Young Adult books are one of the fastest growing publishing categories. But their popularity is not because 12 to 18 year olds are insatiable readers. It is because they appeal to all ages.
The YA years are the quest years — a time of testing limits, questioning authority, flaunting conventions, searching for answers and discovering one’s self. It is also time of short attention spans and high entertainment requirements. Hence successful books geared to this audience tend to be thoughtful, imaginative, provocative, well written, and, whether dramatic or comedic, have main characters that are rebels at heart.
And don’t we all have a bit of a secret rebel within?
Even as we mature, most of us go through stages in our life when we find ourselves questioning and re-evaluating our professional path, our personal choices, our friends, our enemies, our allegiances, our basic assumptions about life — and death. So it makes sense that we would return to those favorite books and characters from our youthful to refresh and refine their imprint on our memory and ponder them anew — or seek out new YA favorites to keep company with the old.
After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good rebellion or enlightening quest now and then?
The top 20 of NPR’s Top 100 Teen Books
1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins
3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
4. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
7. The Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
9. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
10. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
11. The Giver (series), by Lois Lowry
12. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series), by Douglas Adams
13. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
14. Anne of Green Gables (series), by Lucy Maud Montgomery
15. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
16. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
17. The Princess Bride, by William Golding
18. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
19. Divergent (series), by Veronica Roth
20. Paper Towns, by John Green
The complete list of Top 100 books with links and descriptions.
The complete list of 235 YA finalists by title.
Are your top YA books on the list? What books or authors would you add or delete from the list? NPR’s post discussing their criteria for inclusion and exclusion can be found HERE.