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High School Summer Reading

Updated on Apr 17, 2014

Summer reading is a great way to get your child interested in books, on his or her own terms. For the best books for high school summer reading, we turned to the nation’s finest independent bookstores to get their favorites, from classics to new releases, death-defying adventures to thought-provoking insights. Here are their recommendations for a summertime full of fantastic books:

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons by Ann Rinaldi

This work of historical fiction is the story of Phillis Wheatley, America’s first published black poet. She goes from being a slave to being the toast of literary society, but the story of her success is also a thought-provoking exploration of a time, place, and culture. Recommended by Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO. Where to buy.

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce

A retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story taking place on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, this book has a strong heroine with a big serving og romance, suspense, and a fine historic sense about it. Recommended by Powell’s Books, Portland, OR. Where to buy.

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

In this third installment in the wildly popular Twilight Saga series, Bella is again caught up in a world of vampire romance and danger. A perfect summertime read for fans and newcomers to the series alike. Recommended by Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City, IA. Where to buy.

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

Just the young adult book we've been waiting for! With characters both achingly real and creatively imaged, Kluger is sure to garner favorable reviews from teens and parents alike, and probably some national awards and honors along the way. Recommended by 57th Street Books, Chicago, IL. Where to buy.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

A coming of age story about a young girl’s aspirations to become a famous author, this is a wonderfully written and timeless story with real characters that anyone can relate to. Recommended by Linden Tree Children’s Recordings and Books, Los Altos, CA. Where to buy.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Set in San Francisco, a few years in the future, terrorists blow up the bay bridge and 3 young teens find themselves taken into custody by homeland security. Outraged by their treatment, one of the kids takes it upon himself to fight the system and take down “Big Brother”. This is a fabulous techno-thriller, widely regaled as the “Hipper, Younger Brother of Orwell’s 1984.” Hands down the best book of the summer! Recommended by Kepler’s Bookstore, Menlo Park, CA. Where to buy.

Want to see more from Education.com’s book list? Here’s a collection of our favorite books for high school:

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

This fantasy series melds adventure, magic, and myth in an epic battle between the powers of Light and Dark. Before there was Harry Potter, there was Will Stanton, the seventh son of a seventh son who discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is one of the Old Ones, dedicated to battling the powers of evil. This series strikes the perfect balance between everyday characters and a world of ancient magic, humor and danger.

The Declaration By Gemma Malley

All but a few citizens in the year 2140 have signed a declaration, promising not to bring any children into the world, in exchange for longevity drugs that keep their bodies working indefinitely. This chilling book is a heart-pounding escape, freaky sci-fi, and compelling love story, wrapped up into one.

Keesha's House by Helen Frost

A graceful take on thepoem-story, this novel unfolds in sonnets, telling the tale of a house for teens that have nowhere to go and far more problems than most. Pregnancy, abuse, and discrimination have brought these teens together, but their stories are full of powerful redemption.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Piscine Patel is a normal 16-year-old boy whose biggest problem is his odd name, until his zookeeper father decides to move the family to Canada. A harrowing shipwreck leaves Pi floating on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a wounded zebra, a potted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The tiger makes quick work of all the other passengers and Pi is left for the next 200 plus days with a severely grumbling stomach and only his wits to survive.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

There is a secret place hidden under the streets of Barcelona called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. A labyrinth of passageways stuffed to capacity and kept by a clandestine clan from the secondhand bookseller's guild, it is a place where the rarest of books are protected from oblivion. Ten-year-old Daniel is taken by his father and as tradition dictates, is allowed to choose one to take home with him. He chooses The Shadow of the Wind. So starts an epic adventure of murder, intrigue, and love

The Beach by Alex Garland

This national bestseller, written by its author at the ripe old age of 26, was a pretty mediocre movie. But it's a riveting book. With the pacing of a thriller and themes teens can relate to (the dark side of peer pressure, the quest to be original, the search for meaning in life...), the book is like a modern day Lord of the Flies mixed with a sprinkling of Robinson Crusoe. A genuine page turner, perfect for mature teens.

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Looking for fun and educational high school reading activities?

BACK to the Summer Reading Information Center.

 

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