Reading is important at every age, and while certain books will be required based on the curriculum, there are a whole host of other, age-appropriate books out there in the world. Here is our ultimate list of the absolute best books for 10th graders, spanning fiction, nonfiction, and many other genres.
Fiction Books for 10th Graders
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel told from the perspective of Charlie, an introverted high school freshman as he navigates the complexities of daily interactions. It is a novel that deals with many of the issues that high schoolers face as well as touching on mental illness and the ways in which that can affect our ability to relate to others.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s first novel tells the story of Pecola, a young African American girl growing up in Ohio in the years following the Great Depression. Pecola wishes that her eyes would turn blue so that she would be viewed as beautiful like all the blond-haired, blue-eyed girls in her school. The book deals with many heavy themes surrounding racism in America, and provides a necessary perspective for any young reader.
A Place Where the Sea Remembers by Sandra Benitez
This sweeping, mesmerizing novel, set in Santiago, Mexico, follows a couple, Chayo and Candelario, as they are finally blessed with the child they thought they might never have. This happy occasion triggers a series of events that affect everyone around them in ways that they never could have imagined.
Native Son by Richard Wright
This dark, intense novel follows Bigger Thomas as he goes into a downward spiral after committing a horrendous crime in a moment of panic. This book is revolutionary, not only for the way it lives inside of the mind of this young man, but also how it provides insight into the circumstances that led to this moment in this young man’s life.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s novel is one of the most famous, enduring, and realistic pictures of a woman dealing with mental illness. As we follow Esther Greenwood slowly going under, we get an intense and harrowing view into some of the darkest corners of the human psyche.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
When Daniel falls for Natasha on the eve of her deportation, he makes it his mission to get her back. While the love story is the primary focus of the novel, it also grapples with the very real issues of immigration and other intense topics that affect the lives of people in this country.
Nonfiction Books for 10th Graders
A long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
A Long Way Gone is the memoir of Ismael Beah, who was a child soldier in the government army of Sierra Leone. After fleeing a band of rebels at the age of 12 he was picked up and forced to not only join the army but commit terrible acts. This is the story of that horrendous time in his life and how he survived.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
This graphic memoir provides an accessible and engaging view into what it was like to grow up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Told from Marjane’s perspective from the ages of 6 to 14, this child’s eye view into this major historical event allows people of all ages to better understand this complex topic and learn along with the narrator.
We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist
This hilariously true story follows Sundquist, now 25, as he tracks down every girl he ever had a crush on from middle school on to find out what went wrong. This relatable and delightful book is perfect for anyone who feels like dating is just so much harder than it should be.
Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney
This book is a great glimpse into the origins of Motown and how this genre of music has shaped so much of the music we listen to today. This is one of the best books for 10th graders that have an interest in music and want to learn more about its origins.
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy
This inventive, scrapbook-style book goes into the history of the bicycle and the way in which this amazing invention helped to spur on the women’s liberation movement. The bicycle provided not only physical freedom but a vehicle for female empowerment that changed the course of history.
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu
Brazen is a collection of short biographies in graphic novel form, featuring women who did amazing things and changed the world. While many of the women profiled are quite well know, others are less famous, and all of them share the same brazen, rebellious spirit.
Science Fiction/Fantasy Books for 10th Graders
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Discover the world of the Shadowhunters, a secret army of warriors who dedicate their lives to driving demons out of our world and back to where they came from. Clary Fray is thrust into this dark world after just barely surviving an attack from a demon—something that is not just unlikely, it is nearly impossible.
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
After an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, the planet is rocked by endless natural disasters that lead to worldwide destruction. The book follows high schooler Miranda as her world is turned upside down and she and her family struggle to survive.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
What if everyone was pretty? This sci-fi book imagines a world in which everyone is given cosmetic surgery to make them “pretty” at the age of 16. Existing in a post-scarcity world, the novel deals with government conspiracies and what the true meaning of freedom really is.
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
After her family is killed by a corrupt warlord, pirate Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course across the seas in search of vengeance. Her crew, made up of other women who’ve lost everything, join her on this quest for revenge and do all that they can to keep each other alive along the way.
Sports Books for 10th Graders
Best Seat in the House: a Basketball Memoir by Spike Lee
In this basketball memoir, filmmaker Spike Lee examines the influence that this sport has had on his life. He recounts tales of disputes he was involved in from the sidelines, conversations he had with famous players and shares his opinions on the roles of athletes in business and culture.
Shoe Dog: Young Readers Edition by Phil Knight
Phil Knight, the man behind the Nike empire, tells the story of his journey from high school track star to the owner of one of the most successful athletic brands in the world. It is a fascinating and harrowing memoir that gives us a glimpse into the man behind the swoosh.
Tumbling by Caela Carter
This book for 10th graders tells the story of four gymnastics Olympics hopefuls as they endure the grueling two-day trials that will determine their future. It sheds a light on the intense behind the scenes drama that envelopes the lives of these young women and keeps you engaged from the very first page.
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince
This is the amazingly true story of a young woman raised in an orphanage in war-torn Sierra Leone who comes to America and rises to ballet stardom. It is a story of rising above all the odds and finding success that can only be dreamed of.