What is your teenager reading?

(61 Posts)
Mrshighandmighty Fri 08-Mar-13 12:43:57

Interesting article on BBC news today:

"A study of reading habits of 300,000 pupils in 1,600 UK schools found many 13- and 14-year-olds opting for books with a primary school reading age.

Boys were particularly likely to read books which were less difficult.

Report author Prof Keith Topping says this could explain why teenagers' reading levels could "lag behind".

The average reading age of the books chosen by 13 and 14-year-olds was only 10 years, claims the report."

What are your teenagers reading? My three dss are dwelling happily in the dystopian nightmares of Charlie Higson's adult zombies trying to kill anyone under 14 (*sigh*) ...

Am I the only one who is really over the whole vampire romance/zombie killing-spree genres?

Thoughts (& suggestions!) please ...?

DS2 (15)is reading a Lee Child novel. Lots of violence but no vampires. It is true though that he will drift back to books well below his capability and is very reluctant to tackle anything unfamiliar, on the other hand he does really love reading and I hope that will stay with him. His ideal book involves a Zombie apocalypse.
DS1(17) hasn't read fiction since he was about 11 and is reading something about quantum physics.

Lancelottie Fri 08-Mar-13 13:03:36

I've just been to look.

DS2 (13) appears to be simultaneously reading 'Gone' (sort of Hunger-Games-alike), The Book Thief, some kind of anime (or is it manga?) grapic novel, and some PG Wodehouse.

DS1 (16) is reading Top Gear magazine. Oh dear.

naranji Fri 08-Mar-13 13:04:14

Horse and Hound smile she only reads fiction for school

HousewifeFromHeaven Fri 08-Mar-13 13:09:59

My dd 16 is reading the da Vinci code

Son is only 11 but is devoted to cherub at the moment.

RubberDuck Fri 08-Mar-13 13:12:49

Is it just me that doesn't think it's an issue?

I read stuff that's much easier than I'm capable of reading from time to time. It's called leisure. No-one should have to apologise for their reading choices, and the fact they're reading at all (for enjoyment no less!) should be celebrated!

hardboiled Fri 08-Mar-13 13:15:59

Ditto rubber.

wordfactory Fri 08-Mar-13 13:24:06

DD (13) reads all sorts. Adult fiction. Yound adult. Children's. I don't get invloved any longer.

Recently, she's read Looking For JJ by Anne Cassidy, Before I die by Jenny Downham, Junk by Melvyn Burgess.

She's currently reading Theodore Boone by John Grisham.

DS (13) is laboriously working his way through the Hunger Games trilogy.

dontwanttobefatandforty Fri 08-Mar-13 13:28:03

DD 15 is reading Twitter and DS 12 is reading whatever pops up on his x-box games grin

jeee Fri 08-Mar-13 13:31:48

DD1 (okay, only 12, so technically not a teen) announced last weekend that she thought it was time to stretch herself reading-wise. She's reading through St Clare's and Malory Towers.....

Frankly, she has so much homework these days that I'm pleased she's choosing to read to unwind. And I'm hardly in a position to judge as my relaxing read of choice is the Chalet School.

Amphitrite Fri 08-Mar-13 13:31:53

DD1 (15) is reading It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, which I would describe as a 21st century The Bell Jar. She is a big fan of US teen authors such as John Green and David Levithan (check out Every Day, it is brilliant).
DD2 (13) is reading the John Grisham teen series at the moment, she alternates between histfic and thrillers normally.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 08-Mar-13 13:33:27

dd (16) is reading Never Let Me Go, very slowly: I don't think she's enjoying it much. Things she's liked this year - Don't Look Now, Night Watch, The Little Stranger. But she most definitely does still read children's books too - if she's having a bath while feeling low, out come the Lemony Snickets...

dd(11) is reading 4 Children and It, not being able to find anything on her shelves last night and after a hasty kindle upload. [shame]

GooseyLoosey Fri 08-Mar-13 13:37:51

I understand why you might read "down" to relax. I spend all day reading highly technical and complex stuff. My idea of relaxation is to read something that has medieval monks killing each other and no long words. The thought of reading the latest quasi-intellectual best-seller is a complete turn off.

