Young Adult books for kids

Are you a great reader? Have you started to outgrow the kids section in your library? Look no further, because here are some suggestions of great books in the young adult section that won’t upset your parents too much.

Cover of Cuckoo SongDo you like doll-eating girls and girl-eating cinema screens? If you answered yes, or if you’re just confused, read Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge! Sinister and peculiar but also great friendships and ladies on motorcycles in the 1920s.

If you like clever, weird books then you might also like any of Kelly Link’s short story collections, filled with people-eating couches and handbags with entire towns inside.

For something more traditionally creepy try Rhiannon Lassiter’s Bad Blood, all about messy families and dealing with step-siblings and oh hey, a doll who likes to play with scissors.

Cover of Book of a Thousand DaysFor a non-traditional zombie story try Erin Bow’s Sorrow’s Knot, set in a pseudo pre-Columbus America.

The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale is a retelling of Maid Maleen set in ancient Mongolia (favourite character: ‘My Lord’ the cat), and Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series is full of sensible witches, insensible Feegles and a lot of humour.

Melina Marchetta and Jaclyn Moriarty are both Australian and write great quirky high school stories. I particularly recommend Saving Francesca and The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie, but Moriarty also has a new series that combines contemporary with fantasy beginning with A Corner of White.

I also have to recommend Annabel Pitcher’s My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, which is both hilariously funny and heartbreaking.

Cover of The ThiefLastly there are some series shelved in the kids’ section which cross over into young adult and are too great not to mention: Hilary McKay’s Casson Family series, all about — you guessed it — the Casson family; Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia series (beginning with The Thief) which features lots of intrigue and spying set in a pseudo ancient Greece; and Elizabeth Wein’s Aksum books which feature even more spying and intrigue but are set in ancient Ethiopia.

Want more? Check out our list for ‘if you like reading young adult books‘ or fantastic picks from fellow librarian AliReads! For the books from this blog post plus a few extras, head over to my list on bibliocommons.

Or if you’re looking for something different, leave a comment and I’ll put together another blog post. Alternatively Kate de Goldi is available on Booknotes Unbound as the Reading Doctor with some great suggestions all inspired by real questions.


Librarians reading from the Young Adult collection

Tēnā koutou kātoa

Best picks, reader advisory, book recommendations, what’s hot, whatever you like to call it, sometimes the best reads come from someone else’s sharing.

Young adults' booksLuckily there are librarians with a passion for the Young Adult (YA) collections in our libraries. We spend our spare time engrossed in books that we love to share with our rangatahi and teenagers to encourage a lifelong love of reading. “Young Adult” in library speak defines collections aimed at around 13-19, BUT, I challenge you NOT to let that dissuade you from venturing forth.

Anyone who loves a great read and is open to alternatives, a change, and a specialised writing style should have a browse and see how often you go WOW!  I say ‘specialised’ because I would suggest that good YA writers have nailed the need to hook our young adults in with powerful writing skills, great story lines and immediate attention grabbing techniques.

Therefore, with all this in mind, at a recent meeting with colleagues who have this passion and carry some responsibility in their libraries around the YA collection, we all shared what we had been reading recently. This is a very diverse list and we hope you find something that will encourage you to give a YA title a go or will provide some help when you are being your teenager’s personal librarian.

The following titles are found in our Young Adults’ collections in your library; some are available as free downloadable e-books and audio-books as well.

As with life, books are difficult to put in specific boxes: these titles are from the ‘adult’ collections, but may well appeal to older teenagers.

Cover of Razorhurst Cover of The Boy's Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew Cover of The Facades Cover of Everybody Sees the Ants Cover of Only Ever Yours Cover of The Child Thief

So, whether you are up for a challenge or are tearing your hair out to get your offspring to read, there is something for everyone in the Young Adult collections in our libraries.

Let us know how many times you went WOW!

Friends with (booky) benefits

CoverI have a library friend (let’s call her ‘Barbara’). ‘Barbara’ has the amazing ability to appear silently beside me in the shelves, and casually say, Oh, that’s a great book!, and then silently vanish again.  And the books she recommends are always great.  Without fail, they are beautifully-written, genuinely engaging, and somehow just the perfect read I was looking for at that time, no matter whether I knew what I was looking for or not. Mystery, history, love story, contemporary fiction, or just plain good reads – often they are very far from what I think I am looking for, but invariably they are just exactly what I need.

She did it with Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong a couple of years ago, then again last year with Louise Penney’s Det. Insp. Gamache series, and she did it again just last week. Moonlight in Odessa is a book that I would never have given a second glance to, and yet it’s one of the most enjoyable things I’ve read in ages. An unprepossessing cover, a not-at-all engaging publisher’s blurb, and a meh-sounding title; yet once started, it proved impossible to put down. The plot is simple and linear (not a car chase, zombie or parallel universe in sight); but there was just something about it. Same with the characters, and with the setting. I even found myself wistfully browsing travel sites, and googling “Odessa opera house” just to put myself more in the picture. (I thought I’d better not go googling “Odessa women” at work, just in case I got more than I bargained for …)

I don’t know if ‘Barbara’ is aware of this gift, but it is a true and precious one. The ability to know someone and to find and recommend books for them is rare (think about all those times someone you thought knew you quite well tries to foist a completely inappropriate book on you, and then gets all stroppy when you have to confess that you didn’t really like it), and should be celebrated.  So thanks, ‘Barbara’, and may you keep appearing silently beside me among the shelves for many months and years yet …

Seeking refuge in print this silly season?

