Holiday Gift Guide for Teens

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By the Young Adult Library Services Association

gift in green wrapping paper with a ribbon

Nothing says happy holidays like a good book! If there’s a teen on your list, YALSA has a book to fit his or her interest. Looking for more? Check out YALSA’s archives of booklists and awards, dating back to 1997. (And take your teen to the library to check out all the items in this gift guide!)

For the Comedian

If the teens on your list fancy themselves the next Patton Oswalt, here are are a few books to keep them laughing, pulled from YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks and Quick Picks lists.

  1. Boese, Alex. Hippo Eats Dwarf: a Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S. Harvest Books, 2006. $14.00. (0-15-603083-7).
  2. Foxworthy, Jeff. Jeff Foxworthy’s Redneck Dictionary: Words You Thought You Knew the Meaning of. Villard, 2005. (1-4000-6465-1).
  3. Gregory, Leland. Hey Idiot!: Chronicles of Human Stupidity. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2003. $9.95. (0-7407-3902-6).
  4. Heimberg, Jason and Justin Heimberg. The Official Movie Plot Generator: 27,000 Hilarious Movie Plot Combinations. Brothers Heimberg Publishing, 2004. $16.45. (0-9740439-1-5).
  5. Northcutt, Wendy. The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action. Penguin Putnam, 2002. $12.00. (0-452-28344-2).

For the Athlete

These five selections are sure to draw your teen out of the gym and into a book.

  1. Caprio, Robert. Are We There Yet: Tales from the Never-Ending Travels of WWE Superstars. Simon & Schuster, 2005. $13.00. (0-7434-9041-X).
  2. Davis, James and Skin Phillips. Skateboarding is Not a Crime: 50 Years of Street Culture. Firefly, 2004. $19.95. (1-55407-001-5).
  3. Huebner, Mark and Brad Wilson. Sports Bloopers: All-star Flubs and Fumbles. Firefly Books, 2003. $19.95. (1-55297-627-0).
  4. Myers, Walter Dean. The Greatest: Muhammad Ali. Scholastic Paperbacks, 2001. $4.99 (978-0-590-54343-9).
  5. Signore, Martin. Fantasy Football for Dummies. For Dummies, 2007. $16.99. (978-0-470-12507-6).

For the Artist

Encourage your teens’ creative side with these how-to books, ranging from graphic design to fashion design.

  1. Klancher, Lee. Monster Garage: How to Customize Damn Near Everything. Motorbooks International/ MBI Publishing, 2003. $19.95. (0-7603-1748-8).
  2. Miller, Steve and Bryan Baugh. Scared! How to Draw Fantastic Horror Comic Characters. Watson-Guptill, 2004. $19.95. (0-8230-1664-1).
  3. Nikolay, Megan. Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt. Workman, 2006. $14.95. (0-7611-3785-8).
  4. Rannals, Melissa and Melissa Alvarado and others. Sew Subversive: Down and Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista. illus. Taunton, 2006. $14.95. (1-56158-809-1).
  5. Rogge, Hannah and Marianne Rafter. Hardwear: Jewelry From a Toolbox. illus. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2006. $18.95. (1-58479-480-1).

For the Techie

Encourage your gadget-obsessed teen with how-to books or feed their mind with great techie novels, all chosen from YALSA’s booklists (including Best Books for Young Adults, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers).

  1. Anderson, M.T. Feed. Candlewick Press, 2002. $7.99. (0-7636-1726-1).
  2. Cooper, Robbie. Alter Ego: Digital Avatars and their Creators. Chris Boot, 2007. $29.95 (978-1-905712-02-1).
  3. Gaines, Thom. Digital Photo Madness! 50 Weird and Wacky Things to Do With Your Digital Camera. Lark, 2006. $9.95. (1-57990-624-9).
  4. Myracle, Lauren. L8R G8R. Amulet, 2008. $15.95. (978-0810970861).
  5. Westerfeld, Scott. The Last Days. Penguin/Razorbill, 2006. $16.99. (1-59514-062-X).

For the musician

From indie rock to hip hop, YALSA’s got your tune-lovin’ teens needs covered.

  1. Cohn, Rachel and David Levithan. Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Knopf Books, 2007. $8.99. (978-0375835339).
  2. Farley, Christopher John. Aaliyah: More Than a Woman. Simon & Schuster Pocket Books, 2002. $6.99. (0-7434-5566-5).
  3. Harcourt, Nic. Music Lust: Recommended Listening for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason. Sasquatch Books, 2005. $16.95. (978-1570614378).
  4. Westbrook, Alonzo. Hip Hoptionary: The Dictionary of Hip Hop Terminology. Broadway Books - Harlem Moon, 2002. $12.95. (0-7679-0924-0).
  5. Willet, Edward. Jimi Hendrix: Kiss the Sky. Enslow, 2006. $27.93 (978-0-7660-2449-6).

For the Romantic

Wild, funny, clever, or old (in the case of Eclipse’s Edward, really, really old)—however your teens like romance, one of these books is sure to make them sigh.

  1. Andronik, Catherine M. Wildly Romantic—The English Romantic Poets: The Mad, the Bad, and the Dangerous. Henry Holt, 2007. $16.95. (978-0-8050-7783-4).
  2. Doyle, Larry. I Love You, Beth Cooper. HarperCollins, 2007. $19.95. (978-0-061-23617-4).
  3. Flinn, Alex. Beastly. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.99. (978-0-06-087416-2).
  4. Klein, Lisa. Ophelia: A Novel. Bloosmbury, 2006. $16.95. (978-1-58234-801-8).
  5. Meyer, Stephenie. Eclipse. Little, Brown, 2007. $18.99. (978-0316160209)
  6. Sandell, Lisa Ann. Song of the Sparrow. Scholastic, 2007. $16.99. (978-0-439-91848-0).

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Remember, gift cards to bookstores and magazine subscriptions are also a great way to give your teens the gift of reading.

Want to buy any of these books for the teen in your life? Buy books at and support libraries and literacy - over 500 local libraries sell books through Better World Books, plus a portion of every sale directly supports literacy development in the US, and around the world.