Independence Day. The day America truly became a country of its own. Also a film of dubious quality, but let's not talk about that. Today, we celebrate the most popular works of literature by American authors. So, without further ado, here are the . . .

Top 10 American Lit books for 2014

10 – The Outsiders

A story about social classes, friendship, and family, The Outsiders gets at some serious issues. It also captures that certain sense of confusion teenagers feel as the world around them changes.

Lexile measure: 750
Suggested for 6th – 9th grades

9 – The Crucible

Written in the shadow of McCarthyism, Arthur Miller's 1953 drama is an allegory warning against the dangers of "witch hunts" — both literal and figurative. The Crucible must be studied alongside the history of McCarthyism, the "Red Scare," and the House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities. 

Lexile measure: 1320
Suggested for 10th – 12th grades

8 – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Where ​The Adventures of Tom Sawyer​ was a fun, funny story that poked a little fun at certain aspects of American life, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn​ is a much deeper text. Mark Twain takes on racism by giving us an unforgettable narrator in Huck Finn. Frequently challenged for its language and subject matter, this book is nevertheless an essential read for any high school student.

Lexile measure: 980
Suggested for 9th – 12th grades

7 – The Scarlet Letter

A powerful meditation on the effects of guilt and shame, The Scarlet Letter is driven almost exclusively by its characters' complex psychologies. Modern students will likely scoff at the Puritans' outmoded ideas about right and wrong, which is part of what Hawthorne intended. Modern students may also have a bit of trouble with the 19th-century language, one reason why the Lexile measure is so high.

Lexile Measure: 1340
Suggested for 10th – 12th grades

6 – The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried​ has become quite popular over the last decade, and it's easy to see why: its musings on the "truth" of stories mark it as an intriguing work of metafiction, one that reveals more depth the more you study it. A document of the Vietnam War, this book should be required reading for all students.

Lexile Measure: 880
Suggested for 9th – 12th grades

5 – Into the Wild

Christopher McCandless decided one day to leave modern society behind and fend for himself in the wilderness. This is his story, told by Jon Krakauer. One of the most popular nonfiction texts in recent years, Into the Wild will not disappoint students looking for an interesting read.

Lexile measure: 1270
Suggested for 11th – 12th grades

4 – Fahrenheit 451

What happens when a society decides they no longer have a use for the written word? Fahrenheit 451 is Ray Bradbury's exploration of this idea. Set in a dystopian future when firemen burn books, this book explores the virtues of critical thinking versus merely doing what you're told. Much like The CrucibleFahrenheit 451 was written during the McCarthy era (in the same year of 1953, even) and reflects some of the same anxiety about government authority.

Lexile measure: 890
Suggested for 8th – 10th grades

3 – Of Mice and Men

The Great Depression crushed the American Dream for many. Of Mice and Men​ is the story of two friends still searching for happiness and a farm of their own. Steinbeck tackles issues like racism and sexism in a Naturalist style, and this short work is both an easy read and one that supports deep literary analysis.

Lexile measure: 630
Suggested for 6th – 10th grades

2 – To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is our #2 work of American literature for a reason: it's a deeply moral text, with characters who represent the best and worst America has to offer. Atticus Finch is one of the great heroes of American literature, and Scout Finch is a narrator in the tradition of Huck Finn — young, a little naive, and endlessly charming.

1 – The Great Gatsby

And here it is, our #1. The Great Gatsby is taught more frequently in American high schools than any other work of American literature. Fitzgerald's classic captured the zeitgeist of 1920s America and all its excesses with some of the most luminous writing by any author, American or otherwise. Necessary reading.

Lexile measure: 1070
Suggested for 9th – 12th grades