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Booklist: Clean Reads for Early Teens

July 2nd, 2015 (07:50 am)

Current Mood: pleased
Current Song: Law & Order: Criminal Intent score music

Sophie at Pop Goes the Library requested good clean reads for a thirteen year old girl who had "little interest in clothes, makeup, and, to a lesser degree, boys." As my regular readers know, I live for questions such as these. Here is my response:

Sixth Grade Secrets by Louis Sachar
Define "Normal" by Julie Anne Peters
The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers
My So-Called Family by Courtney Sheinmel
Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
Tallahassee Higgins by Mary Downing Hahn
Drama by Raina Telgemeier (graphic novel)
Hershey Herself by Cecilia Galante
The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss
The Misfits by James Howe
Multiple titles from Scholastic's Candy Apple imprint
Multiple titles from Aladdin's MiX imprint

Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
White Fang by Jack London
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Lawson
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
A Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn
Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy
Various books by John Bellairs

The Steps by Rachel Cohn
- Sequel: Two Steps Forward by Rachel Cohn
See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Where I'd Like to Be by Frances O'Roark Dowell
The Face on the Milk Carton series by Caroline B. Cooney
A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin
The Maggie Valley Trilogy by Kerry Madden
Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent
Homecoming (and the rest of the Tillerman Cycle) by Cynthia Voigt
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
(NOTE: Homecoming and The Rules of Survival are much "heavier" that the other titles listed above.)

Snap by Alison McGhee
Tru Confessions by Janet Tashjian
Multiple Choice by Janet Tashjian
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

The Wedding Planner's Daughter series by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
- The Wedding Planner's Daughter
- The Cupid Chronicles
- Willa at Heart
- Forget-Me-Not
- Wish I Might
The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- Note: This is the first in a series of books which follows Alice through middle school and high school, along with prequels which take place in elementary school. Younger readers should stick to the first few books in the series and wait until they themselves are in the appropriate upper grades to read the older books in the series.
Shug by Jenny Han

The OutCast quartet by Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski
The Uglies books by Scott Westerfeld
The Midnighters trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
The Keys To The Kingdom series by Garth Nix

Since the customer's daughter is an athlete, I would also refer her to my booklist called Hey There, Sports Fan.

Sophie asked specifically about the book Ida B., so I wanted to recommend additional books of a similar nature:

So B. It by Sarah Weeks
With You and Without You by Ann M. Martin
Amalee by Dar Williams
- Sequel: Lights, Camera, Amalee
Pictures of Hollis Wood by Patricia Reilly Griff
Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown
Pieces of Georgia by Jennifer Bryant
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

Related Booklists:
Middle School Must-Haves
If Then for Middle School
Quick Reads and Short Stories
Suggested Sets
Tough Issues for Teens


Posted by: Deb (debalita)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 06:26 am (UTC)

I'm saving this list. My son is in middle school and it's always something on my mind as to what to suggest he read and what not. Thanks!!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC)

Hey Deb! Yay. :) Did you see the list I made for Jenah's son? Is your son a big reader, a reluctant reader, or somewhere inbetween? Tell me his favorite genre, hobbies, etc and I'll give you more titles!

Posted by: Deb (debalita)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)

He's somewhat a reluctant reader...I'm trying to spark his interest so he becomes an avid reader one day. I realize that it may or may not happen. His favorite genre is comedy and fantasy. He is really into video games and sports - football is his favorite right now.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 09:37 pm (UTC)

Books by Matt Christopher are always related to sports. At first, the books dealt with the "big" sports - baseball, basketball, football, soccer, etcetera - but over the decades, the Christopher empire has expanded, and in recent years, new titles have been added which include extreme sports and trendy hobbies - skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX/dirt bike racing, etcetera.

You can find a bunch of these books in juvenile fiction. They are pretty straightforward stories about playing in the big game, getting injured before playoffs, trying to make the team, and dealing with a coach who just happens to be your parent. They might be too easy for him, but they also could be just right to kickstart his reading habit.

Christopher also has non-fiction - sports biographies, naturally, with big names - that he might want to read for fun to learn about his favorite players. They also might come in handy for a biography assignment in the future.

Keep this author in mind: Chris Crutcher. Also mostly sports-based with school and family drama mixed in. These stories are in teen fiction and, due to aforementioned drama, they might be something you pre-read and determine how old he should be before reading them. They are very well-received by critics and kids alike. I found Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes to be both realistic and thought-provoking.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock was a hit last year with critics and kids. It tells the story of a girl named D.J. who has to pick up the slack on her family's farm when her father's injuries prevent him from doing the bulk of the work. Her two older brothers, now away at college, were big hometown football stars. She helped them train; now she is told that she has to help another guy train, and though she starts doing so reluctantly/as a favor to her father and the coach, she strikes up a friendship with him -- and realizes how much she herself enjoys the game. So much so that she decides to go out for the team when the school year starts back up again.

