A reader recently asked the question: Do you have a suggested list of books for teenagers, something like a “10 best books every Christian teenager should read”? It surprised me that I have never compiled such a list, especially since I’ve got two teenagers of my own. I decided I’d better remedy this oversight straight away. Here, then, is a list of 10 great books every Christian teen ought to read—or at least consider reading.
Please note that these are not necessarily the 10 best books your teens will read in their lifetime. Not all of these books will stand the test of time as Christian classics. But each of them is suited to 21st-century teenaged readers and together they will provide a foundation for the Christian life that will prove both deep and wide. I list them in no particular order.
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. It is rare that a book is elevated to the ranks of the classics, but The Holiness of God is a prime candidate. Sproul’s book will introduce teens to the concept of holiness, to the necessity for holiness, and to their own deep unholiness. But it will also lead them to the one who delights to make them holy even as he is holy. This book has shaped many lives and may just shape theirs as well.
Counter Culture by David Platt. This is a book about issues that Christians need to be prepared to address, issues that are relevant here in the 21st century. The subtitle gives us details: “A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography.” If your teens read this one they learn how “the gospel moves Christians to counter all of these issues in our culture with conviction, compassion and courage.”
The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges. Jerry Bridges carried out a long and faithful ministry and this book was one of his most important. In it he offers a thorough explanation of the gospel and shows how the gospel pertains to every Christian every day. Teens who read it will learn the important discipline of preaching the gospel to themselves every day and they will become convicted that the very same gospel that saved them will sustain them to the end.
Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. There are many books that teach Christians how to know and do the will of God, but none is better suited to young believers than this one. In a clear, biblical and entertaining manner, DeYoung shows how so many people are so wrong in the way they think about God’s will. “With pastoral wisdom and tasteful wit, DeYoung debunks unbiblical ways of understanding God’s will and constructs a simple but biblical alternative: live like Christ. He exposes the frustrations of our waiting games and unfolds the freedom of finding God’s will in Scripture and then simply doing it.”
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. This book began with John Piper’s address to thousands of young adults gathered for a Passion conference. Piper laments how many people—even professed Christians—go through life with no passion for God, “spending their lives on trivial diversions, living for comfort and pleasure, and perhaps trying to avoid sin.” Teens who read this will hear Piper’s passionate warning not to waste their lives, not to waste their youth, but to “live and die boasting in the cross of Christ and making the glory of God their singular passion.”