Good Books 9th Graders Should Read: 15 Best Books for 9th Graders

Good Books for 9th graders - Good Books for 9th grade

Looking for a 9th Grade Book List?

Whether you’re looking for books read in 9th grade English, or homeschooling books for 9th grade, we have got you a list of 15 of the best books 9th graders should read for school, for summer reading, and for fun. Let’s dive into these 9th grade books.

This list is filled with highly recommended books for 9th graders, approved by parents, with a focus on diversity of authors. These 9th grade reading books are classics for a 9th Grade English class or as books for 9th graders who hate to read.

Whether using them for 9th grade summer reading or during the school year, these selections are all books that are on a 9th grade reading level. 

Ninth grade students are able to engage in Young Adult fiction, YA fiction, and are also able to engage with popular non-fiction books as well. Overall, it’s an exciting time finding books for high school students, and your freshman students will be sure to love many of the selections on this books for 9th grade students.

Disclaimer: this page of 9th grade books and good books 9th graders should read contains affiliate links that earn income, at no cost to you.


Best Books for 9th Graders: A Great 9th Grade Reading Book List


Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games           

Good Reads Reviews: 6,756,000     

Good Reads Rating: 4.32

Is there a Hunger Games movie? Yes, a 2012 movie, rated 7.2 on IMDB, that made this book a phenomenon.

There is a Hunger Games audiobook.

 The Hunger Games trilogy of books grew popular for good reason. It is set in a reality-show style competition, to the death, in a world full of economic inequality and great costuming. Throw in Liam Hemsworth as the boy you don’t choose – and it is a world where young adult readers can see themselves firmly in. Would they survive? Would they have to use tactics like camouflage? Can you make a friend in the woods in a system where you are supposed to kill one another? What is the role of a modern TV audience: are we supporting violence through viewership? This is a book that both pairs so nicely with its film (the costuming!), but also showing why a book can be better than a movie. 

Great for: Perfect for a 9th grade summer reading list book, or as an easy starting point for a characterization exercise. Every character in this novel is so unique, and yet finds a way within them to fight and resist the system. Can you be Katniss and fight? Peeta, and hide? Primrose, and heal? Haymitch, who uses substances to numb himself from the lifelong pain that surrounds him? Rue, who shows that victims are remembered? Or Cinna, the designer of dresses who shows that fashion can spark a revolution.


Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give   

Good Reads Reviews: 588,000

 Good Reads Rating: 4.51

 Is there a movie? Yes, a 2018 movie, rated 7.5 on IMDB. (PG-13)

There is an audiobook.

The highest rated book on this 9th grade book list is The Hate U Give, a novel that is quickly being added into the literary canon. Starr attends a wealthy prep school, lives in a poor area in town, and becomes the center of a national news story, witnessing a crime take place.

Great for: This book would be great on its own, or as a companion piece offering to a class that is reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The two novels for 9th graders pair well, showing that history repeats itself. Also, it creates a healthy discussion of narrator – who is telling the story?


Marjane Sartrapi, Persepolis     


Good Reads Reviews: 170,000     

Good Reads Rating: 4.24

Is there a movie? Yes, a 2007 movie, rated 8.0 on IMDB. (PG-13)

No audiobook available, since the story is told through graphics in a graphic novel.

Marjane Sartrapi’s graphic novel, Persepolis, revolutionized the genre to show what it was capable of, leading the way for historical books like John Lewis’s March and George Takei’s They Called Us the Enemy. This novel tells the story of a 14-year-old Iranian girl as the Iranian Revolution happens. It shows the cultural promise of Iran (a highly educated country) and the war and violence that befell it. This book discusses the hypocrisy and harm done by a system that rigidly follows rules and squashes dissent, from the personal perspective of a survivor.

Great for: learning about the world through a comic book. Who said Iranian history and geopolitics wasn’t cartoonized, accessible, and interesting-to-read?     

Not great for: Although it is a graphic novel that looks like a cartoon, it is not for very young readers. Students should be able to handle themes of violence, torture, and abuse before entering this book about the character’s experiences. That makes this a good book for 9th graders who are ready for topics of how people live internationally, how the world isn’t fair.

Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club 

 Good Reads Reviews: 616,000     

Good Reads Rating: 3.94

Is there a Joy Luck Club movie? Yes, there is a 1993 movie, with 7.7 rating on IMDB. Rated R (because of the scenes of abuse) 

There is an audiobook of the Joy Luck Club.

