These two posts are far and away the most searched on my entire blog (and, given I’ve been blogging more 10+ years, that’s saying something). It tells me that people are desperately looking for books that will keep their early teenage boys interested in reading.
So my lists offer books that have been read and recommended by boys this age.
This time, I’m including books that have been read and enjoyed by my youngest son, Book Boy Jr, and you can read his reviews of several of them at bookboy.com.au by following the relevant links.
Section two offers a wide range of suggestions from the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community members who have readers this age. I asked them to nominate the best book that their 13- or 14-year-old boy had read recently, and have also included a few that my older son Book Boy (now 16) enjoyed when he was 14.
The last section offers recommendations of very new releases from Pauline at Riverbend Books. Booksellers see everything and have a good idea of what will appeal to young readers.
Click each book title to find out more about the book, or to buy it from Booktopia* or Riverbend Books.
Of course, boys this age are all very different. Book Boy Jr swings from re-reading Treehouse and Wimpy Kid novels for comfort, to throwing himself into deeper and more interesting reads. Some boys this age have already skipped over YA novels and developed an abiding love for Stephen King (Book Boy was one of these). Some are immersed in graphic novels, others adore non-fiction.
But this list, and the other two linked above, offers a great starting point. Think about your reader and what he is interested in and follow those interests. Don’t worry about what he should be reading, and look at what he likes to read.
Riverbend Books offers a Standing Orders service. Subscribe and they’ll send a pack of books every quarter. There are lots of different packs for different age groups, and each pack is carefully selected – and reasons given as to why each book is chosen. Find out more here.
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.
“Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it.”
Anne Lamott’s quote has always resonated with me for two reasons. One is that you don’t really know how to write a book until you get in there and write one.
The second is that sometimes you don’t even realise what you’ve written until you reach The End – and, even then, sometimes not until someone else tells you.
In the spotlight today is my good friend Allison Rushby, the author of many books for children, YA and adults, who can also relate to this quote.
Discovering what you’ve really written
When The Turnkey was released in 2017, I was overjoyed with the reviews it received – until one stopped me in my tracks.
The reviewer called The Turnkey “surreptitiously feminist” and I found myself reading her review over and over again, because it made me think A LOT about exactly what it was that I’d written.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the review in question was a lovely one (you can read it in its entirety here). In her review, one of the main points the reviewer makes is that, throughout the novel, Flossie remains in charge.
No older male steps in to tell her what to do, or how to save the day. Rather, she’s put in charge of large groups of men, including soldiers, and these men all happily report back to her as she works out how she’s going to save her cemetery and country.
At the time of reading this eye-opening review, I was finishing up the first draft of The Seven Keys (the second book in The Turnkey series, released this month with Walker Books Australia). I began to ask myself if what I was writing was also “surreptitiously feminist”…
I didn’t have to ponder this question long. There was nothing “surreptitious” about it. By the end of The Seven Keys, almost every key role in London’s twilight world is filled by a female character. The Seven Keys is just flat-out feminist.
When it comes to the portrayal of females in others’ work, I wasn’t surprised to find that a lot of the middle-grade fiction I connect with also has strong female protagonists. I do so love a good go-getting heroine. A girl who GSD (Gets Stuff Done) just like Flossie and her friends do in The Turnkey and The Seven Keys.
With this in mind, I came up with a list of some of my favourite GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) middle-grade/upper-middle-grade reads that I hope you and your little reader love as much as I do.
Ada’s fight for self-worth and a life to call her own is absolutely heartbreaking, as is her carer’s backstory of love and the loss of her partner. Together, these strong-willed characters manage to help each other strive for a happy ever after.
The star of the show is Ivan (a caged gorilla who lives in a shopping mall), but clear-eyed Julia, the custodian’s daughter, is underrated in this tale. Her actions and courage will stay with you for a long time.
Set in 1920s Poland and centred on a very religious Jewish family, this might seem a strange choice, but the historical setting and different way of life provides so much to discuss from a feminist perspective.
Ava is desperate to communicate with her family, but Rett Syndrome makes this impossible. That is, until some new people in her life allow this strong, driven character to finally show the world her true personality.
Jena must deny herself food and wrap her limbs in order to stay small so she can slip inside rock crevices and retrieve precious mica. It is only when she begins to question the inconsistencies in her world that she can be set free.
Mia’s immigrant parents are doing it tough and so is Mia, who tends the desk at the Calivista motel while they clean rooms. She might be small, but this tenacious heroine packs a lot of “I can do it!” action into one book.
Welcome to 2019! I hope you’ve had a fantastic and very restful holiday break.
I’ve spent a few weeks away from my blog and everything that goes with it, and I confess to feeling much refreshed by the virtual vacation.
But I’m back at my desk today and ready to do some serious editing (or, let’s face it, as ready as I ever am to face editing…)
While I was off at the beach, however, some exciting things have been happening.
My two Ateban Cipher novels, The Book Of Secrets and The Book of Answers, are now both available in the United States through Kane Miller, the fab people who have already brought The Mapmaker Chronicles series to US and Canadian readers.
The covers may be different but the epic adventure story, about the secrets of the mysterious coded manuscript known as The Ateban Cipher, remains the same.
I hope that US readers will take Gabe, Merry, Gwyn and the rest of the gang to their hearts in the way that Australian readers have done (you can read the Goodreads reviews here and here)! Thanks for all your support.
Today the very last of my 2018 book lists was published by Vanessa over at Style & Shenanigans, so it seems a very good time to collate them all in one place for easy reference (as much for me, as for you…)
So, here it is, the ultimate list of my recent book lists. Hundreds of books for readers aged from babies to teens.
If you’re looking for a new read for your kids for Christmas, for the holidays, or at any time of year, bookmark this page for easy reference. Click the post title to visit the full list.
If you’re after specific recommendations for a very particular kind of reader, why not join my Facebook community Your Kid’s Next Read, where you’ll find 5000+ parents, teachers, booksellers, librarians, bloggers and other interested parties all ready to help with recommendations? We’d love to see you there.
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
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
I am Malala (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
Image Credit: Mick Elliot
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.
*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.