The best books for 11th graders need to be both serious and heartwarming. Junior year is a very important time for high school students to learn. For students who want to go to college, this is a year of standardized tests, college visits, and AP classes. When it comes to your own development, this is also a year to look back on. High school juniors grow a lot from the age of 16 to 17.
With these pressures and changes in mind, this list has stories about how teens deal with life changes and figure out what to do after high school. There are stories about how people have to deal with changes in their lives to keep friendships and relationships going. The best books for 11th graders give them a lot of new information, but they also make them feel safe.
Books for 11th graders:
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
The third book in the To All the Boys series is great for high school juniors because it talks about Lara Jean’s college choice. As soon as high school is over, Lara Jean has to decide whether she and Peter will stay together or not. Even if it means they’re not together anymore.
Educated by Tara Westover
Juniors will learn a lot from Westover’s harrowing memoir and how she kept going to school even though her parents were abusive. When Westover left her parents’ house to go to college, 11th-graders are starting to form their own opinions about the world around them.
In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero
Her house was empty when she went to school at the age of 14. Her parents had been detained by immigration officials, so she was alone. Diane, who was born in the United States, stayed in the United States after her parents were sent to Colombia. She is a US citizen. A lot of 11th graders will learn a lot from her hardship and strength.
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
One day, two teenagers meet by chance. This is a very long love story. Natasha wants to keep her family from being sent to Jamaica. It’s hard for Daniel to tell his parents about what he really wants to do because he doesn’t want to hurt them. In this book, Yoon makes the reader wonder if everything happens for a reason as they spend the day together.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
11th-graders should read this. This happened in a small town that is very into hockey. One of the players has been accused of sexual assault. The reactions of his friends and the adults in the town are shown over the course of the book. Readers will learn about the culture of rape and how it affects us all.
American Panda by Gloria Chao
It can be hard to break your parents’ rules. When Mei is 17, her parents want her to go to college a year early, just like they always did. It’s not what her parents want her to do. She wants to dance, not be a doctor like they want her to be. 11th graders will be able to connect with Mei as they start to think about their own futures.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
This is a heartbreaking story that shows how unfair the American criminal justice system is. Those in 11th grade should read this book. It is set in a reform school for young men, so it’s a good book for them. Racism and changes to the criminal justice system will be talked about.
Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen teenagers fight for the environment. Dry is a great book for people who don’t know as much about climate change. Southern California has run out of water in the near future, and this story imagines what that might look like, Panic breaks out, and a small group of kids end up together, all of them trying to stay alive. The book is fast-paced, exciting, and scary. It’s a comment on climate change and how people act.
I, Claudia by Mary McCoy
Make sure you don’t forget about this book. It was a Printz Honor Book and, despite the bad cover art, is a good high school political drama. You should read this if you like books about politics and relationships that get a lot of attention. It’s told by Claudia, who isn’t very good at history. She talks about how she rose to the top of her high school’s student government. Claudia, even though she has seen how her predecessors abused their power, she can’t help but fall for the corruption of power.
Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
This is a modern young adult book about Parker Grant, a blind high school junior who is dealing with the death of her father. It’s an interesting look at what it’s like to be a blind high school student. It’s also a good example of how important it is to build, set, and enforce boundaries with other people, which is a lesson for 11th graders.
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
In this book, a group of people who don’t fit in come together to fight back against a classmate who was raped. It looks at a lot of feminist ideas, like rape culture, slut-shaming, sexuality, and gender roles, and how they all work together. A lot of people will be reassured and inspired by the three main characters in this book.
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
Mindy McGinnis’s book about a high school student who becomes addicted to opiates is still relevant today as it was when she wrote it. Mickey is a star softball player about to start her senior year when she gets hurt in a car accident. Mickey’s dependence on opiates quickly spirals out of control as he learns how to manage his pain. How a normal girl with a supportive family can become addicted to drugs is told in this book.
Jackpot by Nic Stone
The idea of this book will keep young people reading. A little old lady buys two lottery tickets from Rico at a gas station near her home on Christmas Eve, and she gives them to her. As time goes on, Rico thinks the woman has a ticket worth $106 million in her hand. A rich classmate, Zan, helps her find the woman and help her cash in her ticket. Nic Stone also makes a great romantic story between Zan and Rico in his book. In addition, the book also talks about how people in the United States are different based on their income.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Juniors are on the verge of becoming adults, and with that comes the right to vote. It’s important for 11th graders to know what’s going on in the world right now. “Stamped” talks about the history of racist ideas in the United States, how it affects teens today, and how we can make the world a better place.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
This book is great for teenagers who have problems with their mental health. As a parent, it’s important for you to know how anxiety and depression can affect your child’s daily life. It’s also a good example of how queer people are shown, including bisexuality and demisexuality.
Birthday by Meredith Russo
Morgan and Eric will always be friends. Both of them were born on the same day. In Birthday, we see the characters every year on their birthday. As time goes on, Morgan and Eric grow and change. Morgan is going to live as her true self, and Eric is trying to figure out how he fits in with the rest of the world. In this class, we’re going to talk about sexual and gender identity.
Slay by Brittney Morris
17-year-old Kiera is a good student, but she has a secret: she is the creator of a very popular online role-playing game. The game is about Black culture. If someone is killed in an online game dispute, Kiera has to work to protect both her online world and her anonymity.
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
They live in 2172, when much of the world is uninhabitable because of climate change and nuclear war. Sisters Onyii and Ify are living in this time. A war is going on in their home country of Nigeria, and it’s not going away. The girls want to leave the chaos for a peaceful future, but they might have to fight to get there.
How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
Sandra talks about her childhood in the Democratic Republic of Congo in this book. Sandra moves to the United States after surviving a terrible massacre in a refugee camp. But just moving to the U.S. doesn’t make everything easy. Sandra talks about how hard it was for her to start middle school in the United States as a refugee.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
He thinks about revenge on a long elevator ride from his apartment down to the street because it takes a long time. He has a gun in his waistband, and he’s ready to use it to get back at the person who killed his brother. There are times when he learns more about how his brother died, which makes him wonder what happened.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
This fantasy book is based on Rome in the past. It tells the story of Laia, a slave girl, who goes on a mission to save her brother after he is arrested for treason. He is an unwilling soldier who she meets soon. They find that their lives are linked.