Recommendations for the Reluctant Pre-teen Reader

My cousin asked for some reading recommendations for her pre-teen daughter today.  It seems this girl child will pick up a comic book or a graphic novel but wants nothing to do with chapter books.  Oh, how I remember these days!  My boys did the same thing to me.  They hated reading and it about killed me.

I mean, seriously, I read ALL THE TIME.  I put one book down and have to go find my next read.  It's compulsive. 

So...being a reader that has given birth to non-readers is it's own special kind of sorrow.

I don't know that any of my recommendations will ignite a reading frenzy in my cousin's daughter, but I hope something in this list of books will appeal to her.

The Recommendations

First and foremost, when I think of pre-teen girls and reading, I think of Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

I read this book and others in the series to my younger sisters when they were just about my little cousin's age.  We adored these books.  Anne is funny and smart and quite unintentionally mischievous.

Added bonus:  When she finishes reading the book, rent the movie!


I think someone else has already recommended this, but she's pretty much the perfect age for the early Harry Potter books.  Things are still quite safe in the Wizarding World in the first three books.  After that, things do get a bit more grim, but not inappropriate.  Just darker.  The books mature right alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)


Another fun fantasy read would be the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. In his first book, The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson discovers he a demigod, the child of a god and human.  Spirited away to a secret camp where demigods train in a variety of useful skills, he discovers that his father is Poseidon.  The book is fun and fast-paced. It introduces a bunch of Greek mythology. 

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

I've yet to read the other mythology-based children's books Rick Riordan has written, but I imagine they are just as compelling.


I must admit, I've not read this book myself, but it is on my TBR.  I've seen the movie at least a good half-dozen times and expect I'll watch it a dozen more in my lifetime.

Added bonus:  There's a movie you can use as a reward for finishing the book!  And if she's already seen the movie, familiarity may make the reading experience faster and easier. 

The Princess Bride


This one might be pushing it in terms of grade level accessiblity.  However, I have a soft spot in my heart for the creatures of Redwall.  In this first book in a very long series, we are introduced to a variety of woodland creatures that call Redwall Abby home.  Led by a brave little mouse, these peace-loving creatures face off against a bilge rat and his horde of invaders.

Redwall (Redwall, #1)


Another childhood favorite of mine is Harriet the Spy.  Armed with her pencil and notebook, this girl writes down everything she observes and wonders about the people around her, including friends, family, and teachers alike.  When the notebook goes missing, it only stands to reason the very people she doesn't want reading the book will read it.  What a mess.  A mess Harriety is going to have to work very hard at cleaning up.

Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)


This one I would want mom to read first if she's never read it herself.  It's a growing up story that deals with one of life's great inconveniences for all of womanhood -- if you get my drift.  But, had I been blessed with a daughter, this would have been required reading.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

Booktube - Why I Don't Post Like I Want To

As a reader, there's really almost nothing I like more than encountering other people who enjoy one of my favorite pastimes just as much as a I do. So imagine my delight when I discovered the Booktube community on Youtube. I lurked for a long time. Mostly, I found a younger crowd that seemed intent on discussing mostly YA books. Few were the horror, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, or romance readers. Eventually, I did discover one or two people who seemed to read more widely.

 A few of my favorites (I've embedded their most recent videos because I don't know how to better showcase their channel):




There are several others that I follow, too, but to list them all would make this incredibly long.

It wasn't long before I felt the desire to join.  I wanted a channel of my own.  So, I set up my Youtube Account with a second profile and recorded my first couple of videos.  They are hideous.  I am nervous and blathering.  I was also using my iphone to record and lighting was a struggle.

Then I stopped recording.  Stopped uploading.

There are reasons, of course.  It's awkward talking to a camera.  And I was painfully aware that my videos were not nearly as visually appealing as they could have or should have been.  I don't have beautiful shelves filled with books.  My collection sits in the basement on top of what used to be my scrapbooking desk, a suspended wooden headboard with shelves in it, and on a small metal bookshelf. Did I mention these are in the basement next to the furnace, water heater, water softener, and well pump?  Oh, and let's not forget the spider webs and their lovely little denizens.  Cement walls, cement floor.

Now, take a look at the rooms those lovely ladies up above are sitting in.  What do you see in each of those videos?  Bright, cheerful decor that highlights their bookshelves or whimsical book-related decor?  Yeah, me, too.

Frankly, I started feel very self-conscious about my library that's not really a library.  My books are in a pile.  Sitting in front of my pile seemed...sad.

So, I stopped.

But I want to start again.  I just need to figure out how to set up a more attractive backdrop in a place where I won't be self-conscious talking to myself  when the hubby and kids are in the house.

