Aside from ‘what to read after Harry Potter?’, the most frequent question that come up in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group is this one: ‘Can anyone suggest YA fiction suitable younger readers?’
While there is an entire ‘middle-grade’ (8-12) section of the bookshelf available, many younger readers (tweens), particularly advanced readers, want to move up. They want to read what older kids are reading and, often, they’ve read the library dry of the books deemed appropriate for their age group.
They’re hungry readers, and parents are often at a loss as to what to give them to read next – because, let’s face it, just because you can read a book, doesn’t necessarily mean that now is the best time to read it. It’s not just that YA fiction can feature themes and subject matter that’s just not suitable for tweens, but that books are best enjoyed when you’re ready for them.
Go in too early with a book that you love and your young reader may put it aside after a chapter or two, and never, ever pick it up again.
So, because I am the helpful sort, I have canvassed not only the YKNR group members (made up of nearly 4000 parents/booksellers/librarians/publishing professionals/teachers/grandparents/authors), but other interested parties (authors, booksellers, librarians) to come up with this list* of YA books that they would recommend for tween readers.
I’ve cheated a bit (not really but it sounds intriguing, right?) by splitting the list into two sections – what I would call Proper YA (aimed at readers 14+) and then a section that is Technically Middle-Grade But With A YA Feel. It might be that your younger tween is just looking for something in the latter category that feels more grown-up than what they’ve been reading. Proper YA has been divided into categories, but other than that there’s no particular order.
As with any book recommendation, you know your child best, so be sure to read the book’s description closely to make sure it will be suitable for your particular reader – as noted below, some series get darker as they progress, so look beyond book #1, and check with your local bookseller or librarian regarding any themes or storylines you may be wondering about!
Good luck – and do join us over in Your Kid’s Next Read if you have any questions about these or other books for your young readers!
YA BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
The Other Side Of Summer by Emily Gale “Had some mature themes but nothing inappropriate for the younger readers.” – YKNR Member
Geek Girl by Holly Smale
Spurt by Chris Miles
Shooting Stars by Brian Falkner
The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish
From The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi
Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Blueback by Tim Winton
The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham (Suggested by Una (12))
Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher
The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale
Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks
The Fall by Tristan Bancks
A little bit romantic
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Two Summers by Aimee Friedman. “A really good book that provides a gentle intro to this theme.” – YKNR Member
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Unrequited by Emma Grey
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (series)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (series)
The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (series)
Obernewtyn by Isabelle Carmody (series)
Tiffany Aching by Terry Pratchett (series)
Arkanae by Lynette Noni (series) “Recommended for tweens/teens done with Harry Potter. The themes get darker as it progresses but not too much that they cause problems. It’s not overly romantic and has a great focus on adventure and friendship.” – YKNR member (Kid review)
Contagion by Teri Terry “I’ve read the first book in the series. I loved her ‘Slated’ series too but it got darker by the third book.” – YKNR member
Pandora Jones by Barry Jonsberg
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
Little bit scary
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
The Other Side Of Truth by Beverley Naidoo
Salt To The Sea by Ruta Septys “Perfect intro to World War Two – historical fiction without language or storylines that are too advanced.” – YKNR member
Once series by Morris Gleitzman. ‘It’s in hot demand with the Year 6s at my primary school library – girls and the boys.” – YKNR member
Technically middle-grade but might be just what your YA-seeking tween is looking for
The Secrets We Share by Nova Weetman “The sequel to Nova Weetman’s brilliant The Secrets We Keep – Clem starts high school in this book.” – YKNR Member
My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg
Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur
Quincy Jordan by Jen Storer
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson
Dizzy by Cathy Cassidy
Stay Well Soon by Penny Tangey
The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter
Survival Strategies Of The Almost Brave by Jen White
Drama by Reina Telegemeier
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes “Deals with a first realised crush that doesn’t turn out the way she hopes.” – YKNR Member
Parvana by Deborah Ellis
A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay
The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon “The next level up for Lemony Snicket fans.” – YKNR member
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
The Timeslip series by Belinda Murrell
Pennies For Hitler by Jackie French “Really opens up tricky themes in sensitive ways.” – YKNR member
The Family With Two Front Doors by Anna Ciddor “There’s lots to talk/think about from an historic and a feminist perspective.” – YKNR member
A Night Divided by Jennifer A Nielsen
Nevermoor (The Trials Of Morrigan Crow) by Jessica Townsend
The Girl Who Brought Mischief by Katrina Nannestad
Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai
I am Malala (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
Are you new here? Welcome! If your middle-grade reader loves epic adventure stories, be sure to check out my two series: The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher – click the title links to find out more.
Tweens who like mystery stories will love my brand new series, the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. Check out book #1 THE FIRE STAR here.
Other booklists you might also find useful:
*As with all my book lists, if you click on the title it will take you to online bookstore Booktopia, where you can read the blurb and purchase the book if you like the sound of it (disclosure: this will result in a small commission to me at no extra charge to you). International visitors will find most of these titles in either paperback or ebook form on Amazon. Australian authors are denoted with a •
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here), which is perfect for girls 10-14.