I buy books for gifts. Christmas, birthday, shower. I don't care about the occasion. I don't care that the kid really wants the latest DS game. I'm okay with being that aunt who always gives you a book. After all, my aunt always gave me pajamas. Books are waaay better.
When I want a good book for my nieces or nephew, I ask Becky Levine, my writing partner. She's got a kid, but even better, she reads lots of young adult books herself. Usually this call takes place in a book store with lousy cell reception, so consider yourself lucky.
Becky blogs about writing, reading and life at www.beckylevine.com Next year, her book, The Critiquers Survival Guide will be out from Writer's Digest. She's written a kid's mystery that she is shopping around. She knows from where she speaks. Enjoy her wisdom.
When Terri asked me if I’d like to blog about good books to give to teens (or Young Adults as they’re called in the genre) for the holidays, I said, “Me? Talk about kids’ books? But I never do that.”
I wonder why she laughed. ☺
Terri mentioned YA books because she thinks, and I agree, that teens can be tricky to buy for. I write for kids and I review kids books, and I can tell you that tweens and teens are some of the pickiest readers out there. And now you’re saying, but what about those kids I see who never take their noses out of a book? And I’m saying, yes, they’re wonderful, but what you’re not seeing are the dozen other books a parent or teacher waved in front of their faces, to which they said a respectful, polite “No, thank you,” without even cracking the cover.
So, if you’ve got a reader who’s a teen or heading there, I offer you this list. I’ve gone for books that seemed to fly lower under the radar than others, so you do have a chance that they are, as yet, undiscovered delights. The age ranges are my best guestimates; reading ages are all over the spectrum.
·The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. Hilarious, sweet post-apocalypse novel with LOL dialog on every page. (10-14)
·Skulduggery Pleasant (and a sequel) by Derek Landry. A skeleton detective, magic, and projectile fire balls. What more could any kid want? (10-14)
·Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis. A Newbery Honor book which, frankly, can turn young readers off, but a wonderfully charming narrator, telling the fictional story of his life as the first child born into freedom in the town of Buxton, Canada. (10-14)
·Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, by David Lubar. Lubar is a prolific writer who delivers books for kids of all ages. This is one of his “older” books, with a slight edge of darkness surrounding Scott’s first year in highschool. Again, a wonderful, funny voice that keeps a bit of that darkness away. (12 to 16).
·The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson. Mystery, science fiction, and tight, breath-holding suspense. Suffering from amnesia after a car accident, Jenna has a battle on her hands—to dig out the secrets under which she and her life are now buried. (12-17)
·Lessons from a Dead Girl, by Jo Knowles. At one point, Leah and Laine were friends. Now Leah is dead, leaving Laine with a heavy load of feelings to sort through and resolve, if she can. This book touches on some very serious and tough issues, and you should know your reader well, or check with the parents, to wrap up this one. Brilliantly written, the story is a gift of reality and hope. (13, maybe 14, to 18).
Check these out. Hopefully, there’s someone on your list for whom you can find a perfect fit. And if not, remember, Agatha Christie has been the first taste of “grown-up” mysteries for many a teen. You’re never too young for Miss Marple at Christmas.