Books for 12 year olds?

So far I have only written about books for the very young. But the Book Lounge caters for older young people too (and grown-ups too, now I come to think of it). We have some loyal  ‘regulars’ who have been visiting the gingerbread tent since we started. As that’s nearly 7 years ago now,  anyone who was 5 when we started must be about 12 by now.

So, what are 12 year olds reading?

“The Twilight books,” said our budding English teacher – “and they give an unhealthy message – to girls, especially.”

“Harry Potter,” said a 12 year old, who had started reading the series when they were still causing queues at bookshops.

“I like the Narnia books,” said another, who was with a younger brother who could be helped to enjoy them. An in-depth discussion of the characters, plots and relative merits of each of the series ensued. NOBODY thinks (we agreed) that it would be AT ALL a good idea to read The Magician’s Nephew before The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, as FOOLISHLY suggested in the Puffin copy we were looking at.

Recently, I met a girl of 12 who was looking for Agatha Christies – and was instantly transported back to a visit to older (very old to me at the time) neighbours – who introduced me to the joys of Hercule Poirot at just that age. It seemed so grown-up to be reading books written for adults – they were both satisfying to read and really quite easy, with an odd cosiness not normally associated with violent death.  I still like them – despite the almost total lack of objective believability. In real life, don’t people find it much more traumatic to know someone who has been murdered – and how come Miss Marple just happens to be nearby? How many murders can one person be around without becoming a suspected mass killer themselves?

It is an interesting age, 12; young enough to be comfortable with children’s fiction yet old enough to cope with quite a few adults’ authors – which did you read at 12?

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