Year 9 recommended reading list for pupils aged 13-14 in KS3

Books for Year 9 – the following list contains titles to appeal to children and young adults aged 13-14 in secondary school. There is a range of titles to cover all ability ranges including less able and more able pupils. This list of YA novels is revisited frequently and includes novels by Cecil Castellucci, Malorie Blackman, Gary Paulsen, Kazuo Ishiguro, Judy Blume, Roddy Doyle, and Mary Shelley.

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Books for Year 9 – our recommendations

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Part three of the Chaos Walking trilogy, Monsters of Men explores the effects of war. A fast-moving dystopian thriller set in a fantasy world war to end all wars. Todd and Viola have to fight, but what are they fighting for, and is it worth it? A modern classic and a great book for 13-year-olds.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

The Secrets Act by Alison Weatherby

This mesmerizing novel follows Pearl and Ellen, two teenagers who are working at the super-secret Bletchley Park during WW2. Ellen cracks codes and Pearl delivers messages, but both find themselves drawn together and thrust headlong into a world of intrigue, treachery and spies – a dangerous puzzle that they might not be able to solve in time. A fascinating and original historical novel for young adults, The Secrets Act is highly recommended for year 9 pupils.

The Secrets Act by Alison Weatherby

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

In a quiet English village, everyone falls asleep unexpectedly. When they wake up a day later, all the women are inexplicably pregnant. It soon becomes apparent that the children have abilities and powers that are not normal, threatening the community. Brilliantly written, this unsettling story is ideal to spark philosophical debate and discussion. Recently adapted into a TV series by Sky, The Midwich Cuckoos is a classic work of science fiction that has renewed relevance in an age of conformity, information wars and distrust in political leadership.

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson

When Lydia builds an AI friend to fill a void in her life, nothing can prepare her for what happens when Henry turns from a computer into an overprotective defender. This modern cyber-thriller catapults teens into a world of tech, AI and fear of the unknown. With a breakneck plot, it thrusts the reader into themes that are prescient but firmly rooted in today’s reality. A great book to discuss in year 9 book clubs.

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson

Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe

Mysticism, fear and West African witchcraft are blended into this heady and lyrical potion of a modern fable that explores friendship and loyalty. When Sheba discovers her magic abilities, she uses them to uncover dark family secrets that threaten to untie all that binds her life together. Memorable and atmospheric, this novel would be a powerful and provocative read for KS3 book clubs.

Lionheart Girl by Yabo Badoe

Maladapted by Richard Kurti

A rocket-paced thriller set in a dystopian near future. The only survivor of a terrorist attack on a packed train, Cillian starts to wonder if and why he was spared. Soon he finds himself drawn into a web of deceit and mind-bending revelations. Ideal for reluctant teen readers in Year 9.

Maladapted by Richard Kurti

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Margaret is convinced she isn’t normal. Her friends are more grown-up than her, she’s starting a new school and she’s unsure whether to follow her mother’s or her father’s religion. So she talks to God, with surprising results.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Brian, a streetwise teen who lives in the city, is left stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash – with only a hatchet to survive. Will he make it? This book will be popular with reluctant readers in Year 9. Some interesting teaching ideas can be found here.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

Set in a similar but realistic world that features myths and faeries, each teen needs to prepare for The Call – 3 minutes where they disappear with only a one in ten chance of returning alive. A dystopian, dark and addictive read that will resonate and linger in the subconscious. Could become a teen cult classic and will be a popular loan from your KS3/4 library.

The Call by Peadar O'Guilin

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

Victoria, who changes her name to Egg, is a rebel. She shaves her head and colours her eyebrows, avoids people, and has no time at all for boys. But then she meets Max. An interesting book to discuss in Year 9.

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

A page-turning collection of five books will appeal to young adults. Teen Isabella Swan starts at a new school and quickly has to tread a fine line between romance and dangerous vampires.

The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer

The Amnesia Clinic by James Scudamore

Anti is best friends with his polar opposite – Fabian. Athletic and popular, Fabian wishes his mother was still alive. The two set off to find a strange clinic in search of Fabian’s mother – a clinic which no one is sure even exists.

The Amnesia Clinic by James Scudamore

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

In the future, all society is overseen by the World Controllers. Everything is ordered and efficient. But Bernard has other ideas and wants to do more than ask questions. An ideal book for year nine book clubs.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

Pinkie is caught in the middle of a Brighton gang war. Living on the edge, he kills a man and believes he can carry on as if nothing happened. A gripping novel for year 9 pupils.

Brighton Rock by Graham Green

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

At the end of WW2, Yossarian thinks his life is in danger – not from the enemy, but from his own side. He tries to find any excuse to avoid an increasing number of dangerous missions.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Thief by Malorie Blackman

A captivating and fast-paced story about Lydia, who is desperate to fit in at a new school. When she’s accused of stealing, her life begins to spiral out of control until an unexpected and mind-bending opportunity arises to set things right. A real page-turner, with a savage twist ending, this is a great book for class reading or book clubs.

