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!

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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)

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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.


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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


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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)

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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)


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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