Best-selling books for teens that explore history from another young person’s perspective

Good reads for your young adults.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

By Marjane Satrapi

In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, the author tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages 6 to 14—years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, the author bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.


To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee

Lawyer Atticus Finch defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the eyes of Atticus’ children, Scout and Jem, the author explores with rich humor and honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the deep south of the 1930s.


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

By John Boyne

Set in Berlin in 1942, Bruno returns home from school one day and discovers his belongings being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion, and the family must move. At the new house, there is no one to play with and nothing to do, and a tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see. But Bruno decides there must be more to this desolate place than meets the eye and goes beyond the fence. While exploring he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own. Their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.


Dear Martin

By Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.


A Long Walk to Water

By Linda Sue Park

This New York Times best seller begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two 11-year-olds in Sudan: a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is a two-hour walk from her home, and she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan—refugees who cover the African continent as they search on foot for their families and a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship—from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions—Salva is a survivor, and his story intersects with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.