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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: To read or not to read

Posted October 3, 2010

When I was growing up there were no such things as “tween books.”

Once you were able to read at an adult level you grabbed your mother’s books. For most people this usually amounted to romance novels, or in my case, "Jaws" and "Towering Inferno." No wonder I’m so off-kilter. To be clear, by reading at an adult level I just mean the mechanics of reading - you can sound out the words - but not the comprehension. It would be years before I could jump into the deep end of a swimming pool without thinking about sharks after reading Peter Benchley’s bestseller at the tender age of ten.

These days kids have lots of choices of books for every age group. The question is when do you let them graduate from Ramona Quimby and Diary of a Wimpy Kid to something heavier.

For my daughter, it was this past summer. For the record, she has read more than 2,000 pages in the past two months. I don’t think I’ve read 2,000 pages in the past ten years. Of course, I usually fall asleep reading at night after about three pages, but still, I love to read.

My fifth grader’s new obsession is the recent cultural phenomenon of vampires. She is reading the Twilight series. Fantasy and horror are not my thing, but I must admit that these books have certainly grabbed the attention of readers nationwide.

Luckily my mother (of course) has already read the books, so she convinced me that my daughter was ready to handle the material. Of course, this is the same woman who let me read "Jaws." But I gave in with the caveat that we would talk about any difficult material that she came across. I wanted my daughter to discuss it with me every night and ask questions.

So far, so good. She has turned into a voracious and curious reader. My fear is that the books will run out. We went to the bookstore the other night and looked at some other vampire books meant for pre-teens. Nothing caught her eye. Please Stephenie Meyer, hurry, write more…I’m enjoying the silence in the house without the drone of the television in the background.

Amanda is the mom of two girls, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including one on motherhood called "Smotherhood." Find her here on Mondays.


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  • oldrebel Oct 5, 2010

    oop's...meant "Good" blog

  • oldrebel Oct 5, 2010

    Glod blog...“Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own.”

    Joseph Addison quote (English Essayist, Poet, Dramatist and Statesman, 1672-1719)

  • NCMOMof3 Oct 4, 2010

    I, too, love to read. My middle son likes to read but it's not his love. My other 2 boys don't care for it at all, breaks my heart. My middle son read the entire Cirque Du Freak books when he was 6th grade-ish. I just asked him about the content and all and he said it wasn't bad and if she liked Twilight and was 5th grade-ish, she would probably enjoy those. Also, both my older boys read the Left Behind Series in middle school. They did not like the Left Behind: the kids.

    When I was a child, I read everything in our public library. I made it through Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, the Boxcar Children, etc before I was 10 and moved on to the adult section. I read EVERYTHING, and I do mean everything. I even read true crime books and court documents,,I was pitiful.

    As strict as my granny was, she never policed my reading material and was always available when I had questions. I will always be thankful to her for encouraging my love of reading

  • mleighcannon Oct 4, 2010

    I recommend the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series. There are five books in that series, and it's a great innocent series that has a lot of adventure and excitement. Also the Gemma Doyle series is excellent, but you may want to screen it to decide how age appropriate you believe that series is, the first book is A Great and Terrible Beauty.

  • Killian Oct 4, 2010

    As much as the mere mention of the Twilight series is abhorrent to me, I have to give kudos to your kid, and to you for encouraging her. At that age, whatever they pick up that interests them is fair game, unless it's got serious adult content. It encourages conversation and furthers an open mind when confronted with difficult topics.

    When she gets a little older, if she is still into vampires, I highly recommend Kim Harrison's series. She isn't quite as dark as Anne Rice, but is incredibly entertaining, and loves to slip little pop culture references into her books. (She's also a really cool person to talk to!)

  • no more - no less Oct 4, 2010

    Bible Stories/Daily Devotionals

    Sherlock Holmes Series

    Nancy Drew Series

    Box Car Children Series

    Aesop's Fables

    Classic Literature

  • sat123 Oct 4, 2010

    I read a ton of Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High books. Oh, and Roald Dahl! Those were probably the most age-appropriate, I think. I was reading at a young age and my mom was a teacher, so she had a lot of books around the house. They were all age-appropriate in terms of subject matter, but some were more challenging than others to read. A lot of the more popular stories have been abridged, and we had a number of the unabridged titles, which took a while to read.

    My school also had a reading program, where you could take computer quizzes on books you'd read for points. My mom's school has one as well. If your kid's school has something similar, it would probably be a good source for a book list.

  • fencergrrl Oct 4, 2010

    I'm having the same sort of problems with my son. He is 7 and can read a few years beyond his grade level. I worry, though, that books meant for 5th graders might not be appropriate or even terribly interesting to a kid who is still just 7. He read the "Wimpy Kid" books last year and there were a few things we had to help him understand (since the characters are middle schoolers). My kindergartener daughter is a good reader too. She chooses books from the library that she can read, but we also read more complex stuff together (like Charlotte's Web and such).
    But it's hard. I'm really glad they are such good readers and seem to like it, but it does keep me on my toes trying to choose the best books for them. I'm glad I am not the only one who has run into this problem.

  • amlNC Oct 4, 2010

    I was like your daughter when I was her age. I love to read. And today, the public library keeps me sane! Wake County Library has a great website. You can reserve books to pick up at the closest library, and they have tons of "If you like this, then try these books" lists.

  • gocubsgo Oct 4, 2010

    Has she read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins? There are 2 sequels to it, as well. Catching Fire and Mockingjay. My 10 year old son, loved all 3 of them and got all of his friends reading them, too. You can find out more about them here: