I started this yesterday, with my musings on the offerings of traditional publishing for teen boys. Middle grade readers (intended for roughly second through sixth grade children) have plenty of titles meant for boys to enjoy – not always starring a boy, but the sort of action and adventure tales that will attract them and keep them interested. But when you get into the young adult books, there is a paucity of material for the guys. I found this to be true when I was a librarian and responsible for the YA collection, and it’s still true now.
So I went to my friends and groups of readers and asked for suggestions. I knew I’d get floods of ‘Heinlein! Norton! ER Burroughs!’ and I did. The problem is that modern readers, and particularly kids that haven’t grown up in a household where reading the classics was emphasized, will have problems accessing those books without some preparation. The literary style has changed, language usage is different, and technology has advanced all out of proportion. Which is not to say that those books aren’t fully worthy of recommending to the modern youth. They are, and as a parent I mean to make them available and as appealing as possible to my kids. But I’ll address this more in tomorrow’s post on Classics.
Today, I am limiting the scope of this list to modern literary style novels. To loosely define modern, here, I’m sticking with books that were published after 1980 (a slightly arbitrary choice) which will likely be similar to the books the kids are familiar with from their school libraries. The books on the list may not have a male main character, because boys can engage perfectly well with a girl – provided the girl isn’t swanning around talking about shoes and boys all the time. My son has been happily reading princess stories where there is dragon training and adventures going on. One of the issues I’m having with the modern YA, as I referenced yesterday, is that the vast majority of it is romance-centric. I didn’t like that as a teen girl, so I suspect this list I’m putting together will be a good one for girls like me who craved intelligence and adventure in their reading, too.
This list is slanted toward younger teens, to suit my own kids. Personally, I was reading adult books at a very young age – I think I was into my Dad’s L’Amours when I was 7 or 8 – and any avid young reader is going to do the same thing, reading without much regard for ‘recommended age’. But for the purposes of this list, I’ve left out the recommended bridge books for a kid to read and enjoy adult books. I may do a list of those, but on the other hand, the MHI Group list would be just as good a jumping-off point for any avid reader, young or old.
I’ve sorted the list by how many votes each title (or author) got. Kid recommendations were awarded an extra vote. Books on school recommended reading lists were weighted with a negative vote – while they may be very good books, just the fact that kids must be required to read them makes me look askance at them. Personally as a kid, I hated to be told ‘you must read this’ and it’s part of the reason I loathe Hemingway with a flaming passion to this very day. You shouldn’t do that to your sixth-grader. As always, YMMV, and parents, do your research. My shibboleths won’t be yours.
|Title||Author||Vote||Publication Date||Notes||Amazon Link|
|Percy Jackson and the Olympians||Rick Riordan||10||2009||kid-recommended||http://amzn.to/22GAoaD|
|Ender’s Game||Orson Scott Card||6||1984||Science Fiction||http://amzn.to/1Ul4w59|
|Hatchet||Gary Paulsen||6||1987||Realistic fiction, Kid Recommended||http://amzn.to/1Ul3hTs|
|Star Kingdom Series||David Weber and Jane Lindskold||5||2013||Science Fiction||http://amzn.to/22GDL1a|
|Johnny Maxwell Trilogy||Terry Pratchett||5||2009||Science Fiction||http://amzn.to/22GEY8I|
|Heroes of Olympus||Rick Riordan||5||2012||Kid recommended||http://amzn.to/1PwyR4F|
|Song of the Lioness Quartet||Tamora Pierce||4||1983||fantasy||http://amzn.to/1RUzfnZ|
|Artemis Fowl||Eoin Colfer||4||2001||kid-recommended||http://amzn.to/22GC6J3|
|Holes||Louis Sachar||3||1999||Magical Realism||http://amzn.to/22GCHuh|
|Rot & Ruin||Jonathan Maberry||3||2010||Zombies||http://amzn.to/1Ul432R|
|The Maze Runner||James Dashner||3||Kid recommended||http://amzn.to/22GAM8Q|
|ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN||, Sherman Alexie.||2||2007||On school recommended reading lists||http://amzn.to/1PwznQd|
|Changeling’s Island||Dave Freer||2||2016||fantasy||http://amzn.to/1Ul2z8R|
|Dragon and Thief||Timothy Zahn||2||2004||Science Fiction||http://amzn.to/22GE0t8|
|The Thief of Always||Clive Barker||2||1993||Horror||http://amzn.to/1PwBYtd|
|The Dog who Wouldn’t Be||Farley Mowat||2||1984||Pet story – almost non-fiction||http://amzn.to/1XtVzgT|
|Family Law||Mackey Chandler||2||2012||Science Fiction||http://amzn.to/22GFAeD|
|Wildside||Steven Gould||2||2010||Alternate Universe||http://amzn.to/1XtXLVq|
|Epic, Saga||Conor Kostick||2||2008||kid-recommended||http://amzn.to/22GAtee|
|Janitors||Tyler Whitesides||2||2011||Kid recommended||http://amzn.to/1Y0Pk2k|
|I AM THE MESSENGER||, Marcus Zusak||1||2007||noir, older teens||http://amzn.to/1PwxO4O|
|Life As We Knew It||Susan Beth Pfeffer||1||2008||Dystopian||http://amzn.to/1UqBKzJ|
|Billion dollar boy||Charles Sheffield||1||1997||SF, updated Captains Courageous||http://amzn.to/1UC2LDe|
|Theodore Boone||John Grisham||1||2012||Lawyers fiction||http://amzn.to/22GCQ0J|
|The Lost Gate (Mither Mages)||Orson Scott Card||1||2011||Fantasy||http://amzn.to/1UC2dgJ|
|The Jedi Academy||Kevin Anderson||1||2011||Star Wars||http://amzn.to/22GDQBP|
|Struts and Frets||Jon Skovron||1||2011||Music and growing up||http://amzn.to/22GEY8H|
|The Last Thing I Remember||Andrew Klavan||1||2010||Mystery Thriller||http://amzn.to/1VFxkKF|
|The Screaming Staircase||Jonathan Stroud||1||2013||Fantasy||http://amzn.to/1VFzdXT|
|The Iron Trial||Holly Black and Cassandra Clare||1||2015||Fantasy||http://amzn.to/1UqIn5l|
|Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain||Richard Roberts||1||2014||Superheroic||http://amzn.to/1PwHLis|
|Infinity: Chronicles of Nick||Sherilyn Kenyon||1||2010||Vampires and Slayers||http://amzn.to/1PwHegp|
|Ranger’s Apprentice||John A Flanagan||1||2006||Fantasy||http://amzn.to/1Y0NmiE|