Check out my list of books recommended for teens and tweens with girl protagonists/POV, two of are by yours truly. (Of course, that doesn’t mean that boys won’t enjoy them too, quite the opposite in fact. I really hope that boys will read them, too.)

Anne of Green Gables Counting by 7s The Hate U Give The Lines We Cross Turtles All The Way Down by John Green If I Stay The Hunger Games Dork Diaries Alices Adventures in Wonderland The Kind Summer by Joanna Slodownik The Kind Fashionista

As a writer and a mom of a boy, I’ve spent the last 15+ years reading children’s books, and then teens and young adult fiction.

I have to say, I’m loving it. I used to read A TON when I was a child. I remember going to a library every week and coming back with a huge stack of books to read. It was a long time ago, in a different era and completely different world. The Soviet Union’s rule over my part of the world (Central Europe, or, more exactly, Warsaw, Poland), Solidarity movement hadn’t been born yet, and Berlin wall was still standing strong. I read everything that was available that I could get my hands on, including many classics, translated into Polish, of course. Anne of Green Gables, Winnie the Pooh, the Catcher in the Rye come to mind. But also Huckleberry Finn, Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, and many others, I can’t even remember all these authors and titles.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pass that passion to my son. He reads very little beyond what is required in school. (And even then, he often relies on summaries or movies to learn the story.) I don’t know if he’ll ever know the pleasure of reading a thick book, staying up all night because you just HAVE to find out how it ends.

Today, the world has changed tremendously. I love the ease we can access any information imaginable—it’s all at our fingertips in a blink of an eye (which is usually the speed of your internet connection).

These days I rarely read a printed book cover to cover. I often skim them on my kindle. But I LOVE audio books—I spend hours listening to all kinds of fiction and non-fiction, books I wouldn’t probably have time to read if it wasn’t for that wonderful format.  

And I admit, these days, it’s more likely that a Netflix series is keeping me up, than a book. Unless it’s audio, then I can lay in my bed at night, lights off and eyes closed, immersed in the story.

So, when my son was born, when we were living in the U.S., I indulged myself with children’s books, then tween and teen stories. I kept buying books for my son, and he only read some of them, but when he did, it only gave me motivation to continue. I’ve read so many great stories, and it inspired me to start writing fiction as well. And I wanted to share some of those stories with you on my blog.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I remember loving this book as a child, and I know kids today enjoy it too.

When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island, send for a boy orphan to help them out at the farm, they are in no way prepared for the error that will change their lives. The mistake takes the shape of Anne Shirley, a redheaded 11-year-old girl who can talk anyone under the table.

Fortunately, her sunny nature and quirky imagination quickly win over her reluctant foster parents. Anne’s feisty spirit soon draws many friends–and much trouble–her way. Not a day goes by without some melodramatic new episode in the tragicomedy of her life. Early on, Anne declares her eternal antipathy for Gilbert Blythe, a classmate who commits the ultimate sin of mocking her hair color. Later, she accidentally dyes that same cursed hair green. Another time, in her haste to impress a new neighbor, she bakes a cake with liniment instead of vanilla.

Her portrayal of this feminine yet independent spirit has given generations of girls a strong female role model. No wonder Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series of books about Anne have remained classics since the early 20th century. The series contains Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne’s House of Dreams, and more. (Ages 9 to 12).

Download and read it for free on the Gutenberg Project website or buy the whole collection in print – Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. It’s hard not to love John Green’s writing. Aza Holmes never intended to pursue the disappearance of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Pickett’s son Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

JOHN GREEN, the acclaimed author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, returns with a story of shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship. Buy it on Amazon HERE.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

This is an important book on police brutality and racial inequality that every teen should read. Plus, it’s beautifully written. Buy it on Amazon HERE.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.  
Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

* “What sets this novel apart from the average orphan-finds-a-home book is its lack of sentimentality, its truly multicultural cast (Willow describes herself as a “person of color”; Mai and Quang-ha are of mixed Vietnamese, African American, and Mexican ancestry), and its tone. . . . Poignant.”—The Horn Book starred review. “In achingly beautiful prose, Holly Goldberg Sloan has written a delightful tale of transformation that’s a celebration of life in all its wondrous, hilarious and confounding glory. Counting by 7s is a triumph.”—said Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette. And it’s hard to disagree. Check it out on Amazon.

Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (Dork Diaries, #1-13) by Rachel Renee Russell

The Dork Diaries series has a lot of critics, but also plenty of fans, who follow the story of Nikki and Brandon and their friends (and enemies).

Reading through the comments on the Amazon page, I couldn’t help but agree with many of those who gave it low rating.

For example, one reviewer wrote that “the main character is a rude, and overdramatic person, the only plot of all these books is: Girl. Mean girl. Crush (male, because the word ‘gay’ doesn’t exist in Dork Diaries world). Nikki is constantly hating on herself and other people, and she’s way to obsessed with her looks. Mackenzie is rude, but that’s no excuse for Nikki to be mean back. Parents: please, please, PLEASE teach your kids that mean people are only mean because of their own insecurity. It isn’t okay to disrespect someone just because they’re mean. Nikki should be helping Mackenzie cope with her issues.”

It was hard to get past that at first and it did require a little bit getting used to, but once I got past that, I started to enjoy the silliness of the stories. And as I was listening to them (borrowed from the library), and re-listening (yes, I listened to some of these stories multiple times) I was imagining and plotting my own stories (including the Kind Fashionista that I include below). I figured that since they were so hugely popular, it means that a lot of kids like them. At the same time, I was trying to imagine how these simple stories could have been made more interesting, educational, and inspirational. Check out the Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (and the whole Dork Diaries Series) by Rachel Renee Russell.

The Hunger Games by SUZANNE COLLIN

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book, but, surprisingly, I did. If your teen missed the sensation before it became a blockbuster, slide this dystopian adventure their way. You’ll root for Katniss Everdeen as she fights for her life in Panem’s annual Hunger Games in a world that’s eerily similar to our own even as it feels foreign. Buy The Hunger Games by SUZANNE COLLINS.  

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. I hesitated before listening to this book, but it’s beautifully written and I really enjoyed it. If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

In this context, I’d like to mention a couple of my own books in the Rebels With A Cause Series.

The Kind Summer (Rebels With A Cause) by Joanna Slodownik

Sara is crushed when she learns she won’t be going on the trip of her lifetime across Europe. Instead, she’ll be spending the summer with an aunt she doesn’t remember, volunteering at a farm animal sanctuary in the middle of nowhere, with her younger brother and sister. What’s fun about that? Her spirits are low and expectations even lower, but what she doesn’t know is how that summer will change her forever.***A fun and thought-provoking read for tweens, teens, and adults.*** Buy The Kind Summer (Rebels With A Cause) by Joanna Slodownik.

The Kind Fashionista: How I Became an Accidental Fashion Icon and Stole the Show (Rebels With A Cause) by Joanna Slodownik

Can a group of fashion-challenged dorks and social misfits steal the fashion show from the glamorous but mean fashionistas, proving that personality, smarts, and self-expression win (almost) every time?

When the Find-Your-Style fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making workshop is announced, culminating with a FASHION SHOW & EXTRAVAGANZA, Sara doesn’t even think about participating. After being officially appointed a FASHION DISASTER by the school fashionistas, she doesn’t want to humiliate myself in front of the entire school and town. Besides, being trendy is not something that she’s concerned about. In her book, practicality wins over appearances every time, and what’s ACTUALLY INSIDE YOUR HEAD is more important than whether your hair has been colored, blow-dried, and curled. It’s only when I realize that participating in the show may actually give my friends and me a chance to get back at the mean fashionistas that I decide to ‘join the circus’. There is only one problem—signing up is easy, but what will we wear? With the show’s big date getting closer, there’s little time to figure out our revenge. As we go on that journey, we get close and personal with the contents of our closets and face our dorkiness, self-consciousness, and other demons. We also discover that we are not just smart and caring individuals with an important message to share with the world (and our school mates) but have a distinct personal style as well. Buy The Kind Fashionista: How I Became an Accidental Fashion Icon and Stole the Show (Rebels With A Cause) by Joanna Slodownik.

How about you?

What are some books you and your kids are reading?

I’ll be adding more books to this list, so stay tuned.

I’d also be interested to hear what you’re reading with your tweens and enjoying it, so feel free to comment below.