I read a lot of YA because, well, it's fun. Sometimes I feel like I got to an eighth grade reading level and then just stopped progressing, but hey, so did most of America.
Anyway! I've read quite a lot of books lately that I wish I had been able to read as a teen. (They were all published after I was in my twenties.) The messages I've seen of the strength and courage possible in teenage girls would have been good to know when I was that age and I was relying on what I knew of Laura Ingalls and Beezus Quimby. Both good role models, in their own way, but neither of them really fit my personality.
So! My ever-growing list of books I wish I had read as a teenager (all cover pics are from their respective Goodreads pages):
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things
If there's one book my teenaged self needed more than any other, it was this one. The MC is overweight and low on the self-esteem. She has to learn to be comfortable in her own skin, when to challenge her parents, and when to take what they say and live with it. In a lot of ways, this character could be me. I recommend it for older teens, mostly because it deals with some mature themes that the reader has to be ready for, a little bit because it has some language, and a slightly larger bit because I don't think your average 13- to 14-year-old is ready to challenge her parents wisely. It takes those extra couple of years of maturity to learn to pick your battles. (Some probably are ready. But most aren't.)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (series)
First of all, these books make me wish I had three best friends. Failing that, I wish I had a tailsman that gave me such a feeling of power. Because of course, the girls don't need the pants to find their confidence, develop life skills, and face the challenges of the teenage years. However, the pants help them all bridge the gaps between what they know they can do and the thing they'd like to be able to do. Over and over and over. Plus, it's so cool to see them learn to deal with mistakes and grow throughout the series. I've heard the last one is not as good, which makes me sad, but I've only read the first three. I can tell you that I'm putting off #4 because I don't want to be done with the series.
Thirteen Reasons Why
A bunch of people find out, a little too late, what impact their actions have on other people. I got a sense of urgency from this book to be aware of other people. That would have been good to know in my self-absorbed teen years.
The Princess Diaries (series)
It's rare that I watch a movie before I read the book, although having done so with The Princess Diaries and loved the movies, only to find out that the books are much much much better, I'm wondering if I should rethink my policy. Mia, as we all know from the movies, is awkward and unsure. The first four books cover most of the first year after she learns of her royal heritage (unless I'm really bad at counting, which is always possible), and it's remarkable how much she learns about herself, her friends, and what she really thinks about things in such a short time. I would never wish that kind of life upheaval upon myself, but these books would have been great when navigating my own rocky freshman year of high school.
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
Okay, I realise there's a theme here. Girl learns things about herself really fast and has to adjust her worldview, behaviour, or both. But you know what? It would have been good food for thought when I was a teen, to know that it was possible to learn things and then act on them right away. Also, Lily's unquenchable cheeriness just makes me happy. Dash's unquenchable snark makes me laugh out loud.
There are probably more, but these are the ones floating on the top of my head. Do you have books you wish you'd read at a younger age? What are you reading this week?