The Harry Potter Series
If you’re a grown-up and still haven’t read the Harry Potter novels, ahhh! You don’t know what you’re missing. J.K. Rowling’s tale of the English boy wizard and his arch nemesis, the dark wizard Lord Voldemort, is nothing short of transcendental. As he grows into a confident teen, Harry struggles with the same issues all peers face: the pressure to fit in, anxiety and stress over grades and homework, and the power of friendship—albeit, with a side of wizardry thrown in for good measure. (And once you read the books, these Harry Potter jokes will make a lot more sense to you.)
His Dark Materials
This trio of coming-of-age fantasy novels by Philip Pullman begins with The Golden Compass, which many critics consider to be one of the finest pieces of young adult literature ever published. Adults will find this award-winning trilogy spellbinding as they follow the adventures of Lyra and Will, two children who travel through vibrant parallel universes that are at once similar to and quite different from our own. Even though it’s targeted at children, the series’ complex themes related to morality, identity, and fate versus free will entice readers of every age. These are the best short books you’ll ever read.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
This 1976 book by Mildred D. Taylor is a candid and compelling look at racism in the South during the Great Depression. As the second in a series of four books about the Logan family, this novel follows protagonist Cassie Logan, a 9-year-old girl and her family, as they struggle to keep their land while confronting varying degrees of racism from the white townspeople. As a narrator, Cassie is both brave and naïve; hence, adults can benefit from Cassie’s perspective on what it’s like to be a child living in a racially oppressed environment.