Would you suggest to a proficient 14-year-old reader that they read The Witches by Roald Dahl?
It’s not the first thing that would come to mind, is it? Especially if the advisor is someone in publishing, who knows about books for young readers. I’m reminded of my Swedish teacher when I was that age. She kept suggesting books that were far too young for me, even if I hadn’t been permanently glued to Alistair MacLean. In English.
The magazine ViLÄSER arranged a meeting between a children’s publisher and a 14-year-old for a discussion on books, and I was appalled to find the Dahl being her first idea when the girl said she likes exciting books.
Even the previously mentioned Petrini crime novels are a little young, although the girl had enjoyed them. I could barely keep up when the next suggestion was Aidan Chambers, which is a huge jump. The girl’s current favourite is The Hunger Games.
In the end they produced a fairly good list of books, including Ink Heart, His Dark Materials, The Princess Diaries, The Diary of a Wimp, and Before I Die.
But why should it be so hard to give advice?
I found an interesting thought in an interview with a children’s author called Åsa Lind. I have no idea of what her writing is like, but like this quote: ‘You don’t need to write for everyone. It doesn’t have to be easy to digest or easy to buy. Better chewy than soft. But still enjoyable, rather like Romanian poetry.’