Books for 13-Year-Olds


Recently, I did some crowd sourcing on Facebook, asking folks for help in coming up with a book that Paco and a couple of his friends — a group of seventh graders — could read for school as a sort of book club. Now, Paco is a persnickety reader. He wanted a book that was either sci-fi or fantasy, but nothing post-apocalyptic, and when it comes to romance, he says, “I find that very boring.”

Two of the three boys are very into playing Dungeons and Dragons, but the third boy is lukewarm about that type of imagination-based gaming. In a certain way, this further restricted the book options — because one of the kids is very literal as a reader while the other two enjoy the fantastical. Anyhow, we were feeling desperate that the three of them could ever arrive at a point of agreement.

Facebook Nation did not disappoint. Within a few hours, there were more than 44 comments and suggestions. Readers do love to talk about books!

After the thread of comments died down, I was approached by a handful of participants, asking if I would ever compile a master list of the suggestions. Quite happily, I started copying and pasting all the ideas into a document. Just as I was finishing the initial copying and pasting, I received a message from a longtime blog reader and now good friend, Jan Indermill.

Pointing out that she had two capable typing hands and a willing heart, she offered to compile the list, along the way adding in further information about the series a book might be from, what kind of appeal the book might have, testimonials from readers — and she even alphabetize the entire thing!

After putting in many hours, Jan sent me the list below. I, personally, have never gravitated towards sci-fi or fantasy, but when so many of my friends and family and former students are enthusiastic about these genres, I feel like I should expand my range. Thus, we will not only be using this list for Paco in the future, we will be using it for all of us.

So, for any of you looking for new ideas of what you or your teens might enjoy reading, here is a wonderfully inspired and comprehensive list. I’ll let you look it over before telling you which book Paco and his friends agreed upon.

Also, I do have this list saved both in Excel and Word, so if you would like me to email you the list as a document, just give me a shout, and I can do that.

Here we go:

