20 Recently Published Books High School Teachers Should Assign

Posted by Catherine on August 19, 2016
We're all familiar with the books that fill high school reading lists—classics by the likes of Salinger, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, and Orwell. But how often do we come across a book by a contemporary writer and think, wow, this would make a fantastic addition to that list? Be it a thought-provoking portrayal of society, a personal journey of self-discovery or extreme courage, or a historical tour de force that resonates powerfully today. We asked on Facebook and Twitter what recent books you would assign to high school students. Your top picks are below!


The Book Thief
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Station Eleven
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I Am Malala
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The Help
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Homegoing
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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
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The Nightingale
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Thirteen Reasons Why
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The Boys in the Boat
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The Serpent King
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Brown Girl Dreaming
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
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Just Mercy
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower
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Off Balance
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Between the World and Me
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All the Light We Cannot See
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Eleanor and Park
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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
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Unbroken
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What recently published books would you assign to a high school class? Tell us your picks—and why!—in the comments.

Comments Showing 1-50 of 55 (55 new)


message 3: by Casey (new)

Casey Williams Exit, Pursued By a Bear. Despite it's subject material (the main character is drugged and raped at cheerleading camp), it is such an incredibly uplifting book. The friendship between the girls is deep, fierce, and never saccharine. I have never read a book about such a dark subject that made me weep happy tears.


message 4: by Tawny (new)

Tawny Olson Freaks I've Met" by Donald Jans, in your face humor but with a heart and a life lesson. I read "seperate peace" in high school which has a gay sex scene, so i think it would pass muster in the non bible belt states!


message 5: by J. (new)

J. The Good Fight features important lessons about individualism, a little bit of economics, and a strong female heroine all wrapped up in an engaging horror story. Of course, I might be entirely biased ;)


message 7: by Hayley (new)

Hayley Little I think some of these already are, not sure about any of the others but I had to read the curious incident of the dog in the night-time at school.


message 8: by Maria (new)

Maria Americanah! It's a book about love, race, social conventions in Africa, England and America. It's got so many messages for young people who struggle to make a better life for themselves and sometimes find themselves in situations they wouldn't ever imagine.


message 9: by Jack (new)

Jack Pramitte How to remove this from my homepage?


message 10: by Jay (new)

Jay People keep adding "Wonder." Good book, for sure. However, it's too easy a read for high school. Students should read it around 5th grade.


message 11: by Jay (new)

Jay Jack wrote: "How to remove this from my homepage?"

I don't know that one. Who is the author? Sounds intriguing.


message 12: by Nicola (new)

Nicola Hall She who must not be named wrote: "Wonder"

I also agree with this one


message 13: by Katherine (new)

Katherine The Book Thief is already on certain required reading lists...


message 14: by Ulla (new)

Ulla No, this time I don't pick a work by my favourite author Ashley Capes, it would spoil the fun if one HAD TO read it at school.

I think of something more serious but nevertheless very interesting to read and to learn from (about personal strength and a bit of the iranian culture back then). It's the childhood autobiography of Arion Golmakani:
in english Solacers, in german Beraubte Wut, in persian علیرضا Alireza

The author spent his childhood on the streets of Teheran in the 50/60s, abandoned by his parents. With resilience and diligence and the help of some real friends he fought through very rough times and made his dream come true: at 17 he emigrated to America. Very impressive, especially how equanimous and conciliatory he looks back on that time.


message 15: by Suzan (new)

Suzan I have not read all of these books but The Nightingale, The Book Thief, The Help, Between the World and Me, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Unbroken would all be excellent choices for students to read. Henrietta Lacks would be an excellent choice for a science class and the others would be at home in English or in Social Studies/History.


just another rachel The book I suggested, Station Eleven made your list, woot!


message 17: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited Aug 19, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ Jack wrote: "How to remove this from my homepage?"

You can't. You can suggest making this feature customisable in the Feedback group, but as it is a selling tool I don't like your chances.


message 18: by Chani (new)

Chani Jay wrote: "Jack wrote: "How to remove this from my homepage?"

I don't know that one. Who is the author? Sounds intriguing."


Haha good one


message 19: by Agnesa (new)

Agnesa I would add "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller as well.


message 20: by Donna (new)

Donna Jay wrote: "People keep adding "Wonder." Good book, for sure. However, it's too easy a read for high school. Students should read it around 5th grade."

Totally agree. Fantastic book.


message 21: by Kira (new)

Kira Jeppesen Between the World and Me was assigned in my culture class this year. Its a fantastic book and its only a 150 pages or so. However he could have summed up the letter in about 60 pages :D


message 22: by Umar (new)

Umar Hanazuwa Im thinking None of these have been added to any of our high schools here in Nigeria never come across or even heard of it.


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan Maria wrote: "Americanah! It's a book about love, race, social conventions in Africa, England and America. It's got so many messages for young people who struggle to make a better life for themselves and sometim..."

I agree that this would be a good one because of all the reasons you list and then some.

