10 Summer Books with Important Life Lessons for Young Adults

They won’t be able to put down these captivating page-turners.
By Megan Zander
Apr 22, 2019



summer reading books young adult

Apr 22, 2019

Between hanging out with friends and working summer jobs or internships, your teen may say there’s no time for reading. But chances are, she just hasn’t found a book she’s willing to prioritize! These too-good-to-put-down reads, from scary thrillers to sweeping romances, will change how the young adult in your life views reading — and maybe even her perspective on life.

Each of these books is hand-selected from the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge. During this Challenge, kids enter reading minutes to earn exclusive digital rewards and help donate books to kids in need across the country. Ask your teen if any of his teachers are participating: Doing the Challenge as a class is a powerful motivator. If not, kids can register separately and enjoy these incredible reads on their own time.

1. Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury

If your teen loves the Avengers or Star Wars films, she’ll be enticed by this book. Stacia is a 16-year-old girl in a galaxy where humans and aliens live among planets known as the Belt of Jewels, but one day, she discovers she’s the last survivor of a royal family destroyed in a rebellion. As her world erupts into chaos, Stacia’s best friend is captured by the now-ruling enemies of her ancestors, and it’s up to Stacia to save her.  

2. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Rukhsana is the 17-year-old daughter of conservative Muslim parents, and she’s just trying to toe the line until college in a few months. But when her mom finds her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, Rukhsana is suddenly sent to live with family in Bangladesh. Surrounded by traditions and arranged marriages, she must find the courage to love who she chooses without losing the important connection to her family.

3. Pretend She’s Here by Luanne Rice

Teens who are obsessed with psychological thrillers like Pretty Little Liars will devour this book about Emily, who is still grieving the death of her best friend Lizzie. When Lizzie’s family suddenly comes back into town, Emily takes comfort in seeing them, but soon their grief prompts them to kidnap Emily in hopes of replacing their lost daughter. Suddenly, Emily’s life is turned upside down, and she’s not sure if she’ll ever be able to return to her old reality.

4. The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah

This fiction read shares a message about tolerance that can help teens contextualize the very real immigration debates currently taking place around the world. It uses alternating perspectives to tell the story of Michael, the son of an Australian anti-immigration group founder, and Mina, an Afgani refugee who moves with her family to Sydney. Sparks fly when the two meet in high school, but their conflicting family values threaten to keep them apart — all while lending them new viewpoints of the world.

5. Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyes by Scott Cawthon & Kira Breed-Wrisley

Your teen has probably heard of “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” a popular online game in which animatronic characters in a pizza shop become scary killers at night. This book takes place 10 years after a tragic murder, when Charlie and her childhood friends reunite at the abandoned pizza shop to find the animatronics still there and still evil. This is a fun, age-appropriate read for teens who love to be spooked.

6. The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

This coming-of-age book stars the romance of super-chill Max and not-so-relaxed Jordan, two teenage guys who meet while working on a food truck during the summer. They navigate tough family issues while learning to define who they are to each other and to the world, making for a brilliant read about LGBTQ experiences and the complexities of growing up.

7. Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

This fascinating and historic nonfiction book plunges readers into the end of the Civil War, the Reconstruction era, and the formation of Jim Crow laws. With real life accounts, it reminds teens just how real these events were, the lasting impact they had on those who lived through them, and how they are still vitally relevant today.

8. Mortal Engines #1 by Philip Reeves

In a dystopian world, citizens live in giant traction cities that roll around the globe snatching up smaller cities for supplies. But during an attack, junior historian Tom and a mysteriously scarred stranger called Hester get thrown from the city and must find their way back home. Along the way, Tom learns his city isn’t all it seems to be, and that his world may be in danger.

9. Overturned by Lamar Giles

This fast-paced thriller follows the story of Nikki, a young poker player in Vegas whose father is on death row for a murder he swears he didn’t commit. Life suddenly changes when Nikki’s dad is released, leaving her to gamble everything on discovering the truth in a town full of secrets. Teens who love solving puzzles will dig into this mystery read, in hopes of piecing it all together before the final page.

10. Riverdale Novel #1: The Day Before by Micol Ostow

For teens (and parents!) obsessed with the CW show, this prequel book dishes out what all of your favorite characters were up to before Season 1 started. Readers will discover answers to all of their bubbling questions about the characters, including why Archie and Jughead aren’t friends anymore, when exactly Betty started having feelings for Archie, and what life was like for Veronica in New York City.

Browse more great selections from the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge at the Scholastic Store Online.

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