We Recommend: Read-Aloud for 13-Year-Old, with Not So Much Mushy, Kissy Stuff

 It's We Recommend, in which we use our superpowers to find readers the perfect book. Got a kid who needs a recommendation?
Write us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com with the age,
reading tastes, favorite books, and any other relevant (or irrelevant)
information, and we'll give it a shot. And really? All the good
suggestions are in the comments.

 This one will break your heart. Though maybe that's true only if you're the parent of a teenager? See here:

I have a 13 year old boy to whom I read every night, or we listen to
books on tape. He likes John Flannagan's Ranger's Apprentice, Jonathan
Stroud's Bartimeus Trilogy, Scott Westerfeld's steampunk Goliath,
Behemoth
and Leviathan, Percy Jackson etc. (which I barely survived).

We're looking for new books or series in which boys do things! Action,
technology and survival skills get bonus points. So does well-written.
The less mushy kissy stuff the better.

The idea that a 13-year-old boy is still letting his parent read to him fills me with a bittersweet envy and joy. I am so very happy for them, and so OF COURSE I want to find them books that will feed the beast, with lots of boys doing lots of things (except for—you know. Because who wants to hear about that with a parent?).

I fear, though, that I am out of my depth here. The first thing that occurred to me is something they have probably already read:

 

9780060577339

And somehow, once I thought of it, it was hard to think of anything else. It was like I had a finite amount of creative energy in my brain, and it yielded this, and then that was it. I have not weathered the time change very well is the truth. If I think harder, I guess maybe The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel? But…I don't know. This is the one stuck in my head, so this is the one I am going with.

But YOU, kind readers, you are not hampered with my narrow mind. So give: what books can we recommend so that they can still read aloud (or listen together!) to books, even as the boy goes further down the road to teenager-hood? Put ideas in the comments, please!

22 thoughts on “We Recommend: Read-Aloud for 13-Year-Old, with Not So Much Mushy, Kissy Stuff

  1. Sorry. I meant to say,
    The LionBoy Trilogy by Zizou Corder is really good and contains exactly ZERO mushy, kissy scenes. The audio version is especially good – Simon Jones does the narration.

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  2. I was totally being smug and thinking of Nicholas Flamel and then you said it. Humf.
    Michael Vey is what my husband is reading to our 11 yr. old daughter right now and loves it. (Her friend, who is a boy recommended it.) I have no idea if it contains the kissy stuff, I haven’t read it. But my HUSBAND seems to like it, which says a lot.

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  3. The False Prince by Nielsen is the start of a solid new trilogy. oh, Goblin Secrets is terrific and strange. Hmm, I’ve been reading a lot of terrific fantasy lately but they all star girls (Seraphina and Iron Hearted Violet are two terrific dragon books if you’re open). He might like The Broken Lands by Milford, which has magic but is set in the early 20th century.

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  4. Adventure got me thinking of The Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain, although I don’t think those are totally right for the rest of the genre mentioned.

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  5. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander are wonderful.
    Still, there are terrific stand-alone books about boys having adventures (and no kissing!)
    Johnny Tremain
    Bud, Not Buddy
    My Side of the Mountain
    (I am old school, as you can see)

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  6. Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus books would be perfect.
    Also, the Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. There’s a teeny-tiny romantic thread in later books, but I read the series to my sons (different ages for different books) and at least one was right about 13 for two of the books. And it’s not mushy-kissy romance, anyway.

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  7. Is the Mysterious Benedict Society and the rest of the books too young for him? Super amazing books with vocabulary that challenges me. Anyone know what addlepated means? LOL I had to look it up.

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  8. How about the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz – he’s a teenage James Bond – I don’t know what the romance quotient is but my son liked them a lot.

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  9. Do the ones you list star girls? I have a 10 year old and would like some more advanced books we can read together. Sometimes fantasy is an issue. She never read Harry potter. She sort of regrets it but I told her she should read it for pop culture alone. But if we read together maybe we can get her interested in some fiction. Would love your recs!

