A letter from a concerned parent

by Ahalya on October 1, 2010

JGW-2010Deepika Mital, a well-read lady, and mother of two, sent in this letter yesterday. I believe each reader can offer Deepika some recommendations and/or words of sympathy πŸ™‚

Any magazine / newspaper worth its views will constantly lament that the reading habit is a dying tradition, or at least in its bi-annual features. But why don’t they focus more on the fact that there is very little for new converts to read. By new converts, I mean the kids who now have a mind of their own and are willing to exercise it – the 10 to 15 year olds! It is this tween age group that is woefully underserved when it comes to interesting, well-packaged content, which will hold their attention versus the television or Internet.
This should be treated as a separate genre by itself, with its own readership, which will evolve to greater heights if nurtured well.

Some books that come to mind are the Harry Potter/Twilight type of sagas, which are not exclusively targeted to this category, the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys category has degenerated to alarming levels of boring sameness (blasphemy, I know, especially from someone who grew up on these!), the Hannah Montana series (yuck yuck yuck) imagine calling such pap that has originated from a TV series, books!

The few authors I have come across who can engage a young child’s mind are Narinder Dhami – the Babes series, and Jacqueline Wilson. But again, these are not worth umpteen re-reads; just the one or two, unlike old classics like Little Women and What Katy Did.

My question is… why this current drought? Or it could be that I am not aware of great (I’ll settle for good) work in this category, so do recommend some authors/books.

— Deepika

There you have it, let’s look away from this computer screen, find her kids great books and tell her about it πŸ™‚

There’s another giveaway you could participate in today!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Priyanka Borpujari October 1, 2010 at 10:32 am

Someone told me the other day that the next CWG will be held in 2014 in Denmark or Norway or one of those beautiful countries that I only dream of going. And they are already 80% done with all the preparations. And look at saddi dilli!
Point I am trying to make is that the quick-fix approach just won’t help. It never did earlier; won’t help now either. Deepika, if our kid still doesn’t know yet how he/she was born, then I think you still have time to inculcate in him/her the goos habit of reading. Like the way you inculcated in him/her to brush his teeth after morning pee and poo (reminds me my mother taught me the same – now that I live alone, I wake up, pee, try hard to meditate but flies love to talk into ears, then onto laptop. So it has been an hour since I woke up but haven’t brushed my teeth yet. So I am not the perfect example for this point I am trying to make).
Get him addicted to reading now. When he is 15-16, he will attract nice girls and may not necessarily “try out stuff”, simply because he read . If your kid is a girl and she is still reading a lot when she is 15-16, you can be assured that she won’t fall to prey to “trying out stuff”.


Vishal Devgon October 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Very well said Priyanka.


Ahalya October 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Er, I am not sure that answers Deepika’s question actually. I think what she was asking is if there is a deliberate slowdown in good literature for teenagers and those in their tweens, and if there isn’t then who are those good authors.
Deepika, I would recommend Aidan Chambers for teenagers. Although, I must warn you, he does recommend that young adults try living alone for a while. He encourages a comprehensive kind of independence, emotional and physical, that is stunningly logical. However, I can predict that our teenagers will suffer from frustration after reading his books because they won’t be able to emulate half of what the characters do to learn about life. So, why do I recommend Chambers? Because he can access the teenager’s world and he brings into it literature, great works of art, etymology, history, weather, he can pack one book with so much information, and the reader won’t even know he is learning…
Another book I recommend for serious readers who are young is Sophie’s World by Josteein Gaarder. An excellent, well-written book about the history of philosophy written for a young 13 year old.
Most UK authors are careful to not depict needless violence, and do introduce the reader to the wider world of art and creativity. Something I really enjoy reading. So, may I suggest you try Jasper Fforde, Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, Jonathan Stroud, Tom Holt, Michael Morpurgo, Roald Dahl, Garth Nix, Gregory Keyes, Alexander McCall Smith… I can think up of a few more names soon.
Some of these authors write about fantasy worlds, but I do not think that is a drawback, neither do I think that it encourages any kind of escapism. I think the characters are as real, as interesting and as cool as any young reader would like. And they get to learn several important life lessons along the way.
Unfortunately, I am not sure I could recommend any Indian authors for this target group.


