To be successful in college or career, twelfth-grade students should become proficient in language arts skills. These skills are crucial and serve as the foundation to all of the other subject areas and prepare the students for the world beyond high school. Twelfth-grade students will read and analyze various genres of literature to enhance their writing, comprehension, communication, and reading skills.
As you search for the best books to use with your twelfth-grade students, you should consider the 23 book suggestions we are providing. They are sure to make a difference as you prepare your 12th graders for their futures!
1. In Cold Blood (Truman Capote)
High school students will be glued to the pages of this book. This brutal story is based on a true, violent crime that took place in 1959 in Kansas when four people from the Clutter family were murdered.
2. Night (Elie Wiesel)
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, this devastating story reveals the loss of innocence experienced by a young Jewish boy who was forced to witness the death of his parents and sister as he was imprisoned in a Nazi death camp.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
Do your 12th graders need a good cry or laugh? If so, then this is the book for them. This modern classic tells the story of Charlie as he navigates between the worlds of adolescence and adulthood. This book has sold millions of copies and has won several book awards.
4. In Darkness (Nick Lake)
Your 12th grade classes will love this story about the results of a horrible earthquake. Shorty, a Haitian, is trapped in a collapsed hospital building and hopes to be rescued. However, he knows a rescue may not happen and he may die within the building ruins. While trapped and dying, he becomes focused on another presence.
5. Hard Times (Charles Dickens)
Introduce your 12th grade students to Thomas Gradgrind. He is the owner of a school during a Utilitarian age. Unfortunately, his daughter and son both choose the wrong paths in life. Eventually, he comes to recognize the value of human hearts.
6. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)
Originally published in 1886, this story is sure to grab the attention of your 12th grade students. In this mysterious story, Gabriel John Utterson, a London lawyer, looks into the bizarre happenings that take place between his friend Dr. Henry Jekyll and a malicious man by the name of Mr. Edward Hyde.
7. The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
This national bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner is one of the best books for Grade 12! It is a story about a father and son fighting for survival in their frightening journey through a post-apocalyptic world. Will they be able to survive and overcome their traumatic circumstances?
8. The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)
This comedy was first performed in 1895 in London. The main characters of the story escape obligations in society with false personae. It is filled with humor and satire, and your 12th graders will enjoy laughing throughout the story.
9. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)
Add this timeless classic to your book list! This story is about the Earnshaw family and the Linton family as well as their challenging relationship with Heathcliff, the adopted son of the Earnshaw family. Critics often list this book as one of the greatest novels of all time.
10. 1984 (George Orwell)
Add this haunting book to your 12th grade reading list! This story was written over 70 years ago and reveals an eerie prophecy about the future of a controlling government. Convincing and startling, this story speaks of a power that strengthens over time.
11. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
Written in 1899, this disturbing masterpiece contains details about a journey to the heart of Africa while traveling on the Congo River. Charles Marlow, the narrator, works for a trading company that specializes in ivory, and he must find a trading post operated by Kurtz. Discover more about the human psyche, sanity, and madness.
12. A Doll's House (Henrik Ibsen)
Considered to be one of the best-known plays, this book often viewed as a battle for women is perfect for a 12th grade literature study. The main character Nora struggles against conforming to societal expectations. She chooses a life path that includes her children and husband for her own life’s discovery.
13. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
Your 12th grade teens will be intrigued by this thrilling book that tells the tale of a man that gets drawn into a murder on a beach in Algeria. The murder is a senseless one, and the story will keep students intrigued throughout.
14. The Things We Cannot Say (Kelly Rimmer)
This dual-narrative story includes past and present-day tellings by a granddaughter and a grandmother. Your 12th graders will learn about love, hardship, and sacrifice in this compelling story. Sometimes, it can take one’s entire life to trust themselves enough to share their truth.
15. The Rector of Justin (Louis Auchincoss)
This intriguing story focuses on Frank Prescott who is the founder and leader of an exclusive English boarding school for boys. His eighty years of life are told through the perspectives of six narrators. Learn more about his motivations, triumphs, and failures.
16. The Underdogs (Mariano Azuela)
12th grade history buffs will enjoy reading this story which includes accurate details about the great revolution of the 20th century. Demetrio Macias is an illiterate and poor Indian who must try to save his family by joining the rebels. This masterpiece will expose you to the disillusions of war.
17. Rabbit, Run (John Updike)
This phenomenal story focuses on Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom who was the star of his high school basketball team. However, now he is twenty-six years old, and he is struggling with his life’s path. Therefore, he chooses to leave his wife and son to follow his own path. Read more to see how this story ends.
18. Feed (M.T. Anderson)
Your 12th graders definitely need to read this captivating book now more than ever. Expose them to the story of Titus and his friends as they live in a malfunctioned, technological world. Learn about the feed and how it interferes with human thoughts as well as their desires.
19. Diving into the Wreck (Adrienne Rich)
First published in 1973, this collection of poems was written by Rich, a feminist poet. These poems relate to the struggles that took place for women’s rights. Your students should read these poems to learn more about the fight for equal rights.
20. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
Keep your 12th graders engaged with this story that involves a murder plan that is formulated by Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, a former student from St. Petersburg. Wouldn’t it be justified if he used the victim’s money to complete good deeds? Extreme guilt and immense fear overtake Raskolnikov once the heinous act is committed.
21. How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Thomas C. Foster)
This book is a necessity for 12th graders. It will introduce them to literature and teach them how to make reading more satisfying, fun, and enjoyable and look at it differently - through the eyes of a college professor.
22. Dracula (Bram Stoker)
Students will be intrigued by this famous horror story that introduced the vampire Count Dracula in 1897. Students will become more familiar with Dracula as he moves to England from his home in Transylvania.
23. Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
This classical play will mesmerize your students as they read about Oedipus and his destiny. An oracle proclaimed that he would marry his mother and kill his father. He was determined not to let this happen to him. However, sometimes we cannot outrun our destiny!