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Ten must-reads for 14 to 16-year-olds

Teenager with book

About this list

Nothing beats the joy of getting lost in a good book. So this year, the National Literacy Trust is delighted to be partnering with Good Housekeeping to help young readers discover books that they will love. Together, with our panel of judges, we’ve drawn up a list of 50 books we feel all children need in their lives.

Judging Panel

  • Jonathan Douglas CBE is chief executive of the National Literacy Trust
  • Fiona Evans is director of school programmes at the National Literacy Trust
  • Angellica Bell is a presenter and began her career on children’s channel CBBC
  • Gaby Huddart is Good Housekeeping’s editor-in-chief
  • Joanne Finney has been books editor of Good Housekeeping since 2011

Top ten reads for 14 to 16-year-olds

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Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

This heart-warming graphic novel captures first love between an unlikely couple: rugby jock Nick and book-lover Charlie.

“A feel-good book about two grammar school boys who develop a bond. The story is about love, happiness, loyalty, and even tackles mental health. Representation is key in literature.” Angellica Bell, TV presenter and guest judge.

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

In this ground-breaking novel, the world is divided into two: the white Noughts are second-class citizens, and the black Crosses who are perceived as the superior race. Callum is a Nought but his best friend Sephy is a Cross and the daughter of one of the most influential politicians in the country.

“One of the great literary creations of the past century. Malorie’s exploration of racial segregation is so powerful because it is specifically written for young readers and is focused on how racial injustice perverts and destroys young lives. Sephy and Callum are a new generation’s star-crossed lovers.” Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This post-apocalyptic novel is set in a world where the ruling class are harsh and cruel, and where an annual competition pits teenagers against each other in a battle to the death. One of the contenders is feisty heroine Katniss who must fight to survive.

“Trying to persuade teenagers off their phones and into the pages of a book can be an almighty challenge. I watched with delight as The Hunger Games did just that magical feat with my own daughters so can personally vouch for the power of this story. Bravo!” Gaby Huddart, editor-in-chief Good Housekeeping.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This modern classic is narrated by a character called Death who tells the story of the friendship between Liesl, a little German girl fostered after the Second World War, and a Jewish man named Max who is being hidden in her family’s basement.

“A story narrated by death may not initially seem the most uplifting read for a teenager, but oh my goodness, this is so full of heart. They will be swept up into the incredible story and, ultimately, think about it long after the final page.” Gaby Huddart, editor-in-chief Good Housekeeping.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon

The hero of this clever murder mystery is Christopher Boone, an autistic teenager who turns detective after neighbour’s dog is killed.

“It’s got to have one of the best titles of any book, inspired by Sherlock Holmes. So many young people I know have said this is their favourite book. Superbly written from the perspective of the main character who looks at the world in a very different way.” Fiona Evans, director of schools programmes at the National Literacy Trust.

Toffee by Sarah Crossan

Told in verse, this moving novel tells the story of Allison who runs away from home and is taken in by Marla, an elderly woman with dementia.

“Sarah Crossan’s verse novels are works of art. Each poem can stand on its own but in the narrative sequence of the novel Sarah’s novels weave a unique and powerful storytelling spell. In Toffee a friendship between a young girl who has run away from home and an old woman suffering from dementia offers joy and hope.” Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Life changes forever for 16-year-old Starr when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend by a police officer.

“This book really enlightens the reader on the black experience in America. It is emotive, poignant and a fantastic debut novel by author Angie Thomas - a great source of education about racism.” Angellica Bell, TV presenter and guest judge.

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

Keep the tissues close for this moving story about two teenagers who fall in love at a Cancer Kid Support Group.

“Until a book has made you cry, you won’t get why reading can be so worthwhile and all-consuming. This is the book that packs that emotional punch. A coming-of-age romance with a heart-breaking twist.” Fiona Evans, director of schools programmes at the National Literacy Trust.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

How I Live Now cover

This memoir, told through comic strip pictures, shows Marjane’s experiences of being a teenager in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution.

“Memoirs are such a great way of learning about history and other cultures and Marjane is the perfect narrator: funny, wise, spirited.” Joanne Finney, books editor of Good Housekeeping.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Fifteen-year-old New Yorker Daisy heads to the English countryside to spend an idyllic summer with her cousins – until war breaks out, throwing their world into chaos.

“Set in a world that will feel very familiar to the reader, this is a heart-racing story of survival. I read it years ago but it has always stayed with me.” Joanne Finney, books editor of Good Housekeeping.

Buy one of the books on this list for your child

If you liked the sound of any of the books on this list you can purchase them from the link below.