I cannot see why it should be any different for children. They spend all day assimilating complicated information. Their brains need some mush for down time!

mysteryfairy Fri 08-Mar-13 13:44:59

My DSs are 17 and 16 and still devour every new Charlie Higson zombie book and Robert Muchamore story as it comes out. I don't worry about this unduly as I have a first degree in English Literature and Masters in Law but it doesn't stop me reading Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella novels on holiday.

I can get the boys to read adult books mostly by luring them in with ones with shocking content The Cement Garden, The Wasp Factory - that sort of thing.

My younger brother is in his thirties, has a PhD and a very high powered job on Wall Street. It's reliably reported to me that he reads Richmal Crompton's William books on the subway into work most mornings!

TallulahTwinkle Fri 08-Mar-13 13:49:02

My ds 14 is reading Trainspotting at the moment, before that was The grapes of Wrath and The Catcher in the Rye.

However, he does also read his little sister's Diary of A Wimpy Kid Books and horrible histories grin

Copthallresident Fri 08-Mar-13 14:30:55

I think you should be careful about dismissing the whole zombie / vampire thing. Once engaged maybe readers will move on to other things and also it is part of their culture, which obviously is made all the more valuable for us sneering at it wink.

I have been very dismissive of DDs early interest in Princess Diaries and too much time spent watching what I call "American rubbish" like Gilmour girls (is it just me or are all those American teen things actually a race to get as many words out in a monotone in the course of 25minutes) but Mad Men has now led to DD (17) discovering Richard Yates (whose clear and crisp writing is a joy) and that has led to the actual Bell Jar, Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, The Bridge over San Luis Ray................ and I may have been known to devour a box set of Don in a day

Both DDs are into Chuck Palahniuk and Brett Easton Ellis which look like rubbish to me but then what do I know.....

Allfurcoatandnoknickers Fri 08-Mar-13 14:40:49

Nothing sadly. Reading has been so much of a issue over the years for my 15yo dyslexic son. We have tried every genre of book, magazines etc, but to no avail. The only book he read recently and almost enjoyed was Benjamin Zephaniah, Teachers Dead.
I feel very sad as I devour books and feel that he is really missing out. Perhaps one day he will feel differently...

Copthallresident Fri 08-Mar-13 14:56:05

Allfurcoat DB was severely dyslexic and didn't read a novel until he was 30, and then it was that ex SAS guy, Andy McNabb, which led to the second book he read......."Wuthering Heights" smile I am sure your son will feel differently one day, DB reads a lot now.

BTW I know how difficult it is (I am also dyslexic and so are my DDs but I think there are more ways into literature for girls) but they do at least recognise the issues now and hopefully they get some degree of support however inadequate. Part of DBs problem was being switched off so entirely by a system that didn't get him at all (Head to parents AFTER they had got a diagnosis from an Ed Psych "The trouble with you middle class parents is that you can't accept your child is stupid"). However he ended up doing OND / HND/ a degree by day release and now is Head of Engineering for a Europe wide company. Hopefully your sons day will arrive more quickly.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 08-Mar-13 15:56:09

My 14 y/o DD1 is reading this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creative-Writing-Coursebook-Authors-Exercises/dp/0333782259

My 9 y/o DD2 is reading Skullduggery pleasant book 2. My 12 y/o dyslexic reluctant reader DS is allegedly reading a Terry Pratchett book, he is most definitely listening to Old Harry's Game the complete series on audiobook. As I type.

Allfurcoatandnoknickers Fri 08-Mar-13 16:07:30

Thanks Copthallresident for your post. It is very hard to help my son as he is so switched off from reading. He loves photography and is creative, so hoping there will be a route in to that for him.

Kez100 Fri 08-Mar-13 17:16:53


I've a severly dyslexic son who never reads but knows more about pretty much anything than I do. He (avidly) listens to audiobooks and you tube blogs/vlogs and is involved in drama.

My daughter, who is not dyslexic but never reads either, is currently on a photography level 3 diploma and reports her college, a competitive art college, offers a lot of support for dyslexics in her photography group (she is trying to convince my son to go there but they don't offer the right courses for him). So, good luck to him!

Allfurcoatandnoknickers Fri 08-Mar-13 17:22:46

Thanks that's very encouraging to hear!

23balloons Fri 08-Mar-13 17:37:22

Hi ds1, also dyslexic, had never read a book until a couple of weeks ago. He is 12 and now reading the Cherub series (that apparently everyone at school is reading). I recently got him a kindle off eBay, one of the older ones that has text to voice so if he is tired the kindle can read out the words. You can also enlarge the text and look up words by highlighting. It might be worth a try allfurcoats it's not a cheap option but after 8 years of trying to get him interested in reading it is worth it to me!

nightswimmer Fri 08-Mar-13 17:38:18

My daughter-nearly 15-Terry Pratchett- lots of them , one after the other. My attitude to her reading over the years has always been, whatever it is, as long as she's reading I don't care too much what it is. She's another one who read and re-read books that were young for her age for a long time, but I figured she just needed to do that, the comfort of it, or whatever.

Sparrows12 Fri 08-Mar-13 18:57:43

One (13) has just devoured a series with titles like Fear, Pain, Plague or whatever - all very grim and I'm holding out until the last one is in paperback. The other (16) has no time to read anymore but next to her bed she has Chavs by Owen Jones and the house of the spirits by Isabelle allende. Both half read.

Copthallresident Fri 08-Mar-13 19:56:32

allfur and baloons I got a Kindle for traveling and by the by started to notice I was reading more quickly and easily (after being an avid reader for decades, I had always assumed that in all my gobbling up of books since the age of 7 I had overcome any difficulties with reading and my dyslexia mainly kicked in with my appalling spelling and inability to proof read) I then learned that the Learning Support Unit at the local boys school had just bought them in for all the boys they support. One DD has realised the same, the other won't give up on her love of books and I am evil and a betrayer apparently.....

AScorpionPitForMimes Fri 08-Mar-13 20:03:41

I agree that in part this is logical - if I were being bombarded with Of Mice and Men at school, I'd want to dumb down and unwind at home. I remember when I was doing my A-levels, I read Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Jack Vance and Rex Stout at home to relax.

My older DD is just 12 so no longer a teen, but even now she reads a mix of easy and difficult and usually has at least 2 books on the go simultaneously. She's just finished LOTR and is now reading a Rick Riordan clone about Pegasus, but since she's doing Pygmalion at school I think she really does need to unwind with something easy. And the His Dark Materials trilogy is next on her list.

diabolo Fri 08-Mar-13 20:13:04

13 year old DS is just about to finish The Fellowship of the Ring - his interest was sparked after seeing the films over Christmas and he actually went to our bookshelf and got out his dad's copy without any nagging on my part. He says he can't wait to move on to the Two Towers.

Before that he had been reading the newest Rick Riordan / Percy Jackson stuff and the Michael Grant "Gone" series, which many others on here seem to be reading too.

busymummy3 Fri 08-Mar-13 22:39:29

DD is 16 always reading has just finished The Great Gatsby and is now reading Call the Midwife. Before that has been reading Mortal Instruments or something ??? series and like everyone else I know with teenagers has read all The Hunger Games.