Parker's Story: A Writing Update

I'm still plodding along on the rough draft of this story.  If I wrote more consistently - and without months long breaks - I imagine I'd be much further along than the 121 pages I've currently got saved to my hard drive.

Don't worry, it's backed up safely to the cloud. Thank you, Dropbox. 

The pacing seems to be about right.  The call to action came in the first chapter and Parker is motivated and proactive, which means she's not just reacting.  So that's good as I'm not overly fond of reluctant heroes or heroines.  I'm trying really hard to create a character I could continue to write about even after this story ends.  For this reason, I've tried making her a little more complex than previous characters.  Not quite an anti-hero but definitely not the most straight and narrow of characters, either.  I mean, she spent her childhood with a gang of kids, learning how to pick-pocket, burglarize homes and businesses, and hack into computers.  Even though her big brother got her out of that life and encouraged her to be a bit more respectable and socially acceptable, those early years are a permanent part of her psychological makeup. 

Of course, Parker doesn't exist in a vacuum and I don't want the characters surrounding her to be too simplistic, either.  For this reason, I've started writing first person narratives for the characters that will have an ongoing role in the story.  Giving them their own voice, letting them tell their stories and giving them an opportunity to spell out their goals has been helpful.  These journals - that's how I think of them - will never make it into Parker's story.  They're just a tool in the toolbox, a way to help them be more than one-dimensional place holders. 

For example, here's Sakiya's journal entry (she's the owner and pilot of the Chimera, the mercenary space ship Parker is joining).
I didn’t belong in the Nakano family dynasty, so I left it.

I fidgeted too much, I didn’t study enough, and I didn’t behave with the proper decorum expected of someone with my lineage.  I embarrassed my mother, the matriarch in our home and in our interstellar business, even when it was not my intention to do so. My passionate nature made it difficult for her to ignore me as she so easily did my older sister, Yulene, who was frustratingly perfect.

Yulene is only two years older than I am but her poise and sense of responsibility makes her seem more like a spinster aunt than a childhood playmate.

She won’t be a spinster for much longer though. I’ve been invited to the private family ceremony in the shrine my great-great-grandfather had had erected on Esmara upon his arrival to the moon where he would secure the future of the Nakano-Raithile Corporation. It will be a small, intimate gathering and I do not want to attend.

But how does one ignore an invitation to her only sibling’s wedding?

I blame my mother for putting me in such a deplorable conundrum. If not for her, I would be helping my sister plan her special day and getting to know my future brother-in-law as is proper. But I have been disowned.

I haven’t spoken to my mother since that day six years ago when she discovered I had liquidated my trust fund and bought the Chimera. Her shock had turned to outrage when I explained my intentions.  Our family was intellectual, scientists or academics of one kind or another. Discovering I had lied about my studies for the previous three years and had instead been learning how to pilot an intergalactic space craft had actually left the woman speechless for all of ten standard minutes. She made up for her silence over the next two hours as we waged our battles of will across the entirety of the residence. Her wicked tongue had chased me to my room and the suitcase I had not planned to pack for another seven months.

I moved onto the Chimera that night and lived there alone until my pilot’s license had been legally obtained. I ate alone.  I slept alone.  I studied alone.  

I will admit I had moments of uncertainty.  How did one go about hiring a crew?  How would we obtain work?  I knew how to fly the ship but I could not fix it if it broke.  I also needed people who knew how to protect whatever we were hired to transport.  In fact, when I first decided to go into business for myself and leave the dynasty to my sister and her future offspring, I had little more than a concept to work with and no true mentor to guide me.

I began researching various positions that I thought I would need to hire for my own vessel.  I looked at wanted ads and came to the conclusion that I could pay six people’s salaries for one year without the Chimera making any profit whatsoever that first twelve months.  If we were unsuccessful, I would reduce the crew by two people at the beginning of my next fiscal year.  After that, a profit had to be made.

I would not go back to my family with my pride in hand.

I placed an ad for private security with a vague outline of the job duties associated with the position. Alongside it ran an ad for an engineer, a computer scientist, and a co-pilot. I turned away several unqualified individuals, grateful I had arranged for the meetings to take place in a public place far from the only treasure I possessed at that time.

Sawyer was the first candidate that seemed both knowledgeable and harmless. I hired him on the spot and he came aboard that night. He has been with me ever since and plays a more vital role to my crew than even Anya, my co-pilot and lover, knows.  His instincts have yet to fail me. I sometimes wonder if he’s psychic, which is ridiculous.

Sawyer and I have worked with a number of others over the last few years, but I think we’re both in agreement now that we finally have the crew we want to keep together.  There is synergy among the seven of us. We work well together and trust each other as much as a group of mercenaries can. Not that we don’t have our differences from time to time. We do. As captain and owner of the vessel, it is my job to make sure these conflicts are resolved quickly and fairly.