Help! My Ten-Year-Old Wants to Read Twilight
The weird thing about putting my reviews on Amazon is that I tend to get a lot of reference questions as a result. Recently someone wrote me the following:
"My 10 year old daughter wants to read that awful thing by Stephenie Meyer. You know the one. Twilight. . . . It’s not even the story (or lack thereof) or the characters (one-dimensional) or the anti-feminist undercurrent or any of the other multitude of problems with the book that I have a problem with but rather that the writing is just so terrible. Can you suggest something to create a diversion?"
Regardless of your opinions of Ms. Meyer’s writing, there are other reasons to not want a pre-puberty child reading the series. This was addressed rather beautifully the other day on ShelfTalker. Josie Leavitt had two particular concerns:
"My fear is twofold — the first is they are coming to a good book too early and they won’t get out of the book what they would if they read it at the right age. The second issue is now that these girls are reading about characters so much older, they won’t have patience or the desire to read about children their own age."
I’m less concerned about Fear #1, but Fear #2 has some merit. Reading through the comments on Josie’s posts, people are of various minds. Some feel books should have ratings, others think kids self-censor just fine, and still others figure it entirely depends on the child reader. Some go so far as to mention that you should never censor the reading choices of a child for any reason.
If you are a children’s librarian and a kid asks you for Twilight you may be saved merely by the fact that the book is (A) Not in the children’s section and (B) Is probably checked out with a million holds on it. That means you need to give them something else, since you do not have what they want. If you are a parent, I fear you are merely delaying the inevitable. Your child, if forbidden Twilight, will desire it all the more. There’s nothing saying you can’t suggest other books as well, though. Here are a few of the reading selections I gave to the parent.
If she wants to read it because of the romance:
The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle – The tough part of finding this book is locating one with a nice cover. Sometimes the jackets on this book are outdated, but this has everything the Twilight series has, with what basically amounts to a stronger female protagonist. Tweens I recommend this to go goofy over it.
If she wants to read it because everyone else is:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Everyone is also reading this book. And it has one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen in a while AND just enough romance to keep it interesting. Stephanie Meyer once promoted it too, so use that as bait. There is some violence though, so be aware of that. And once it becomes a movie it will be as ubiquitous as Twilight. Trust me. Give it a year.
If she wants to read it because it seems so cool and teen:
Shug by Jenny Han – The hardcover edition has a cover that looks adult and suggestive. Couldn’t be further from the truth, though. That book is kid-friendly all the way, and a fun story about a first crush.
If she just likes vampires:
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer – Fun vampire fare but with covers that make it look more edgy than it really is. This is often a go-to choice for a lot of librarians who want vampire books in their collections that are appropriate for kids.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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