Whilst I was out and about today, I had a thought – rare, I know – regarding the books I read as a child. A couple more thoughts followed this one, as they often do, asking me “When did you transition to YA fiction?”
The answer to this turns out to be when I was about fourteen. That’s when I remember reading more YA books – Vampire Academy, Maze Runner, and so on – in my free time. However, at this point I was far too old (or at least, in my eyes) to be reading children’s fiction!
No, there was a delicate stage between the two, with children’s fiction being just a little too “babyish” for me, and YA coming-of-age novels being just a smidge too old. After rummaging around in my memory for a bit, I remembered a phase in my reading that I’d all but forgotten about: the pre-teen books.
The aim of this list isn’t necessarily to provide five-star reads; it contains books that were useful to me in my early teen years, books that helped me start navigating things like school, and crushes, and the general experience of being a girl growing up.
(Note: This post isn’t intended to be exclusionary in any way, it’s just a reflection of the things I personally found useful in my own experiences as a female. If you have a young person in your life, female or otherwise, these could benefit them too!)
Cathy Cassidy Books
Of course this is the first author on my list. She’s technically a YA author, but her books are definitely aimed at the younger end of the spectrum. The vast majority of her novels are romance-based, but we’ll put that to one side for a second because of one thing:
You name any issue, be it broken families, poverty, death – she’s written it.
I think my favourite book of hers will always be Driftwood; it’s a beautiful story about learning to trust, gaining confidence, and stepping out of the shadows. I only fully realised the details of the plot years after reading it, and I will admit that this one touches on a few more mature themes like depression, but Cassidy always explores them in a way that’s accessible to the reader.
Lost’s Recommendations: Driftwood, Dizzy and Gingersnaps
Mates, Dates series by Cathy Hopkins
I don’t think I ever did read all of these – there’s so many of them!?! But they’re about a group of girls, all in about Year 9 at school, and the series just kind of…deals with everything? They’re a lot more light-hearted than the Cathy Cassidy books, but they’re pretty good for young girls who’re starting to question their identity, and how they should look, and who their true friends are.
Again, they’re pretty “teen romance-y” but the main characters are relatable, funny, and a good time can be had by reading them.
By the same author is the Truth, Dare, Kiss, Promise series, which are similarly light-hearted, but also have a couple of male protagonists (each book tends to be narrated by a different member of the main friendship group).
Jacqueline Wilson Books
I debated whether or not to include Ms Wilson on this list, since her books do tend to err on the younger side. However, the Hetty Feather series always remained a firm favourite of mine, even up to the age of sixteen, so I’m putting her on her.
Similar to Cathy Cassidy, if there’s any topic you’re curious about, Wilson has written it. Her books tend to be less romance-based, from what I can recall, and more focused around family and friendship; in fact, I don’t think I actually remember her writing an outright romance.
Lost’s Recommendations: Little Darlings, Hetty Feather and Lily Alone
Rose by Holly Webb
This is the one for those who can’t quite let go of the magic of childhood. Rose will forever be one of my favourite series, as it combines magic and growing up beautifully, without much of a romance.
It’s aimed nearer ten year olds than thirteen, however there are still dark moments and enough adventure to keep everyone entertained. This is more of a novel to help your young reader forget about the outside world for a bit, and give them a chance to inhabit a whole other world.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Hands up who remembers this! I’ll admit, it has been a long, LONG, time since I read these. I don’t remember a whole lot of the plot, besides the fact that there is, in fact, a princess, who is played by Anne Hathaway in the film.
However, the point still stands that they’re pretty good books for younger teens! They’re full of the high-school drama you expect, and they’re full of how to deal with it too!!
I will admit, these are perhaps a little outdated for teens nowadays, but they were useful as someone learning to deal with relationships and other ~themes~ in life.
Anyone got any to add?
Lots of love,