29 Best Books For Young Teens

Looking for a good read for your young teens? It’s challenging to find the best books for young teens. This list of books for 13-year-old boys and girls features an excellent selection across various genres and with both female and male protagonists. Your young teens will love these books. Enjoy! (Note: book covers and titles include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualified purchases.)

29 Best Books For Young Teens

29 Best Books For Young Teens

1. Children of Eden: A Novel by Joey Graceffa. The book is set in the future, where the planet has been destroyed and the only place that is habitable is Eden. Because the city has to support life for hundreds of years to come, they strictly limit the population. When one family has twins, they can only raise one child. Their second child, Rowan, is kept a secret and hidden away.  She can not go to school or make friends. And can’t get the eye implants that would mark her as a member of Eden. One night she ventures out to explore the world she has never been allowed to see. 

Children of Eden


2. Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. This book follows Darwin’s personal life and how Emma influenced his work. One day he drew a line and wrote the pros and cons of getting married, he wanted to get married, but was worried it would take him away from his revolutionary work. The book also explores how people with two really different points of view, one deeply religious, while other a man of science, can look past these differences and make things work.

Charles and Emma

3. Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey. This is a unique retelling of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale. The King and Queen have almost given up hope of having a child, but luck has smiled upon them and Aurore was born. The whole kingdom celebrates the new arrival, but not everybody is so thrilled about it. This book has many surprising and fun twists which will keep you guessing until the very end.

Beauty Sleep

4. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. The story is set in 1942 where a young boy named Bruno and his family have to move due to his father’s promotion. After the move, Bruno has no friends and not much to do. He is an explorer by nature and soon becomes interested in the big long fence that separates him and his family from the other, peculiar people. There he finds a friend who lives behind this fence, and a great friendship with devastating consequences begins.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

5. Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi. This is a historical fiction novel set in the revolutionary war-time period. It tells the story of how sixteen-year-old Jem and her servant struggle to keep things going at home in Trenton, New Jersey, when the family men join the war for independence from the British king.

Time Enough for Drums

6. The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One by Paige McKenzie. A seventeen-year-old Sunshine Griffith and her mother move from Texas to Washington. Upon moving into her new home strange things start to happen to her and her mother.

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

7. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. The Port Chicago 50 were a group of African American sailors who served during World War 2. They were charged with mutiny because they refused to go back to work loading munitions after a horrifying explosion. It is an outstanding account of racism in the military prior to desegregation.

The Port Chicago 50

8. The Boy with Two Lives by Abbas Kazerooni. When 10-year-old Abbas arrives in England to start a new life, little does he know that his troubles have only just begun. His cousin sends him off to boarding school  and then threatens him with deportation. Abbas is forced to work through the night to repay his ‘debt’, finally ending up homeless and living on the streets.

The Boy with two lives

9. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor is seventeen when the novel begins and is finally being confronted with her past. This is a heart-breaking but heart-warming tale that deals with relationships, what it means to be a family, and what it means to be you.

Jellicoe Road

10. The Coffin Quilt: The Feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys by Ann Rinaldi. This historical fiction novel is based on the true story of the Hatfields and the McCoys. This book explores the feud through the eyes of the youngest McCoy child, Fanny.  Fanny McCoy grew up surrounded by hate. When she was seven, her beautiful favorite sister Roseanna ran off with Johnse Hatfield, whose family they had been fighting with for generations over stolen pigs. Roseanna becomes the cause of killings, plundering, and hate. Although she is always warned when something terrible is about to happen by a vision she calls the Yeller thing, Fanny cannot stop the feuding between the two families.    

The Coffin Quilt

11. Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Life of Pi is a novel about a zookeeper’s son named Pi Patel. He survives the sinking of a ship and floats for 227 days in a lifeboat. Aboard the lifeboat with him is a 450 pound tiger named Richard Parker, a mischievous hyena, and a docile zebra.

The Life of Pi

12. The Maze Runner (Book 1) by James Dashner. In this story, Thomas, the main character wakes up in a box with no memory of his life before. The only thing he remembers is his own name. The box eventually opens to reveal a grassy area full of other teenagers just like him. They call the area The Glade. Like him, they do not remember anything of their former lives. The walls surrounding the Glade open every morning to reveal an ever-changing maze and close every night. Thomas is determined to find a way out of this maze.

The Maze Runner

13. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. The story revolves around Christopher, an autistic teen who discovers his neighbor’s dead dog one night. As Chris investigates the death of the neighborhood dog, he stumbles upon something that may change his life.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

14. Dodger by Terry Pratchett.  Dodger is a seventeen-year-old tosher, a person who scavenges through the sewers of London hunting for valuables. One night, he hears a scream and discovers a young woman being beaten by some thugs. He intervenes and rescues the woman. After the rescue, his life totally changes as Dodger falls in love with the mysterious woman, which motivates him to rise–and on his rise meet many intriguing historical figures.


15. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. This is a modern-day love story of Natasha, a teenage Jamaican immigrant whose family is being deported.  By random chance, Natasha and Daniel meet on her final day in the U.S. And what follows is a sweet love story.

The Sun is Also a Star

16. The Romantics by Leah Konen. This is a story about a boy named Gael and his journey through finding his true love.  His parents recently split up, and his girlfriend broke up with him. He’s starting to feel as though love may not be worth it after all. But Love has plans for him. The book is  uniquely told from the perspective of the emotion love.

The Romantics

17. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. This book is about Bobby, a teenage boy who finds out that his girlfriend Nia is pregnant. The novel provides insight into the daily struggle of a young father’s quest to love and care for his newborn baby.

The First Part Last

18. No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen.  This story is about a boy named Felix who lives in a van with his mom and pet gerbil. He comes up with a plan to win a kid’s quiz show and use the winnings to to buy a home.

No Fixed Address

19. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani. This story is about the 1947 partition of India told through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl, named Nisha. Nisha and her family are forced to leave their home and embark on a long, treacherous journey to their new home.

The Night Diary

20. Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going. At seventeen Troy weights 296 pounds. Troy is thinking about ending it all by jumping in front of a train when he meets Curt, a semi-homeless high school drop-out guitar genius who saves his life.  After this moment they became best buddies and realize how important friendship really is.

Fat Kid Rules the World

21. Monster by Walter Dean Myers. The story is written in the format of a screenplay. It is about Steve, a sixteen-year-old who is accused of murder. The story raises a slew of questions about guilt, peer pressure, racial stereotyping, and flaws of the criminal justice system.


22. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. This story is about a Cuban-American family. The family has run a restaurant for many years. When a shady land developer tries to buy the land and close the restaurant, the family works hard to try to save it.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

23. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. The book details the conflict between two rival gangs in the 1960s divided by their socioeconomic status. The Greasers are from the poor side of town, the east side. The Socs (short for Socials) are from the upscale west side. The two groups are locked in a long-standing feud with each other until one night things go too far and a member of the “Socs” is murdered.

The Outsiders

24. Slider by Pete Hautman. After David accidentally charges $2000 to his mother’s credit card, he decides the only way he can pay her back before she notices is to win a competitive eating contest. In between training his stomach for the contest and taking care of his younger brother, Mal, David must also figure out where he stands when his two closest friends find themselves in a relationship. This book is excellent for young teens. It has lots of laughs but is also a meaningful read and many teens will relate to David’s struggle with friends and family.


25. Refugee by Alan Gratz. This moving book follows the stories of three children. Josef is a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany; Isabel and her family are attempting to escape Castro’s Cuba in a little homemade boat; and in 2015 Mahmoud’s family runs from war-torn Syria. All three stories are fraught with danger and terrifying circumstances.


26. Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson. Narrated by twelve-year-old Haley McGrath, she tells the story of her five classmates who are all part of a special class for students with learning differences. She and her five classmates gather once a week to talk freely to one another without adult supervision. Throughout this book they tell stories about their diverse backgrounds. This is an excellent book to help teens understand acceptance and empathy.

Harbor Me

27. Train I Ride by Paul Mosier. After the death of her grandmother, 13-year-old Rydr is sent from California to live with her uncle in Chicago. Her trip takes place on an Amtrak train. On the train Rydr meets an interesting group of characters who, without her realizing it, felt like the family she has never really had. From each passenger she learns something and arrives in Chicago stronger and more confident than she left California.

Train I Ride

28. Mayday by Karen Harrington. On their way home from his uncle’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, Wayne and his single mother are in a serious airplane crash. Both survive, but Wayne has an injury that leaves him unable to speak for several months. This is a story of healing and finding the courage to reveal your voice.


29. Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh. This is a captivating book that tells the inspiring tale of Ahmed, a young teen, all alone in Brussels until he meets 13-year-old Max, an American boy spending the year there with his family. The two boys strike up a moving friendship based on shared interests, and Max is motivated by his new sense of purpose in helping Ahmed survive.

Nowhere Boy

29 Best Books For Young Teens

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the author


Diane is a New Jersey-based writer and blogger. She is a wife and the mom of a 13-year old boy. Through her blog, she wants to inspire moms to find Zen in their lives while offering practical tips and other valuable information to help families deal with everyday issues. Contact her at dianenassy@gmail.com

29 Best Books For Young Teens

by Diane time to read: 8 min