Total Writing Enrichment’s 2021 Teen Gift Guide
Maybe you’ve seen your child devour book after book this year. Maybe your teen can’t get enough dystopian universes but shies away from other genres, no matter what books are assigned. Or maybe you celebrated when they read the back of a cereal box.
Whatever your teen’s experiences with reading are, all can gain enormous benefits from regularly receiving books as gifts. Regular reading leads to better writing – every time.
When you read, you unknowingly pick up on techniques and writing styles that influence your own. For example, a well-read student will often know instinctively how and when to separate paragraphs, how to properly use punctuation marks, and what words work at what time, simply because they are accustomed to seeing it often.
For that reason, Total Writing Enrichment has decided to focus our 2021 gift recommendations books even the most reluctant readers will enjoy and benefit from.
Engaging Reads for Teens
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
This science fiction novel is set in a world in which the most intelligent children are secretly trained to fight an intergalactic war. Beyond its intriguing, thoughtful, and captivating setting, teens connect to sibling and peer relationships, as well as the sometimes at-odds relationships between adults and young people. It brings up larger moral questions and themes any budding debater would be thrilled to discuss.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This character-driven novel focuses on two teens struggling through this time in their lives. Though they find it hard to fit in with other young people their age, they create a strong bond that helps them through the trials with which they are presented. It addresses a plethora of issues teens deal with every day, which makes it a good conversation starter on many topics.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This one in particular is for those teens on the more introverted side, who have spent much of their lives on the sidelines while at the same time coming into their own. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story of a teen with the mind of an observer who gives up observing in order to participate.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
This novel is the first of many popular books written by this author. The protagonist and his friends attempt to learn more about how their friend suddenly passed, teaching them lessons along the way about grief and the meaning of life. Like Green’s other novels, readers are engaged by relatable characters and intriguing relationships.
Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul
This well-known collection of stories is repeatedly enjoyed by the very population they were written for. The lessons offered are all ones our teens can relate to, and have the ability to make them feel less alone.
Books Your Middle School Child Will Enjoy
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
This novel focuses on the growing friendship between two boys who find themselves to be outsiders at their boarding school. Though Jack, the protagonist, was hesitant at first, he looks beyond his initial judgments and befriends Early. The two boys embark on a thrilling adventure that leads them to a deep connection. As the book teaches the importance of getting to know people beyond the surface, any middle schooler, teen, or incoming college freshman could benefit from this read.
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
A popular book among middle school students, this novel focuses on Melody, who was born with cerebral palsy. Students quickly become intrigued by the immense knowledge and intellect she possesses, but is physically unable to show the world. Right now, in both schools and the workplace, there is a move towards accommodating more people who are neurodiverse. This novel teaches how much neurotypical students might have in common with those who require those accommodations.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
You may well have read this novel in your own childhood, yet it holds up as an engaging read for current middle school students. It introduced them to a world designed to be perfect, and calls into question whether “perfect” actually exists. Though many students love the adventure the novel takes you on, the deeper thinkers easily find connections to our own world.
Books That Will Expand Your Teen’s Thinking
The Republic is a staple read in many psychology classes, and provides a deep dive into the responsibilities and the morality of society and humans within that society. This is a challenging read for the “thinker” in your family that will encourage thoughtful conversations.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This novel follows a strong female protagonist in a world where she does not have autonomy. For high school seniors ready to enter the “world”, this novel broadens their scope of that world, and allows them a more global view.
Blindness by Jose Saramago
This novel is a bit timely, as the world in the book, published in 1999, is hit by a brutal and widespread epidemic. The book shows the worst and best parts of humankind when faced with immense hardship. The themes are universal, and encourage deep conversation.
Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
This memoir written by renowned author Kelly Corrigan documents the imperfect relationship between her and her mother. As she grows and experiences life, we see her relationships evolve. This is an engaging read for any young person ready to embark on the journey of life while reflecting on the impact of the relationships around them. Tell Me More and The Middle Place, written by the same author, are also worth checking out.
Books For Teens Who Crave Drama and Romance
Just Listen by Sarah Dressen
This novel focuses on Annabel, a girl whose life may seem perfect, but is really far from it. Throughout the book, she deals with loss of friendship, familial problems, relationships with the opposite sex, and figuring out her place in the world. Amidst all of this, she is able to discover the truth of the most important person in her life: herself. This is one of many engaging reads written by this University of North Carolina Chapel Hill graduate.
Books for Your Teen Headed to College
Hello, World by Kelly Corrigan
In this new picture book, your teen will be reminded of what they will gain the most out of going to college: meeting people and making connections that will make a lasting impact. This book celebrates these moments of new adventure, and brings added excitement to the journey of entering a new school in a new place.
Educated by Tara Westover
This is a book that has been recommended here before, and for good reason. The focus of this nonfiction novel is a young woman with a hard childhood who succeeds in college and beyond. It teaches any high school senior the important lessons of resilience and self-confidence.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
This book is a collection of stories and essays written by the author about her experiences in college. Teens will relate to her reflection on finding her place in the world, and how to use her own skills and talents to benefit society.
.As you select books to give your child this holiday season, remember to pick up some for yourself! Not only do you deserve it, but it is a well-known fact that children read more when they see their parents read more and when reading is simply a part of the home. Reading in front of your children is one of the easiest strategies to turn your teen into a reader.
Do you have any books you were thinking about gifting this year? Let me hear them so I can pass them along!