Want your teen to be successful?  Provide helpful nonfiction books for your high school student!

Parents, many successful leaders and business owners are readers.  They read in order to learn, think, and grow.  Let’s share some real-world, applicable wisdom with our teenagers (and young adults) through nonfiction books!

Why should our teens read nonfiction books?

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” – Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman

How do we encourage our teens to read nonfiction books?

The Man and I want to motivate our daughters to read nonfiction books that require thinking.  After talking to a “mentor mom,” we bought several top nonfiction books for teens.  Then, our girls chose which book(s) to explore.  They were more inclined to actually read books that appealed to them!  I also wonder if a nice journal for recording valuable quotes/ideas would be beneficial?

Another idea is to provide an “incentive” to read certain books.  We heard that some parents pay their children to read business, relational, and leadership books.  As an avid reader, I hate the idea of paying our daughters to read certain books!  In my mind, they should read for the sake of reading and the knowledge they will acquire.  However, the reality is that if we want our girls to learn the wisdom in the books, we may need to provide an incentive.  It would go over better than listening to us “lecture!”

In my opinion, the value is worth the cost of an incentive!  I read somewhere that “a book is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”  Don’t we all want our teenagers to be richer in wisdom, understanding and relational skills?

Parents, how have you encouraged your teenagers or young adults to read helpful books?  What are the best nonfiction books for teens and preteens?  Please scroll waaay down and let us know in the comments below.

Best nonfiction books for teens and tweens

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*7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens By Sean Covey

Written by the son of author Stephen Covey, this book is based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  The layout is easy for teens to skim and jump around.  It includes illustrations, pearls of wisdom, and examples of the principles in use.

The 7 Habits are powerful:

  • Be proactive
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Put first things first
  • Think win-win
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the saw (take care of your spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health).

So much of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens is about planning ahead and growing relationships.  These life skills are important for leaders to use and understand!

The advantage of the book for teens is that it defines terms that adults might take for granted, and includes more in-depth explanations and examples of teenagers actually using the habits.  Plus, there are “Baby Steps” at the end of each section to help teens put the principles into action!  Our daughters agree that this is one of the best nonfiction books for teens and mature preteens.

*The Graduate Survival Guide:  5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in College By Anthony Oneal with Rachel Cruze

This book is a quick read with beautiful graphics and an attached DVD.  However, the principles in this book, if heeded, can change the financial lives of our teens!  The money principles are simple, but they are not easy:

  • Avoid student loans and credit cards.
  • Make smart college and purchasing choices.
  • Live within your means using a budget.
  • Give and save money.

The Graduate Survival Guide is one of the best nonfiction books for high school students to read before graduation!  We plan to have our daughters read it between their Junior and Senior years.

*The Millionaire Next Door By Thomas Stanley and William Danko

Most teenagers I talk to want jobs that pay well because they want to make a lot of money.  The Millionaire Next Door includes 7 common traits of millionaires that busts myths and preconceived notions.  It is an eye-opener for adults and teenagers alike!

This book is a collection of data and analysis from surveys, interviews, and research.  Although it was written in 1996, the forward, written in 2010, confirms the findings even after the “economic meltdown.”

Stanley and Danko state that “wealth is not the same as income… wealth is what you accumulate, not what you spend.”  In others words, self-made millionaires have a plan to live below their means with contentment.  This book shares the characteristics of the millionaire(s) next door.  Some of these traits are quite surprising, some are boring, and some are downright challenging.

*The 5 Love Languages:  for Singles By Gary Chapman

Even though your teen may not be looking for a long-term relationship at this stage of life, The 5 Love Languages can improve any relationship!  This includes relationships with parents, friends, coworkers, and dates.

I debated which of the 5 Love Languages books to list.  I read the original 5 Love Languages for married couples after having been married for several years. It completely opened my eyes to how The Man feels loved, how I feel loved, and how they are not necessarily the same!

Before this book, I was giving and seeing love through my own eyes.  I think our teenagers are the same way simply due to ignorance.  After reading the 5 Love Languages, I hope their thinking will be more flexible so that they can show love to others in a meaningful way.

And, most successful people, no matter how “success” is defined, have successful relationships.

Please note that Dr. Chapman comes from a Biblical viewpoint.

*Be a People Person by John Maxwell

Maxwell explores Biblically based concepts for effective leadership in Be a People Person.  These principles include effective communication through treating others the way you want to be treated, seeking to listen and understand, and putting others ahead of oneself.  Leaders want others to win and seek to support, encourage, and build others up.

Be a People Person is highly motivating for adults and teens in leadership positions.  However, its focus on relationships will benefit anyone.  As a shy person, I found the book to be especially helpful in considering the way that I interact with others.

The tone is slightly dry, but full of many quotable lines.  Each chapter ends with a summary of “people principles.”  Yet, the principles come back around to basic truths in Scripture.

*Love Your Life, Not Theirs By Rachel Cruze

Love Your Life, Not Theirs is another great book for high school students to read.  It teaches financial concepts through behaviors.  Cruze identifies 7 Habits:

  • Quit the comparisons
  • Steer clear of debt
  • Make a plan for your money
  • Talk about money (even when it’s hard)
  • Save like you mean it
  • Think before you spend
  • Give a little until you can give a lot!

The first two chapters on comparison are worth the price of the book for your older teen or young adult!  She delves deeply into how social media comparisons fuel our desire to spend.  And, she explores ways for us to cultivate contentment.

This book is based on Biblical financial principles that will relieve money stress and worries.  Cruze’s tone is conversational.  The book is easy to read, but the habits are not-so-easy to practice!  Fortunately, Cruze provides encouragement and helpful suggestions.

*Let’s Be Real  by Natasha Bure

This is a great little book for Christian teenage girls who are struggling to be their authentic selves in a world of teenage anxieties combined with cultural pressures and social media.  In a stressful time of life, it is sometimes hard to listen to God’s truth.

Bure uses God’s Word as she explores finding and embracing the “real you,” friendships, conviction, relationships, family, health, beauty and faith in the teenage life.  Above all, she encourages young ladies to know who they are and have the courage to be authentic as they work toward where they want to go.

The section on friendship is especially powerful.  Bure gives strategies for making new friends and solutions to common problems.  She also lists characteristics of true friends.  Bure uses many of the same words and ideas as The Man and I do.  However, her words seem to have more of an impact because they are published in a book!

Additional Nonfiction Book Ideas for Teen Leaders

Need more ideas?  Dan Miller of the 48 Days podcast was asked his top books for teenagers to read.  His recommendations:

*Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

I am just less than 20% of the way through Think and Grow Rich.  Hill takes Andrew Carnegie’s “secret” and analyzes over “500 exceedingly wealthy men” of his time who applied the formula.  This book is the result of 20 years of research.

Hill’s point this far is that success begins in our minds.  We must have a definite goal with such a strong desire to achieve that goal.  Then, we focus all of our effort to overcome failures and reach the goal without quitting.

The writing style leaves much to be desired.  If I encourage our girls to read it, I will have to prepare them for the many capital letters and exclamation marks. Hill often refers to the “secret” you will discover when you are ready to find it.  This may be a little frustrating to some.

Other recommended nonfiction books for teens and mature preteens to read:

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar

The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell

Parents, have you read any of these books?  What other books would your recommend for teenagers? And, how do you encourage your teen to read nonfiction books?  Please scroll down and drop your ideas in the comments below.  Thank you!

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