Priyanka Borpujari October 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Your point is valid Ahalya, that my points do not answer Deepika’s question. But I tried to give a long-term solution. But going by what you said, seems like Aidan Chambers is just the kind of fella whose books I would loved to read when I was growing up. But I think while their culture is more “advanced”, in that they let kids leave home sooner in life (and we are still cradling Ram Lalla), it would be good to get kids just oout of school and getting into college to read it. Will look for his books now…


kunal October 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm

i read my first book at 17! not one book till them. my school library was the stuff of dreams, beautifully carved wood,tonnes of books,lots of comics as well, which i thumbed through extensively.
and then lord of the rings happened πŸ™‚
and then everything else.
my first set of books interestingly was also lord of the rings, bought by my friend in Scotland, second hand[ looked like an interesting take on second hand, the first being Mr Hyde i guess πŸ˜‰ ]
but wow. its been a joy ride.
for a few years i read close to a book a day and i cant have enough.
books , like everything else , need time and passion.
enforced, they can be a drag[ think of any of ur school teachers who bored u to death, and then started working on u πŸ™‚ ]
for younger chaps, a few books that come to mind – the Williams series πŸ™‚
terry Pratchett[ for kids between the ages of 15 -100 πŸ™‚ ]
tom holt perhaps…i cant read much of him. but he is funny to many.
P.G Wodehouse ,but ofcourse πŸ™‚


Deepika Mital October 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm

thanks for the suggestions, all.
Priyanka – both my kids read – it is just that I am hard put to find stuff that is engaging and that which they can relate to, hence the query :).


Meethil October 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm


This is one of the most important topics of discussion. (More important than Kalmadi’s capital punishment even.) Publishers have to actively scout for content that they can package for the 10-15 year olds. There is a lot of difference between what we were capable of consuming at the age of 15 and what todays kids can consume. They will definitely not be attracted to Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, Hollywood movies quite quench that thirst. The days when we were gripped by a Hardy Boys thriller we were not exposed to Hollywood movies the way todays kids are.

Apart from being entertaining the books should also be educational and informative without becoming textbooks. Look at the general profile of the 10-15yr olds today. Can we not offer then anything in the book format? I am sure there can be books that add another dimension to the experiences they are gathering.


Ahalya October 2, 2010 at 9:38 am

With the visual entertainment space captivating children in the crazy way that it does, I personally think there will be a lot of development in the e-book category. I recently saw an iPhone App that allows children to interact with the story (Rumpelstiltskin… they could make the mill move, make the clouds move, make the weaver act, etc). A lot of publishers are adding multimedia content to their books, to reach out to techno-savvy children who are ready to take in a new reading experience. The reason why I am not disheartened by all this techno dizzle-dazzle is because the content is still fascinating. Although it’s been years and years since I was in the 10-15 age group, I think there are several books by old and contemporary authors (mentioned earlier) that are all interesting, inspiring and well-written.


Ahalya October 2, 2010 at 9:39 am

Kunal, you have won the giveaway!


Aditya October 2, 2010 at 10:44 am

Woot! I think there are just too many books for kids that age. They seem to have a lot of obscure magick and dragon-fire types books. Almost all of modern fantasy is unfortunately aimed at that group. They read Stroud and Colfer for sure, and even the odd Animorphs. Also, when they near 15, they seem to hate “kiddie books” and start picking up and reading almost anything.


