Wondering what to get the teen on your Christmas list? Books make wonderful gifts. They are easy to wrap, pack, ship and they offer a chance to connect with the teen at a later point. In our house, there’s always something to read under the tree. I’ve asked teens, consulted Best Of lists, read reviews and solicited input from librarians to compiles this list of new YA books that make great gifts for teens this holiday season.
I broke the list down into categories. Although several books fit into multiple categories, they are only listed once.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
My friend Amanda is a children’s librarian at the award-winning Naperville Public Library with a knack for recommending great books that adults love to give and kids love to receive. She’s never steered me wrong. She suggests this title and says that it is “a graphic novel about following your dreams and acceptance with gorgeous pictures that would make a great gift.”
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
I was a little worried about including this graphic memoir because while it is widely acclaimed, it deals with some heavy topics, including the toll addiction takes on a family but Amanda assures me it really is that good and contains “funny bits.” I guess it was finalist for the National Book Award for good reason and I shouldn’t second guess.
Updates of Classics
Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon
This book explores what may have happened if Oliver Twist were a girl in disguise during her years on the streets and finds herself at a crossroads at age 18 when she encounters the Artful Dodger. “This clever retelling of Dickens’ Oliver Twist is perfect for readers who love romance, adventure, historical settings, and heroines who can kick butt in formal gowns,” says Booklist in a starred review.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
This retelling of Pride & Prejudice, which is billed as a “remix”, is set in gentrifying Brooklyn among high schoolers facing college applications and more. In a starred review, School Library Journal says, “This excellent coming-of-age take on a classic belongs on all YA shelves.”
For Fantasy Fans
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Set in a fantasy world inspired by West African mythology, this novel that came out in March was a New York Times best seller. Kirkus called it “Exceptional” in a starred review and it also made the Chicago Public Library’s list of Best Teen Fiction in 2018.
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
This book set in Paris is the first in a new YA fantasy series from the New York Times best-selling author. It’s a mix of fantasy, modern fairy tale and action that will have the reader turning pages. One good part of a series is that kids keep reading!
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
I’ve seen this on several lists of best books of the year, including TIME‘s 10 Best Young Adult and Children’s Books of 2018 and Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of the 2018. It also gets the Amanda seal of approval as well. “Perfect for geeks who feel so similar to and yet so different from the other members of their families,” she says.
Your Own Worst Enemy by Gordon Jack
The reviews of this satirical book about a high school student body president election are good. School Library Journal says, ““The characters are complex and their thoughts and interactions intriguing. This breezy read features some romantic confusion, plenty of humor, and a few serious moments. A good choice.”
Birding is My Favorite Video Game by Rosemary Mosco
This is a graphic book that combines science and humor and is about fun facts, not fiction. It’s short, but that means it won’t overwhelm kids who are reluctant readers.
For Broadway Babies
Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich
You hear of books being made into Broadway productions, but this is the reverse. The smash Tony-winning Broadway production was first on the stage and is now a newly-released novel. If you have a Dear Evan Hansen fan, you check out other gift ideas related to the musical here.
Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning by Leslie Odom, Jr.
This book by the performer who took home a Tony for his performance as Aaron Burr in Hamilton is 208 pages of big life lessons that are particularly good for teens.
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