The 8 Best Inspirational Books for Teens of 2022

“Shoot Your Shot” offers uplifting and motivating wisdom to teens

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By the time kids become teenagers, they’re often experiencing a wide range of emotions and are starting to think about their future (like what the rest of their life might look like). Books are excellent resources to help them navigate these thoughts and feelings, and the more inspiring they are, the more hope they offer. Since every kid is different, the best inspirational books for teens vary widely. 

Reviewed & Approved

One of the best inspirational books for teens, “Shoot Your Shot: A Sport-Inspired Guide to Living Your Best Life,” shares wisdom and life lessons learned by star basketball players. For an important reminder of their self-worth, we recommend “Just As You Are: A Teen’s Guide to Self-Acceptance and Lasting Self-Esteem.”

When reviewing inspirational books for teens, we considered areas of interest, subject matter, and age level. Books that incorporate a teen’s personal interests into the narrative are more likely to hold their attention. When deciding on the subject matter, think about the teen you’re shopping for. Some kids enjoy focusing on a topic they care about, while others may be interested in engaging with a journal or workbook. Finally, it’s important to consider the age of the teen. There is a huge difference in maturity between the kids in the early teenage years and those nearing adulthood. We reviewed popular books from revered authors and experts with all of this in mind.

Based on our reviews, these are the best inspirational books for teens available.

Best Overall: Shoot Your Shot: A Sport-Inspired Guide To Living Your Best Life

Shoot Your Shot: A Sport-Inspired Guide To Living Your Best Life

Source: Vernon Brundage Jr

What do buyers say? 93% of 1,800+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

For a book that is especially inspiring for teens—particularly those with an interest in sports—this is one of the best. It’s written in the context of basketball, and is divided into “quarters” similar to a basketball game.

Throughout the book, readers learn some of the life lessons gained and practiced by some of the greatest athletes of all time, including Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. “Shoot Your Shot” aims to embolden readers to find success in anything they do in life, whether it's athletics, academics, the arts, or something in between.

Best for Self-Esteem: "Just as You Are: A Teen’s Guide to Self-Acceptance and Lasting Self-Esteem"

Just As You Are: A Teen’s Guide to Self-Acceptance and Lasting Self-Esteem

Source: Michelle Skeen

Building high self-esteem is something that is incredibly difficult for a lot of teenagers, and this book is written to help navigate the topic. The tone throughout is inspiring, encouraging readers to value themselves, stop comparing themselves to others, and silence the nagging, critical voices in their heads. It’s written by a clinical psychologist and teaches self-awareness, self-compassion, and helps readers develop their own plans of action to stay positive as they move forward in the future.

Best for Positive Habits: "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens"

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

The adult version of this book has seen incredible success over the years, so it’s no wonder a teen edition was written. It’s meant to serve as a “road map” for teens, teaching them what they need to do to find success in all aspects of their lives. And, let's face it: As teens become adults, it doesn't hurt to have a little extra guidance.

Some of the habits included in the book include being proactive, prioritization, and practicing understanding. The book highlights some of the more important things in life, like relationships and staying hopeful when things get tough. It’s the kind of book that’s encouraging in so many different situations and can be read over and over again.

Best for Body Positivity: "The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless"

The Body Image Book for Girls: Love yourself and Grow Up Fearless

Courtesy of Charlotte Markey

Body positivity can be extremely difficult to achieve, especially during the teenage years. This book is written for kids between 9 and 15 years old and is authored by a psychologist and body image expert.

It provides words of wisdom and encouragement as well as hard facts on topics including mental health, self-care, diet culture, and the effects of social media on body image. Additionally, it includes real-life stories from girls who’ve struggled with their body images as well as tips for maintaining both their physical and mental health since they have such a strong link.

Best for Activism: This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work

This Book Is Anti-Racist

Courtesy of Amazon

From the outside, it might seem like every young person is empowered and ready to fight for what’s right, but knowing how to be an ally and activist isn’t necessarily instinctive. This book educates readers on how they can impact the fight against racism, including what it’s looked like throughout history, as well as some examples of how it may appear today.

It also provides insight into what to do and say when they see injustice and explains how even a small act can make a big impact. Teens will really benefit from this book, whether they’re brand new to allyship and activism or they’re ready to learn how to become more meaningfully involved in the fight.

Best Workbook: "The Ultimate Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens"

The Ultimate Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens

Courtesy of Amazon

While an inspiring book about self-esteem is fantastic, so is a workbook that asks teenagers to really engage with what they’re reading and think critically about what it means for them. This workbook has more than 50 exercises throughout such as journaling prompts, checklists, personality quizzes, and goal setting activities. Readers will also find real-life stories from other teens and general words of encouragement and tips to help them put their self-esteem work into actual practice to start feeling more confident and assured.

