Teen & Young Adult Image - To Kill a Mockingbird.

Published on February 11th, 2014 | by Bright Kids Books


Classic books for Teens and Young Adults

Like the timeless advice of Kurt Vonnegut, these classic books for teens and Young Adults have moved and influenced generations of young people. Once your charge has finished reading these gems, you could do worse than pick them up yourself and lose yourself in the simple storytelling genius of these authors.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night


The Catcher in the Rye
by JD Salinger

The book famously begins, “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation. One of the All Time classic books for teens and Young Adults.


To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

The bad news is that Harper Lee only wrote one novel. The good news is that To Kill a Mockingbird is a genuine literary classic – both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Set in the deep South during the Depression, Jean-Louise Finch – better known as Scout – narrates the story with the keen eye of an adult looking back on a childhood rich with incidents that shaped who she has become. Scout might be described as a tomboy, but that would be doing her a disservice. Her adventures with her older brother Jem, and their diminutive friend Dill evoke the timeless place of childhood. Then one Fall, everything changes… Scout and Jem’s father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer in their town of Maycomb, Alabama, is appointed to the defense of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the classic books for teens and Young Adults that continues to speak to new generations.


I Capture the Castle
by Dodie Smith

Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmations, wrote this novel in 1948. And though the story is set in the 1930s, it still feels fresh, and deserving of its reputation as a modern classic. I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny, yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle’s walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has “captured the castle” – and the heart of the reader – in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments.


The Outsiders
by S. E. Hinton

Written forty-five years ago – when she was 16 years old – S. E. Hinton’s classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was written.

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers – until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser. No doubt, one of the classic books for teens and Young Adults.


Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel
by Kurt Vonnegut

One of THE most classic books for teens and Young Adults, Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim – a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden. But don’t let the ease of reading fool you – Vonnegut’s isn’t a conventional, or simple, novel. It fashions the author’s experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut’s other works, but the book’s basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy – and humor.

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