Aug 07

What are the best books for tweens graduating to grown-up books? Saying goodbye to authors we’ve lost. And rave recommendations for 12.21 by Dustin Thomason and The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.

They Grow Up So Fast

Ann’s ten-year-old daughter seems to have graduated from kid’s books to grown-up books. Which leaves Ann with a dilemma: how can she possibly keep up with reading and vetting all of the books her daughter wants to read. Luckily she has all of you! What books would you recommend for a ten-year-old who has already begun, and is loving The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and Terry Brooks’ Shannara books.  I also recommended Brooks’ Magic Kingdom of Landover series, but it seems that those won’t keep Ann’s voracious little reader busy for very long. So help her out by calling our voice-mail line at 209.867.7323 and leaving your suggestions of adult books that are safe for young eyes.

Reading In Tribute (6:12)

In the past week, the book world has lost Maeve Binchy, John Keegan and Gore Vidal. And recently, Nora Ephron and Ray Bradbury passed away. After Ray Bradbury’s death, I pulled The Martian Chronicles off the shelf and put it on my nightstand, and Ann has fond memories of reading Maeve Binchy, especially Circle of Friends. Why is it that we are drawn to the books of authors who have recently died? Ann and I think it’s a way of honoring them by reading the books they’ve left behind. Also, bookstores and libraries tend to display the books of authors who have passed away, (re)bringing them to the attention of readers.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (12:43)


I had so much fun reading 12.21 by Dustin Thomason! We all know the world is supposed to end on December 21 right? In this book, that Mayan prophecy and an outbreak of a new, virulent Prion disease in Los Angeles are possibly connected. It’s a page-turner in the vein of Michael Crichton and it’s the perfect book the lazy Summer weekends we have left.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller follows, Hig, a man who lost his pregnant wife in a world-wide pandemic that has left very few humans alive. Yes, it’s a postapocalyptic tale (and we all know Ann loves those!), but Peter Heller is a poet and a nature writer, which brings something completely different to this story.


  • Stan Hynds

    Ann is right as usual. Dog Stars is excellent.

  • Jgrames

    Ann, I was exactly like you as a kid–I shiver thinking of other 10-year-olds reading what I read when I was 10. Sff is a good genre bet–I LOVE the Inda series, by Sherwood Smith (young protagonists, zero sexual violence (which doesn’t exist in her world that she’s built), great adventures and real, thoughtful characters). But I’m going to send this out on Twitter and see if anyone else has any ideas. 

  • MDP

    The first few Hitchhiker’s Guide books are great, but later in the series they get significantly less kid-friendly.  I think that starts around book 4, but it’s been at least 15 years since I read them, so I’m not sure I remember correctly.  In my opinion, they also get a lot less interesting on the whole around then, so she might not want to read them anyway.

  • Mitchjillgreen


    How about The Hobbit for your daugher?  I loved it as a tween!

  • Shannon

    I was thinking of the Hobbit as well. Has she read the Anne of Green Gables series? (Life-changing. : ) You probably have seen this, but NPR just put out a list of the best 100 teen books — here’s the link:

    Maybe some ideas there? I will keep mulling. 

  • Shannon

    Ooh, ooh! Wait! The Princess Bride! 

  • Paula

    There is also something very charming about ‘I Capture the Castle.’ Although strictly speaking it’s not a fantasy — unless you fantasize about living in a ruinous castle…  It’s very much a coming-of-age story.  Deals with the confusion of boy-girl relationships some, but it stays relatively PG from what I remember.  And although the protagonist is accused of being ‘consciously naive,’ she’s really bright. The other characters are quirky and interesting, including a Jame Joyce-esque frustrated writer of a father, and a stepmother who likes to stand naked in the rain to be closer to the elements.

  • I saw Peter Heller at our local book store last Monday. He was amazing to listen to…and I am speechless about his book. I can’t put it down and I am walking around in a daze still living in the book. I will have it finished by tonight and it may be the best I’ve read this year. Powerful. Beautiful. Wow.

  • Anonymous

    I read Anne of Green Gables when I was like 12 or 13. I would say that the book/series is meant for more advanced readers, not due to content, but because its a long book (I think its around 300 pages) and she might need something more engaging. ChaptersIndigo (the equivalent to B&N in Canada) has a page of books picked by their teen editors that might be of interest to parents:

  • Hi Anne, your timing is impeccable!
    Just last week I went combing the Internet on this exact same quest for my 12
    year old daughter. Getting great recommendations for her is one of the reasons
    I listen to BOTNS. I love that you talk about what your children read. It was
    on your recommendation that I allowed her to read The Hunger Games and then dug
    into them myself. After that, it was a no-brainer to take a trip to the theater
    to see it together. What a moment. So, thank you!

    In answer to your question, I found
    a great website with a similar purpose as Common Sense Media. It’s called
    StorySnoops –
    The four moms that run the site seem to be keeping up with the latest books a
    bit better than CSM, it is written in a blog format, and
    does delineate content though in a different way. They use
    “content keywords” that narrow down the topic to better judge
    appropriateness. Check it out – it helped me greatly when a well-meaning
    neighbour gave my daughter an armload of leftover books from a Scholastic book
    sale that, upon research, turned out to be romance more appropriate for 16 year

    As far as specific books, I count
    myself lucky at the moment because my daughter adores cats and The Warrior
    Series of books by Erin Hunter. And whoever is actually writing them keeps
    pumping them out. Also, my daughter is involved with a club at school
    called Battle of the Books sponsored by our local library. Similar groups
    across the city read from a list of books each year, and there is tournament at
    the end of the school year where the schools go head to head answering trivia
    questions from that list of books. I mention it here and am leaving you the
    link because the list gives each book an appropriate grade level. Here it is:

    So between those two sources, she hasn’t needed much guiding in the
    adult section — yet. She has however enjoyed The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring
    (still working on the next two books), and – as a Star Wars fan – the Timothy
    Zahn trilogy which begins with Heir to the Empire.

    Hope this was helpful – it was too much for voicemail!

    • Kalanna, this is great, thank you!! I wish our daughters knew each other — it sounds like they have a lot in common!

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