What complements autumn’s allure better than a nice, cozy stack of novels? From eerie tales to atmospheric classics, there are many fall-ish books to explore during this season–particularly for young adult (YA) readers and beyond. If you are looking for some seasonal books to share with the teens in your life, the following reading list offers 12 suggestions for novels to intrigue and challenge young adult readers this season. Some of these books may fit easily into formal lesson plans for your homeschooled teen. Others might serve as fun incentives for your teen to keep reading during his or her free time. (Many of them work for both purposes!)
This collection of short stories by early American author, Washington Irving, is fun and just a little spooky (but not truly “scary”). This particular collection features the tale of a young teacher, Icabod Crane, as he seeks the affection of the beautiful Katrina Von Tassel and is frightened by a figure that appears to be town’s legendary Headless Horseman. This anthology also includes the tales: “Rip Van Winkle,” “The Specter Bridegroom,” and “The Devil and Tom Walker.” In addition to being fun stories to read around the campfire, this collection is also a good representation of European folklore in early American literature.
Autumn is the perfect time to dive into J.K. Rowling’s famously magical world of wizards. Because of the themes about good versus evil, friendship, and coming-of-age, this series is perfect for the YA audience (though it’s certainly not limited to teen readers!) Though I’ve only listed the first novel in the series, teens may enjoy reading the entire series during the fall season. Disclaimer: themes and circumstances get darker after book four (The Goblet of Fire). If you are concerned about teens under 14 reading the series past that point, perhaps consider reading it before (or along with) them.
Jane Eyre explores the landscape of the human heart in the the wild and intricate manner for which the Bronte sisters are so well-known. This classic of British literature is perfect to introduce to teen readers during the fall. It’s haunting, beautiful, cozy, and mysterious. Sidenote: Wuthering Heights (written by Charlotte’s sister, Emily), is also an excellent fall reading choice.
An all-American tale of virtue and familial love, Little Women is the nineteenth-century coming-of-age story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March. A true classic, following the lives of these four spirited sisters, readers can explore Alcott’s family drama as they navigate life with a father at war, financial hardships, and the lure and intrigue of the handsome young man who lives next door. This is a great one to read aloud as a family, too!
A good mystery is the perfect choice for fall, and this classic Sherlock Holmes tale includes a dose of supernatural intrigue, as well. Your teen may want to read this short work alongside some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s other Sherlock stories!
Fascinating, unique and darkly whimsical, this modern fairy tale about a girl who discovers a parallel reality to her own will entertain teens (and adults) and make them think about the things in their lives they wouldn’t want to change. PSA: It’s a bit creepy (too much for younger kids) without being too scary.
The Graveyard Book is another dark fairytale by Neil Gaiman. The story follows a young boy, Bod, as he hides from the man who killed his parents. Meanwhile, the ghosts of a local graveyard adopt him as their own! As with much of Gaiman’s writing, the premise is a little unsettling, but the execution is surprisingly whimsical and funny.
This mysterious, psychological tale follows a young wife in her new home–a mansion in north England. As the woman learns more about her husband’s first wife, she can’t shake the feeling that she-and the entire estate-is a little bit haunted by the memory of her predecessor, Rebecca. Rebecca is a 20th century classic, wherein Du Maurier lures us into her writing with her keen awareness of suspense and human nature.
What began as a creative writing game turned into Mary Shelley’s classic story that would later define the horror genre. Frankenstein is an iconic novel poses all kinds of interesting discussion questions for teens about mankind’s role as a creator and the isolation we can all sometimes feel.
This is one of my personal favorite books to read in the fall! Tolkien’s prequel is much more light-hearted than his The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This cozy and exciting fantasy story tells of a young Hobbit who is called off on a grand adventure. The Hobbit encourages wanderlust–the same type that autumn’s blue skies and chilly air can bring. It would be the perfect novel to bring on an autumn camping trip!
This story about peculiarly gifted children will delight teens who enjoy Harry Potter, X Men, and The Percy Jackson series. The eerie, authentic vintage photos scattered throughout the book also give this it a unique edge. This one definitely has some scary moments, but they are at a strictly YA level!
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a gothic horror like no other, and one that defined the way we conceptualize vampires today. The heavy language might be a bit challenging for teens (but that’s not a bad thing, especially if you plan to use it to help build vocabulary and expose them to classics). However, the constant suspense of the plot helps make this story a spine-tingling page turner, even by modern standards.
I hope this list gives you some ideas for books your teen may enjoy reading for autumn! While some of these stories are scary and others are less so, all of them evoke a sense of mystery and adventure that goes hand-in-hand with this time of year. Enjoy them with a mug of hot cider close at hand! What are some of your top reads for autumn? What books would your teen add to this list?