How we spend our time reflects what we love. What we believe to be important.

For many homeschooled high schoolers, this manifests as reading. You may very well have a student who can’t wait to finish all his or her responsibilities just for a chance to curl up with a book. But you also may have a student who isn’t a fan of reading. For those of us who love reading, we know the power a book can have in sucking us in and tugging at our hearts. And these stories can impact anyone, not just those who love to read. Maybe audiobooks would work better for your student, or just reading the book alongside your student. Because more than a source of entertainment, books can influence us. A novel can change our minds about something. Urge us to take action in some way. Show us ways to move past pain, even. That is something any student can glean from.

There are five books in particular whose three-hundred pages shaped me during my high school career, urging me to live a life for God. And I know that they definitely have the potential to inspire the life of your student, whether a reader or not.

  • Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris (nonfiction)

This book is an inspirational (and surprisingly relatable) call to a deeper faith. Not a call just to anyone, though: a call to teenagers. The authors wrote the book when they themselves were teens, and in it, they encourage young people to rise above the belief that teenagers can’t do things for God. Instead, the Harrises urge, we should chase after our Lord and not shy away from, well, doing hard things.

  • The Out of Time trilogy by Nadine Brandes (fiction)

For all the dark and hopeless dystopian series written for teens, this one impressed me by being gripping and fast-paced while also showing the value of a life lived for God. Throughout the series, the protagonist, Parvin, wrestles with a corrupt, futuristic government that has controlled people’s decisions based on how much time is left in their lives. The story is engaging and it unveils deep themes in an impactful way as the reader learns alongside the protagonist.

  • The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (fiction)

At first glance, this middle-grade series may not look all that impressive, but once I started in, I couldn’t stop. The author is a masterful storyteller who reveals an epic struggle between good and evil in a whimsical, poetic way. Following the Igiby family as they stand by each other and battle a seemingly insurmountable opponent is something that never grows old for me; I’ve reread the series at least three times. Although the book may seem kiddish at first, a high schooler will be surprised (and delighted) to find deep, relatable struggles and victories.

  • Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson (nonfiction)

Not many fiction authors can pull off nonfiction as well, but Peterson trumps them all by doing both and being a talented singer/songwriter. In this book, he gives a delightful, down-to-earth look at the joys and hardships of creating for God’s glory. No matter if a highschooler is a musician, writer, or even a gardener, this book outlines Peterson’s (and others’) experiences in creating things for God, including failures, wins, and principles. And with plenty of poetic prose and light-hearted anecdotes, you almost forget that you’re learning.

  • Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis (nonfiction)

All of Lewis’ books are goldmines in growing a believer’s faith, but this one contains the raw, honest testimony of how this great teacher was drawn to Christ in the first place. And all of it is centered around the mysterious, bittersweet longing that Lewis dubbs “joy.” I will admit, this one may be for older high school students, as it contains some more mature concepts and struggles. But journeying through the rougher parts of his story reveals just how much God was pursuing him through his life. On top of that, the reader comes away with an understanding of this joy, and how it draws the eye heavenward.