Tweens have it rough! When it comes to searching for books, eleven or twelve-year-olds find themselves at the tail end of the 8-12 Juvenile Fiction category, but their reading comprehension and understanding of the world has grown exponentially since their 8th birthday. Plus, they often feel like the whole world is shining a spotlight on just how little they still are -so anything that makes them seem young becomes embarrassing. This can include everything from hugging their parents goodbye to walking into the juvenile fiction section of the library. But does that mean they’re ready to conquer the YA shelves? There’s not always an easy answer, but here are some tips and resources to help you decide what’s right for your growing kids.
- Read & Discuss Together. This is the obvious one, right? Even if your tween decides she or he is too old for a read-aloud, you can both read the same book. You’ll have the opportunity to talk about any issues that come up, as well as what you both really loved (or hated) about the story. Taking the time to read a book your child loves shows them that you care about their interests and feelings, even if it’s not what you would select for yourself. Think of it as a shared experience, which can bring you closer together! Did you know you can also borrow audiobooks on your phone or computer through Overdrive? Try one out while you’re prepping dinner or driving to sports practice!
- Consult lists.
- Web sites like Brightly offer reading lists for different age groups, including kids 9-12 and 13+. There are also special interest lists, like this one, for Harry Potter fans who are looking for their next great read: 10 Series to Read After Harry Potter.
- Sites geared toward teachers can also be a great starting point for you and your child. Try this list from We Are Teachers: Best Middle School Books
- Check out Goodreads. People make all kinds of bookish lists on Goodreads! For example, if you have a tween who is eager to read a little romance but you don’t want them reading anything too sexy, there’s a list for that. I tried typing in “Books for kids with romance but no sex” and this list popped up right away: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/no-sex-romance
- Consult media review sites. Unlike movies, books don’t come with ratings. And let’s be real…parents don’t have time to pre-read every book their child is interested in. Sites like Common Sense Media provide reviews of books and movies FOR parents and kids BY parents and kids, as well as curated lists for special interests. These reviews will give you the rundown on the presence of topics like drug/alcohol use, smoking, violence, sexy stuff, and mature language in popular books so you can decide what is appropriate for your child.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Knowing your child’s changing interests, emotions, and abilities can be a big job, but with a little time and effort, you can stay close through the changes and navigate them together. Sharing a great story can pave the way for meaningful conversations and relationship growth, even if you don’t always agree. For more ideas about staying close to your changing kids, check out this article from Child Mind: 10 Tips for Parenting Tweens.