Best for Journaling: The Mindfulness Journal for Teens: Prompts and Practices to Help You Stay Cool, Calm, and Present

The Mindfulness Journal for Teens: Prompts and Practices to Help You Stay Cool, Calm, and Present

Source: Jennie Marie Battistin

Two things that are useful for anyone, whether they are kids, teens, or adults are regular journaling and practicing mindfulness. This book brings them together. It’s full of different journaling prompts that require teens to be present in the moment, as well as tips for practicing age-appropriate mindfulness even when they’re not journaling. Teens will also learn ways to be mindful in everyday situations, like when they are eating or even walking between classes, and the book is filled with inspirational quotes meant to encourage strength throughout the day.

Best Self-Help: A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens: Daily Motivation to Beat Stress, Inspire Happiness, and Achieve Your Goals

A Year of Positive Thinking for Teens: Daily Motivation to Beat Stress, Inspire Happiness, and Achieve Your Goals

Courtesy of Katie Hurley

As an adult, it’s sometimes difficult to remember just how hard life can feel during the teen years, but it’s very real. This self-help book is written for teenagers, and it not only acknowledges how tough this season of life sometimes is, but it also provides daily doses of motivation and inspiration to fill an entire year. It’s designed to help teens create a more positive mindset, reduce stress and anxiety, and work through some of the difficulties they face, whether it’s navigating friendships, struggling with social media, or staying focused and motivated.

Final Verdict

"Shoot Your Shot: A Sport-Inspired Guide to Living Your Best Life" (view on Amazon) ranks highest on our list because of its broad subject matter—inspiring success in any area of life. The book is especially great for teens with an interest in basketball but is written to appeal to everyone, even if they aren’t fans of the sport. 

What to Look for in Inspirational Books for Teens

Interests

Even though they will continue to evolve, teenagers, whether they are 13 or 18, have well-defined interests, and if you want them to actually pick up a book to read in their spare time then it needs to play into what they actually like. "Shoot Your Shot: A Sport-Inspired Guide to Living Your Best Life" (view on Amazon), even though it’s written to embolden any reader, may not appeal to a teen who has no interest in sports or any knowledge of the athletes whose stories are featured. 

When looking for the right inspirational book for your teen, think about what it is they like. Are they really into style and fashion? Maybe a book about careers in the clothing industry or a memoir by a fashion designer would appeal to them. Or, if they have shown a deep interest in mental health, perhaps there’s a self-help book that teaches self-awareness in an inspirational way. Whatever it is they’re into, try to find a book that incorporates their interests into the narrative. 

Subject

Choosing a book with an appropriate subject is also essential. For example, a teen who has mastered the art of self-confidence may not get much out of a self-esteem workbook. And a book about exploring career options may not be very useful to a seventh-grader who isn’t really focused on the future yet.

Of course, not every inspirational book has a specific subject matter. Some of them are just meant to be generally inspiring. Think about the teen you’re shopping for and consider whether they would benefit more from a broadly inspirational book or one with a defined focus. 

Age Level

There is a significant difference in maturity level between a 13-year-old in middle school and an 18-year-old senior in high school. Finding an age-appropriate book is extremely important for teenagers, and it’s a difficult line to balance, particularly for younger teens who tend to think they’re older than they actually are. 

Some topics simply make more sense for certain age ranges (such as puberty versus transitioning into adulthood). For subjects that are harder to decipher, look at the book’s reviews to see if anyone has commented on the content or brought up an age-range suggestion. If not, find out if there’s an option to review the table of contents or even the first few pages of the book to help you get a sense of whether or not it's appropriate for your teen.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you motivate teens?

    Teens are motivated when they feel good. Avoid placing pressure to succeed onto your teen and focus instead on encouragement. Reward your teen's successes. Creating positive experiences will increase your teen's dopamine levels, which will in turn motivate them to put their full effort into their endeavors.

  • How to do you help your teen discover their passion?

    When teenagers have control over the activities they participate in, they are more likely to find their passions. Consider requiring your teen to choose a certain number of extracurriculars to be involved in, while allowing them to choose which ones. This ensures that they are exposed to a wide variety of activities while empowering them to follow their own interests.

  • How do you build self-esteem in your teen?

    To build self-esteem in teenagers, praise them for the process rather than the product. Instead of focusing on their grades or how well they performed in sports, point out how hard they studied or how much time they spent practicing the piano. This encourages teenagers to value their efforts and it helps them see themselves as capable.

  • How do you help your teen set goals?

    Teens can benefit tremendously from goal-setting. Help teens visualize their goals and write them down in precise language. Then, guide them to break down their goals into bite-sized chunks. Celebrate with them as they meet their short and long-term goals.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. She has personal experience in researching and purchasing a variety of children’s products and key considerations she used when selecting these recommendations include design, age appropriateness, and user reviews.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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