The Official Mommyish YA Literature Roundup

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When the topic of literature comes up here at Mommyish, we tend to focus our attention toward books geared toward younger readers. But recently, I was lucky enough to get my grubby paws on an advance copy of a new middle-grade novel, Public School Superhero, by James Patterson (yes, that James Patterson), which has a cute story about a chess-loving ‘Grandma’s Boy’ trying to figure out his place in the public school pecking order. It was a fun, fast read, and its use of comic pages intercut with text seems like a great way to encourage reluctant readers.

And since reading Public School Superhero, my mind’s been on the literature options out there for young adult readers–and for old people like me who still enjoy browsing the teen section at the public library. For the Mommyish readers out there with older kids who love to read (or that you’re trying to encourage to love to read), here are a list of ten greatest hits of the YA literary world.


sabriel1. Sabriel, by Garth Nix. Summary: teenage girl necromancer saves the world from the forces of darkness. If you’re not already on board (which you should be), at least pick it up to check out Nix’s amazing world-building.

2. Bone, by Jeff Smith. Summary: lavishly-illustrated, hilarious, and epic comic series about an anthropomboneorphic bone and his anthropomorphic bone cousins who get caught up in someone else’s saga of magic, prophecy, and destiny. The full collection is enormous, but for young people who aren’t big readers, the visual aspect might just keep them turning pages. Best character by far: Gran’ma Ben, an elderly cow-racing ass-kicker with a dark secret in her past.

provost's dog3. The Provost’s Dog trilogy, by Tamora Pierce. Summary: teenage girl cop talks to dead spirits, solves crimes, and metes out justice on the end of a truncheon. I love all of Pierce’s work, probably due to originally experiencing it at a young age and imprinting for life, but when I look back on her early novels with a jaundiced adult eye, they’re a little flat. But the Provost’s Dog trilogy is full of complex plots and nuanced characters you can’t help but love, even when they break your heart. And they will break your heart.

4. The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander. Summary: young pig-keeper dreams prydain chroniclesof being a great hero, then learns what that really entails isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When done well, YA literature can be a safe place for young people to explore difficult issues such as love, loss, and death, and the Prydain Chronicles do it as well as anything. An especially good choice for kids who dug Lord of the Rings.

5. The Tiffany Aching books, by Terry Pratchett. Summary: a nine-year-old witch learning her way in the world … alongside a swarm of tiny blue barbarian fairies that tiffany achinghappen to speak in a Scottish accent. The world lost a treasure when Mr. Pratchett passed away last month, and the Tiffany Aching books, with their lesson on being thoughtful, observant, and prepared instead of just ‘special’, are a testament to that.


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