For many younger children, reading is a thrilling novelty, a testament to being an educated individual.
However, as homework piles on and extracurriculars increase by the moment, reading for fun becomes less of a priority for some students. The joy of choosing what to read is subverted by English teachers far and wide with the phrase “required reading.” But while the demands of high school life can be intense, and 'required reading' may sometimes seem like an academic obligation, it's essential to remember that this a chance to explore worlds, ideas, and perspectives beyond our own. Embrace the journey of reading, both for pleasure and for academic growth.
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Book List for High Schoolers by Grade
The following books have been ranked as the top print titles for high schoolers by grade level on Renaissance’s What Kids are Reading 2023 edition. We've listed the top 10 books for grades 9-12 and additional insights/review from from a rising senior are included for books she has personally read.
Top 10 Books for Grade 9
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Lee’s novel was somewhat of a popular read in ninth grade as the story was easy-to-follow and captivating. Certain characters are insufferable but truly reflect the monstrous behavior of racists and bigots of society, which makes it still relevant in today’s culture of dissecting past and current discrimination.
2. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
This classic play was popular amongst classmates because of the insults tossed around by characters and the overall absurdity of the plot. However, as with other Shakespearean works, this novel was not as popular as other readings due to its outdated and confusing language.
3. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
In all honesty, this novel was well-liked by fellow classmates simply because of how easy writing literary essays about Steinbeck’s characters and plot was; this is a testament to how dynamic it is.
4. Night by Elie Wiesel
Wiesel’s Night was a beloved, heart-wrenching read regarding the horrific circumstances of Nazi concentration camps. The book captures the essence of cruelty and antisemitism, topics that still reign to this day.
5. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
6. Hunger Game Series by Suzanne Collins
7. Animal Farm by George Orwell
8. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This book was one of the most popular required readings in eighth grade, especially due to the heartwarming characters, some more loved than the rest. As more people come to terms with their privilege of being born into a certain socioeconomic class, this age-old classic is still relevant to this day as it reflects upon the difficulties of being born into a life where obeying the law may not always seem plausible.
9. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan
10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Golding’s book encompassing tragic themes of what it means to lose a sense of humanity, chaos, and utter savagery was a captivating read. Golding’s characterization of each young boy and their collective descent into madness was truly fascinating.
Top 10 Books for Grade 10
1. Night by Elie Wisel
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
5. Hunger Game Series by Suzanne Collins
6. Animal Farm by George Orwell
7. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan
8. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
9. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This novel, which reflects both prejudice and unfulfilled desires within a tale of wealthy white New Yorkers, was a popular read. The themes of longing, hard work, and suspicions of others' newfound success remain relevant to this day.
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Top 10 Books for Grade 11
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
This novel, reflecting life during the Salem Witch Trials, serves as an insightful allegory to McCarthyism. It was a captivating read because the absurdity of the included details both amused and confused my classmates.
3. Of Mice and Me by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan
6. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
7. Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
8. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
9. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
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Top 10 Books for Grade 12
1. Macbet by William Shakespeare
2. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. 1984 by George Orwell
6. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
7. Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series by Rick Riordan
8. Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
9. Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
10. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Beyond the academic benefits, it's a chance to explore different genres, cultures, and time periods, fostering a sense of empathy and cultural awareness that extends far beyond graduation day.