15 Popular Books for Teens and College Students (2021)

Buying a book for a friend or family member is a thoughtful gift, especially when you can find one that matches their interests, reading preferences or life stage. These books have been the most popular ones that our Grown and Flown readers have been buying for their teens and college students this year.

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The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse

With gorgeous illustrations, this slender book about home and friendship has been an international bestseller.

The boy, mole, fox and horse

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World

Admiral William H, McRaven, former Navy Seal commander and former chancellor of the University of Texas at Austin, gave this commencement speech that was so popular, he was invited to publish it as a book. Words of encouragement that begin with the simple act of making your bed.

Make your bed

Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening

We LOVE this book by Becky Blades who not only wrote this advice to her two daughters but also illustrated it. This is perfect for any adulting teen or off to college young woman.

Napkin Finance: Build Your Wealth in 30 Seconds or Less

Financial literacy is so important for our teens to master. Author and Harvard MBA Tina Hay discovered a way to make these concepts easy to learn. This book has gotten excellent reviews.

Napkin Finance

The Naked Roommate

Author Harlan Cohen has written the most popular off-to-college guide that is now in it’s 7th edition. He has covered many topics that would be of interest to both guys and girls – it’s an excellent Christmas (or early grad) for your high school senior.

Naked roommate

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You

Lin-Manuel Miranda gathered his inspirational tweets into these “little pep talks”…he is a genius, need we say more?

One Question a Day: A Five-Year Journal: A Personal Time Capsule of Questions and Answers

What better year than 2020 to begin a personal time capsule. Our teens are living through something that none of us will ever forget. To have a written document of their thoughts and feelings will be an amazing document of today and every day for the next five years.

one question a day journal

Pocket Flyers Paper Airplane Book: 69 Mini Planes to Fold and Fly

Flying paper airplanes will be much more fun when your teen has 69 mini-planes to fold and fly.

pocket flyers

Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter And How To Make The Most Of Them Now

Dr. Meg Jay has written a book that is perfect for college students. She inspired us in her Ted talk about how consequential this decade is for young adults. They may be surprised at what she suggests.

Defining Decade book

The Last Lecture

The late Dr. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon where they teachers have a tradition of delivering “last lectures” at the end of terms. This one was truly his last as he has discovered that he had terminal cancer. At only xx when he died, this is message of what truly matters in life.

Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness

Author and MacArthur Fellow recipient, George Sanders, delivered this graduation speech at Syracuse University. His uplifting message has become a bestseller.

How to Be a Person: 65 Hugely Useful, Super-Important Skills to Learn before You’re Grown Up

Catherine Newman wrote this guide to life that is excellent for tweens or younger teens.

Letters for a Year of Gratitude: Write Now. Keep in Touch Always.

We all want our teens to be grateful and to express that to all of the people in their lives who help them along the way. Here are 52 letters they can use as guides to give structure to doing just that.

The Freshman Survival Guide: Soulful Advice for Studying, Socializing, and Everything In Between

Advice for freshman year of college.

How to Cook Everything―Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Simple Recipes for Great Food

We know that many of our teens, college students and young adults would prefer to cook from an online recipe while looking at their phones. However, it never hurts to have an actual cook book that can be their go to for favorite recipes. Twentieth edition.

Grown & Flown Book

While you’re book-shopping, why not order a copy of the Grown and Flown book for yourself, or a friend who has a tween or teen. Filled with expert advice and some of the best parenting writing we have ever read, we hope you would find it helpful on your parenting journey.

Grown and Flown paperback

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Favorite Board Games for Teens and College Students

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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