INeverSaidThat Fri 08-Mar-13 22:41:05

DS 18 reading a Tom Holt book.
DD 15 reading The Hobbit (nearly finished it)

ZZZenAgain Fri 08-Mar-13 22:44:31

dd 12 hasn't read much fiction lately just factual books on how things work /science etc. Currently in the middle of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur C. Doyle)

This is what's on the shelf next to 13 year old DS1's bed:

The fourth Maze Runner book (James Dashner)
One of those zombie Death/Enemy/Fear things (Charlie Higson)
Something called 'The Fury'

TaggieCampbellBlack Fri 08-Mar-13 22:51:23

DD2 -14, rarely reads anything. Just doesn't like it.

DD1 - 16, is a bookworm like me. Currently on F Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the night. After doing The Great Gatsby for school and loved it. She also rereads the Harry Potters constantly and follows me with everything I put on my Kindle.

BestIsWest Sat 09-Mar-13 18:48:18

Kez100 Your son sounds exactly like my DS.

He is severely dyslexic but knows far more than me about many things. You tube blogs/vlogs/audio are his kind of thing too.
He would struggle to read a book but listens to things like The Wasp Factory on Audio CD.

He's a huge fan of Comic books too which I encourage and so does his excellent English teacher.

microcosmia Mon 11-Mar-13 00:03:14

DS (14) is currently reading the Gone series by Michael Grant (Gone/Lies/Plague/Hunger etc) mentioned earlier. He has a bookcase heaving with books but tends to read a narrow range and return to those he likes over and over. He also likes manga and marvel graphic novels.

He normally has several books on the go at one time, and one of them is always a Percy Jackson book. He's been re-reading those for FOUR years now (!). Some shops list them as 9-12 years and others have them in the teen section but I would say they are for a younger readership mostly. I do wonder sometimes why he re-reads them so frequently, most weeks he'll pick one up. Obviously he really loves them and they are probably like a "comfort" read. I'm not too bothered but I know he could stretch himself more. I do think kids need to read around their level a bit rather than moving on in a linear way. Before that it was Horrible Histories and come to think of it he still reads those at times.

Every week in his school they have DEAR (drop everything and read) classes and as far as I can tell he's brought the PJ books in 90% of the time. Maybe I should be worried...

OnGoldenPond Mon 11-Mar-13 08:25:25

DD (13) devours books, spends a fortune on them, very varied tastes. Has read all Kazuo Ishiguro's, Frankenstein, Dracula, Handmaid's Tale, quite a bit of Bronte, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare. but also loves Hunger Games, Cherubs, Jody Picoult etc. She also does the reading 3 at the same time, don't know how she doesn't get completely confused! Thankfully she got past the Twilight phase 3 years ago!

I think it is important to encourage reading of a wide range of books so DC's don't get the idea that reading classics is a "chore". I love Margaret Attwood, Hardy, Brontes, Isabelle Allende etc, bit also love a good Lee Child as they are really well written and great to read. The common thread is that they are all well written and I ENJOY reading them. I find Dickens completely deadly and gave up on Little Dorritt after 20 pages. Life is too short!

DS at 11 needs quite a bit of encouragement to read but when prompted loves Michael Morpurgo and anything to do with WW2. Reading does not seem to come as naturally to boys.

Bink Mon 11-Mar-13 09:02:18

ds (nearly 14) has a Kindle stuffed with 'spies and lasers, Mum, now leave me alone' - he has a pocket money account and goes through the taster chapters and downloads things that fit his bill. (It's all around the Cherub genre, I think.)

He also reads more classic things - lots of science fiction (Ray Bradbury, John Wyndham), and recently Orwell - he's on Down & Out in Paris & London at the moment, which is a great read for a teenager.

OnGoldenPond Mon 11-Mar-13 09:12:09

Oh, I've got that Orwell in my pile of books to read - is he enjoying it?

DD has read Animal Farm and enjoyed, will pass on the other Orwell to her.

