Posted in Family, Today's File

Looking for YA Reading Recommendations

Christian--my Insatiable Reader!

It occurs to me that I have a marvelous resource here–of readers and writers–so I’m asking for your input! Here’s my challenge: finding suitable reading material for someone who reads at a post-graduate level, but has the interests of a 10-year-old boy.  I’ll be trolling the used bookstores for Christian’s Christmas, and I’d love your suggestions.  His current favorites, as a sampling of his reading-tastes:

  • Belgariad series by David Eddings
  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
  • Eragon series by Christopher Paolini
  • Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  • Lord of the Rings by Tolkien
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook by Shawn MacKenzie
  • How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell
  • Immortals series by Tamora Pierce
  • Warriors series by Erin Hunter
  • Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan

I’d be interested if you have suggestions at a higher reading level than these (it’s hard to keep the kiddo challenged) that might appeal to him–but truly, the main thing is the part about “appealing to him.” (And this will be double-fun for me… Reading books together is one of our “bonding things,” so I look forward to enjoying your suggestions as well!)

Thanks for your ideas!   ~Kana :)


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

55 thoughts on “Looking for YA Reading Recommendations

      1. I think they’re pretty great (and clever), and they’re higher level, fairly dense reading with lots of hilarious footnotes, probably more level with LOTR than some of the others on the list :) Love all the recommendations, I needed some for my 13 year old!

        I also have a random recommendation, more genre than reading level – Clive Barker has an older series he never finished called Abarat, he personally did gorgeous illustrations along with an interesting story about a young girl in a strange land.


        1. Excellent, thank you–I’ll check those out! His current reading-list is shaped by interest rather than reading ability, so I’m thrilled at the idea of catching his interest with some reading at a “denser” level. ;)


  1. My son (a college-level reader) loves Raymond Feist. He has since he was 9 years old. He’s 16 now. He waits with baited breath until the next novel is released. There are several sagas Raymond Feist has written, amounting to well over 20 books that will keep your reader glued for weeks, but he needs to read them in order.

    My son also loved Divergent and is about to read the sequel.

    The Iron Knight is amazing as is Fire: Tale of Elemental Spirits.


  2. Has he read Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull? They’re absolutely fantastic. Maybe a twinge easy for him, but hey. The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooperis an older set of books, but they’re good as well.
    Let’s see…
    The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke — fantastic.
    Sent, Book 1 of The Missing series, by Margaret Peterson Haddix — time-travel.
    Alcatraz Smedry series, by Brandon Sanderson — by far one of the funniest book series I’ve read.

    Also, classics I read when I was around his age:

    Chronicles of Narnia — my parents read them all to me before I re-read them
    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea — so good.
    Sherlock Holmes — a little older, but still some of my favorite stories
    Peter Pan — fun to read

    Happy reading to you both! I’m impressed at his reading level. :)



    1. Thank you! He does have Fablehaven (and I think my own copies of Narnia & Dark is Rising are probably around here somewhere)… Thanks for the new titles–and great ideas with the “old” ones! ;)


  3. Here’s an ebook I bought for my kiddos (including a 9-yr old grandson). REPLAY by Keira Lea (I read it first, and thoroughly enjoyed it.)

    “Kelsee Lewis has a new school, a prima donna best friend, and one week to write a hit play. Throw in a self-obsessed mom and an absent executive dad, and it’s no wonder she has panic attacks—complete with time-warp special effects. When Kelsee meets comic book maven Quinn, she realizes the attacks give her the ability to rewind time.”


  4. Kana, definitely get the “His Dark Materials” trilogy by Philip Pullman, starting with “The Golden Compass”. Amazing books, detailed, rich, weird and exciting. I wouldn’t watch the “Compass” movie beforehand–it doesn’t capture the novels as well as it should. I also recommend looking up MT Anderson’s books (he has THE BEST website), “The City Of Ember” by Jeanne Duprau is a wonderful read, and Ransom Riggs came out with a fabulous book, “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children”. It’s a SUPER treat. Happy reading!


    1. Wow, thank you–those are ALL new to me! Christian & I have a “policy” of not watching a movie before we’ve read the book, so that won’t be a problem. ;)


    1. Yes you SHOULD blow your own horn–especially in a venue of readers-and-writers, and when someone has ASKED for ideas! This goes on the list. :)


  5. The Hunger Games
    The Eleventh Plague
    I second the Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children suggestion. Awesome. My little ankle biter has the same taste as yours. He just finished the top two here and LOVED them.


  6. That’s a great list — more on there than on mine! Raymond E. Feist has created a collection of collections, all of which take place in the same world. The first, The Riftwar Saga, is where you would start, in this, and then there are lists. The first 3 books of this saga are very good, but the fourth, A Darkness at Sethanon, is absolutely captivating. Best of luck in your search!


    1. Ah, another Feist fan!! :-) If your young one likes fantasy, it doesn’t get much better than Feist. George R.R.R. Martin is also very good but Feist rules.


