Year 10 books. This book list contains titles to appeal to children and young adults aged 14-15 in secondary school. Consisting of a range of contemporary and classic titles, these books cover all ability ranges including the less able and the more able. This list of books for year 10 is updated termly and contains novels by Susin Nielsen, Phil Stamper, Lisa Heathfield, Patrick Ness, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, George Orwell, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lawrence, Jason Reynolds, JRR Tolkien, John Steinbeck, David Levithan, Emily Bronte and more.
Books for Year 10 – our recommendations
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
When teen Avery inherits a billionaire’s fortune there’s a catch: she must live in the deceased’s sprawling estate with his mysterious family and solve a series of riddles to claim her legacy. This thrilling mystery unveils secrets and rivalries in a high-stakes game of inheritance. The first in a gripping series that’s addictive to read.
Thriller | Series
Crossing the Line by Tia Fisher
Written in verse, this gritty and visceral narrative follows teenaged Erik who juggles a difficult home life, school work and the consequences of being groomed by and owing money to a dangerous county lines gang. Crossing the Line is a memorable story of manipulation that will be useful to read and discuss alongside anti-exploitation resources in PSHE and book clubs. Highly recommended. Read our full review.
Crime | Verse novel
Needle by Patrice Lawrence
Charlene needs her knitting. It takes her mind off being in care. But when a heated argument leads to her stabbing her foster brother with a knitting needle, her whole life unravels in the criminal justice system. Should she apologize, even if she doesn’t mean it, to help secure her freedom? This emotional story takes a deep dive into the foster care system and how children struggle. Highlighting themes of racial bias and justice, ‘Needle’ is ideal for KS4 book club discussion.
Crime | Family
Five Survive by Holly Jackson
Five strangers are stranded in a remote wilderness. As they battle the elements, secrets emerge, tensions rise, and survival becomes a test of trust and resourcefulness. This thriller explores the depths of human resilience in the face of danger. It’s a cracking page-turner for teens who want a fast-paced read.
Crime | Thriller
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A must-read for older teens, this is a stunning story of love in the face of desperate adversity. When terminally ill Hazel meets Augustus the short time she has left to live changes course in ways she could never have imagined.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
An award-winning young adult novel about Conor, a teenager who has the same dream – or nightmare – every night. But this time, when he wakes up, there’s an otherworldly creature from his dream right outside his window. The creature demands one thing – the truth about everything.
Grow by Luke Palmer
When Josh’s father is murdered in a terrorist atrocity, he finds himself both picked out and fascinated by extreme racists who milk his grief and misfortune. He finds himself in a situation where righting wrongs challenges the status quo and not even he is sure which path he will take. With subtle nuance this startling novel will challenge both educators and teenagers – Grow is a gift for KS4 teachers and pastoral coordinators looking for ways to embed PREVENT strategies that will resonate with pupils.
Crime | Racism
Oxygen Mask by Jason Reynolds, art by Jason Griffin
This is a unique and memorable graphic novel with an intoxicating blend of stirring graphic imagery and perceptive stream-of-consciousness narrative commentary. Oxygen Mask is a benchmark for pandemic-era YA literature, encapsulating the thoughts, aspirations, and fears of a generation lurching from discrimination to COVID and beyond.
As Far as You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper
Marty, a teen, flees a suffocating environment at home to pursue his dreams in the more gay-friendly setting of London. However, financial constraints, loneliness, and reality set in. Can he succeed and avoid returning to his religious upbringing in small-town Kentucky? A powerfully emotional read appropriate for KS4.
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
Stewart has a slightly different perspective on life from those around him. He finds life difficult enough before he is thrown together with his new stepsister, the extrovert and social magnet Ashley, Life gets even more interesting at school… Funny and heartwarming, this is a great book to promote resilience and challenge bullying.
Funny | Resilience
13 minutes: A Novel by Sarah Pinborough
Dead for 13 minutes, Natasha doesn’t know how it happened or how she got there. But she is determined to find out. A gripping mystery page-turner set in a nasty and manipulative teenage world. A pacey read for students in Year 10.
Mystery | Thriller
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield
A heartbreaking story about June, who feels trapped in her life full of secrets and lies. She longs to escape, and when she meets Blister, she thinks she might have – but her new hope has unimaginable consequences. Very sad and moving.
Every Day by David Levithan
This thought-provoking story follows ‘A’, who wakes up each day in a different body. ‘A’ knows not to change things or get too involved, until one day ‘A’ meets Rhiannon, who changes everything.
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
A modern classic exploring the world of introverted teenager Gene who lives out WW2 at boarding school and his polar opposite Phineas who is carefree and dangerous. A must-read YA novel.
Coming of age
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Told as a series of flashbacks, Kathy tried to make sense of her childhood at the seemingly perfect Hailsham School. The story slowly reveals a shocking dystopia that forces the reader to confront the horrors of modern society. A more challenging read for Year pupils.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
A gripping, yet peculiar, story about a man who is released from prison and meets a man who claims to be a godlike King of America. Together, they start to solve murders, sort problems, and make the country great by telling everyone what they want to hear. The climax builds with a storm of biblical proportions.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A classic love story following the intertwining lives of Catherine and Heathcliffe. Spanning many years and life-changing events, this story of passion, revenge, and betrayal is a classic which has stood the test of time. An ideal Year 10 text.