Thief by Malorie Blackman

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield is a teen who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. He has to grow up quickly in an adult world and work out who he can trust, and who is a ‘phony’. A more challenging book for year 9 pupils.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Philip Larkin – Collected Poems

Probably the most accessible verse collection by a modern poet. More likely than not to hook your teenager on poetry. A great poetry book for year 9 pupils.

Philip Larkin - Collected Poems

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

An epic page-turner written in episodes. This is the classic fiction equivalent of a binge box-set – a nineteenth century ‘Breaking Bad’. Fuelled by revenge, Edmund Dantes seeks to get back everything he lost, and stake claim to a lot more. Ideal for more advanced readers in Year 9.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Dracula by Bram Stoker

A classic vampire tale following Dracula’s move from Transylvania to England, pursued by Abraham Van Helsing who is intent on exterminating him. Warning, this book may inspire your teen to wear black and visit Whitby. Ideal for discussion in Year 9.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard

Jim’s idyllic life in 1930s Shanghai takes an abrupt and horrifying turn with the Japanese invasion during WW2. The prep school choirboy finds himself interred in prisons camps for four years. Gripping, moving and based on the author’s own life. A more advanced book for 13-year-olds.

Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard

Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green

Noah desperately wants to be like everyone else. But with a mother who works as an unconvincing Beyonce lookalike and a father who isn’t around, Noah is struggling with life. Laugh out loud moments of teenage angst with a twist. A worthwhile LGBT literature addition to the school library.

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s gothic horror about a deranged scientist who wants to imagine his own living creation from dead bodies, still has bite, shock value and complex themes. A good, and well written, counterpoint to the myriad of recent zombie TV shows and computer games.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

The scheming, brutal and dangerous world of Roman nobility is brought to life in this historical thriller. An intense and gripping novel.

I, Claudius by Robert Graves. A more challenging book for year 9 students

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux

Allie Fox is a father who wants to change this world. He is on an unstoppable mission to bring ice and other inventions to the jungle, and a relentless pursuit of his dreams drives his wife and children to despair. After reading this, family holidays will never be the same. An interesting choice for a Year 9 book club.

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux

Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson

This book is ideal for adding humour to turgid GCSE Shakespeare exam schemes. It explores the myths, lies and reality of Shakespeare’s plays and brings to life the sixteenth century acting world.

Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson - an accessible books for year 9 pupils

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

A classic, and brilliantly written, fable about an old fisherman, an ambitious boy and an epic battle to catch an enormous fish.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

A horrifying and gripping account of life at a Soviet Gulag – isolated and stark. A tale of mental and physical survival. This would make an interesting choice for detention class reading. A more challenging book for year 9 students.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

McMurphy thinks he has escaped prison by being moved to a mental institution. Slowly he realises he is even more confined than before. A startling exploration of sanity and madness; and freedom vs control. Warning, some adult themes and a challenging read for 13 & 14-year-olds.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha by Roddy Doyle

10 year old Paddy Clarke is left to his own devices in an adult world – a world which, despite his best efforts, he finds impossible to understand. Cleverly written from a child’s perspective. A thought-provoking class reader book for Year 9.

Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha by Roddy Doyle

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The story of a butler who tries to devote himself to his profession despite the fact his master is a Nazi sympathiser. Deeply moving, this book explores class, love and longing. A more challenging book for pupils in year 9 – and ideal for discussion.

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

The ambitious owner of The Daily Beast thinks he’s spotted the perfect hotshot journalist to cover a juicy African conflict. Things don’t go entirely to plan. Very funny, yet true to life.

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

In this classic 1930s story, a black man is charged with raping a white girl and has to fight class, racial hatred and depression-era prejudice – as well as the courtroom. Atticus Finch, a white father, has the task of defending him. A great book for Year 9.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig

12 year old Edgar grows wary of a Baron he meets on holiday in this period story from Hapsburg Germany. He begins to think something is amiss, and when he finds out what it is, he takes revenge in a shocking manner. Short, and tense.

Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig


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Schools & teachers: please respect copyright and don’t copy our Year 9 reading list. If you find our book recommendations useful, please consider sharing on social media or linking to this page instead. Thanks.


For easier reads, why not try our Year 7 suggestions and our Year 8 reading list.

For even more books for 13-14 year olds, see this list.

For more challenging reading, have a look at our Year 10 suggestions and our Year 11 reading list.

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About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is an experienced teacher and educational consultant who taught for 20 years in primary and secondary schools, including Woodleigh School in North Yorkshire, where he was Head of English and ran a 4000 book prep school library for pupils aged 3-13. He now reviews books for children and teens. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin