5 Coming of Age Books All Teens Should Read

We all have a book that’s transformed us or changed the way we think. These coming-of-age books are some of the most popular and have been changing lives for years and even decades. Here are five novels all teenagers should read and every parent should revisit:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar is the story of Esther Greenwood, a brilliant, beautiful, and talented 19-year-old woman who lands an impressive internship writing for a magazine in New York City. Plath details the breakdown Esther experiences during this time in her life and her road to recovery. Read a summary of this American classic.

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

This award-winning novel is a story of two twins, Jude and Noah, who grew up inseparable, but years later are barely speaking. The first part of the story is narrated by Noah and the second half is from Jude’s perspective. What happens to these twins will leave you laughing and crying. Read more about this novel.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This American classic turned award-winning film is a favorite of high school English teachers. To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of Scout Finch who lives with her brother, Jem, and their widowed father Atticus in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama. Atticus is an attorney hopelessly seeking justice for a man in town, while Scout and Jem investigate a mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley. Read more about this classic. Learn more about Shipley's study of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

In Eleanor and Park, two sixteen-year-old kids that don’t quite fit in fall in love over the course of one school year as they navigate growing up. Read more about Eleanor and Park.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

There are two types of people in Hinton’s “The Outsiders” – greasers and socs. Socs (short for “social”) have money and can get away with anything, while Ponyboy, the main character, is a greaser, who has always lived on the outside. Ponyboy's world is shaken when his friend Johnny, a greaser, kills a soc, causing him to see the world in a different way. Read more about The Outsiders.

Already read these classics? Check out Shipley faculty and staff recommendations.

About the Author


The Shipley School is an independent, coeducational day school in Bryn Mawr for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world. Through a strong college-preparatory curriculum in the humanities and sciences, our school encourages curiosity, creativity, and respect for intellectual effort. Shipley upholds and promotes moral integrity, a sense of personal achievement and worth, and concern for others at school and in the larger community.