C.S. Lewis once said that “You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me”. Now there is Books and Authorsa man after my own heart! But where do you start? There seems to be such a vast array of new titles and then there are those wonderful shelves of older books just waiting to be discovered. To top it all off, where are you going to find a book as good as the one you have just read? This is where we can help. Let me present:
  • Books and Authors: Helps you decide what to read next by allowing searches by genre such as wagon train westerns (!)  Then there is the Who, What, When, Where function where you can  browse by character, subject, location and time period. So, if you are looking for books on a boxer in London, this is the place to start!
  • NoveList Plus: a reading advisory tool suitable for all age groups. My favourite bit is using read-a-likes where you use a favourite author or series  to find others just like it.
  • NoveList K8 Plus: Aimed at kids and teens, this resource will help them find new reading options using their favourite writers, books or stories as a starting point.

All of these resources and many more are at the Source. You can access them at any community library or from the comfort of home with your library card number and PIN. Let’s face it, with the roads and shops the way they are, if you can escape into a book and a cup of tea then you have found yourself a happy refuge!

NoveList – the hunt for your next summer read is on

I am sLogoure I am not the first person to find myself curled up with a book that fails to distract me from the mediocrity and repetition of everyday working class life.

Reading advisory services to help avoid this situation can take two forms –  your friendly local librarian or the online services of  NoveList Plus for adults and NoveList K8 Plus for the squealies (aka children).

These resources have a host of attributes to help you with your reading quest, including:

  • lists of award winners;
  • recommended reading by genre;
  • suggested reading from similar authors (read-alikes);
  • feature articles;
  • first chapter excerpts;
  • book discussion guides.

All of this rich content is crafted by librarians, so you know it has to be exceptional. Access these and many other fantastic electronic resources from home with your library card number and PIN, or at our community libraries through the Source.

Bury that Playstation with your TV in the backyard and get reading, my peeps!

Listing to starboard (and beyond)

Books - they're waiting for you on the shelf ...

Sorting through a pile of papers the other day I came across a list that one of my children made, back in the day.  It was written in green and purple crayon, and decorated beautifully and intensively, and went a bit like this:

Things I like:  cats.  foxes.  my new bed.  singing.  drawing.  the sky.

And so on (it was quite a long list).  Seems listing is a bit of a family habit, and there’s so much to be said for sitting down with a blank piece of paper and pen, or a blank screen and keyboard.

With this in mind, I’ve got a bit of a challenge for you (and a treat, really).  Our new catalogue (oh, so shiny!) has a few features that make it truly a joy to play with, and one of the top treats is the list-making facility.  I’ve been having a blast creating lists online – it’s dead easy, and I can put whatever I want on them:

  • Books I have read,
  • Books I want to read,
  • Books the library owns,
  • or ones I’d like the library to own.

I can make my lists private, just for me, or public, so everyone can see and share my weird and wonderful finds.  I can name them, claim them, rearrange them …  I can think of all my favourite things (and not just books, but movies, music, websites too), and create one mega-list – say, Bronnypop’s Ultimate Reading and Viewing Wishlist.

Some days my Ultimate Wishlist could be called:
Books I want to read, with zombies and weird stuff, but not too much sexytimes, where the authors are cool and not pretentious, but still use quite big words.
Other days my Ultimate Wishlist might be:  True books about food critics who live in big European cities and eat delicious food.  And write about it.
Or even:  Books about librarians who have strange things happen to them, and solve mysterious mysteries, but not in a naff and cliche-d way, even though they have three cats.  And wear cardies.

So this is my challenge to you (two challenges, really):

  • Go have a look at BiblioCommons and find some lists you like (here’s some of the ones we’ve been working on for the library, and some for teens), and even have a go at making one yourself;
  • Tell us what your ultimate Booklist Wishlist title would be – comment below, and you never know, if it tickles our fancy enough, we may even have a go at creating it ourselves …

Reading Delirium: Is love a disease that must be cured?

booksA while ago, I asked around to find out what people were reading post-quake. A colleague mentioned she was really enjoying Delirium by Lauren Oliver – a dystopian novel set in an America that believes love is a disease that must be cured.

I was sold. It sounded really interesting and different, so I promptly got my hands on a copy.  Since February 22, I’m using the library more than I ever did before. I frequently put my “to do” lists aside so I can escape into other worlds. Delirium has satisfied this need perfectly. Although targeted towards young adult readers, enjoyment of this novel is certainly not confined to that one age group. Lauren Oliver writes with maturity about a complex topic. After one chapter, I was hooked.

The moral of this post? If you want to find a good book to read, it always pays to ask around. Ask your family, friends, neighbours, and work mates. Ask a librarian. We can give you some great suggestions to add to your reading list. Just tell us what authors you like, titles you’ve loved, and subjects you enjoy reading about. After all, we love books (and DVDs … and CDs … and magazines). And we love helping people even more!

Have you read something fantastic lately that you think more people should get into?

Be your own librarian: a help-yourself guide

CoverLibrarians have a term for helping people find something good to read – “reader’s advisory”. We also have a bunch of fantastic resources we use to find things. Now we’re going to share these not-so-secret tools of the trade with you. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to be left to your own devices when you use the library, then check out this treasure trove of great places to go for book suggestions: