TWEENS Have It
By Natalie Bright
Children’s literature once offered the genres of picture book and everything else. Thankfully today that grey area of choices after pictures is more clearly defined with early readers, chapter books, middle grade, upper middle grade, tween, and young adult.
The new group that emerged with efforts to focus on “tweens”, between childhood and young adults, is the topic of this blog post. You’ve probably noticed that many industries are reaching out to this group, from entertainment to fashion to reading material.
Tweens, defined as being between 10-14 years of age, seem to live in two worlds. When I talk to classrooms I’m reminded that they are still children and sometimes very immature. In other instances, I’m shocked at the complexity of the questions they can ask.
It’s a complicated age; that time period between childhood and young adult. I’ve witnessed this with our own boys. Reading a book with chapters was a big deal. Our oldest totally skipped most of the tween offerings and went straight to nonfiction on the topics that held interest for him. Our youngest enjoyed the light, simple plots of chapter books. By the time he was in fourth grade he was reading at a Jr. High level and he wanted stories that were more complex. As a parent, I was cautious about the drug and sex themes covered in the young adult genre, and thankfully there were some in-between novels that held his interest.
Holes, by Louis Sachar
HOLES is the perfect example of a book for tweens, in my opinion. It includes folklore, a mystery, and contemporary issues of a work camp for difficult teenagers, along with a mystery that spans across several generations. It appeals to both girls and boys. I enjoyed the book and the movie equally as well.
Children today are much more sophisticated in their reading choices I think. Of course, there’s always the kids who never read and those who read anything and everything. Several books I would have classified with young adult type themes, seem to have resonated with the younger crowd as well.
Good Story is Everything
As my then 6th grader got into the car after school one day, he asked, “What is team Edward and team Jacob?” Twilight was a hot topic among the tween crowd from many years. My son really wasn’t interested in reading the books at all, but agreed to watch the Pay-per-View with me. “I guess I’ll have to, so I can know what the girls talk about all day.”
Bottom line: a unique, well-written story is a good story, no matter the target age.