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  10. What about Guy Gavriel Kay? Well written, great worlds, action, characters — as I recall, an all-round good time.
    And in the now for something completely different category, a friend of mine shared The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins with her teenager and it was a great success. Gripping mystery about a stolen diamond.
    Huckleberry Finn is a hilarious rip-roaring adventure. Huck is 14 or so, but I just read it aloud to my 9-year old, and we had to stop reading to laugh. No mushy stuff at all.

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  11. My 12, 10, and 8 year old boys have been enjoying Starry River of the Sky as our current read aloud – although also not of the right genre. In that vein (of wrong genre), Holes was a recent read aloud that we all LOVED. The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas was great, and most recently, I liked The Vengekeep Phrophecies by Brian Farrey.

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  12. I have very magical memories of being read to by my mother at about that age, and one of the series that totally captured both of us was by Victor Canning — The Runaways, Flight of the Grey Goose and The Painted Tent (can’t remember the order of the last two; The Runaways is definitely the first). They’re probably somewhat old-fashioned (written in the late 70s) but actually I don’t recall them having any specific time-feel to them in the way that I remember Enid Blyton or C. S. Lewis or My Side of the Mountain having. And it ticks some important boxes: A boy protagonist, on the run after being wrongly accused of stealing, who crosses paths with a cheetah, about to have cubs, escaped from a wildlife park. Adventure and intrigue. No mushy stuff.

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  13. Hah! I write MG and have a precocious 11 YO, so this is right in my wheelhouse. Some ideas:
    If he likes high-stakes action (that might have a very little bit of kissing):
    James Patterson’s Maximum Ride Series
    Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider Series
    Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Series
    If he likes slightly more MG-ish fantasy (but still fast-paced):
    Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven Series or Beyonder Series
    John Flannigan’s other series – the Brotherband Chronicles
    39 Clues series (various authors)
    Obert Skye’s Leven Thumps Series
    If he likes short high action books:
    Gordan Korman’s Dive/Everest/Island series (3 different series of 3 books each – very short and cliff-hanger endings so you have to read the next)
    (Gordan Korman also wrote some excellent contemp/funny MG like his SWINDLE series
    Then there’s Mysterious Benedict Society, Wildwood (though both of these seem a little young for 13), of course A Wrinkle in Time, Gary Paulson’s Hatchet series, and, one of my TOTAL favorites for amazing writing and plot, Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Series.
    Have fun!

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  14. “We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea” has action, adventure, but not really technology (it is a sailing adventure/misadventure from the 1930s/Brit ouevre. We really like the first one a lot (Swallows and Amazons) but we used to skip most of the first chapters until they get to the island. Then it is “smooth sailing” so to speak. 😉

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  15. Oh my word! Wow. I’m so grateful for all those suggestions! Hard to know which one to try first. We’ll be finishing Ranger’s Apprentice in 3 more books, so I’m so happy to have options to go to from here. Thank you so much.
    I guess I get the gift of still being able to read to my 13 year old because he doesn’t yet read on his own. But he’s always enjoyed the stories. My aim is to keep that love alive. I do get so much out of reading to him, and listening to books with him. I even get cuddles sometimes.
    Thank you all again.

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  16. I’d recommend Savvy, Iron Hearted Violet, and Tamora Pearce’s Alanna series as good girl fantasy books. Seraphina is excellent but skews a bit older. Also Bruce Coville’s Into the Land of the Unicorns is surprisingly good and strong girled, given the title. Oh, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a fantastic girl adventure.

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  17. The Lion’s Paw, by Robb White, is an incredibly well-written book about three orphans who run away on a sailboat to search for the elusive lion’s paw shell that they believe will bring back the father of one of them. It’s full of adventure and kids doing important and hard things and not one bit of kissing. It’s back in print after a long hiatus.

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  18. What great suggestions–I’ll be gathering them up for our household, too. And my 2 cents, just in case–Did someone say this already? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams?

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  19. The Alex Rider series sounds perfect. This is a great series about a teenage boy spy, lots of action, adventure and technology (spy gadgets!)

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