Title Series Name Author Other Books in Series Possible Appeal
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy Adams, Douglas The Restaurant at The End of the Universe; Life, The Universe and Everything; So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish; Mostly Harmless; And Another Thing Romance free!
Short Stories Asimov, Isaac  
Entanglement: The Greatest Mysteries in Physics Axel, Amir D.  
Short Stories Bradbury, Ray  
Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury, Ray  
Sundiver The Uplift Novels Brin, Glen David Startide Rising; The Uplift War
The Sword of Shannara The Original Shannara Series Brooks, Terry The Elfstones of Shannara; The Wishsong of Shannara – and more. There are at least 12 books in the series. Detailed fantasy world inhabited by elves, humans, warlocks. Set in the future, the plot (1st book?) involves a search for a magical sword needed to defeat an evil warlock.
Red Rising Red Rising trilogy Brown, Pierce Golden Son; Morning Star Set on Mars
Storm Front The Dresden Files Butcher, Jim 15 novels Private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden investigates supernatural disturbances in modern-day Chicago.
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass The Cinder Spires Butcher, Jim 9 books are planned “Absolutely awesomesauce steampunk book that I couldn’t put down.”
Ender’s Game Ender saga Card, Orson Scott 14 novels, 13 short stories, a gazillion comic books “The author has some crap political/social opinions but his books about that universe are great reads.” “He’s very weird and Mormon-y but has some good books.” “Bad politics; good sci-fi.”
Graceling Graceling Realm series Cashore, Kristen Fire; Bitterblue Parental warning: subject matter could be advanced for some younger readers.
The Sword The Sword, The Ring, and The Chalice Chester, Deborah The Ring; The Chalice
City of Bones The Moral Instruments Clare, Cassandra City of Bones; City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels; City of Lost Souls; City of Heavenly Fire Paranormal romance/urban fantasy
The Children of Amarid LonTobyn series Coe, David B The Outlanders; Eagle-Sage
Half Moon Investigations Not a series, but the author has told people he plans a sequel Colfer, Eoin No additional books have been published yet “My son laughed out loud while reading” From Wiki plot synopsis: Fletcher Moon (often called “Half-Moon” due to his short stature) is a natural born investigator. Knowing this, April, a girl from his school, comes to him for help in finding a lock of hair that she believes to have been stolen.
Over Sea, Under Stone Dark Is Rising sequence Cooper, Susan The Dark Is Rising; Greenwitch, The Grey King; Silver On the Tree
The Spook’s Apprentice The Wardstone Chronicles Delaney, Joseph 14 books in series Romance free! Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, is apprenticed to John Gregory to become a Spook – a master fighter of supernatural evil.
Pawn of Prophecy The Belgaraid series Eddings, David Queen of Sorcery; Magician’s Gambit; Castle of Wizardry; Enchanters’ End Game
The Guardians of the West The Mallorean series Eddings, David King of the Murgos; Demon Lord of Karanda; Sorceress of Darshiva; The Seeress of Kell
Welcome to Night Vale Not a series — but there’s a podcast!! Fink, Joseph and Cranor, Jeffrey Romance free!
Time and Again Time Series Finney, Jack From Time to Time Stephen King says: “THE great time travel novel.”
The Ruins of Gorlan Ranger’s Apprentice Flanagan, John The Burning Bridge; The Icebound Land and more.  There are at least 12 books in the series, and at least one prequel. Old school sword & sorcery “Imagine if the Rangers from Lord of the Rings took apprentices — what kind of life would that be?” Amazon customer review by EA Solinas
The Outcasts The Brotherband Chronicles Flanagan, John The Invaders; The Hunters; Slaves of Socorro; Scorpion Mountain; The Ghostfaces (publ date June 2016) Humorous writing style – “Snarling bad guys and stout hearted good guys, what more could you ask for?” Amazon customer review by Bill
Flashman The Flashman Papers Fraser, George MacDonald ??18 books?? Flashman is an antihero who often runs from danger in the novels. Nevertheless, through a combination of luck and cunning, he usually ends each volume acclaimed as a hero.
Inkheart Inkheart trilogy Funke, Cornelia Inkspell; Inkdeath Romance free!
The Graveyard Book Not a series Gaiman, Neil Romance free!
Stardust Not a series Gaiman, Neil Romance free!
Good Omens Gaiman, Neil and Pratchett, Terry Parental warning: double check that this is age-appropriate.
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen: A Tale of Alderley Not a series, but there is a sequel Garner, Alan The Moon of Gomrath (sequel)
My Side of the Mountain George, Jean Craighead
Myths of the Norsemen Not a series, but author has written many works based in other myths. Green, Roger Lancelyn
The Magicians Grossman, Lev The Magician King; The Magician’s Land “13 may be a bit young for this series” High school student Quentin Coldwater attends a college of magic in NYC.
Dune Dune series Herbert, Frank There are five sequels
Stormbreaker Alex Rider Horowitz, Anthony Point Blanc; Skeleton Key and more. There are at least 10 books in the series. 007 style spy stories with a 13-year-old protagonist
Into The Wild Warrior Series Hunter, Erin Into The Wild; Fire and Ice; Forest of Secrets; and more.  There are a gazillion books! 4 clans of wild cats
Rise of the Wolf Wereworld series Jobling, Curtis Rage of Lions; Shadow of the Hawk; Nest of Serpents; Storm of Sharks; War of the Werelords “Imagine a world ruled by Werelords–men and women who can shift at will into bears, lions, and serpents. When Drew suddenly discovers he’s not only a werewolf but the long-lost heir to the murdered Wolf King’s throne, he must use his wits and newfound powers to survive.” Amazon blurb
The Eye of the World Wheel of Time Jordan, Robert The Great Hunt; The Dragon Reborn. There are 14 books, including a prequel.
The Phantom Tollbooth Juster, Norton (illus by Jules Feiffer)
The Stonekeeper Amulet Kibuishi, Kabo There are seven books in the series Graphic novels
Helmet for My Pillow Leckie, Robert
Earthsea Cycle LeGuin, Ursala
