a young adult. It was adapted into a feature film – which I find as a reward if they read the book first.

Other Recommendations

  • It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood  Haven’t read this one but it’s the story of 18-year-old Natalie who has just finished school When her parents announce their impending separation, Natalie can’t understand why no one is fighting or at least mildly upset. And now that Zach and Lucy, her two best friends, have fallen in love, she’s feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward.   A tender, funny and joyful novel about longing, confusion, feeling left out and finding out what really matters.

After Lex’s brother Ty took his own life, her entire world took a different path.  Her mother turns to alcohol, she breaks up with her boyfriend and friends treat her differently. This is a story of love, loss and learning how to let go.

  • Everless by Sara Holland
  • Time is a prison. She is the key. Packed with danger, temptation and desire – a perfect read for fans of The Red Queen. In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything – even time. Ever since the age of alchemy and sorcery, hours, days and years have been extracted from blood and bound to iron coins. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry.  Reviewers say it is a gripping read until the end.
  • The Anger of Angles by Sherryl Jordan
    Books that set students’ imaginations on fire are to be recommended.  This book offers young readers a wonderful blend of adventure, mystery, suspense and romance.  It follows the story of Giovanna – the daughter of a jester with a talent for juggling and knife throwing.  The Anger of Angels is set in a fantasy version of Renaissance Italy. The characters are lovely, the world is vibrant and vividly painted, and the story is powerful, uplifting and insightful.

More to check out…..

  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (My daughter is currently loving this book!  A story on one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of slavery – best for older girls.)
  • Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham
  • Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
  • The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl
  • My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
  • Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz

Something for older readers (can highly recommend these)

We wrote an article about the most popular books in 2022.  Click here to find more titles: Which are the most popular books for kids and young adults?


Check out our blogs for more ideas and tips.

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Something extra…

Watch this 2 minute clip on how former Google and Facebook employees are joining together to protect kids from social media addiction.


Brought to you by Tanya Grambower

Literacy For Boys Reading in Action