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Summer Reading Book Recommendations From My Teens

By Mir Kamin

A few weeks ago I mentioned that part of our not-terribly-structured summer plans includes a weekly trip to the library. This, of course, led to questions about what my kids are reading this summer. I’m more than happy to share, but I do so with the following caveats:

1) Both of my kids are given to fairly narrow bands of interest when it comes to reading habits, and I make no claims as to their normality (or lack thereof) relative to their peers.

2) I don’t censor my kids’ reading, ever. I figure if they can and want to read it, it’s fine by me. As a result, what I’m okay with my teens reading may not be okay with you for your teens.

3) While I used to be the primary influence over my kids’ reading choices, at this point in our lives, I’m much more likely to pick up a book they’ve brought home than the other way around.

With all of that in mind, here’s a peek into our reading these days.

Teen Son’s Book Recommendations

list teen tween book recommendations for summer reading

My son is a young 13 year-old and favors fantasy and science fiction, mostly.

Me: Tell me your favorite series or author, right now.
Him: Rick Riordan, definitely. I know lots of people read the Percy Jackson books, but there’s a whole ‘nother series after that called Heroes of Olympus that’s really good, too. The newest one is called The House of Hades and is coming out in the fall. I’m looking forward to reading that one.
Me: Aren’t these books for kids a little younger than you?
Him: Not really; I mean, I think I started reading them a while back, but they’re recommended for middle-schoolers, I think. And I reread these ones a lot because they’re kind of great. Good stories, plus some nerdy science stuff and a lot of mythology thrown in to keep it interesting.
Me: Okay, what else?
Him: Oh! I also really like the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. That’s maybe even a little bit younger, but they’re really good, too. And that series is done now—Fyre is the last one and it just came out a couple months ago—but she’s working on a new, related series called TodHunter Moon that’s probably going to be really good.

(This kid apparently thrives on anticipation rather than actual books.)

Me: Okay, tell me what you read most recently that you loved.
Him: I like pretty much everything by Gordon Korman, but Ungifted was really, really funny. It’s about a regular middle-school kid who accidentally ends up in the gifted class, and it’s told from a bunch of different points of view—every chapter starts with the character’s name and IQ, which makes it even funnier. He’s really good with making the characters seem real.

Teen Daughter’s Book Recommendations

three book recommendations for summer reading

I turned to my daughter, who is 15 and likes what I tend to call “extreme teen angst” books.

Me: Your turn! Want to start with your favorite book?
Her: My absolute favorite that I’ve reread a ton of times is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It’s told in an interesting way; it’s about a girl who killed herself and then this boy gets a bunch of audio tapes she recorded, so it’s her in the past, on the tapes, and him in present-day, listening to her. It’s cool.
Me: Okay. What else? Who are your favorite authors right now?
Her: Everything by John Green is great. The Fault in Our Stars is probably my favorite of his. Right now I’m really liking Ellen Hopkins’ books; Perfect was really good.
Me: Okay, I know why you like John Green (he’s funny, he writes incredible dialogue). What do you like about Ellen Hopkins?
Her: She writes in poetry. Except not. It’s free verse, I guess? It’s weird, I have to show you. [She showed me and it’s true, all of her books are written like epic poems.] It takes some getting used to and it’s kind of unique, but it grows on you. Her stuff is dark but also really… real. It wouldn’t be good for younger teens but I like her stuff a lot.

Manga Book Recommendations

manga book recommendations for teens

Both of my kids also read quite a bit of manga, so I asked them to share their favorites.

Her: My very favorite manga is the High School Debut series, but they can be sort of hard to find. That one is basically a teenage soap opera. I also really like Fruits Basket, which has a fantasy/sci-fi component in addition to having your basic silly manga romance stuff going on.

Him: I actually like the Fruits Basket books, too. It’s a cool story. But my favorite is probably Bleach. That’s more…
Her: … violent.
Him: Well, yeah. There’s a lot of fighting. But it’s a cool story about this kid and his friends who have special powers.

Finally, for whatever it’s worth—and this and a dollar will get you a crummy cup of coffee—if you either want to step into the wayback machine, yourself, or have similar teens and want to expose them to books they might not pick up themselves, here’s my picks from back when I was their ages, based on what they’re reading now:

My Summer Reading Book Recommendations for Teens and Tweens

Teen and tween book recommendations for summer reading

For my son and other sci-fi/fantasy-lovers, the Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. Although I read both kids the first three books when they were younger, they later read the other two on their own, and both agreed the series is still fantastic even now. (Guilty confession: These are the books I reread every couple of years as an adult. I love them beyond measure.)

For my daughter and other the-many-difficulties-of-coming-of-age story fanatics, anything by Paul Zindel, though The Pigman is probably the place to start. (Coming in at a close second would be My Darling, My Hamburger.) Dark and raw, Zindel’s novels definitely don’t sugarcoat the teenage experience, but I remember reading them at my daughter’s age and having trouble putting them down.

Will you share what books your teens are reading right now?

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About the Author

Mir Kamin

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now ...

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she’s become one of those people who talks to her dogs in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she’s continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she’s bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.

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