A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.


Like many of you, I am sure, I spent my preteen years as a book worm squirreled away in my bedroom reading about upper middle class children and their high jinks at boarding school; strange behaviour for a daughter of working class parents in the late 70s.  Decent, age appropriate novels were hard to come by so I devoured Enid Blyton, Jack London and any other authors whose books came my way. There were no ‘teen’ books as such let alone ‘preteen’ so I quickly progressed onto inappropriate adult books, reading Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins alongside Austen and Bronte at school.  Sound familiar? I know I was not alone.


As a secondary English teacher and mother of a teenage son and nine year old daughter I have spent the last 15 years or so trying to source children’s fiction which both interests and educates.  It is still not easy to find, believe me. Since the late 70s (showing my age) There has been a renaissance in children’s literature with bestsellers such as Harry Potter and Twilight making multi millionairesof their authors but the industry has also become quite cynical with writers churning out sequel after formulaic sequel in order to strike whilst the iron is hot (shame on you Robert Muchamore). Many novels are terribly contrived with a wily eye on the Box Office and post-apocalyptic dystopias rule the day.

Having said all of that there has been an improvement of gargantuan proportions since the days of Mallory Towers and The Famous Five and what follows is my current contemporary teenage top ten all of which I have read myself being a bookaholic and parental control freak.


Blood Red Road by Moira Young (first of a trilogy similar to Hunger Games – female action hero + romance)

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (fabulous novel with the Maze hunger strike and the Irish troubles as the background – a novel which examines persecution because of difference)

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (one of my favourite teenage authors. First of a trilogy)

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve (again, part of a series – intelligent and beautifully written.  I read all of them and loved every minute as did my boy)

Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan (intriguing thriller)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (post-apocalyptic dystopian action)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (a harrowing novel about grief which left me bereft and sobbing but my son unmoved!  Only for the brave but memorable and haunting)

Dead Time by Anne Cassidy (crime thriller)

Wolf Blood by N.M.Browne (historical/ supernatural thriller)

Poison Heart by S.B.Hayes (thriller about identity and friendship)


Being aimed at teenagers most are about relationships and the maturity of those relationships does vary from book to book so I would recommend these great reads for year 9+, aged 13 – 14.

Coming up next time: great reads for pre-teens and the Amazing Book Awards.