In today’s digital world, parents always worry if their children are getting enough reading time compared to their screen time. We all know that reading books offers plenty of benefits, especially for tweens who are still developing their cognitive abilities. If you’re looking for books to read for your 13-year-old or younger tween, we will guide you through some of the challenges of finding good books for tweens. Additionally, we will introduce you to some of our favorite books for 11-year-olds and older tweens.
Why Is Reading Good Books Important?
Before getting into our suggestions about what books tweens should read, let’s delve into why reading is crucial for children of this age range.
Middle schoolers stand at a pivotal point in their cognitive development. Reading plays a critical role in this phase, far beyond just improving their language skills. It’s a gateway to enhancing their critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and overall cognitive functions. Piecing together a mystery, analyzing the motivations of a character, and delving into the nuances of each genre sharpen their intellect and, therefore, improve their academic performance.
Building Empathy and Understanding
Reading fosters emotional intelligence and empathy. By immersing themselves in the lives of diverse characters, middle schoolers gain insights into different cultures, experiences, and emotions. This exploration of varied perspectives enriches their understanding of the world and nurtures a deeper sense of empathy.
How to Choose a Book for Tweens
Before buying your kid a book and having to deal with the disappointment of seeing it untouched by them, you should know how to foster the love for reading in your child. As parents, your encouragement and support can ignite a lifelong love for reading. You can do that by creating an environment where reading is a shared, enjoyable, and valued activity. Your enthusiasm for reading can be contagious, setting the stage for a habit that will enrich your child’s life in countless ways.
When choosing a book for a tween, it’s important to consider their reading skills and preferences. Here’s what you should consider before buying a book for your kids.
Reading Skills and Expectations for 11 to 13-Year-Olds
Make sure that the book you pick for them matches their reading skills. At 11 years old, your child is expected to integrate information from various sources, determine the meanings of words and phrases, and describe how a story unfolds. By 12, they’re diving deeper, analyzing authors’ reasoning and comparing texts across different media. At the age of 13, the focus shifts to analyzing text structures and contrasting modern with classic stories. Remember, these are general guidelines, and it’s perfectly normal for skills to develop erratically.
Varied Reading Skills and Preferences
Just like their taste in music or clothes, reading preferences and skills can vary widely in this age group. Some tweens may be devouring high school-level books, while others might be more comfortable with stories aimed at younger readers. This diversity is a natural part of their development and should be embraced.
When choosing books for 12-year-olds or other tweens, it’s crucial to consider their age and maturity level. Age ranges on book covers are merely guidelines. Knowing your child’s interests and emotional maturity is key. For instance, a book deemed appropriate for a 12-year-old might be better suited for an older tween if it contains advanced themes or complex emotional content.
Diverse and Inclusive Options
It’s essential to select books that reflect a wide range of experiences and perspectives. This includes stories featuring young role models from diverse backgrounds tackling real-life issues. Books that showcase different cultures, lifestyles, and challenges broaden a tween’s worldview and promote empathy and understanding.
Balancing Interests and Challenges
Finding that perfect balance between a tween’s favorite book genres and new challenges is like planning the ideal summer camp itinerary. You want to keep their existing interests in mind while introducing them to new ideas and complexities. If your tween loves fantasy, for example, consider novels that expand this genre with more intricate plots or sophisticated themes. You can also use certain times of the year, such as Christmas or Halloween, to introduce them to new books. The goal is to stretch their reading skills and comprehension, without overwhelming them.
Classic Books for Tweens
Classic books are more than just stories; they are timeless lessons in empathy, history, and the complexity of the human condition. These books often tackle timeless themes and life lessons, woven into narratives that remain relevant regardless of the era. They offer a blend of adventure, moral dilemmas, and relatable characters that continue to engage the imagination of 11- to 13-year-olds.
Here’s a list of classic books that we think are suitable for your enthusiastic tweens:
Animal Farm by George Orwell
A staple of middle-grade bookshelves, this allegorical novel uses a farmyard setting to explore themes of power, corruption, and revolution. It’s a thought-provoking introduction to political themes.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
This poignant diary offers a deeply personal perspective on the horrors of war and the enduring strength of the human spirit. It’s a powerful tool for understanding history and empathy.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Dive into the life of Pip, a young orphan with grand aspirations. This classic coming-of-age story is rich in character development and social commentary, ideal for tweens grappling with their own growing pains.
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Journey with Bilbo Baggins in this enchanting prelude to the “Lord of the Rings” series. One of the good books to read for tweens, it’s a tale of courage, friendship, and self-discovery, perfect for tweens stepping into a larger world.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Follow the lives of the March sisters as they grow up during the American Civil War. This timeless story, often mentioned on book lists for tweens, emphasizes the importance of family, resilience, and individuality.
Modern Books for Tweens
The modern tween’s literary landscape is varied, offering stories that resonate with their experiences and aspirations. Contemporary books like The Hunger Games have captured the imagination of young readers with their unique storylines, relatable characters, and complex worlds. These books often deal with themes of individuality, resilience, and the quest for identity, mirroring the challenges tweens face in their own lives. Treating young readers as equals, these narratives speak to them in a language and tone that they appreciate.
Here’s a list of contemporary must-reads for tweens:
A Series of Unfortunate Events Series by Lemony Snicket
This good book series for tweens follows the misadventures of the Baudelaire orphans, facing their evil relative, Count Olaf, and a mysterious organization. This 13-book series explores themes of resilience, the quest for truth, and the often absurd nature of adult bureaucracy and authority.
Bomb by Steven Sheinkin
This gripping non-fiction book captures the intensity of the race to build the atomic bomb during World War II. It’s a blend of history, science, and espionage, emphasizing the impact of scientific discoveries on global politics and ethical dilemmas.
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
This novel deals with the complexities of young friendships, the pressures of growing up, and the exploration of identity in a world where teens are just beginning to find their place.
Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
This iconic series captures the essence of friendship, bravery, and the struggle between good and evil. The story is set in a magical world that parallels real-life issues like discrimination and the abuse of power.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
A powerful true story of Malala Yousafzai, a young girl who stood up for education and women’s rights against the Taliban. The book highlights themes of courage, perseverance, and the power of one’s voice.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
A touching narrative about a boy with facial differences attending school for the first time. This great book shares a story of empathy, kindness, and acceptance, encouraging readers to find beauty in uniqueness and the importance of being kind.
Safes: A Tool to Encourage Reading
You might be wondering “How can I motivate my tween to read when they’re always scrolling on their phone?” Well, you can activate iPhone parental controls or parental controls on Android to limit their screen time, but our suggestion is a more powerful tool.
Our parental control app, Safes, is designed with today’s parental concerns in mind. Through Safes, you can set time limits for different apps, especially social media, to encourage your tween to have more non-digital experiences, such as reading. You can also set bedtimes to incentivize the classic reading-in-the-bed experience. More importantly, since a lot of reading is done on digital devices today, parents can give permanent access to reading and other educational apps.
Finding good books for tweens is about balancing their interests and developmental needs. By choosing a mix of classic and modern reads, and fostering an environment that values reading, you can ignite a lifelong love for literature. Tools like Safes can further support this journey, making reading a cherished part of your tween’s daily life.