Teenagers are at a point in life where they are navigating a lot of questions. They might not verbalize these questions or ask their parents, but they are wondering things like: “What do I believe?” “What should I do with my life?” “What are my goals?” “Who should I marry?”
These big questions have big answers. Sometimes, a good book can help answer these big questions; most adults can probably point to ways they have been heavily influenced by something they’ve read in the past. And if you are a parent, your goal should be to teach your children biblical truth (Proverbs 1:8) and thereby put them on the right path for life (Proverbs 22:6). Getting your student to read good books can be one tool in your parenting arsenal.
We asked our Watermark Students team for their recommendations of the best Christian books for teens in junior high or high school (grades 6-12). Here is their top 10 list, ranked in order.
Best Christian Books for Students:
- 10. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler – We all need to hear the gospel and, once we know it and believe it, regularly remind ourselves of what it means for our daily lives. This book explains the gospel and what it means, both for us individually and for all of creation.
- 9. Counter Culture by David Platt – Today’s students are growing up in a different culture—one that is not only less Christian, but which is often expressly anti-Christian. David Platt explains how they can live counter-culturally, holding fast to the truth even when it is unpopular.
- 8. Unashamed by Lecrae – As a hugely successful rapper who also happens to be a Christian, Lecrae walks in some very secular circles. His autobiography tells the story of how he overcame difficulties on the way to the top, and how he lives unashamed of the gospel.
- 7. Outdated by Jonathan Pokluda – Obviously, we might be a little bit biased here because of the author, but JP’s Outdated is a great resource for students to have, especially before they start dating. They can avoid a lot of the heartache and regret that is so common in modern dating by making wiser choices when it comes to why they date, who they date, and how they date.
- 6. The Case for Christ Student Edition by Lee Strobel - Why should students believe in Jesus? What evidence is there to back up the claims of the Gospels? Journalist Lee Strobel investigated the facts and presents “the case for Christ.”
- 5. Epic by John Eldredge – Epic explains the story of the Bible and our own role in God’s great plan. For young people who are trying to figure out what their own life story should be, Eldredge shows that they have something “epic” and worthwhile to live for.
- 4. Respectable Sins Student Edition by Jerry Bridges – There can be a tendency for Christians to emphasize some obvious sins while minimizing others that might be more common—like pride or envy, for example. Conveniently overlooking our own sins does not help us grow in Christlikeness, and it prevents us from fully appreciating God’s grace. Respectable Sins Student Edition helps teens recognize and battle against these sin struggles.
- 3. The Search for Significance Student Edition by Robert McGee – Many people spend their whole lives chasing after things that they think will bring them success and happiness, only to discover that what the world offers can never truly satisfy. Students can get on the right track and avoid wasting their lives by learning now that self-worth is based on God’s love for them.
- 2. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot – This book tells the true story of five missionaries who sought to reach a remote jungle tribe—only to be killed by the wary tribesmen. However, their deaths were not in vain, and their faithfulness still helped spread the gospel. Their story can inspire students to be brave and trust God with the outcome, no matter what.
- 1. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller – The teenage years can feel unsettling. This classic meditation on the comforting Psalm 23 reminds students (or adults) that God is the Good Shepherd who can be trusted in all circumstances.
These books aren’t solely for students; they can be great additions to your own reading list as well. (Some of them are Student Editions, but you can easily find the non-student versions of those books.) If you also have younger children who aren’t yet into the nonfiction non-picture section, check out our recommended books for grade schoolers or preschoolers/toddlers.