FreedomOfTheTess Mon 11-Mar-13 10:20:51

DS1 (13) is currently reading Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent trilogy, which is set in a dystopian (future world) Chicago. It has a bit of a The Hunger Games vibe to it, but after finishing the first book in the series, DS1 has already declared it better than The Hunger Games.

DS1 likes to mix up his reading, so while he is currently reading a 'teen/young adult' novel, his previous book was Wuthering Heights. And no he wasn't reading it for school, he read it out of choice, as he likes the Kate Bush song of the same name. grin

ateacherwrites Mon 11-Mar-13 13:46:47

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 11-Mar-13 13:51:10

Ds (13) is going through Terry Pratchett's disc world books. All of them.

Pantah630 Mon 11-Mar-13 16:38:09

DS2, 13, currently has three on the go. Fatherland by Robert Harris, Passenger by Andrew Smith (sequel to The Marbury Lens) and a weighty tome about the Cold War, The Iron Curtain by Anne Applebaum. He's a history buff and very interested in WW2. He devoured the Henderson Boys and Cherub books but is preferring more adult stuff now he's a teenager.

Pantah630 Mon 11-Mar-13 16:41:41

DS1, now 22, stopped reading anything but Top Gear magazine through his teenage years. He's dyslexic and recently started reading for pleasure again, currently Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. I'm so pleased he is getting pleasure from it, as it pained me that he disliked reading so much, especially as the rest of us are avid readers.

FrogPrincess Tue 12-Mar-13 12:16:44

dd (13) has always been a great reader, reading pretty much anything from Jane Austen to Twilight (3 years ago, and has now realized how awful it is for many reasons, and hates it!). At the moment she is into John Green and has just started Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I think she has the Great Gatsby lined up next.

booksteensandmagazines Wed 13-Mar-13 12:06:00

I found this article and find it sensible and reassuring:


Sometimes my sons read thought provoking books and sometimes they read fun books. Pretty much as I do. My main concern about teenagers is that there is someone - teacher/librarian/friend/parent - making them aware of the amazing books out there so they can make a good choice.

Alonglongway Wed 13-Mar-13 12:47:34

DD(15) is another John Green fan. She's currently trying out Stephen King's It, which I have not read but she reports it's slow to get into. DD(12) reads and re-reads obsessively so is on about her 4th time round the Cherub series at the moment and waiting for the next Michael Grant. We share a Kindle account too and I feed them each a new book every now and again when they seem fed up with what they have.

I don't mind them reading easy stuff - don't worry about DD1 at all but I do intervene a little with DD2 when she sticks to certain familiar authors. But she's rarely to be seen without her kindle so it's really only about trying to broaden her tastes.

ateacherwrites Wed 13-Mar-13 12:50:00

Might be helpful for either reluctant or dyslexic teens. Lots of useful links:

For dyslexic or reluctant teen readers

seeker Wed 13-Mar-13 12:51:32

In public or in private?

In public- Camus
In private-Jilly Cooper


cressetmama Fri 22-Mar-13 14:23:39

My DS processes visual information really slowly (but isn't technically dyslexic). He refused to read for years but now rising 14 is slowly working his way through Game of Thrones, after Cherub. We resorted to audio-books, which he adores and he is a good judge of the readers which lends an added dimension to his thoughts on lit crit. And he has a Kindle but not one that does text to speech. It has taken years and had us worried sick, but slowly slowly slowly (and fingers crossed) it seems to be resolving.

BooksandaCuppa Fri 22-Mar-13 22:36:46

I too don't really care what ds (12) reads but we do have a sort of 'house rule' which is an old book (re-read) has to alternate with a new book.

So, on his bedside table at the moment are Gone by Michael Grant (a new read); 13 and a Half Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers (a comfort re-read - though this is actually a giant tome of an adult fantasy novel but he's had the series since age 9); Bumface by Morris Gleitzman (reading together) and loads of comics (Simpsons, Phoenix etc); as well as a stack of non-fiction - he quite likes philosophy stuff by DK etc at the moment.

