7 fun summer books for reluctant readers in grades 9–12

Encourage your teenager to read with this list of fun summer books.

Yes, even (some) high-schoolers appreciate recommendations for vacation books. Encourage your high-school child to read with this list of approachable teen titles. Or surprise your teen with a couple when you reach the beach and boredom sets in!

Tracers, by J.J. Howard

Here’s an adrenaline-pumping read for kids who like action. In Tracers, a teen bike messenger named Cam is zooming around New York City, trying to avoid run-ins with a Chinese gang. En route, Cam meets a girl named Nikki. She introduces him to parkour, a way of running, jumping, climbing and swinging through city obstacles. Tracers was released as a movie, too. Kids may like comparing and contrasting the book and film.

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

This collection of simple poems reveals what it was like to grow up as a young African American girl in the 1960s and 1970s. Woodson’s autobiographical poetry sparkles with love for her family. It also shines light on the inequalities of the Jim Crow era. Brown Girl Dreaming won multiple awards, so it may be assigned class reading in coming years. But its rich language and strong emotions may entice teen readers into enjoying it now. That’s especially true for kids who like to escape into other lifetimes.

The Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang

Can your mom force you to become a superhero? That’s what Hank Chu finds out. A Chinese American teen in 1940, Hank is reluctant to stand up to the goons in his neighborhood who threaten his family’s grocery store. But as the masked Green Turtle, he may just have the confidence to protect his family and fight back. Comic fans may love how The Shadow Hero is a series of modern graphic novels that have the look of vintage comics.

Tunnel Vision, by Susan Adrian

Jake has a secret skill. When he holds something that belongs to another person, he can locate them, wherever they are. Once the government learns of Jake’s powers, it insists that he use his skill to find criminals. In this spy novel, Jake has to decide just how far he’s willing to risk his own safety in order to protect and help others. Tunnel Vision has just enough sci-fi and romance elements to make it a perfect summer thriller for boys and girls alike.

Geek Girl, by Holly Smale

Harriet is 15 and extremely awkward — but she’s also pretty. How pretty? When she reluctantly accompanies her best friend Nat to a modeling open call, it’s Harriet who gets scouted. Now Harriet has to figure out how to save her friendship while jump-starting her unlikely career. Geek Girl is a light, frothy read that will appeal to any teen who’s ever imagined being discovered.

Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets, by J.A. Buckle

Things aren’t exactly panning out for 17-year-old Josh. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist. And he and his pals wish they had girlfriends. But regular teenage obstacles like overbearing parents and poor self-esteem have been holding him back. Told in journal style, Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets is a laugh-out-loud read, especially for younger high-schoolers.

Laughing at My Nightmare, by Shane Burcaw

Fun Fact: I drool so much overnight that I have considered hiring a lifeguard to watch me while I sleep. So says teen author Shane Burcaw in his laugh-till-you-cry memoir, Laughing at My Nightmare. Burcaw lives with a life-threatening disease. He explains with raw honesty how his spinal muscular atrophy has complicated his everyday life. He describes attending high school and college, finding a girlfriend and starting a nonprofit. His words are inspiring without being sappy. They’ll stick with readers who understand adversity for a long, long time.


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