Pritya November 29, 2010 at 11:05 am

Some time back, I have compiled a list of books that might interest children of this age group and it might be useful for parents here. Here goes the list:

* Percy Jackson series ( 5 books) – The Lightning Thief / Sea of Monsters / Titan’s Curse / Battle of Labyrinth / The last Olympian

* 39 Clues ( each volume written by a different writer)
β€’ The 39 Clues Book 1: The Maze of Bones is the #1 New York Times bestselling title by Rick Riordan, available now.
β€’ The 39 Clues Book 2: One False Note is the follow-up #1 New York Times bestselling title by Gordon Korman, in stores now.
β€’ The 39 Clues Book 3: The Sword Thief is by kid favorite Peter Lerangis and is on the shelf now.
β€’ The 39 Clues Book 4: Beyond the Grave, by award-winning author Jude Watson, is available now.
β€’ The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circle is written by bestselling author Patrick Carman and will be on sale August 11th.
β€’ There are five more books coming, ending with Book 10 in September 2010!
* Anthony Horowitz
β€’ Alex Rider Series
β€’ The Power of Five Series
β€’ The Diamond Brothers Series

* Jonathan Stroud ( http://www.jonathanstroud.com/)
β€’ The Bartimaeus Trilogy
* Mark Haddon – The curious incident of the dog in the night time ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Haddon)
* The Magic Thief (Sarah Prineas) http://www.sarah-prineas.com/
* Chicken Soup series
* Michelle Paver ( Daughters of Eden Trilogy)
* Douglas Adam ( The Hitch hiker’s guide to the galaxy – radio programme written as a book)
* Benjamin Hoff ( The Te of Piglet & The Tao of Pooh) – Zen Philosophy
* Rajit Lal ( Books for children) – These are not expensive and there are many titles.
* John Boyne ( Boy in striped pyjamas)
* Mathew Reilly – Contest

*_Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (5 Books)_*
-/Artemis Fowl/
-/Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident/
-/Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code/
-/Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception/
-/Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony/

*_Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (6 Books)_* [If you haven’t already read these, of course) [Wink]
-/Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/
-/Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets/
-/Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban/
-/Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/
-/Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix/
-/Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince/

*_A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (15 Books)_*
-/Book the First: The Bad Beginning/
-/Book the Second: The Reptile Room/
-/Book the Third: The Wide Window/
-/Book the Fourth: The Miserable Mill/
-/Book the Fifth: The Austere Academy/
-/Book the Sixth: The Ersatz Elevator/
-/Book the Seventh: The Vile Village/
-/Book the Eighth: The Hostile Hospital/
-/Book the Ninth: The Carnivorous Carnival/
-/Book the Tenth: The Slippery Slope/
-/Book the Eleventh: The Grim Grotto/
-/Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril/
-/Book the Thirteenth: The End/
-/Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography/
-/The Beatrice Letters/

*_The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tokien (4 Books)_* [Wink]
-/The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again/
-/The Fellowship of the Ring/
-/The Two Towers/
-/The Return of the King and the Annals of the Kings and Rulers/

*_Dragonlance by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (6 Books)_*
_The Chronicles_
-/Dragons of Autumn Twilight/
-/Dragons of Winter Night/
-/Dragons of Spring Dawning/
-/Dragons of Summer Flame/
_The Legends_
-/Time of the Twins/
-/War of the Twins/
-/Test of the Twins/

-/The Three Musketeers/ by Alexandre Dumas
-/To Kill a Mockingbird/ by Harper Lee
-/Treasure Island/ by Robert Louis Stevenson
-/Kidnapped/ by Robert Louis Stevenson
-/The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde/ by Robert Louis Stevenson
-/The Martian Chronicles/ by Ray Bradbury
-/The Illustrated Man/ by Ray Bradbury
-/Something Wicked This Way Comes/ by Ray Bradbury
-/20,000 Leagues Under the Sea/ by Jules Verne
-/A Journey to the Center of the Earth/ by Jules Verne
-/The Invisible Man: A Grotesque Romance/ by H.G. Wells
-/The Island of Dr. Moreau/ by H.G. Wells
-/The Time Machine/ by H.G. Wells
-/The War of the Worlds/ by H.G. Wells

For younger kids too…

* Lemony Snicket (Unfortunate event series
* Spiderwick
* Diary of a Wimpy Kid ( 4 Volumes)


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