Christmas books for teens, preteens and reluctant readers


Is there a preteen or a teenager on your Christmas list? Have you thought of giving them books but wonder what they’d enjoy? I’ve found it can be especially challenging to pick books for kids who don’t enjoy reading much in the first place.   Here are some books that my preteens and teens have loved, both the avid readers, and the ones who’d rather be playing video games.  These books are lively, interesting page-turners that appeal to both boys and girls.



1. Inheritance 4-Book Set (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance) by Christopher Paolini is about a farm boy who discovers he is really a dragon rider.



2.Percy Jackson and the Olympians (5 books) by Rick Riordan is a story about a boy who has adventures with Greek gods and sea monsters.



3. Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix is based on the premise of a society where each family is allowed only two children, forcing any subsequent children to live in hiding.


4. Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke is about a girl catapulted into peril when a story read by her father surprisingly comes to life. These books have some bad language, but the storyline is utterly intriguing.


5.  The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games. This series is about a boy who discovers a world under New York City where he is forced to fight giant rats, spiders, and bats, and in the process becomes an unexpected hero.

I hope some of these book ideas help you with your Christmas shopping.  If you know of books that are inspiring and interesting for teens, I’d love for you to tell me about them in comments, below.  As always, I encourage you to do some research and don’t be afraid to trust your instincts when deciding  what is appropriate for your kids to read at various ages.


Related: Why we skipped The Hunger Games 

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  1. The Fablehaven series is my #1 recommendation for this age group. My all-time favorite teen book is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli- a book about a girl who doesn’t do as she is expected and the boy who admires her for it from (somewhat) afar. Both are clean in the language/romance department.

  2. Have you heard of Lamplighter books? We have quite a few and I just love them for the tween/teen kids. ‘Ishmael’ and ‘Self-Raised’ are favorites in this house!

  3. Thanks, ladies! I’ll def look these up! Yvonne, I’ve seen some of the Lamplighter books but not these particular ones.


  4. Just getting on this week. My first pick for teens would have to be the Alex Rider series with the first book made into a movie. These are super big in England and after purchasing all of the books and movie, can see why. Girls and boys alike will love them.
    Also a big hit in our house is the Ally Carter ‘The Gallager Girls’ series. And my kids like all of the Frank Peretti kids books from the mystery series to Hangman’s Curse.
    And while not a series any of the books written by Roland Smith are a must have, with our favorites being Elephant Run, Jack’s Run, and Peak. Elephant Run is especially well-liked in our house.
    And don’t forget Frank Spinelli if you are into boxed sets. His books are a must have for every house. Our favorite one of all time has to be Stargirl. This is our favorite book—period.
    Along a different genre of books the kids also like Skipping Christmas by Grisham made into a movie ‘Christmas with the Kranks’.
    While I get the appeal of series of books, sometimes they are just too much of the same author and similar writing to appeal. My kids like to receive a few books by different authors for gifts instead of the boxed sets. I love books and encourage my kids to read from the printed word in paper or hardback form–no weird electronic gadgets for our reading. Just the couch and a good book.

  5. Casey Houseworth says:

    Thank you so much for these recommendations!! These look great for my 12 year-old girl who prefers adventurous, fast-paced stories, unlike my 13 year-old girl. 🙂 I’ve reserved a couple at the library. We’ve listened to the audiobook of “Inkheart” and it’s fabulous – it’s read by Vanessa Redgrave and she does a great job. Thanks again for the help! I’m finding myself in such a dilemma as they get older because I read such trash at their age that I have no “book knowledge” for older kiddos, other than the literature they’re reading for our schooling.
    Enjoy the Christmas season!
    Casey Houseworth

  6. Wow – three out those five my son has already read and loved, so think I’d better try the other two! All the adults in the family also enjoyed Eragon and the Underland series too.

  7. The Underlander series are some of our favorite books… I just reviewed a whole bunch of teen/pre-teen books (and we’re still working our way through a pile). It IS tricky to find ones that engage them without being too adult…