20 Books Your Children Must Read Before They’re 16

20 Books Your Children Must Read Before They’re 16

“Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.” – Neil Gaiman

Books end up shaping our lives in many ways. They widen our horizon, escalate our thought process and give us a sense of belonging. They help us understand the world better.

Finding the right book is a challenge and reading it a journey. You’re never the same person you were after you’ve finished reading that one book. Every flip of the page changes you, every word read impacts you. Thus, it is extremely important to harness this power of books rightly, for our future generation. Children exposed to books early in life are better equipped to deal with the challenges of their future.

Here is a small list of books consisting of both classic and contemporary literature which is going to help your child form opinions, fight prejudices, learn about the world, go into alternate universes and being a better person along the way. If you have a few more books to add to the list, feel free to write to us in the comment section below..

1. To Kill A Mockingbird



This is a story of a young girl growing up in a deeply conservative and racist society in Alabama while her father works to provide justice to an innocent man. Atticus is considered to be the greatest father figure in literature .He has to go against society to fight for what he believes in. This is a life changing novel. It subtly introduces the violence of racism and explores the complexities of human relations. The difficulty of finding the real monsters and the need to take a stance against the wrong is summed up beautifully when Atticus says that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Suitable Age: 11-13 Years

2. Harry Potter Series



We all wanted a letter from Hogwarts in our mail when we had read the HP series for the first time. It’s time to give your children the benefit of that experience. Harry Potter is an incredible tale of friendship, love, family and duties and should be there on everyone’s reading list. It is brilliant storytelling through fantastical plots which feeds your child’s imagination. It teaches us how our choices determine who we are; how kindness and love can make the world a better place and the classic theme of good triumphing over evil tells us that the people who love us will always be there in some way or other.
Suitable Age: 9-12 Years

3. The Hatchet



The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen talks about a young boy whose plane gets crashed and who is stuck in the middle of nowhere. How he survives in a jungle, with nothing but a hatchet, having to make his own food and battling creatures at a meager age of 13 shows courage and valor to the teenagers, and its witty vocabulary and scene depiction will help keep your teenager engaged.

Suitable age: 11-13 Years

4. Animal Farm



A clever allegory of World War 2, combined with satirical representations of one of the world’s most tyrannical leaders. A short read, where Orwell takes you through the Soviet Union, using animals. It talks about how Napoleon the Pig rose to power and became a despot, just like Stalin’s infamous leadership. This book takes your child on a trip to see the wrongdoings in the world, the unfair practices done by the  leaders of World War 2, the dystopian era we used to live in. It is a simpler way of understanding the mid-20th century, and that is why your child must read this masterpiece.

Suitable age: 14-16 years

5. Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass



The Alice books have deep societal and political commentaries which are missed by children and even by some adults. Even though it is considered to be a book of the nonsense genre for little children, it is advisable to make them read it when they are a little older like 11 or 12. There is a lot to speculate beneath its apparent absurdity and fantastical plot.

Suitable age: 11-12 Years


6. Malgudi days



R.K Narayan describes Malgudi in such a way that it doesn’t seem it is a figment of his imagination. The characters appear right in front of our eyes, they seem like someone we know. He is one of the few Indian English authors who wrote for adolescents and is a treasure to cherish.

Malgudi Days: 6-9 Years

7. Charlie and the Chocolate factory


When it comes to children’s books, Roald Dahl is a popular choice and he deserves his position. Dahl produces extremely witty characters that are unconventional and are out there to break stereotypes with a tang of humour. Charlie and the chocolate factory is one of his best books and it teaches us to win through love and compassion, to be more inclusive, to accept people as they are and encourages us to always keep the childlike curiosity alive.

Suitable age: 8-10 Years

8. Mein Kampf


A few of us may decide against the idea of letting children read Hitler’s autobiography. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not a book on how to condone Jews. It talks about Hitler’s youth, how people’s opinion were like pendulums, always straying back to where they started or how five hundred people in a parliamentary building can not lead a nation well. Hitler assesses various movements  such as the Pan German, how it failed, why it failed, how it could have succeeded. A teenager should know how such a well-read person turned to the dark side and went on to become the most hated man in history.

