Books typically are better when the reading isn’t required.
The next time your high schooler leaves their backpack open, reach in and grab their reading list. Chances are, there are several “must reads” for them that will be equally enjoyable for you—and you’ll have a chance at some parent-child bonding at the same time.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee (Grand Central Publishing, $8)
A classic for the ages, and a topic that’s still relevant today—how the decisions we make as adults can mold our children’s values. Atticus Finch agrees to represent a black man accused of raping a white woman. The story remains as riveting as when it was first published.
Contemporary Twist: “A Time To Kill,” John Grisham
The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger (Little, Brown and Company, $7)
Ah, teen angst! Holden Caufield’s journey from prep school to New York City are instantly relatable to anyone who’s been or is 16.
Contemporary Twist: “Prep,” Curtis Sittenfeld
Lord of the Flies
William Golding (Perigree Trade, $10)
Maybe it’s because all mothers can relate to the chaos of more than one child under the roof—we take comfort in the knowledge that despite what kids say, the presence of an authority figure really does make a difference.
Contemporary Twist: “Hunger Games,” Suzanne Collins
A Separate Peace
John Knowles (Scribner, $13)
Is Phineas or Gene the original frenemy? A great novel to share with kids coming of age, when girls and boys begin to navigate difficult middle school and high school relationships.
Contemporary Twist: “Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World,” Rosalind Wiseman
Upton Sinclair (Wilder Publications, $20)
The plight of the working class versus corporate greed? Who knew? Here’s a book that’s just as comfortable in a sociology or history class as it is in American Literature. And just as relevant to the times.
Contemporary Twist: “Nickel and Dimed,” Barbara Ehrenreich
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner, $15)
Everyone needs to brush up on one of the definitive novels of the Roaring 20s before Leo takes to the screen next summer. Oh, that dashing Gatsby!
Contemporary Twist: “Rules of Civility,” Amor Towles
Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen (Signet Classics, $5)
I don’t care if its 200 years old, it still makes me sniffle! (And, quite honestly, the film adaptation with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant is enchanting.) A great read for moms with their daughters, with an endearing lesson on what love really is.
Contemporary Twist: “Bridget Jones Diary,” Helen Fielding