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The Ultimate Teen Summer Reading List

Summer break is fast approaching. Many teens are gearing up for summer fun and relaxation, ready to forget the past school year and the struggling grades.

But many parents fear that their children and teens will “loose what they learned” over the summer break, or regress over the summer so that the start of the next school year will be a struggle.

One way to help keep your child mentally sharp is by encouraging summer reading.

Reading is soooo important!! Reading is one of those lifelong skills that we all need to learn at a young age. That is why it is so important to teach our kids to love to read as young as possible!

That is why I provide the epic list of summer reading for teens that all High School’s require, and the four steps HOW to teach your teen to love to read.


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All High School English classes require that teens read specific books for their class. Throughout your teens 4 years at High School, they will have to choose between a list of classic English novels for writing reports or other English class projects.

Because all students will have to choose between these books, I encourage all students to get a head start, and begin reading these books over the summer.

Here is the list of books, in aphabetical order, that all teens will have to choose from, at one point or another.  (I love cheap books! Most of them only cost between $5 and $7.)

1. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

2. Beowulf by Annonymous

3. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

4. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

6. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

7. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

8. Moby Dick by Herman Melville 

9. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

10. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck  

11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

12. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

13. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

14. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

15. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

16. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

17. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien  

18. The Iliad by Homer

19. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

20. The Odyssey by Homer

21. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

22. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

23. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

24. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

25. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (my personal favorite!!)


Because these books are considered the classics, English teachers pick these books for required reading for teaching their English literature classes. So at some point, your teen will have to read them any way. If your teen is a resistant reader, or a procrastinator, I would highly encourage you to help your teen read a few of these books this summer to get a jump start on classes next year.


But How do I get my Teen to Read?

Great question!

If your teen is resistant to books and to reading in general, there are a few ways to encourage your teen to read over this summer.

1. 30 minutes a day

The first step toward helping your teen to read more, is by requiring 30 minutes of reading a day (or more if they enjoy it).

I first saw this implemented by a friend that had two teenage boys. Every summer, her boys would invite all of their friends over to the lake house where they would water tube, water ski, and kayak. And every day, for 30 minutes right after lunch, my friend would require that all the boys would read. She provided a large bookshelf full of all kinds of books for them to choose from.

When I went over to her lake house for the day, I saw 10 teenage boys all in one room, the ages ranging between 14 and 16, each with a novel in their hand. I thought this idea was so great and was amazed at how it worked. But after my friend went to clean up lunch, I watched the boys for just a few minutes. They did not make any sound or goof off in any way, (as per the rules of the mom of the house), but after watching them closely, it was clear that not all of them were reading their books.

Most of these boys would rather stare at the same page for 30 minutes, rather than actually read.

I asked the group if they actually read the books. One replied, “No, when mom comes back in the room, we just pretend like we’re reading and then flip the page.” The other boys laughed and nodded in agreement.

Oh boys!!!

So the moral of the story: sometimes the 30 minutes of reading doesn’t always work out. But sometimes it does! You will never know until you try!

I still think it is worth trying because you never know if it might work for your child!

2. Reading Nook

I don’t know if this is a girl thing, but I love to curl up in a corner and get all snuggly and cozy with a good book. That’s why I think having your own little reading corner or reading nook is great.

Providing your teen with their own little area for reading and comfort can encourage them to want to read. It can be a corner of their room, or a little space in the shade of your backyard. I know some teens that would like to climb out on their roof (safely) and read under the stars. So, any place can be a private reading corner.

3. Reading rewards program

Remember when our kids were little, they would have a sticker chart for all the books they read, and would get a reward once the chart was full of stickers?

When I was little, we had a reading program with Pizza Hut, and once we read enough books to fill out the whole sheet, we were rewarded with a pizza. Which, as a kid, was awesome!

Wait, as an adult, that would still be awesome!! I would still read for free pizza! :D

Creating some type of reward system for your teen could work out well. If your teen takes a really long time to read one novel, let them have a reward after each book.

What could you use as a reward?

I am not a huge fan of using money as a reward to teens. So instead, you can use rewards like: a day with no chores, a night out with friends, using the car for a fun night out, one hour past curfew, a day at the local amusement park or water park, etc.

The reward needs to be based off of your specific child and what would motivate them. The best rewards come from knowing your child well, and thinking outside the box.  

4. Movie genre

If your teen absolutely hates reading books, then your challenge is to find the type of book that your child will love.

How can you find this? By knowing what kind of movie they love!

Find out what type of movie genre your teen loves and get books in that movie genre. Or to really start them off with reading, find their favorite movie, and just get the book on that movie. (Most movies have their own books with the same page cover as the movie cover).

Of course, if your teen loves a movie that was based off of the book, get them the original book and tell them how much better the book is. (Since we all know that the book was much better than the movie anyway!)


Does your teen love to read? Or does your teen take months to finish one book? Leave a comment below letting me know about your teen!