Suitable age: 15-16 Years

9. The Catcher In The Rye


The Catcher in the rye is an American classic and is one of the greatest in the coming of age genre. The book attracted a lot of criticism when it was first released and was banned in many places. But today it is a part of academic reading in many schools. Holden Caulfield is a gloomy, rebellious teenager who has been kicked out of school for the umpteenth time.  He provides some serious social commentary while he tries to strike a conversation with the people he meets on his way back home. He is trying to express himself but is never able to do so because no one is really willing to listen.  It shows what lack of communication and understanding means.

Suitable age: 14-15 years

10. 1984


Why should your child read a dystopian novel with no child characters in it?

Because 1984 is a serious depiction of a total authoritarian rule, the dangers and horrors of it which are not seen on the surface but are embedded deep in the structure. It is an eye opener because we are not able to see the harm until the damage has already been done. It shows the media and Government come together to brainwash the people whenever needed, how having an opinion in the world is dangerous. 1984 shows us anarchy, how the rulers suppress those against them, and what the world under dictatorial rule might look like. A great insight into the power of media.

Suitable age: 14-16 years

11. Great Expectations


A classic coming of age tale of a young boy from the country and his desire to be a gentleman, it shows the changes he has to go through and the sacrifices he has to make to achieve his ambition only to face the question whether it was worth it at all. It’s a bit hard to get hold of the Dickensian language but once you learn to sail the boat, you are sure to enjoy the ride.

Suitable age: 10-12  Years

12. The Percy Jackson Series


A retelling of Greek mythology in a contemporary setting made relevant for current readers, Percy Jackson tells you that not all heroes wear capes. It tells us about the various Gods of the Greek world, while keeping the story modern. A fusion of history and fiction makes Percy Jackson a delight to read, something needed greatly at this age.

Suitable age: 8-10 Years

13. The Book Thief51a99tea6il-_sx317_bo1204203200_


The story of this novel is narrated by Death. It is set in Nazi Germany and tells the story of a young girl being brought up by a foster family. Amidst the horrors of the Second World War, the protagonist finds love and friendship in the most unexpected places only to lose everything in the end. It shows the horrors of the war and the need for courage and perseverance in times of helplessness.

Suitable age: 13-14 Years

14. The Diary of a Young Girl


Anne Frank’s diary provides a true epistolary account of the terrible fates of the Jewish people during the Nazi period. The feeling of hope even in abject misery gives people the zeal to fight and bring a change. Her story resonates today when we think of the children in the ISIS war hit areas.

Suitable age: 13-14 Years

15.  David Copperfield


Another Dickensian novel which deserves mention is David Copperfield. In an autobiographical attempt, Dickens portrays the mistreatment of children through the fate of David Copperfield.  By showing David to be a successful writer in the end, Dickens tells us to hold on a little bit longer and wait for the good times to come.

Suitable age: 10-12 years


16.  The Wizard of Oz


Intended to eliminate the stereotype of dwarves, fairies and female characters in traditional fairy tales, The Wizard of Oz is one of the most popular and influential children’s novels of all time. This modern fairy tale encourages children to find wonder in everyday mundane things.

Suitable age: 12-13 Years

17. The Adventures of Rusty


A semi autobiographical collection of short stories written in the style of Charles Dickens, by whom Bond was hugely inspired, the Adventures of Rusty takes you on a funny, sublime and nostalgic ride. It is an evergreen classic of children’s literature in India.

Suitable age: 10-12 Years

18. Ignited Minds


A work of nonfiction but written in an interesting and engaging fashion, APJ Abdul Kalam inspires the youth to unleash their full potential to make the country great. He examines why we have failed in becoming the best in spite of our knowledge, skills and resources. It is a must read for every Indian child.

Suitable age: 14-16 Years

19.  The Chronicles of Narnia series


The fantasy world of Narnia is an allegorical novel with several allusions to Christianity. It warns us against greed and tells us of our duty to our family and the need to uphold the promises that we have made.

Suitable age:  9-12 years

20. Hunger Games Series


Also set in a fictional world, it’s the story of Katniss Everdeen, a young girl from District 12 who has to face 23 other people in a battle for her survival. The Hunger Games series talks about the emotional pain Everdeen faced, how she led a group of protesters to overthrow the Government. Suzanne Collins brilliantly combines love, passion, hatred, agony and courage in the series and the evolution of Katniss as a young, gullible girl to a powerful leader. The books are addictive, and while being set in a fictional world, it feels close to reality, and that just adds to the power of this series.

Suitable age: 10-13 Years

Do you too have a similar list to share? Do let us know in the comments