A top 100 list of novels for young people to read before they leave secondary school been compiled by the National Association for the Teaching of English and TES Magazine.
The top 10 books to read before leaving secondary school are:
1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
5. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
6. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
8. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The top ten includes many titles on the school curriculum. Only one title, Harry Potter, has been published in the last 50 years.
These classic novels would be a great place to start in your YA free reading list, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, here are five suggestions to try:
Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
A haunting tale of a not so distant dystopian future. Kathy attends a peculiar boarding school with her friends Ruth and Tommy. The pupils are subjected to a number of strange rules and it isn’t long before the reader realises the school is hiding a sinister reality.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The narrator, Death, tells the story of Liesel, a German girl struggling to come to terms with the brutality of the Nazi regime. Liesel bonds with Max, the Jewish man hiding in her foster family’s cellar, while undertaking her own personal rebellion against the Nazis by stealing books which are destined to be burnt.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
‘We eat the occasional potato and scrape plaster off the walls for pudding. We have thought of cooking one of our dogs but that would not do…’ Such is the life of 17 year old Cassandra Mortmain, living in the 1930s in a crumbling castle. A charmingly funny coming of age story.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
This multigenerational tale of multicultural Britain, written when the author was only in her early twenties, follows the stories of three eccentric London families whose lives, and cultures, are entangled. Witty, sharp and colourful.
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
After a shipwreck, 16 year old Pi survives 227 days at sea in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. A thrilling adventure story which addresses the big questions in life.
Do you agree with the TES top ten? What books do you like reading outside your studies and which would you recommend to other young people?