As I graduate high school this year, I look back to some of my favorite books, both fiction and non-fiction. Here’s a list of my life-changing must-reads that every Christian teen should read before graduating high school! These books make great gifts for young Christians, as well as youth group studies!
Filled with love and self-sacrifice, Kisses From Katie is the memoir of an all-American teenage girl who suddenly yearns for a purpose in life, bigger than herself, and makes the drastic move to Uganda. Currently, she is the adopted mother of fourteen young Ugandan children!
Written by a computer science professor diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Pausch is told he doesn’t have long to live. With three small children, Pausch wanted to give his kids something they could remember him by – the result was his last lecture, and this incredible little book. It’s packed with fun stories, and great practical life advice, fantastic for students and adults alike.
A pair of homeschooled twins have a challenge for their fellow teenagers: do hard things! Rebelling against culture’s low expectations, this incredibly inspiring book encourages today’s teenagers to take action into the world and become world changers. Instead of looking down on this generation, it realizes how capable we actually are and encourages teens to grow outside of their comfort zones. It’s written from a Christian perspective, although non-Christians can enjoy the book’s messages as well.
What would the world look like if it was perfect – no pain, no differences, and no death? Ideal, right? The Giver offers us the unique insight of Jonas’ seemingly perfect world – and yet through his journey, we come to realize that perhaps a perfect world isn’t quite so perfect after all. We come to understand the bad, as necessary to embrace the goodness in life. Also, the movie, although it did change some things, is equally as good!
Inspired by real events and very thoroughly researched, The Auschwitz Escape is a Christian fiction novel based on two extraordinary men who escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust. With good and evil prominent themes, as a Christian I found this story especially moving, as it really challenges Christians to do what is right, no matter the consequences. You can see my full review here.
In the early 1930s, Louie Zamperini was more likely to head to prison than anything else. Born to Italian immigrant parents, he had a knack for getting into trouble. With encouragement from his brother, Louie became an Olympic track runner, alongside Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. WWII broke out, and Louie found himself a prisoner of war at the hands of the Japanese for over two years. A few years later, at the end of his rope, Louie ultimately found Christ. Louie has also written a memoir that includes more information about his pre and post war life; Devil at My Heels.
The most influential book and world’s bestseller is the Bible, full of infinite wisdom and guidance. Whether it be the morning or at night, I try to make it a point to read a chapter of something in my Bible every day. I’ve lately been enjoying the Bible on audio, as it’s easy to listen to while folding laundry, or working.
Filled with redemption, resilience, family, and sacrifice, The Kite Runner brings up some very powerful and important points about life. It also is definitely among the top of my list in terms of writing style. (Warning: A key turning point in the novel is a homosexual child rape. It is never sexualized or meant to be a positive in any way. I rarely recommend books with any sexual content, but I felt The Kite Runner‘s merits and lessons far outweighed the bad.)
When WWII broke out in the Netherlands, Diet (pronounced deet) Eman and her fiance became active in the resistance, and helped hundreds of Dutch Jews. Her story is amazing, and I have to admit I liked it a bit better than The Hiding Place. Diet has also been featured on a three part Focus on the Family special where she shares her story, God’s Grace is Sufficient.
Although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “kissing dating goodbye” – this devotional-type book for young women is a bit different than an anti-dating perspective, which I really enjoyed.
I haven’t read any C.S. Lewis beyond the Narnia series (which I should probably reread) but this is on my to-read list, and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback on his classics.
From “ghetto kid” to Yale graduate and top neurosurgeon, Ben Carson was the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins. Whether or not you agree with his politics, he is a great example that if you work hard, anything is possible. Think Big is his motivational novel and his keys to success.
THINK BIG. T -Talents/time: Recognize them as gifts. H -Hope for all good things and be honest. I -Insight from people and good books. N -Be nice to all people. K -Knowledge: Recognize it as the key to living. B -Books: Read them actively. I -In-depth learning skills: Develop them. G -God: Never get too big for Him
During the Cold War, Dutch factory worker Brother Andrew risked his life to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. A great story of faith!