This totally harkens back to my article from earlier this week dealing with book covers. Why? Because Dairy Queen has a cover with a cow wearing a tiara - something your son may shrug off or may balk at* - while the sequel, due out later this year, has a MUCH more fitting cover, showing D.J. in basic running clothes.

*Gender bias is EVIL. I try to talk kids and adults alike out of saying, "Oh, that's a GIRL book," or, "Ewww! NOIdon'twannareadaBOYSTORY!" on a regular basis. I wish I had plain jackets to wrap around more books. At this point, Deb, I'm rambling and conducting experiments in my head, so just smile and nod - and let me know if you want any MORE recs! :)

Posted by: Deb (debalita)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)

Definitely will take any recs you have in mind. The suggestions so far sound right up his alley! I think I am going to look into Christopher because ironically he has a biography book report that he has to do here very soon! Thank you!!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)

You are welcome! I rambled so much that I'm posting it as a separate entry to edit later. Look for more sports titles.

OH, and get THE WESTING GAME, because it's a mystery with 16 amazing, memorable characters, some of which are high school boys, with one being a star athlete and runner.

Posted by: Deb (debalita)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)

Cool! Thanks again for all the suggestions!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC)

Also, if you can track them down at the library or a used bookstore, the books based on The Disney Channel TV series THE JERSEY.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 21st, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)

YAY! Sports booklist is DONE!

Posted by: mimagirl (mimagirl)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)

Thanks for this list! There's quite a few books here I haven't read, and I'll be sure to check them out now.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)

You are welcome. Tell me know which titles you enjoyed!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
Can I add another?

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede are fabulous and feature a princess who is not interested in clothes - or anything Princess-like - and runs away to live with dragons. There are four books in the series: Dealing with Dragons / Searching for Dragons / Calling on Dragons / Talking to Dragons


Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Can I add another?

I adore those! Yes, great suggestion. Thank you!

A recommendation in turn: The Runaway Princess by Kate Coombs.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 19th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Can I add another?

Thanks again. I've added them (albeit briefly) to the list of fantasy books for kids and teens, and I'll add summaries later.

I'm also working on a booklist specifically for funny fantasies, so stay tuned.

Posted by: capri pants. leather sandals. pregnancy. (37piecesflair)
Posted at: January 20th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)

Amandine is by Adele Griffin :)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 20th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)

Ack! Typo - I meant AMALEE. Thanks.

Posted by: Susan Taylor Brown (susanwrites)
Posted at: January 20th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)

Thank you for putting my book on your list!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 20th, 2007 03:15 am (UTC)

You are welcome!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 23rd, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
books for 6th - 8th graders

I manage the children's department of a large bookstore and am thrilled to have found you! Everyone has to do at least one book report a year on a mystery, and I am contstantly asked for suggestions since we don't have a separate mystery section. I have a series of my own suggestions, but would be thrilled to hear your ideas for 6th, 7th and 8th grade mysteries . . . particularly suggestions for the "reluctant reader". Thanks!!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 23rd, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

Hi anonymous soul! Thank you for the compliments. I appreciate the kind words! Let's get you started with the Sleuths and Spies booklist -


- and please remind me to post some more for you!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 23rd, 2007 09:03 pm (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

thanks! Many of the ones on the list are things I recommend - especially for younger kids. Another favorite is "Detectives in Togas" and the 'location' mysteries -- Mystery on the Iditerod Trail, Mystery at the White House, etc. However, I need more things to suggest for older kids -- things from the teen section. Things for the sophisticated, well read 6th grader and also things for the reluctant reader 8th grader. I really appreciate your help!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 23rd, 2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

You are welcome! Duly noted. You'll definitely want to give astute students (who aren't too squeamish) the BODY OF EVIDENCE series by Christopher Golden, as noted above. Expect additional suggestions in the coming days from the teen section.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 24th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

Mysteries from the teen section for advanced readers:

Body of Evidence series by Christopher Golden, as mentioned earlier - ten books, starting with Body Bags; forensic mysteries

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - a lovely hybrid of history, mystery, and the supernatural; the first in a trilogy - Rebel Angels is the second, and the third has yet to be released

The Creek by Jennifer L. Holm - excellent thriller, see review here:

Various books by Joan Lowery Nixon - some are realistic thrillers (The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore), basic mysteries and who-done-its (The Name of the Game was Murder) while others have a supernatural touch (The Seance)

Various books by Lois Duncan - a range like Nixon's (psychological thrillers: Daughters of Eve; murders and secrets: I Know What You Did Last Summer; supernatural: The Third Eye), but typically darker and more twisted than Nixon

More authors of horror/supernatural hybrids:
Kathryn Reiss - time travel and history; Paperquake, Dreadful Sorry, and more
Richie Tankersley Cusick - vampires, ghosts, etcetera; The Lifeguard, Overdue, and more
Diane Hoh - The Nightmare Hall series
Jude Watson - Premonitions series

More authors of realistic mysteries that combine family trauma and social commentary and are aimed towards middle school readers:
Margaret Peterson Haddix - Escape From Memory, Turnabout
Willo Davis Roberts - Hostage, Twisted Summer, The Kidnappers

Mysteries from the teen section which are straightforward yet engaging enough for reluctant readers:

Books by Caroline B. Cooney - She has many mainstream mysteries, such as Wanted and Twins, as well as a time travel series. She also wrote The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney, which can make for a different kind of mystery: it is the first of four books about Janie, a teenager who finds out her parents may not be who she thinks they are.

Early R.L. Stine novels - I'm referring to his horror novels of the late '80s/early '90s like Blind Date, Twisted, The Girlfriend, etcetera, as well as the Fear Street series - again, earlier titles in the series are better than later titles

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 25th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

thanks!! this is perfect . . . and I will be sharing it colleagues. I really appreciate your help and look forward to "surfing" over here on a regular basis!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 25th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

You are welcome! More details on this list:



Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 23rd, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

...and while I am at it . . . could you please explain what this site actually is? I stumbled upon it while researching the Newbery Award and Honor books. It looks like something that would be most helpful in my work to get the right books into the right hands!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 23rd, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

This is a blog run by a bookseller with a specialty in juvenile fiction and teen fiction.

The main page of the blog is:

The corresponding website may be accessed here:

I hope that helps!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 24th, 2007 01:14 am (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

so . . . do I "join" . . . or just check in from time to time? Do you post things regularly? Forgive me . . . I am new to this "blog" thing . . . but I am very interested in having suggestions and trading ideas about wonderful grade school and teen reads.

Are the participants just random people like myself who have happened upon this . . . or are you all friends or in the same business? Any further information about this site or blog, or whatever, and how to participate would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 24th, 2007 01:18 am (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

I do post regularly. If you don't have a LiveJournal, simply bookmark this blog and the related website. The blog and site were created to recommend and review books for all audiences, but the main emphasis is on children's literature, mostly contemporary teen fiction. I believe my blog is read by authors, teachers, librarians, parents, and family, as well as friends and other book reviewers.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: January 24th, 2007 01:43 am (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

wonderful! I am so happy to have found it and thrilled that I can post questions . . . thank you . . .and I will be back regularly!! I will be looking for your suggestions for the 6th - 8th graders looking for a good "book report" mystery. Thanks again!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 24th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

You are welcome.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 25th, 2007 03:35 pm (UTC)
Re: books for 6th - 8th graders

I have completed the booklist which you requested! You may find it here:


Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 9th, 2007 07:58 pm (UTC)

Thanks for mentioning my book THE GIRLS!
All best, Amy Goldman Koss

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 9th, 2007 08:16 pm (UTC)

Hello, Amy! I am immensely flattered that you stopped by my blog. Thank you so much.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 26th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)

Good call. I have her books on my Fairy Tales Retold booklist.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: January 17th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)

Hi there! Best wishes with your forthcoming release.

Posted by: SarahsBooks (sarahsbooks)
Posted at: December 11th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the shout-out, LW!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: December 11th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)

You are welcome! Well-deserved. :)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: September 1st, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)

You really have huge resources and have lots of followers giving positive feedbacks on it. This thing really encourage me to have a look of it :). Keep it up and more power.

From the Philippines,
ChooseYourOwnAdventureBooks.org for Kids, Adults and Teachers (http://www.ChooseYourOwnAdventureBooks.org)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: September 1st, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Hi...


Posted by: Christie Powell (Christie Powell)
Posted at: October 14th, 2015 12:10 am (UTC)

I just read (okay, and wrote) The Spectra Unearthed with this sort of thing in mind. My little sisters are all big readers and I wanted to make sure there were good, interesting books without obscene material for them to read.

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