The Orphan Master's Son for the role of government in people's lives, conformity, societal norms and expectations, etc. along with the bonus of North Korea and it's parallels in the US

Why I Jump would be another one - autism understanding - Could take the place of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night which is more of a novel than Jump. House Rules would be another on this topic.

The people who keep listing Wonder need to understand that it is written for a younger audience - maybe Jr. high if not 5th and 6th grade.


message 24: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl How do I get GR to stop recommending me books in Turkish? I can't read Turkish.


message 25: by Nicolas (last edited Aug 19, 2016 07:00PM) (new)

Nicolas Valin im studying to be a History Professor, I would recommend a lot of books to my teenage students from this list!!!!


message 26: by Adam (new)

Adam B. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann


message 27: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Okay, not a recent book, but one I would suggest: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. Prep by Curtis Sittenfield as it has their age characters and is interesting. One Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan or something more recent by her. I think they would be on the high school reading level. I know Kingsolver was assigned at various schools.


message 29: by Isa (new)

Isa Rebecca Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman!


message 30: by BookWitch_Namine (new)

BookWitch_Namine I think This Song Will Save Your Life is a good book to consider as it shows teenage problems, but it also goes indepth into what it is to be you. I think that's something teenagers need to really understand especially the fake ones.


message 31: by Faizan (new)

Faizan Not The Perks of Being A Wallflower.


message 32: by kjill (new)


message 33: by Emilee (new)

Emilee Ashline To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher and the Rye


message 34: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness everyone should read this book


message 35: by Arabelle (new)

Arabelle Akinfe She who must not be named wrote: "Wonder"

We read that at my school. It's AMAZING!


message 36: by Colleen (new)

Colleen I'm reading Homegoing right now. It's pretty new so not sure how it could get on this list already, but it is good. I'm really surprised Wonder didn't make the list. I also liked The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and honk it would be worthy of this list.


message 37: by Sara (new)

Sara Jesus " The book thief", " I am Malala" and " The help". I think that the three are great book and very educative


message 38: by Melody (new)

Melody Tawny wrote: I read "seperate peace" in high school which has a gay sex scene..."

I think I know what you're talking about, but when I pointed it out in class, no one believed me! They weren't even convinced Gene was into men!


message 39: by Heather (new)

Heather When Breath Becomes Air should be something everyone should read. I thought it was fantastic


message 40: by Emilee (new)

Emilee Ashline Jodi Picoult...nineteen minutes. It's a bit confusing controversial but it's an excellent story


She who must not be named Jay wrote: "People keep adding "Wonder." Good book, for sure. However, it's too easy a read for high school. Students should read it around 5th grade."
I agree that Wonder might be an easy read but, the message behind it would be interpreted differently by different age groups.I think high schoolers should read it because it could teach them a lot about the different people in the society they are about to be active members of and, the book has an anti-body shaming message which is apt for high school, a time where looks have the possibility of gaining precedence over personality.
But that's just my opinion :P


message 42: by Melody (new)

Melody "Jay wrote: "Wonder." Good book, for sure. However, it's too easy a read for high school. Students should read it around 5th grade."

She who must not be named wrote: I agree that Wonder might be ..."


Wonder can be a bit heavy handed and overly simplistic in it's acceptance and anti-body shaming messages. A very good book for 11 year olds, but 14 year olds would tear it to shreds; I think it would ultimately end up having the reverse effect on students in high school.


message 43: by Barbara (new)

Barbara She who must not be named wrote: "Jay wrote: "People keep adding "Wonder." Good book, for sure. However, it's too easy a read for high school. Students should read it around 5th grade."
I agree that Wonder might be ..."


Maybe like eighth grade or something like that?? I don't remember what we read in eighth grade. Possibly The Call of the Wild.


message 44: by Barbara (new)

Barbara It's hard to know what works for which groups. I know my cousin who teaches middle school did The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.


message 45: by Kristin (new)

Kristin War Horse, I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced and Prozac Nation is a couple of suggestions.


message 46: by Camus (new)

Camus Grimwood I disagree with Wonder. I think Out of My Mind would be better required reading for a similar topic.


message 47: by Emilee (new)

Emilee Ashline speak by laurie anderson


message 48: by Autumn (new)

Autumn I think Laurie Halse Anderson definitely deserves a spot on this list. Speak is a favorite among teachers, but I would recommend Wintergirls as my personal favorite. Even though I have been fortunate enough not to have dealt with an eating disorder, I still remember reading it as a 13-14 year old and being so moved by the story and prose. Another suggestion would be Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, which I feel addresses a very important issue that a lot of students could benefit from reading about.


message 49: by Carol (new)

Carol Scout wrote: "I disagree with Wonder. I think Out of My Mind would be better required reading for a similar topic."
Read both, would recommend both to a younger crowd. It would be interesting to get a re-read by high school students, see if they look deeper. Wonder is amazing. Out of My Head is too. Few books address exclusion in such no nonsense, intelligent, real ways.


message 50: by Lu (new)

Lu love letters to the dead


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