In high school is when I really became a voracious reader. I had always picked up a book before then but in high school is when that love really made itself known. That hour a week in the high school library was spent reading Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club before it evolved into other works that I still read and recommend today. I think every high school student should spend time reading materials outside of school work. While most won’t have a desire to read as frequently as I did, and still do, I feel like one or two books should be read during a term and DEFINITELY during the summer is needed.
To help with that, in no particular order, here are the 8 books that should be read in high school.
Go Ask Alice is the fake memoir of a 15 year old who struggles with a drug problem; we follow her experiences as she is first introduced to the world of drugs up until just before her death from an overdose.
You will see this book mentioned in another post but it is one that should be read multiple times. To Kill a Mockingbird explores racial tensions in an old Alabama town through the eyes of Scout Finch. Her father, Atticus, defends a black man accused of rape and during this time, 6 year old Scout and her friends learn about the unfair treatment of African Americans.
I read the story of Blanche DuBois for the first time in an English Literature class in 9th grade. A Streetcar Named Desire follows a promiscuous Blanche as hard times force him to move to Mississippi to live with her sister and brother in law. It famously recounts how Blanche is pushed over the edge and has a mental breakdown at the hands of her handsome yet brutal and abusive brother in law, Stanley. A Streetcar Named Desire is a famed play that has stood the test of the time and continues to remain relevant in every era.
Every high school student needs to read Maya Angelou as soon as possible. There is no better way to start than with I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings; a story of love, longing, bigotry and above all, honesty.
I borrowed this from my high school’s library and I remember only being one or two chapters in and wanting to put it down, it was almost too much for me to bare. This book tells the story of Dave Pelzer’s upbringing, one of the most severe child abuse cases in California. He was brutally beaten and starved by his mother. She played terrible games with him, that often left him nearly dead. He had to learn to survive because he was no longer her son or a boy but simply, “it”. By no means is this story an easy one to read but I feel it is an important one to know about.
A coming of age novel, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens whose life experiences have been shaped by the foggy memory of the day her mother was killed. Lily and her maid, Rosaleen, escape to Tiburon, South Carolina after Rosaleen is attacked by three of their town’s racists. These two are taken in by a trio of black sisters who introduce Lily to the world of ultimate female power, the power of love and the lure of bees and honey. It is a story that women will pass down to their children to read for many years.
This is still the best book I have read in the past year and a half, for all of the reasons that I stated here. This, like The Secret Life of Bees, is one that should absolutely be read for the first time in high school and multiple times after that.
I think I read this in 9th grade as well and its portrayal of human nature is one that is hard to forget. The book follows a group of small boys who are isolated on a small island. What is expected to be fun at first quickly turns into a nightmare of sorts.
Any ones that I missed? Let me know your recommendations!