30 Books Every Kid Should Read Before Graduating High School

Diary of Anne Frank 1st edition

Originally published May 27, 1015 – From a radio show that is now long gone.

This list was inspired by a story about a high school teacher in Virginia who says that she doesn’t have her students read “Catcher In The Rye” anymore, because she doesn’t think it is relevant to their lives. I couldn’t disagree more. It is the teacher’s job to get the kids to relate to a great story. You don’t have to have grown up on the Mississippi River to enjoy and learn from “Huck Finn,” do you? Of course not. Here then, is a list of classics that should be must-read for every American kid:

  1. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” *
  2. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”
  3. “Alice In Wonderland”
  4. “All Quiet On The Western Front” *
  5. “Black Like Me” *
  6. “Brave New World” *
  7. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”
  8. “Catcher In The Rye” *
  9. “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory”
  10. “Diary of Anne Frank” * **
  11. “Fahrenheit 451” *
  12. “The Grapes of Wrath” *
  13. “The Great Gatsby” *
  14. “Gulliver’s Travels”
  15. “The Hobbitt”
  16. “Little Women”
  17. “Lord Of The Flies”
  18. “Lord Of The Rings”
  19. “Moby Dick” *
  20. “Old Man & The Sea”
  21. “Old Yeller”
  22. “Oliver Twist”
  23. “Pride & Prejudice”
  24. “Robinson Crusoe”
  25. “Romeo & Juliet”
  26. “Roots”
  27. “Tale Of Two Cities”
  28. “To Kill A Mockingbird”
  29. “Treasure Island”
  30. “The Yearling”

Books marked * were assigned when I was in high school. Then as now, book bans were a thing. The St. Charles City Schools banned the American Heritage Dictionary. It had “fuck” in it. The next day my English teacher went to the library and found what books on the common banned book lists the library had on hand. He promptly then assigned them.

My children while not being fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates, they read the books in class. They would also point out that this list is a little “white”. These will add a “rainbow” to your reading.

  1. Between the World and Me
  2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  3. Beyond Magenta
  4. The Bluest Eye
  5. Hood Feminism
  6. Beloved
  7. The Hate U Give
  8. Fahrenheit 451
  9. All Boys Aren’t Blue

** Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, exists in at least four versions in the US. The “official version” was published in 1952. This version was edited by Otto Frank, Anne’s father. He removed some of the passages Anne wrote about her sexuality and her thoughts that her father was having an affair. He was.

A condensed version based on the 1952 version, was published for school use. If you see a copy in a used book store, this is probably that version.

In 1989 the The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition was published. This version restored Otto Franks’ edits and included other portions that were not originally published.

In 2018 a graphic novel version of the Diary was published. This version has been banned by several school districts. It has a drawing of a naked girl in a bathtub.