  7. His own reading list is already impressive for a lad of his tender years … hope these help …

    ‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Guard … bloody brilliant in me ‘umble opinion.

    The Raymond Feist series ‘The Riftwar Saga’ starts with ‘Magician’ (sometimes available as two books) ‘Silverthorn’, and ‘A darkness at Sethanon’

    If he’s into miiltary-ish space opera and is OK with a woman hero … the Honor Harrington series by David Webber. First book is ‘On Basilisk Station’ – mile long spaceships, space battles, tactics, acts of derring-do, etc

    In the same vein but with a male hero is the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. First book is ‘The Warrior’s Apprentice’.

    -note to self, must go back and read these-


  8. I find this post so encouraging. I wrote my series, The Stream, precisely with boys like your son in mind. The main characters are 12, and its set in a world of dreams, dragons and fantasy, but I didn’t want to write a “kids book.” What I did was attempt to write a story that would appeal to fantasy fiction readers, but mostly to boys, whom I feel have been left out in current writing trends.

    I had this theory that there are plenty of boys aged 10 – 18, whom are advanced readers, and but no one writes stories targeted to them. So hearing a ten-year-old who’s looking for something challenging makes me happy. I loved Harry Potter, but the vocabulary and sentence structure is younger than my books. I was beginning to think I had made a mistake making the main characters kids.

    If you should be interested, the first book is currently available in limited release for the Kindle ( However, Books 1 (Discovery) and 2 (Awakening) will be available 1st quarter 2012 in paperback.

    Maybe I can send your son a copy of each to get some early feedback.


    1. That would be AMAZING, Bill! Please do let me know if that’s a real possibility–I’ll send you our address in a heartbeat. :)


    1. Right there with you! Oddly enough, given his penchant for dragons, McCaffrey’s books so far have failed to keep his interest. Too bad, since I have a whole shelf-full! But maybe he’ll come around. ;)


      1. Aw, wow, the books that immediately popped into my head while reading this post were McCaffrey’s Pern books, so here I am reading through the comments to see if anyone else mentioned them. It’s nice to know you at least are familiar with the books and have a bunch on hand! (By the way, speaking of her books, Anne McCaffrey recently passed away at Dragonhold, her home in Ireland, in case you hadn’t heard.) I’m wondering, there are so many Pern books, did you start Christian out with the very first ones? Those are the ones that captured me that I still treasure. The first trilogy, Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon; and then the Harper Hall trilogy, Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums. Great for children and adults, but then you know that already.

        Well, he has plenty of time, and inevitably will make his own choices. I didn’t read these books, or much other science fiction or fantasy, for that matter, until I was in my early twenties.


        1. I gave him Dragonflight–although as I think back it was the Harper Hold trilogy that I first fell for, at his age, so maybe I’ll try again with those ones. :)


  9. Okay, I might be a little bias, but our Quake line has several books that you might consider. Keep in mind that these books are written for kids reading at the “age” level not the “skill” level, but they are fantastically entertaining. I have read them all and find them remarkable…okay, that’s why I published them, but even if I had not I would still recommend them. They are all available in both print and eBook.

    Killer Cows by D.M. Anderson (a school teacher)
    Thomas RIley by Nick Valentino (steampunk by a really cool guy)
    Fur-Face by Jon Gibbs (a neat author from across the pond)
    Surviving Serendipity by Jacquelyn Sylvan (a girl…I know, but a great fantasy)
    DFF: Dead Friends Forever by J.R. Turner (the start of an AWESOME YA horror series)
    School’s Out 4-ever by J.R. Turner (#2)
    Detour 2 Death by J.R. Turner (#3)
    Fang Face by Norm Cowie (the only vampire story to make me laugh out loud)
    Betrayed by Sam Morton (#1 in teen spy series)
    Ten Weeks Til…by Sam Morton (#2 in teen spy series)
    Rain by Kieryn Nicolas (written by teen when she was 13 yo)
    Flawless Ruin by Kieryn Nicolas (this one made me go look up the word dystopian…LOL)

    Okay. That should get him going. heehee and the eBooks are all only $2.99 each! Seriously, you can buy them all for a little more than the cost of ONE hardback. Can I deal or what?



  10. Such great book already mentioned (and some I am going to check out myself!)
    The Earthsea books are always a delight. On the more whimsical side there is Terry Pratchett–just about anything, though Hogfather is particularly apt for the season ;-)…And if he enjoys short stories, there is The Dragon Book–a collection of dragon stories (obviously :-)….


  11. Since he does seem to have a science fiction leaning, I’ll 2nd some of the recommendations like Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” – the protagonist is a young boy, Ender Wiggins, who is being scouted to see if he could be a future fleet commander against an invasion threatening Earth.

    Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time”
    Robert Asprin’s – “Thieves’ World” series which is a shared world anthology of short stories written by some well-known science fiction writers.

    Roger Zelazny’s “The Chronicles of Amber”
    C.S. Lewis “The Chronicles of Narnia” – it may be a little below his reading level, but the stories themselves may make up for it.


  12. When I was his age, I loved Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising” series. It has the bonus of spurring interest in the King Arthur myth.

