Week 5 is here, and we are about to tackle the toughest audience of all: high school teenagers!
The resistance and/or lack of motivation to read just for fun is real. Even teens who used to love to read – find it hard to get motivated to read anything but what is (minimally) necessary to get through schoolwork. Plus, there are all the other demands on their time, like sports or club activities, social time with friends, and family events.
As nice as it would be to see your teen sitting on the couch reading a book because they want to, it probably isn’t realistic. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to keep promoting the enjoyment of reading. It just means we need to be more flexible in our approach.
See note about affiliate links at the bottom of this post.
Skip the print and listen instead.
Audiobooks are portable and can be enjoyed while doing something else (like driving to that soccer competition). They are the ultimate social read, because everyone can listen in.
- Use OverDrive.com to search for audiobooks at your local library.
- Amazon Prime members can get Audible audiobooks for free. Here is the current offering in the Teen/Young Adult category.
There are audiobooks in all kinds of genres. It just so happens that our teen reviewers listened to audio versions of these two science fiction stories. FWIW The Selection is also categorized as “fairy tale.”
Illuminae by Jay Kristoff
It is 2575. Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, despite their feelings for each other, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But the warship could be the least of their problems.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Teen reviewer (16): “Illuminae is a great thriller. Listening to the Audiobook version was a surreal experience, and I was fully immersed in the adventure. It has a full cast, with realistic sound effects to go with the dialogues. I’ve seen the print version, and it has a unique format. There are full-page illustrations and maps to help guide you. Both formats have much to offer.” Reading Tub review.
The Selection by Kiara Cass
For 35 girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want. Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
Teen reviewer (14): “This is unlike most dystopian novels set in the United States. The way it incorporates other countries into this new society is really intriguing. Although set in a futuristic world, readers can enjoy picking out references and events that are current to their own lives. The Selection competition mirrored current reality dating shows. It also had a slight variation to the tribute battle scenario in The Hunger Games or Battle Royale, as a way of entertaining the masses in an imperfect dystopian society.”
Look for anthologies.
Short story, poetry, or essay collections give readers lots of choice, all in one volume. Because each item is self-contained, the reader can pick and choose what (or how many) stories they want to read.
The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tale by Chris Van Allsburg
Some of the most famous children and adult authors have contributed to this compendium of original stories. A Van Allsburg illustration is the prompt for these stories that are mysterious, funny, creepy (think Twilight Zone), and poignant. Teens are sure to recognize their favorite authors, including Lemony Snicket, Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Tabitha King, and Linda Sue Park, among others.
Teen Reviewer: “These interesting caught my attention and kept me reading to the next one. The picture before each story helped me visualize I liked how they worked together. Overall, this is an entertaining, interesting read that great for readers who prefer shorter stories with twisty endings.” Full Reading Tub review here.
My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places by Mary Roach
This is a collection of Mary Roach articles published in Reader’s Digest. The explores everyday choices and events in ways that make us think and leave us laughing.
Teen reviewer (16): “This collection of humorous stories kept me laughing and smiling the whole time I read them. My favorite is a story about the author’s need for reading glasses and her emotions about it. ions she feels. It starts with ‘This is a story of loss and denial,’ but kept me laughing from beginning to end. My Planet is easy to pick up during short breaks. It is broken into different sections per type of story.” Full Reading Tub review here.
This is a book with 75 illustrated mini-biographies of famous and not-so-famous men from the past to the present day, across all areas of human endeavor: art, politics, music, sports, science, business, and otherse. Rule-breaker, trailblazer, stereotype-smasher … these are just a few of the descriptions of the men included in this anthology. The Table of Contents is extensive, so kids can pick and choose who they want to learn about, or they can use the full-page illustration to catch their eye.Full Reading Tub review here.
Parent reviewer: Comics-like illustrations will pull readers in to read stories of men/boys they have never heard of. I learned a TON reading these snapshots, and enjoyed “meeting” people I didn’t know about, like Christian McPhilamy, who became passionate about helping kids with cancer by growing his hair.
Note: Since writing this book, Brooks has also published Stories for Kids Who Dare to Be Different: True Tales of Amazing People Who Stood Up and Stood Out.
Other Recommended Series for Teens and Young Adults
We’ve read the print versions of these bookshelf-worthy books. There are audio versions available.
For fans of historical fiction and diverse stories …
Chains, Seeds of America Book 1 by Laurie Halse Anderson
In an unfortunate twist of fate, Isabel (13) and her younger sister Ruth become the “property” of the Locktons, a couple in New York City who despise the American Revolution almost as much as they hate their new “property.” In the Lockton house, Isabel has information that can help the Patriots, but she has a dilemma: should she spy on her owners?
No Normal, Ms Marvel Volume 1 by Willow Wilson
Kamala Khan (16), aka Ms. Marvel, is a Pakistani girl who just wants to be a “normal” high school teenager. She’s also a big fan of the Avengers, so much so that her friends call her a nerd. One night she sneaks out of her house to go to a party. Little does she know this decision will change her life forever.
If you liked Harry Potter (before all the super darkness) …
The Unwanteds, The Unwanteds Book 1 by Lisa McMann
Now that he is 13, Alexander Stowe must accept his fate. He has known for years that he will be purged, but now it is reality. When he and the other teens purged this year arrive at the Death Farm they are shocked at how they are living. The people here are happy. Artime is a magical place. Literally. The kids go to school to discover their magic – music, acting, art. Alex loves it here, but he misses his twin Aaron terribly. He also knows that if the secret of Artime is revealed, it could be the end for them all.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Ketterdam is a city of slums and crime lords. Kaz Brekker (17), a famed criminal known as Dirtyhands, is second-in-command of the criminal gang known as Dregs. When he is offered 20 million kruge, Kaz doesn’t hesitate to accept the offer. The task: Kaz must break into the highly fortified Ice Court and kidnap Bo Yul Bayur, a Shu scientist. Breaking into the Ice Court is going to be very difficult, but Kaz is keeping his eyes on the prize.
Teen reviewer: Six of Crows is the best book I have ever read! I feel like I can recommend it to most people because of how amazing it is. Bardugo definitely kept me engaged and on my toes. There is lots of action, with plot twists, cliffhangers, romance, and so much more.
- Reading Tub review of Six of Crows (Book 1)
- Reading Tub review of Crooked Kingdom (Book 2)
- Link to both titles in this duology.
For fans of Holmes and those who love action-packed mysteries and/or suspenseful thrillers …
The Initiation, Lock and Key Book 1 by Ridley Pearson
With their father traveling “all the time,” Moria and her older brother James rarely see their father. Over the last few weeks, Father has been even more short tempered than usual. At her father’s instruction to keep an eye on her brother) Moira is going to be joining James at Baskerville Academy, a school built by their great-grandfather. Enter James’ nosy, know-it-all Brit roomate: Sherlock Holmes (whom Moria nicknames “Lock”). When the Moriarty family Bible goes missing, Lock, Moria, and a stubborn James are determined to find the thief. Someone is leaving clues to help James find it, and the trio discovers there is more to the Bible than being a memorial exhibit. It holds a key to a powerful secret.
- Reading Tub review The Initiation (Book 1)
- Reading Tub review Downward Spiral (Book 2)
- Link to trilogy and the prequel
Parent reader note: There is some violence, including bully attacks and a secret ritual (don’t want to give it away). They are not graphically detailed but may make some readers uneasy.
Please note: The Reading Tub has an affiliate relationship with Amazon.com and the Reading Tub can (at no additional cost to you) receive income from your purchase. All income from this source is used for operational funding of the Reading Tub, a 501(c)(3).