Best books for tweens
December 6, 2020 6:18 PM   Subscribe

I texted my niece and nephew today to ask what books they want for Christmas, and my 13-year-old nephew texted back “books are u serious”

I want to spend about $100 of my Christmas budget for them (13-year-old boy, 12-year-old girl, and 9-year-old boy) on books. Their mom is a middle school reading teacher and I know we can’t push reading too much, but I would also like to encourage it when I can. I’m also trying to buy from a local store.

The oldest boy is super into sports, especially basketball.

The middle girl read a ton of babysitters club books so I’m looking for a modern equivalent.

The youngest is not a super strong reader yet, but is very interested in famous artists and politicians.
posted by elvissa to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe graphic novels?

The oldest boy is super into sports, especially basketball.

Gene Yang's graphic novel Dragon Hoops is really good.

The middle girl read a ton of babysitters club books so I’m looking for a modern equivalent.

Always suggest Lumberjnes and the new one out this year Snapdragon.

The youngest is not a super strong reader yet, but is very interested in famous artists and politicians.

Maybe The Cartoon History of the United States
posted by jessamyn at 6:27 PM on December 6, 2020 [8 favorites]

Raina Telgemeier is a good choice for the 13 yr old. Guts, Smile, etc

oldest Boy-- Dragon Hoops

youngest boy, Dog Man
posted by aetg at 6:41 PM on December 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Maximum Ride series was a big hit with my kids when the oldest was 12. They started with the manga series and liked them so much they ended up reading all the novels too.

I second the idea of Raina Telgemeier for the 12-year old girl. My daughter also liked Nimona and Lumberjanes at that age. (These are all graphic novels.)

Killer Koalas from Outer Space by Andy Griffiths is the perfect book for a 9 year old who isn't a strong reader, probably even one who likes serious stuff like famous artists and politicians. But don't get it if you think his parents would have a problem with cartoons involving poop or people dying. (The deaths are all extremely silly and not disturbing, at least not to my kids.)
posted by Redstart at 7:15 PM on December 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Sports Illustrated for the boy that likes sports.

When my cousin was that age, he said SI was the only reason he read anything at all!
posted by icebourg at 8:40 PM on December 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

The Number Devil
The Phantom Tollbooth
posted by TDIpod at 9:01 PM on December 6, 2020

I am a school librarian. Teenage boys can be reluctant readers. If the 13 yo is already pushing back on getting books, you should tread lightly. You don't want your gift to feel like school work. One book that my boys would pick up all the time was the Guinness Book of World Records. I highly recommend it for teenagers. I also like the Sports Illustrated idea.

Some other books my high school boys liked that they read previously were Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Big Nate.

I worked in a high school, so I think my recommendations for girls might be a touch too mature.

For the youngest, you might want to browse your book stores' children's biography section. There are children's reading level biographies for many politicians, artists, and anything else you can imagine. I was really surprised by the breadth of biographies for children when I was ordering books.
posted by DEiBnL13 at 9:31 PM on December 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

This kid has told you no. Get him a book if you must, but also ask him what he really wants.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:36 PM on December 6, 2020 [16 favorites]

Calvin and Hobbes is an essential part of any book collection
posted by Jacen at 2:44 AM on December 7, 2020

He's 13. He's literate. Developmentally it is far more important that you support him in establishing his individuality and autonomy than it is to continue to insist on gifting a gift he's already said he doesn't want. If you insist on making this a reading gift, maybe consider Slam Magazine instead of SI?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:39 AM on December 7, 2020

I'm also getting them a lot of other things, just thought it would be nice to add some books from my local bookstore that is struggling this year.

Excited for all these ideas! Hadn't even thought of graphic novels or a magazine subscription!
posted by elvissa at 6:58 AM on December 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

I like that you want to support a local bookstore, so maybe a gift card for that store instead if the family members are nearby? That way the kids can pick their own books. or spend the money on yourself and let the kids determine what you buy (like I'm trying to decide on these books and I'll buy whatever the kids tell me). I have to co-sig here that at least for the 13 y-o, you are wasting your money. At 13, we've pretty much established our independent reading patterns and he's literally telling you he's not going to read.
posted by archimago at 8:02 AM on December 7, 2020

a tree grows in Brooklyn was my favorite when I was 12
posted by brujita at 2:36 PM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot for your 12 year old niece! I read them when I was her age and I still re-read them sometimes. There's almost a dozen of them and they'll scratch that Babysitter's Club itch.
posted by airplant at 8:03 PM on December 7, 2020

Just to recap - got my oldest nephew a Slam magazine subscription and he was jumping up and down excited. Went to Books of Wonder in NYC and bought 4 books each for the other 2 - all in series - told them any additional books in the series are on me if they like them.

The 9-year-old was especially excited about the Bad Guys series and read the first one on Christmas day!
posted by elvissa at 1:39 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

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