The Word of Unbinding (short story) and A Wizard of Earthsea Earthsea LeGuin, Ursala The series comprises 8 short stories and 5 novels
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe Chronicles of Narnia Lewis, C.S
Legend Legend series Lu, Marie Prodigy; Champion dystopian?
The Merchant of Death  The Pendragon series MacHale, DJ There are 10 books in the series Bobby Pendragon, an American teenager, discovers that he must prevent the destruction of the ten “territories”: distinct but interrelated space-time realities.
Dragonflight Dragonriders of Pern McCaffery, Anne and/or Todd Dragonquest; The White Dragon and more. There are at least 22 books in the series. People have empathic abilities with their dragons. And space travel!
Riddle Master trilogy McKillip, Patricia
McKinley, Robin anything by this author “Kick ass female characters”
Wildwood The Wildwood Chronicles Meloy, Colin (of the Decembrists) ? It looks like all the Chronicles are published in one volume? gorgeous illustrations
Elric of Melniboné Elric of Melniboné stories Moorcock, Michael ?17 novels??
The Night Circus Not a series Morgenstern, Erin Romance free! A phantasmagorical fairy tale set near an historical Victorian London in a wandering magical circus that is open only from sunset to sunrise.
Beyonders: A World Without Heroes Beyonders Trilogy Mull, Brandon
Fablehaven Fablehaven Mull, Brandon Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star; Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague; Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary; Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison Secret nature preserve for magical creatures
Midnight for Charlie Bone Children of the Red King (sometimes called Charlie Bone series) Nimmo, Jenny The Time Twister; The Blue Boa; Castle of Mirrors; Charlie Bone and The Hidden King; Charlie Bone and The Wilderness Wolf; Charlie Bone and The Shadow of Badlock; Charlie Bone and The Red Knight Romance free!
His Majesty’s Dragon Temeraire Novik, Naomi There are 8 books in the series; a 9th book will be published in 2016 Dragons!
Master & Commander Aubrey-Maturin O’Brian, Patrick 21 novels in series; the 21st novel was unfinished when O’Brian died in 2000
Eragon The Inheritance Cycle Paolini, Christoper Eldest; Brisingr; Inheritance A teenage boy and his dragon struggle to overthrow an evil king.
Trickster series especially recommended, but anything by this author is recommended Pierce, Tamara
Pratchett, Terry anything by Pratchett
The Golden Compass His Dark Materials Pullman, Phillip The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Riggs, Ransom Not a series
The Lightning Thief Percy Jackson series Riordan, Rick The Sea of Monsters; The Titan’s Curse; The Battle of the Labyrinth; The Last Olympian
The Name of the Wind The Kingkiller Chronicle Rothfuss, Patrick The Wise Man’s Fear; a 3rd book is promised?
Homeland The Legend of Drizzt Salvatore, R.A. Exile; Sojourn – and more. There are at least 28 books in the series. Appealing to D&D fans?  Follows the boy-child Drizzt, a Dark Elf, to maturity as he seeks harmony in an evil (?) matriarchal society.
The Final Empire Mistborn Trilogy Sanderson, Brandon The series includes two trilogies, a transitional novel between the trilogies, and, apparently, at least one book still to be published. Anything & everything by this author… but Mistborn Trilogy is a good place to start.
Cirque du Freak Cirque du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan Shan, Darren 12-part book series The struggles of a boy who has become involved in the world of vampires
Land Loss Demonata series Shan, Darren There are 10 books in the series. Romance free!
With the Old Breed: At Peleliue and Okinawa Sledge, Eugene
The Mysterious Benedict Society The Mysterious Benedict Society Stewart, Trenton Lee The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey; The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma; The Extraodinary Education of Nicholas Benedict Romance free! Four gifted children. Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, Kate Wetherall, and Constance Contraire, are formed into the “Mysterious Benedict Society” and are sent to investigate a facility called L.I.V.E. (the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened), run by the brilliant but evil Ledroptha Curtain.
TenNepal, Doug anything by this author Graphic novels
Middleworld The Jaguar Stones series Voelkel, J&P End of the World Club; The River of No Return; The Lost City; 14-year-old Max must rescue his parents from Mayan underworld.
The 5th Wave The 5th Wave Series Yancy, Rick The Infinite Sea; The Last Star (to be published May 2016) Cassie finds herself in a world devastated by alien attack, desperate to save herself and find her lost brother. Cassie’s mission is to stay alone and stay alive. But then she meets Evan Walker, who may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death.

So which book did the boys and up selecting?

They chose the book Storm Front from the Dresden Files series written by author Jim Butcher. It was recommended by one of my former students, a man who is very much into the world of Dungeons and Dragons, weapons, good books, and living life with gusto.

From start to finish: the entire process of finding a book that would satisfy Paco and his friends was fun, energetic, and a great example of a flash community popping up around a common interest. It made me happy.

You know what else made me happy? When I told Paco I needed a feature image for this blog post — something related to books and reading — and he offered to create it. It’s a damn piece of sunshine, that picture. He may be reading adult books these days, but his picture reminded me he’s still a kid inside.

So, in closing, I’d just like to shout: READING RULES!








One response to “Books for 13-Year-Olds”

  1. jenny_o Avatar

    “Reading rules” – how right you are! I fell away from reading books a few years ago (was reading on the net but mostly short pieces) and just got back in the past year. It is a relief and a joy. This looks like a great list – nice of your friend to help out. I was wondering where the illustrative artwork came from – so cheery!

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