This Book is Cruelty Free by Linda Newbery
This comprehensive lifestyle guide shows teens in KS3 and KS4 how they can adjust and live their lives in ways that avoid contributing, directly or indirectly, to animal cruelty. Issues including food waste, zoos, wild spaces and meat eating are discussed with diagrams, poignant quotes, infographics, statistics and lucid text. An ideal primer to familiarise children with key themes in the animal rights debate, this book will both inspire and help pupils form their own opinions.
Society | Activism
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The life of Pip is explored in this timeless saga filled with unique and memorable characters about one boy’s self-discovery and drive to become a man, despite unremitting adversity.
Saga | Classic
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
A downtrodden orphan thinks her life has changed for the better after meeting Maxim de Winter in the South of France in a whirlwind romance. But moving to Cornwall reveals an unexpected ghost from the past and a nemesis in the mysterious housekeeper, Mrs Danvers. What happened to the previous Mrs de Winter? An interesting book to analyse in Year 10 book clubs.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Joad family follow their dreams and head to the West Coast of America. Things don’t go well for them. A classic in American Fiction, exploring characters, and raw emotions; with many parallels to the broken society of today.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
13-year-old Briony Tallis stumbles upon something shocking which leads to a downward spiral and life-changing crime. Can Briony ever put the pieces back together? A modern masterpiece.
Contemporary | Crime
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick
A must-read classic sci-fi novel. After a devastating world war, Rick Deckard, a ruthless bounty hunter, takes an assignment to beat all others. Promised a huge reward, he soon finds himself in a bad dream of lies, plots, and treachery. A great addition to any Year 10 library.
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
A thought-provoking and emotive autobiography which chronicles the first part of Nelson Mandela’s life, leading up to his time in captivity. An examination of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. A great book for discussion in Year 10.
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
16-year-old Frank thinks killing various family members was just a stage he was going through. A brilliantly written horror story with strong themes and an unforgettable twist.
Thriller | Horror
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This multi-award-winning saga follows father and son on a road trip across a post-apocalyptic American landscape heading for the hope of salvation on the coast. Emotive and easy to read, the characters and their emotional scenes are poignant.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
A dark first-person account, this is a simply told, yet chilling, story of the realities of war. Pressed into action by a fervent and patriotic teacher, Paul soon witnesses conditions in the trenches. A moving story that beautifully illustrates the pointlessness of conflict. Perfect for more advanced readers in Year 10.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
A gripping page-turner following George Smiley, a calculating and clever Cold War spy tracking an elusive Russian agent.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Cassandra lives a carefree life in a dilapidated castle in the countryside. But her life changes forever when Americans arrive unexpectedly to claim the castle as their inheritance. An interesting book for group discussion in Year 10.
Classic | Romance
Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee
Idyllic childhood memories in the Cotswolds are painted in timeless prose in this evocative reminiscence of growing up in an almost forgotten world.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
The dystopian novel without which the world would not have Big Brother, the Ministry of Truth and the Party. Still highly relevant in the modern world of spin, media and the rise of right-wing populism.
Hitler’s Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen
A book which systematically explores how the human condition can go horribly wrong for seemingly rational reasons. One of those books everyone should try to read before the age of 25. Refreshingly clear and concise, this is an essential read for anyone studying modern European history.
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Sauron seeks complete power over Middle Earth by controlling magical rings. But the all-important ring to rule them all is now in the hands of a Hobbit called Frodo. High fantasy in this three-volume epic.
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
A fantasy classic which satirizes the eighteenth-century world in which it was written. Gulliver visits the strange and mysterious lands of Lilliput, the Yahoos, and the giants in Brobdingnag. Unique and memorable.
Fantasy | Classic
Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally
The book which inspired the film and numerous documentaries, Keneally’s account is a touching realisation of determination, adversity, and hope in the unlikeliest setting.
Historical fiction | True story
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette is brought up in a strict world of privilege and expectation as one of “God’s Elect”. But she rebels and leaves the church world at the age of 16 to pursue a dangerous relationship. An ideal book for Year 10 book clubs.
Contemporary | LGBT
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
The story of Saleem, one of a thousand children born at exactly midnight. Like the other 999, he finds himself blessed, or cursed with a superpower. A moving story charting India’s journey after independence.
Contemporary | Fantasy
English Dictionary Pocket Edition by Collins Dictionaries
Including 85,000 words and definitions presented in a clear and concise layout, this practical 740-word dictionary is perfectly suited to GCSE students. It also includes useful tips on pronunciation, usage, and spelling punctuation and grammar.
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For less challenging books, see our Year 9 reading list.
For even books for 14-15-year-old teens, see this list
For further reading suggestions, see our Year 11 reading list.