Published in 1993, The Joy Luck Club is great for: 2nd generation immigrants, or for learning about the cultural transfer and loss that happens as a family moves from one land to another. The mothers are strictly Chinese, their daughters are American, and misunderstandings happen from that identity shift. The story helps bridge the gap as they learn more and more about what struggles the mothers went through in China to end up where they are today. This novel for 9th graders captures how you can’t fully understand what your parents think, they can’t fully understand you, but there is a connection in story that runs between generations – one that defines family.

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn     

Good Reads Reviews: 403,000       

Good Reads Rating: 4.27 

Is there A Tree Grows in Brooklyn movie? Sorta. It exists on DVD, is hard to find but enjoyed when found.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is available on audiobook.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn introduces us to Francie Nolan, a girl growing up in 1900s Brooklyn. She has big dreams, climbs trees, and navigates a world that is different to today, but carries the same sense of wanting to grow up, to become something, of finding who you are.

Great for: readers, girls who dream, and people learning more about the historical time period of industrialized New York City. 


S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders         


Good Reads Reviews: 1,005,000       

Good Reads Rating: 4.10

Is The Outsiders a movie? Yes, a 1983 movie with an all-star cast (Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe). Rated PG.

The Outsiders is available on audiobook

This book, set in the 1960s in Oklahoma, worries teachers that their students will not be able to relate. Only upon reading it, the students fall deeply into the book, wondering about the characters’ actions and seeing themselves through the lens of what is happening to Pony Boy and the rest of the crew. The Outsiders shows a life where not everything is perfect, where characters try their best – muddling through with negative outcomes despite good intentions, because of the life stresses beyond school. This book also brings up the issue of classism, how money has an impact on people’s behavior and protections.

Great for: children too familiar with how gangs form. This is a book for 9th graders trying to find their identity in friend groups and seeing how factors like wealth play a role in who is friends with whom.


Jewell Parker Rhodes, Ghost Boys


Good Reads Reviews: 20,000 

Good Reads Rating: 4.39

Is there a Ghost Boys movie? no. (A good movie pairing would be The Hate U Give.)

The Ghost Boys is available on audiobook

This book examines a loss of life, a tragic killing of a young boy. This young adult novel is often found on 6th to 8th grade lists, but would make a quick and interesting book for 9th graders. Ghost Boys looks at unfulfilled promise, dreams deferred, heartbreak, and children’s lives taken too soon.

Great for: students wanting to examine what justice means to them. 


Nnedi Okolafor, Akata Witch


Good Reads Reviews: 25,000       

Good Reads Rating: 4.06

Is there an Akata Witch movie? no.

Akata Witch is available on audiobook.

This book is a magical adventure where a Nigerian girl must stop a serial killer with a quartet of friends who have the power to utilize magic. The story-telling of the author in Akata Witch is captivating. The book combines West African mythology with the experience of growing up in America.    

Great for: students who are have enjoyed the Harry Potter series but run out of fantasy books to read, and the fantasy readers who are always in need of the next book. This fantasy book for 9th graders is a wonderful way to introduce Nigerian mythology in fantasy novel.


George Takei, They Called Us The Enemy    


Good Reads Reviews: 25,000

Good Reads Rating: 4.36

Is there a They Called Us Enemy movie? No.

Paired Movie Options: The book Farewell to Manzanar was turned into a movie in 1976 and would be a good go-along (sometimes accessible on Youtube). The movie American Pastime, from 2016, would also pair well with this graphic novel. American Pastime was rated 6.6 on IMDB, and is 1 hr 47 minutes long. 

Because it written as a graphic novel through pictures, there is no audiobook for George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy

Actor George Takei tells about his child being imprisoned in a camp for Japanese Americans in his graphic novel, They Called Us The Enemy. This book takes a look at a time when it was made legal to arrest entire families based on their heritage. Two thirds of all detained persons during the internment were American citizens.

Great for: wanting to learn some American history in a graphic novel. After this book, students could read March, The Trilogy, by John Lewis about the Civil Rights movement in graphic novel.


Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe     


Good Reads Reviews: 305,000

Good Reads Rating: 4.33

Is there an Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe movie? No.

There is an audiobook, narrated by the Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Yes, Alexander Hamilton. Just you wait…)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a 9th grade book about finding yourself in the teenage years. Two friends navigate their struggles and reflect on what life brings them, in this story about relationships, self-discovery, and being a teen. 

Great for: someone who might want to cry a little while reading a book. Great for someone who wants poetry on the page, about life and the universe. An inspiring and interesting 9th grade book.


Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

Good Reads Reviews: 166,000

Good Reads Rating: 4.16

Is there an Interpreter of Maladies movie? No. Blinded by the Light, a 2019 movie about Bruce Springsteen and a Pakistani-born teen in Britain, is often referenced as a movie with a similar viewpoint of immigration experiences. 

There is an Interpreter of Maladies audiobook for this Jhumpa Lahiri collection of short stories.

Interpreter of Maladies is a Pulitzer-Prize winning collection of short stories about the immigrant experience, the diaspora, the feeling of being separated from home. This book is about Indian-American characters, some located in America, and some back in India after having spent years abroad. A great collection of tales.

Great for:  When looking for interesting books for 9th graders, it is good to include short stories as they can be more readable. Going through these short stories, one or two at a time as time allows, may hold more interest for students than gobbling them all up at once.


Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between The World And Me

Good Reads Reviews: 275,000

Good Reads Rating: 4.38

Is there a Between the World and Me movie? No.

There is an audiobook for Between the World and Me.

Between the World and Me is a writing from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his adolescent son about the situation in America as the United States reached 150 years from the Civil War’s promise to end slavery and bring equality. Ta-Nehisi Coates was nominated for the National Book Award for this book (and won), and it was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Great for: answering the question, “Who is an American? What does America offer, both positive and negative? What should the future of the nation look like?” This question from the book leads into the American Dream discussion covered in many 10th grade classrooms.


Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala

Good Reads Reviews: 462,000     

Good Reads Rating: 4.12

Is there a movie? Yes, there is a 2015 documentary “He Named Me Malala“, rated 7.0 on IMDB. (PG-13)

There is an I am Malala audiobook, voiced by Archie Panjabi, nominated for Audie Awards.

I Am Malala tells of the the Taliban’s actions to stop girls from going to school, and how a 15-year-old girl spoke up against that policy change. She was shot in the face getting off the school bus, which took the story international and affected change. She speaks of access to education, for those in poverty, and especially women, and how a withholding of education can lead to violence. This book for 9th graders expresses what education is like around the world, told by someone who was in 9th grader (approximately) when her world got turned upside down. 

Great for:  showing the actions a person would take to get access to an education. Shows the need still exists to make education universal. Also vital for opening up the discussion of what are the consequences a person risks for speaking up/performing activism, and what can be possible when one faces those consequences. The bravery Malala shows makes this a book 9th graders should read.

Also powerful to see, the UN Speech that Malala Yousafzai delivered on her 16th Birthday, in 2013. Imagine being 16 and spending it speaking to the world at the United Nations.


Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian

Good Reads Reviews: 231,000

Good Reads Rating: 4.08

Is there an Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian movie? No.

There is an audiobook read by Sherman Alexie, the author.

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian is a book based on the childhood experiences of Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian who was born and raised in the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. The term “Indian” is a self-chosen moniker here, and the phrase “Part-Time” is a discussion of the effect of leaving behind the reservation, an experience Alexie himself faced growing up. The book addresses difficult topics like family troubles, having family members suffering from alcoholism, the poverty on the reservation, and the racism that was aimed toward Alexie individually, and toward the Spokane community. 

Great for:  hearing other perspectives, and a memoir giving personal experience. This isn’t a book about fancy tea parties and accumulating unimaginable wealth. It’s about having a difficult family situation, in a community that is struggling, with personal health problems on top of it, and wanting to get up and out for a better life that may be waiting. Many 9th grade students could relate to those struggles in the novel.



Hank Green, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Good Reads Reviews: 74,000

Good Reads Rating: 4.03

Is there a movie remake of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing? No, there is not. This would be a story that plays out on TikTok, not the big screen. (Perhaps 9th grade students can do their own interpretive projects as a book activity.)

There is An Absolutely Remarkable Thing audiobook by Hank Green.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing begins with a walk home, taking a quick video, and ending up with internet fame. This sci-fi story is complete with 10-foot-tall robots, but most importantly addresses the ups and downs of celebrity. There are people who blindly trust you and adore you, there are people who hate you for no reason, and your every interaction is colored by the fame. 

Great for: a book for 9th graders wanting to become Youtubers or internet celebrities. The author is a creator of SciShow, Crash Courses, and other Youtube projects. There is a sequel to this novel for 9th graders who want more. 

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy these books for 9th graders – are there any you would add to the list?

What books do you think 9th graders should read?

Write your suggestions for best 9th grade books (or your favorite 9th grade books found from this list!) in the comments below. What are your selections for books 9th graders should read?

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