12 Most Influential Books for High School Students, According to Teachers

These books could change your life!

12 Influential Books for High School Students

Whether it was assigned to you or you happened upon it in your spare time, so many of us have a book (or multiple books) that we read in high school that shaped us. We asked experienced teachers to share some of the most influential books they read as high school students, and here are some of the popular answers!

1. To Kill a Mockingbird

The story of a young Alabama girl, her sleepy Southern town, and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. This book explores the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.

2. A Farewell to Arms

The unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse.

3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

This memoir captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right.

4. Animal Farm

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality.

5. The Things They Carried


This classic is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

6. The Grapes of Wrath

This epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California.

7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg, filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter, and heartache.

8. Fahrenheit 451

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

9. 1984

Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes.

10. A Prayer for Owen Meany

At a Little League game in New Hampshire, one boy hits a foul ball that kills his best friend’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument.

11. Speak

Melinda is friendless, outcast because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether.

12. Tuesdays with Morrie

A magical chronicle of the time spent together between a man and his college professor from nearly 20 years ago.