What better complements the charm of autumn than a nice, cozy pile of novels? From scary stories to atmospheric classics, there are plenty of autumn books to discover this season – especially for young adults (YA) and beyond. If you’re looking for seasonal books to share with the teenagers in your life, the reading list below offers 12 suggestions for novels to fascinate and challenge young adult readers this season. Some of these books will easily fit into formal lesson plans for your teen in school. Others could serve as fun incentives for your teen to keep reading in their spare time. (Many of them work for both purposes!)
This collection of short stories by early American writer Washington Irving is fun and just a little creepy (but not exactly “scary”). This particular collection features the story of a young teacher, Icabod Crane, who seeks the affection of the beautiful Katrina Von Tassel and fears a character who appears to be the city’s legendary headless rider. This The anthology also includes the stories: “Rip Van Winkle”, “The Specter Bridegroom” and “The Devil and Tom Walker”. Not only is this collection a fun tale around the campfire, but it’s also a good display of European folklore in early American literature.
Fall is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the famous magical world of JK Rowling’s wizards. Because of the themes of good versus evil, friendship, and growing up, this series is perfect for the YA audience (though it certainly isn’t limited to teenage readers!). Although I’ve only listed the first novel in the series, teenagers can read the entire series during the fall season. Disclaimer: Subjects and circumstances get darker after book four (The Goblet of Fire). If you are concerned about teens under the age of 14 reading the series after this point, you might want to read it in front of (or with) them.
Jane Eyre explores the wild and intricate landscape of the human heart for which the Bronte sisters are so known. This classic of British literature is perfect for introducing young readers to autumn. It’s haunting, beautiful, cozy, and mysterious. Side note: Wuthering Heights (written by Charlotte’s sister Emily) is also an excellent choice for fall reading.
An all American story of virtue and family love, Little woman is the coming-of-age story by Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March from the 19th century. A true classic that follows the lives of these four spirited sisters, readers can explore Alcott’s family drama as they navigate life with a father at war, financial hardship, and the lure and intrigue of the handsome young man who lives next door. This is also a great opportunity to read to as a family!
A good puzzle is the perfect fall pick, and this classic Sherlock Holmes tale also has a dose of supernatural intrigue. Your teen may want to read this short work along with some other Sherlock stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!
Fascinating, unique, and darkly whimsical, this modern day fairy tale about a girl discovering a parallel reality to herself will entertain teens (and adults) and make them think about the things in their life they don’t want to change. PSA: It’s a bit scary (too much for younger kids) without being also creepy.
The cemetery book is another dark fairy tale by Neil Gaiman. The story follows a young boy, Bod, who is hiding from the man who killed his parents. In the meantime, the ghosts of a local cemetery adopt him as their own! As with many of Gaiman’s writings, the premise is a little unsettling, but the execution is surprisingly whimsical and funny.
This mysterious, psychological story follows a young woman in her new home – a mansion in northern England. When the woman learns more about her husband’s first wife, she can’t shake the feeling that she – and the entire property – is haunted a little by the memory of her predecessor Rebecca. Rebecca is a 20th century classic in which Du Maurier lures us into her writing with her pronounced awareness of tension and human nature.
What started as a creative writing game became Mary Shelley’s classic story that later defined the horror genre. Frankenstein is an iconic novel that raises all kinds of interesting discussion questions for teenagers about the role of humankind as creators and the isolation we can all feel at times.
This is one of my personal favorite books that I want to read this fall! Tolkien’s prequel is much more lighthearted than his Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This leisurely and exhilarating fantasy story tells of a young hobbit who is canceled for a great adventure. The Hobbit encourages wanderlust – the same kind the blue skies and cool autumn air can bring. It would be the perfect novel for a fall camping trip!
This story about gifted children will delight teenagers who enjoy Harry Potter, X Men and The Percy Jackson series. The creepy, authentic vintage photos scattered throughout the book also give it a unique edge. This one definitely has some scary moments, but they’re on a strict YA level!
Bram Stoker Dracula is a Gothic horror like no other and one that defined the way we understand vampires today. The heavy language may be a challenge for teenagers (but that’s not a bad thing, especially if you want to use it to build up vocabulary and expose them to classics). However, the constant tension of the plot makes this story a tingling page-turner, even by modern standards.
Hope this list gives you some ideas for books your teen will love to read this fall! While some of these stories are scary and others less, they all evoke a sense of mystery and adventure that go hand in hand with this time of year. Enjoy them with a cup of hot cider close by! What are some of your top reads for the fall? What books would your teenage boy add to this list?
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