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Advanced Pre-Teen Readers #1: Help and ideas for your voracious reader

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This is the first in a series of blog posts by Emma focussing on Advanced Pre-Teen Readers (APTRs).

Feel like your child has outgrown the children's section, but is not ready to move on to teen and young adult themes? Welcome! This is the first in a series of blog posts focussing on books for advanced pre-teen readers (APTRs). We’ll look at a number of options for child-friendly ‘advanced’ books.

Some kids are happy to read Geronimo Stilton and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books well into their teens, and that’s great. All reading should be encouraged, even if adults sometimes fear the child might be stagnating. People will naturally move on to the next level of their reading when they’re ready, and the only thing that will stop that is a negative experience – usually being pushed to try something new before they’re ready for it. However, parents and teachers of children at the other end of the spectrum face a different struggle. Voracious young readers are wonderful creatures, but keeping them stocked with suitable books can be difficult. As soon as you’ve researched the next suitable series, they’ve devoured the lot. The aim is to keep them engaged with challenging and exciting books without giving them reading material above their maturity level. Eight and nine year olds may be capable of reading the entire Harry Potter series, but very few are socially or emotionally ready for the violence and death in the later books. 11 and 12 year olds might feel there’s nothing left for them in the children’s section, but the YA shelves can be a tough place to find books that don’t contain intense romantic and sexual relationships, or drug and alcohol references. These books are great for teens who crave seeing their own lives reflected on the pages, and to help make sense of their world, but for younger readers and their caregivers, it can be confronting.

Fortunately, there is plenty of help and advice out there. We’ve collated some resources here to make it easier.

Our librarians, of course, are an excellent resource. We are all lifelong readers and can give recommendations based on our personal knowledge and ongoing professional development.

On Tuesday afternoons, Radio New Zealand’s Jesse Mulligan interviews book critics. Listen out for when he talks with Catherine Ross, a mum and school librarian. You can listen to past episodes on the RNZ website.

If you’re a podcast listener, try these out:

  • Down the Rabbit Hole. Everything children’s books, from picture books to YA.
  • Remember Reading. Focuses on a different children’s classic each episode.
  • Curious City. No longer recording, but there’s a good backlog to listen to. Often reviewed a collection of books for young readers on the same topic.
  • Books Between. Focused on books for 8-12 year olds.
  • What Should I read Next? Interviews someone new about their reading habits each episode, and makes three recommendations for them. Sometimes children are the focus, but not always.
  • All the Wonders. Children’s literature specialists.
  • Hey YA .What’s new in the world of teen books.
  • Books and Boba. Centres Asian-American and Pacific Island-American authors.
  • All the books. Not just focused on children’s literature, but often includes YA and “middle grade” books. (Middle grade is an American term that usually refers to 8-12 year olds).
  • The Librarian is in. A podcast from the New York Public Library. Mixture of children’s, YA, and adult books discussed.
  • Adventures in YA. A bit dated now, but a good quality podcast.
  • Don’t judge a Podcast by its cover. New this year. Completely written, created and produced by two tween girls in the USA.

You can also find episodes about books from other podcasts (that aren’t usually book-focused) such as “Books you should totally read” from the Tweens-NOT-Kidz podcast.

If you prefer blogs, most of the podcasts above have blogs associated with them, and you’ll find links to other, similar ones as you explore them. YouTube is also an excellent resource, if you search for tween or YA book reviews, and on Instagram, try searching the hashtags #bookstagram #kidlit #childrenslit #yalit and #currentlyreading.

Let them pick

Research by Scholastic found that 90% of children said their favourite book was one they picked themselves, so try to make time to let your kids roam the shelves. We are lucky enough to see, every day, people of all ages taking pleasure in picking up books, turning them over in their hands, deciding which ones to take home. Picking the book is a part of the ritual of reading. Not to be ignored is the importance of letting young people see you do the same.

If you’re not sure if a book’s content is suitable for your child, you can check reviews and ratings at Common Sense Media*, where both adults and young people give their opinion on whether a title is suitable for certain ages.

Come back for more

This series of blogs will cover a selection of books from the children’s, YA, and even adult collections that are suitable for advanced young readers.

Look out for future APTR blog posts on:

If your APTR has read something great, let us know so that we can let other parents know! Email us or leave a note with staff at any of our libraries, letting them know to pass it on to Li and Emma. 

* Common Sense Media is now a subscription service. We encourage you to join under this model if you can. Otherwise, sign up your child. Kids and teens can access the service for free.

3 November 2021

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