Books That Inspire: Young Adult Edition

books that inspire teen edition

Summer is a great time of year to catch up on reading. Here at the Ad Council, our staff has read many books over the years that helped inspire us to get involved in the field of public service. As part of our recurring series called “Books that Inspire,” our summer interns put together a list of books that have motivated them to want to make the world a better place.

It wasn’t difficult to list favorite books from our teenage years. Addressing topics such as non-conformity, standing up for beliefs and pursuing dreams, these are sure to inspire positive thinking. Some of these we still keep on our desks to re-read and reignite our passion.

For an added inspiration: check out our “Book People Unite” PSA from the Ad Council’s reading campaign.

To Kill a Mockingbird (ages 14+)
By Harper Lee

This classic book tells the story of a family conflicted between their own morals and society’s beliefs. The father is a white attorney fighting to prove the innocence of a black man in the south circa 1930, while surrounded by a community filled with racism. The case is not decided in his favor, but the conclusion of the story pays tribute to those he tried to help. Among others, the largest lesson that this book teaches is about doing what is right even in an opposing crowd.

Stargirl (ages 14+)
By Jerry Spinelli

This is Camille’s favorite Jerry Spinelli novel and one of her favorite books of all time. She first read this book in seventh grade, and she still finds herself re-reading it as the years go by. The story focuses on the relationship between high schooler Leo and the new girl in town, Susan, who calls herself Stargirl. A message of nonconformity is clear in the novel, along with a call to accept diversity.

The Talk Funny Girl (ages 14+)
By Roland Merullo

Camille recently came across this book, and became a fan; in fact, she could not put it down. The novel tells the tale of a young girl named Marjorie who seeks to escape her isolated surroundings for a new world. Marjorie’s parents are so withdrawn from society that they have begun to lose their sense of speech and “talk funny.” Marjorie’s courage to stand up for what she believes in, even if it defies her community’s beliefs, is truly admirable.

Tuesdays with Morrie (ages 14+)
By Mitch Albom

This memoir tells of the weekly meetings between a wise professor and his former student, Mitch. Mitch made a promise at graduation to always stay in contact with his favorite professor, but he entered a fast-paced career and prioritized work, ignoring many of the things that once made him happy. Upon learning his professor is dying, Mitch visits him to complete one final project about life. Amid several inspirational messages, this story teaches readers to live as if it were their last day on earth, doing what they love. Alexis is currently re-reading this story and can truly say that her way of thinking has changed because of it.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (ages 14+)
By Stephen Chbosky

This novel is one of Alexis and Camille’s favorite books. It’s a must-read for any young adult. The Perks of Being a Wallflower tells the story of Charlie, an introverted and quiet high schooler, who discovers himself while struggling with his past in this coming-of-age novel. The book shares ideas of friendship and love, as well as promoting the value of reading and acceptance of others.

The Fault in Our Stars (ages 14+)
By John Green

This coming-of-age novel follows Hazel through her fight with cancer. The reader sees the protagonist learn to love and be loved while confronting the reality that her last days are near. This beautiful story gives insight into the real fortunes and misfortunes of many, reminding those fortunate enough to appreciate the life they have.

The Help (ages 16+)
By Kathryn Stockett

Camille was grateful to have this book put on her summer reading list in high school. The story focuses on three maids working in the American South during the 1960s, and the struggles and triumphs they endure together. This story discusses racism and discrimination, while also exploring love and friendship.

About the Authors


Alexis Giua is working at the Ad Council as a PR/Social Media summer intern. She is currently enrolled at Penn State University and is majoring in Public Relations and Spanish.


Camille Mola is the PR/Social Media intern at the Ad Council this summer, and is also a rising senior at Penn State University studying public relations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>