By Victoria Garcia
Can you call yourself a book lover, a book fanatic, a reader, if you have not read any classic novels? Well, yes you can, but do you not feel slightly unaccomplished? I know I do, which is why I gave myself the task of reading some classic novels. As a young person who’s been reading above my grade level since elementary, I have held myself in high regard when it comes to my reading and comprehension skills. I decided to call myself a true book lover, a true reader. I’d have to read some classics.
I have compiled a list of five classic books that will speak to every teen in one way or another.
Whether it is to improve your reading skills or simply to make yourself feel superior to others (that’s my reason), check out these five empowering classic books teens should read.
Table of Contents
Empowering Classic Books Teens Should Read
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables is a beloved classic that tells the story of an old-fashioned town called Avonlea. The Cuthberts adopt an orphan expecting a boy to help around the farm, but receive a young, fiery, red-headed girl instead. They originally planned to send her back, but their hearts were quickly captured by Anne’s bright aura. Now Anne has a place to call home but faces many struggles due to the traditional values of Avonlea.
This is an excellent and empowering story as readers watch Anne grow while staying true to her dreams and imaginative nature. This story is also a Netflix original series—if you love the book as much as I do, check out the show.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, has been retold several times both in books and on-screen, but this is where it all started. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who constructs a man-made creature. The dark dialogue shows the consequences of his attempt to play God. This novel makes the reader determine who is the villain—man or monster?
If you are a horror fan or like gothic literature, this is the perfect read.
You may also like: 8 Inspiring Children’s Books Featuring Native American Characters (By Indigenous Authors)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
If you are a fan of the enemies to lovers trope, you will find it here in this classic novel. Pride and Prejudice is a novel about love and dynamic women. Strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet and her obnoxious love interest, Mr. Darcy, perform an entertaining tango with flirtations and love.
The book is much more romantic than the movie, trust me. It is just one of Jane Austen’s empowering classic books teens should read. And in case you didn’t know, Jane Austen is for any age, including young readers, as you can see from Jane Austen’s Juvenilia.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is an empowering story of growing sisters and their search for their own versions of happiness. This novel showcases different versions of friendship and love that are challenged by death, war, and personal conflict.
The story follows writer Jo, who sacrifices her dreams for her family, romantic Meg, who wants love and a family, gentle Beth, who becomes ill, and spoiled Amy, who finds herself in the shadow of her elder sister, Jo.
This is a must-read classic novel and a must-watch movie.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray is the classic story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal beauty and youth. The morally grey protagonist makes the reader question the perspective of the story they are reading. A painter paints a handsome young man. When the portrait begins to age instead of the young man, it not only reflects his aging appearance, but the evil within him, as the portrait depicts a corrupt and malicious individual.
The dialogue can become disturbing, but this is an excellent classic novel for teens to read.
In today’s times, this novel is often analyzed for its queer context, a reading that the author supported. Oscar Wilde wrote in a letter that Dorian is who he wished to be; maybe it could be so in another age.
Final Takeaway on Classic Books Teens Should Read
If you are going to sit through a classic, make sure it’s one of these. These novels are empowering, inspiring, entertaining, and perfect recommendations for teens. You can’t go through life without consuming some type of version of these classics as they have been adapted into popular media. So you might as well read the original classic story.
You may wonder, why read the novel if there are movies and shows based on these classics? It’s the same reason you read books in general: simply to read and visualize the story yourself. That’s what makes books so enjoyable. And, once you’ve read the original story, you can appreciate the movies even more.
As a teen, I can say I’ve read four of the classic novels on this list, which automatically makes me better than other teenagers (kidding). But seriously, these novels are good reads and great stories to analyze. If you are a true reader, I challenge you to read these classics!