It’s the question on thousands of teenage lips, one I tried to bribe my daughter to ask her school librarian — as a test, and also because I was curious. A good librarian (ie, one who loves and reads books) should be able to answer even a really difficult question like ‘what should I read after Twilight?’ (or Harry Potter). Because not every kid will go on to read a hundred other books on his or her own volition.
It seems to me, that what’s missing from the Just Read petition (sent to me by ex-children’s laureate Michael Rosen) is the most important bit of getting kids to read — a great librarian. Someone (unlike most teachers) who has time to read even a fraction of the thousands of books out there, and then match kids up with books they’re likely to enjoy. Does anyone know of a primary school these days with an actual school librarian? It’s crazy. And all the money in the world spent on books won’t sort the problem.
I know from personal experience that you can’t just throw books at kids and hope they stick (well, you can with some kids, but we’re not worrying about them). It requires a serious bit of matchmaking.
In the absence of a great one in your neck of the woods, here are a few of my suggestions.
After Harry Potter, try the Lloyd Alexander Chronicles of Prydain series, Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series, anything by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions, Cosmic, Framed), The Magician’s Elephant by Kate di Camillo, Jenny Valentine’s Finding Violet Park. Or my favourite, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Or Morris Gleitzman’s amazing series, Once, Then and Now. And please excuse me for not putting in the links — the pictures take long enough and I have a book to write.
After Twilight, try Patrick Ness’ Knife of Never Letting Go (but beg or bribe your child to read past the first chapter, which is unwelcoming); Sally Gardner’s The Red Necklace; Bridget Jones Diary; Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli; The Giver, Lois Lowry; Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, any of the Paul Faustino books by Mal Peet — Keeper, The Penalty, Exposure….
And of course, more suggestions actively sought. Especially from any brilliant librarian.