I don’t remember there being "tweens" when I was growing up. In the olden days, before internet and the rampant fear of gluten, trains speed on through from childhood to teenagedom without stopping at tween depot. However, I am a fan of the tween period, loosely defined as the ages from ten to thirteen years old. Kids this age are don’t really fit in the same bracket as energetic preschoolers, but aren’t quite ready for driver’s licenses and late night parties. And, you may still be able to influence a tween’s reading choice, although it is important that kids choose their own books. Make a few suggestions and let your tween select from those. Here are some stellar authors to keep your older kid loving their books:
For Tween Readers
Favourite Books: Stargirl, Maniac Magee, Stargirl, The Library Card
Why his books are great: Spinelli is a great story teller, who deftly merges memorable characters and realistic exploits that keep the pages turning. This author is not afraid to touch on difficult situations a child can relate to, or may face themselves. Read these books along with your tween, giving you some great conversational fodder. With upwards of 25 books in his repertoire, Spinelli is bound to have a few stories that will resonate with your reader.
Favourite Books: the Percy Jackson series, 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones
Why his books are great: Riordan weaves sarcastic humour and likable characters into exciting adventure stories that may just teach the reader a thing or two. Riordan’s protagonists make mistakes, take missteps and learn about themselves along the way. The magic formula for these tales is thrusting a charismatic, modern day kid into the world of ancient gods, be they Greek, Norse or Egyptian. Chock full of information about these gods and bursting with award-winning storytelling, these books may be the perfect entertainment for your picky tween.
Favourite Books: Breadwinner Trilogy, No Ordinary Day
Why her books are great: Ellis is both a wonderfully skilled writer and an avid champion of the disenfranchised. She writes compelling tales of children who are in really tough situations around the world. Against a backdrop of war, poverty, incarceration or other hardships, Ellis’ characters find strength they didn’t know they had. These books build empathy and awareness in readers and may just make your tween decide to change the world.
Favourite Books: the Artemis Fowl series, Benny and Omar
Why his books are great: Colfer’s stories are clever, playful and comedic with enough depth to keep them riveting. The tales follow the antics of complex characters that are not strictly good or evil, but rather have intriguing dilemmas to face that test their mettle. Whether you decide the protagonists are heroes or anti-heroes, they will be sure to stay with you long after you put the books down.
For Teen Readers
Chances are you have less influence on your child’s choices at this stage - but don’t worry, you raised them right and your teen is out in the world doing you proud (even if they make a mistake or two along the way). Your almost-an-adult’s book choice may be highly influenced by friends and media trends, but perhaps you have a trend-setter who will set the pace for their social group. Either way, if you are looking for a great gift or a subtle suggestion for your teen’s literary pleasure, here are some stellar authors to get them talking.
Favourite Books: The Truth Commission, The Alice MacLeod trilogy
Why her books are great: Susan Juby does an excellent job of portraying teen thinking. She creates delightfully rich characters that resonate with her readers and places her characters into captivating stories. Also, Juby is funny - with a wry, honest, slightly twisted brand of humour that appeals to this age group (and beyond, if you plan to borrow these books when your teen is done).
Favourite Books: Eleanor and Park, Fangirl
Why her books are great: Rowell has a gift of understanding the intricacies and depth of personal relationships. Whether between sisters, friends, lovers or parent and child, these books paint a vivid, complex picture of human’s rapport and communication. Rowell writes sweet, poignant tales that resonate with her readers and have garnered her a devoted following.
Favourite Books: An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in Our Stars
Why his books are great: John Green is a clever guy who has a firm understanding of the modern day teen. Green has a series of entertaining video blogs, is active on twitter and other teen-approved forms of social media. He doesn’t shy away from strong, intelligent characters, many with unique abilities and interests - teens who love art, history, science and literature and who face real life challenges and dramas. His characters learn and grow along the way and firmly root themselves in their readers’ hearts and minds.
Favourite Books: The Eyre Affair series, The Dragonslayer series
Why his books are great: Sometimes a teen doesn’t want a teen protagonist. Many of Fforde’s books star adults, but are fresh enough, approachable enough and entertaining enough to keep your teen riveted. If your reader has their heart set on teen characters, check out the Dragonslayer series. Whatever series is chosen, expect witty tales that thrust protagonists into fascinating worlds - worlds of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, spectrums of colours and worlds of magic. Fantasy and humour are blended with a dash of detective stories and adventure to create a winning recipe.