    I am also a fan of Lloyd Alexander’s “Prydain Chronicles.” Alexander has written a lot of YA books – a seriously underappreciated writer here in the states, though I assume he’s better known in his native Wales.

    I read a bit of “Artemis Fowl” as an adult (I am too old for them to have been an option when I was a kid) and loved the ones I read. So it’s possible he’d like the 2 two series I do. GOOD LUCK! I assume Harry Potter is already on the list….


    1. Alexander was a favorite of mine growing up too! Christian has read the Prydain series, but I’m suddenly remembering the “Westmark” books as well… Thank you :)


  13. Ditto on momsomniac’s suggestion of Susan Cooper’s “The Dark Is Rising” series. I would also highly recommend Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series.


  14. daughter’s recommendations:
    His Dark Material series by Phillip Pullman were awesome – its what the Gold Compass was based on, but the movie was shit.
    My friends recommend the Supernaturalist by eoin colfer.

    son recommends: Ender’s Game


  15. I just finished and blogged about a YA award winner called “Milo, Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze” by Alan Silberberg. Definitely a winner with adults as well as middle grade readers. The hero is twelve so that may be just the ticket to reading something more realistic than sci fi and dragons when he’s tired of them. This book is about a loser gaining new self confidence as he finishes grieving for his mother. You’re gonna love this as much as he will. A good book to read together. You’ll laugh as well in the funny parts. See my review on my blog at :
    I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. :)


  16. Where were all you people (commenters) when I was growing up reading these books and it seemed like no one else was, except my sisters? We could have had a book club.

    Has he read Tolkien yet? To go in a totally different direction, I also love all books I’ve read by Jerry Spinelli, such as Maniac Magee and Stargirl and Loser. Not fantasy, but very good, very human books.


  17. Julian May’s “The Pliocene Epoch” series and then the “Galactic Milieu” series. I’m almost sorry I’ve read them because I would love to fall in love with them again. And so many recommendations you’ve received – you’re good for many gift occasions! Also, “The Dragon Riders of Pern” series is one of the few series of books I keep. I read it over and over.


  18. II would definitely encourage you trying to find “The Giving Tree”. It is deceptively simple. It actually does not NEED to get more complex, or more “sophisticated” to get across its timeless message.


  19. Could give you a million in one suggestions ; D I LOVE fantasy and apparently so does Christian. I’ll give you just a few for now.
    Tolkien in level –
    Tad Williams – Dragon Bone Chair + rest of series has two other series too of which the Virtual Reality one is interesting too but might be a bit too adult for him and I’ve not yet read the other.
    Raymond E. Feist – tons of different series all based around the same world but I’d start with his earliest ones.
    Christopher Rowley – Basil Broketail series about a dragon and his boy that fight together.
    Anne McCaffery – Pern series is about dragons and she has many other series too. Some of it also might be a bit adult.
    Piers Anthony – Xanth series a magic world and full of puns, long series so do few at a time.
    Robert L. Asprin – Myth series (Another Fine Myth) a boy wizard becomes aprenticed to a demon (or dimension traveler). Great sence of humor in this series too.

    Harry Potterish or easier in level but I still love them
    C.S. Lewis – Narnia
    Lloyd Alexander – Prydain series (Book of Three etc) and many many other books by him
    E.D. Baker – The Frog Princess series


  20. My daughter, 11, has enjoyed a couple of those on his current list. Her all-time favorite is The Sight by David Clement-Davies, with the sequel, Fell, coming in a close second.


  21. Oh, also, if he hasn’t read “Holes”, it needs to be on the list. It’s brilliant.

    He might like my my YA novella “The Pied Piper of St. May” as well. : )

    Here for Kindle:

    Or for Nook:

    It’s a science fiction/horror story. It’s only 26 pages or so, but I think, given how much his tastes overlap with mine, he might like it. I am working on getting a more appealing cover in place.


  22. I well and truly empathize with Christian’s plight. I found myself in precisely the same situation at his age. A lot of my favorites have already been listed, so here’s my recommendations:

    Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen (three-part fantasy trilogy by Garth Nix)
    The Last Book in the Universe (excellent dystopian s-f novel by Rodman Philbrick)
    The Wee Free Men (and other Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett, set in his famous Discworld)
    The Malloreon volumes 1 & 2, the Tamuli and the Elenium (more fantasy by Eddings)
    Something Wicked This Way Comes (classic fantasy/horror by Ray Bradbury)
    The Shannara Series (enormous set of epic fantasy books Terry Brooks)
    Un Lun Dun (clever urban fantasy China Mieville–think YA Neverwhere)
    Mistborn Trilogy (well-written fantasy trilogy by Brandon Sanderson)
    Stardust (Neil Gaiman)


    1. I love what Sanderson has done with picking up the late Robert Jordan’s work, but haven’t (yet) read his “originals”… Thanks for the recommendations! :)


  23. Didn’t read ALLL the comments so this might be a repeat, but has he read the Dragons of Pern series by Anne McCaffery? Christian has such good taste!


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