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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

20 must-reads for teens: Dystopia rules

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was made into a 2012 coming-of-age movie.

Edutopia’s list of 20 “indispensable” books for high schoolers is “dominated by perennials” like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, writes Stephen Merrill.

Only three books published in the last 20 years made the list, which was suggested by commenters:

Stephen Chbosky’s epistolary novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999); Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis, about growing up during the Iranian Revolution (2000–03); and Cormac McCarthy’s brutal, dark novel The Road (2006).

In addition to Nineteen Eighty-Four, and The Road, dystopian “indispensables” include Orwell’s Animal Farm, William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist comedy Slaughterhouse-Five and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Are teens that fond of doom and gloom?

One book I’ve barely heard of — The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho — made the list. It’s a “tale of a Spanish shepherd who hopes to find his destiny on a journey to Egypt,” writes Merrill. Amazon calls it a follow-your-dream fable.

Harry Potter books are favorites with kids of all ages. 

Any good? At least it sounds cheerful.

One Shakespeare play — Macbeth — is on the top 20. I wonder why that one. Aren’t teens more into Romeo and Juliet?

Why Elie Wiesel’s Night but not The Diary of Anne Frank?

Scholastic’s Kid and Family Reading Report looks at reading preferences for younger children. The Harry Potter series is hugely popular with children of all races and ethnicities, as is Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

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