Let me start by saying that I don't read YA fiction. (Save the Harry Potter series that I read when I was a YA.) So, this list are my top ten choices from the literary cannon that I believe are important to read before you graduate from high school.
1. Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945): An allegory, a dystopian and a critique of socialist regimes. It doesn't get much better than that.
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925): The great American novel. Enough said.
3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884): I didn't read this one until college and I wished I had read it sooner. Despite the controversy earlier this year, it actually seeks to purge racial prejudice.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960): One of the best classics that emphasizes racial and social tolerance.
5. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987): This book is heartbreaking, but as far as Toni Morrison goes, this is her best one yet. It explores what it means to be a slave and what how far one will go to escape it.
6. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958): I read this one in high school, and have reread it since. There is a lot to learn from it and offers a unique viewpoint: an African detailing the colonization of his homeland.
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813): I'm not the biggest Austen fan, but I do think her work is important and this is the best one to start with (although, not my favorite).
8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954): This one examines some relevant subjects for children to understand, or at least think about: consequences of war, man vs. nature and the implications of rules in civilization.
9. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (1997-2007): I started this series when I was 12 and thought they were fantastic. I think every kid should read them while they are still a kid. (Even though they are good for adults as well, I think it's best to read them for the first time as a child.)
10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1969): A heavy coming of age story for a kid, but this one suggests that strength in character can help you through anything.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.