Friday, February 28, 2014

Books for Tween Girls

While I have normally steered away from YA (Young Adult) books in the past, lately I have been toying with them a bit.  Kids seem to be drawn to these more mature titles, especially with the advent of The Twilight Series and The Hunger Games and parents are feeling more restless about these books.  They wonder if the messages and images are too mature for the elementary school crowd.

Therefore, I have decided to put my big toe in the water and start getting a better handle on these titles.  I am finding that much of a parent's willingness to have their kids read these books has to do with their comfort level around sex, violence and foul language.  However, I would argue that while these are the points of discomfort for parents, the real issue is that these books often times deal with emotional issues which may be out of the realm of a child's experience level, so they are not able to enjoy and understand the book in the way the author intended.

I will continue to look for those crossover books that challenge a child while still maintaining some appropriateness for their age level.  However, please don't think your child has to read up to become a proficient reader.  So many of the books that are written to their level are fun and engaging and they foster a sense of solid accomplishment.  In the end it is about their loving to read, not their mastering a more complex text.  That will come if they love books .... I promise.  No really, I do.

The book I am profiling today was published almost ten years ago, but it is a gem.  Thankfully I believe that kids will be completely caught up in the story and parents will appreciate the message.

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Title:       Uglies

Author:   Scott Westerfeld

Target:    Grades 6 and up

Series:     Yes

What this book is about: 
Tally can’t wait to turn sixteen.  This is when all children get the operation that turns their normal, genetically given looks into the perfect body and face type that science considers the most desirable.  Until then they are relegated to being Uglies.  However, when Tally’s friend isn’t sure she wants the operation and runs away, Tally learns that her society is not as perfect as it first appears.  Tally is faced with a difficult choice.  The authorities tell her she must find her friend and turn her in, or remain ugly forever.

Why I love this book: 
This book was published before dystopian literature became all the rage and yet it feels fresh and current.  While many of the books in this genre feel like versions of the same story, this one actually seemed to be based on social commentary.  It questions how we view beauty in a society and whether beauty is biological or social, or maybe a little of both.

I like my female characters with a little spunk, and thankfully Tally has a rebel streak in her that makes her feel more daring and adventurous.  Despite her desire to be a Pretty, she isn’t a one dimensional character and is driven by her strengths.  There is both an abundance of action and thought provoking ideas in this book.

Who this book is for: 
While there is a romance, it is quite innocent and the violence is minimal.  This book is quite appropriate for the middle school crowd.

Final thoughts: 
What really makes someone pretty and is it the same for everyone?  Read the book and then decide.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Uglies (The Uglies)  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog at no cost to you.

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