Audiobooks are an excellent alternative for dc who struggle but enjoy escaping into the world of fiction, and vlogs and youtube also fantastic for learning loads of different stuff (TED lectures are excellent).

bruffin Fri 22-Mar-13 22:42:43

Ds 17 is reading a physics book by the actor/comedian Ben Miller. Dd probably something by John Green

BooksandaCuppa Fri 22-Mar-13 22:48:18

John Green is great, btw, really good, quirky books. And popular with boys almost as much as girls in my experience.

Schooldidi Fri 22-Mar-13 22:56:03

Dd1 (13) is currently not reading anything as I have confiscated her kindle until her bedroom is clean shock

I rarely ask her what she's reading because I more or less trust her to make appropriate choices. She's read LOTR recently and seems to have downloaded a load of books to learn Japanese hmm, presumably so she can read manga in the original language.

BooksandaCuppa Fri 22-Mar-13 22:58:41

To go back to the OP, I disagree slightly that teenagers are self-dumbing down. On the whole, the brighter, good readers are reading plenty of age appropriate and often challenging adult stuff; the less competent/enthusiastic readers I'd rather see reading Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Dork than nothing: some don't challenge themselves enough and some you'll never get reading at all (or until later).

Where I do agree is that even the best teenage fiction is more limited in terms of vocabulary than classic children's fiction and that's to be regretted - but in terms of plot, theme and structure they can be quite sophisticated.

And I would posit there are more teenagers reading now than in the 'good old days' precisely because there is so much aimed at them. It's a really new genre after all. In 'my day' we would go straight from children's books to adult 'genre' fiction (romance, fantasy or horror, usually) and I'm a) not sure that that is of any better 'value' than teen lit (if we're being qualitatively judgemental) and b) very sure that more of my peers stopped reading at 11 than those of my ds today.

Ds (12) has recently read some Anthony Horowitz books (Diamond Brothers) and a book by Louis Sachar. Next on his list is one of the Charlie Higson "Young Bond" books.

He also likes to re-read books he has previously enjoyed. These include all the Arthur Ransomes (which he first started reading when he was about 7) and the Professor Branestawm books.

QuiteOldGal Sat 23-Mar-13 06:58:05

DS read Animal Farm , 1984, A short History of almost everything by Bill Bryson, James Herbert books, subscribed to Wired magazine, Fermats last therom (he likes maths smile) and some books from the TV series 24.

This was between the ages of 13-17

Mrsrobertduvall Sat 23-Mar-13 13:37:34

Ds is nearly 14 and never reads. He has probably read 2 books in 2 years outside school and they are Michael Morpurgo ones.
Somehow he is forecast A for gCSE English.

Dd the same...she has a mountain of depressing teen angst books by the side of her bed, but would rather sing or play guitar. Again she is forecast A for English.

I read 2-3 books a week. Dh one book a year.

DizzyHoneyBee Sat 23-Mar-13 16:41:23

I think she's reading "I am number 4" but I'm not sure, she is always reading and goes through books like most people go through clean pairs of socks! grin

LineRunnyEgg Sat 23-Mar-13 16:43:05

Viz comic <proud>

DS1(14) The Black Cloud - Sir Fred Hoyle (SciFi written by an astrophysicist); Private Eye; New Scientist and anything else he finds lying around. He's known as 'the boy with the book' at school, as he permanently has one in his hand and often walks into things!

DS2(12) Mad Dogs - Robert Muchamore

LineRunnyEgg Sat 23-Mar-13 16:58:38

TheCheeseAlarm The Black Cloud is my favourite ever childhood book and I re-read it last year (I seem to have stolen a copy from my school...).

It's a very male-orientated world in science, the politicans are arseholes, and the USA and the UK have a tense 'pissing up the wall' relationship behind the scenes. Considering it was written in the 1960s(?), it's spookily prescient.

And the Cloud is genuinely fascinating.

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