Parents’ Corner

Parents will often ask what books they can pick for their children for over the summer holidays. They want titles that will supplement their children’s academic progress, improve their vocabularies, and whet their interest in new topics. Of course, they also want these books to be enjoyable.

People will often ask for help with picking reading materials for their teenagers for over the Summer holidays. They want books that will supplement their children’s academic progress  – something which will increase their daughters’ vocabulary, whet  their interest in new topics, and maybe even give an education in current affairs or an historical topic. Of course, the books should still be enjoyable and instill a lifelong love of reading.

In my experience, someone who reads for life  is often voracious, undiscriminating and eclectic in their taste, especially early on. I have seen teenagers checking out five books at once, happily including Maeve Binchy, J.K. Rowling,  Manga (a Japanese comic book) Charlotte Brontë and Chinua Achebe in that pile.

We worry about whether their reading material is challenging them sufficiently or whether they should be reading more nonfiction. Teens’ taste for mass-market fantasy series is criticised online, and their Romance stories are mocked. Writers ponder whether it is time for them to move beyond mass-market fantasy series and try contemporary fiction while, perhaps hypocritically, adults around the world are buying and reading Young Adult literature in droves.

As a school librarian, I usually find that the reader finds their own way along this path, and at their own speed. Reading for reading’s sake is enough. Once a young person has caught ’the reading bug’, the rest will (usually) follow. Not everyone takes to reading at the same pace, and it takes all of us a while to find our favourite books. Even the most avid readers go through reading slumps. Some teenagers are reluctant readers and others get stuck in ‘reading ruts’. I’m more concerned with how we can foster in our teens a lifelong love of books, and how we can make sure they are introduced to the best possible foundation to the vast world of 

Sometimes the world of teenage fiction (alternatively called Young Adult Literature, juvenile fiction, young people’s reads and other names!) seems alien to us. The media can dismiss trends or authors; we might be put off by high fantasy, horror or whatever it is our young people are reading. As an adult who reads YA, I can assure you that it’s often excellent! Talk to your daughter about what she’s reading (with an open mind) and maybe even try it yourself. You might be surprised. After all, there’s a reason why the top twenty most borrowed books of 2018 from Public Libraries were all children’s and young people’s books!

Public Libraries

One support we can provide, especially over the holidays, is opportunity: time to read, choice of books, and freedom to try new things.

We are blessed with beautiful bookshops in Dublin, but there’s no doubt that books are expensive (especially if you have a teenagers reading five novels a week). We have a great public library network in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, so if you haven’t joined up yet, now is your chance. Find your local library here.

As a member, your daughter will be able to borrow 12 items, including items from other public libraries. She will also be able to borrow another 12 items from the downloadable collections (i.e. ebooks and audiobooks).

There’s more here about upcoming events, finding your local library and more. Your public libraries are a wonderful service!

Resources

There is a wealth of information online, but it can be hard to find just what you are looking for. Here are a few resources I find quite useful when recommending books for my readers. There are links to book review sites, book lists, content guides and more. I have also included links to some good blog posts and articles you might find interesting.

Common Sense Media is a website for  parents, educators and others who work with young people. It provides reviews and ratings of books, games and films with age guidelines based around content, language and maturity. The reviews are written by parents and teenagers. This is most helpful when a parent already has a title in mind and is unsure about whether their teen might be interested or if the content will be suitable, rather than as a starting place to look for reading recommendations.

This is an offshoot of the regular and better-known  Book Riot (which is also worth keeping an eye on). New book releases, articles, lists, opinion pieces, etc., are often a good way of finding out what’s new and exciting in the world of young people’s fiction.

From Penguin Random House – a magazine-style website geared towards parents wanting their children to read. (It also has other sections for younger children, so click through if you have young ‘uns!)

Book Reviews

Goodreads is an online reading community. Members can list the books they have read and the books they like in their personal bookshelf, give them ratings and reviews.

If your teen adds her favourite books with ratings, Goodreads will start to suggest other books for her to read based on her preferences.

Writing and reading reviews, completing reading challenges, joining online book clubs and other similar activities are great ways for your teen to engage with a reading community and to find new books.

Cluny Library has its own Goodreads Account. If you look around, you can find some of our recommended reads for younger and older teens. Our book recommendations are all linked here too, and you can click through for reviews from the Goodreads community.

Teen Bestseller Lists

Most bookshops display their best-selling or trending YA, or at least a well-curated list. It’s worth keeping an eye on those.

Articles and Blog Posts

Nine Ways to Get Teens Reading (Common Sense Media blog post)

How “Young Adult” Fiction Blossomed With Teenage Culture in America

What Exactly Is ‘Young Adult’ Fiction?