Where were all the great adventure books for kids when we were growing up? I'm talking about books for the 10-14 year old reader. I'm talking about stories we could have identified with when we were that age. A difficult age. Not really a child but not an adult. There have always been lots of stories for little kids. What happened to the interesting books when we were in fifth through ninth grades?
The adults in our lives told us to read or gave us books like Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, Little Women—classics that were written long before our time and in a manner that required so much concentration we lost sight of the story. Where were the books written in our time? The only ones I remember were stories about teen girls in early Michigan by Elizabeth Howard, like Peddlar's Girl and North Winds Blow Free.
Maybe there were other books written then that I knew nothing about. We lived in a rural area where the library for our school (2 whole classrooms for K-8th grades) consisted of a 3-shelf bookcase in each room. The public library was ten miles away. The county bookmobile came to our school once a month, I think, or maybe twice. My grandmother always sent a book for birthdays and Christmas. I know she meant well, but the books were the above-mentioned classics that never held my interest. While I enjoyed my mom's Nancy Drew collection, the books were written in the 1930s—more than a little before my time. A rumble seat? Ri-ight. I could really identify with that.
Where were the Harry Potters, the Katniss Everdeens, the Percy Jacksons, the Gallagher Girls? Today's books have characters who act and sound like contemporary kids. They have fantastic adventures. Their lives have at least a touch of reality that the reader can identify with. More than anything, though, I think it's the voice in which the stories are written that captures the reader's attention. The classics were written in the style of their time—the 1800s. They weren't classics then. They were just good stories. Then.
I am fascinated by all the books available for kids today. How to choose what to read next must be a problem for them. What a problem to have! Maybe an interested teacher or librarian who knows a kid well enough will recommend one—the way the bookmobile librarian did for me with the Elizabeth Howard books. More likely, it's one of their friends saying, "Hey, you gotta read this."
How I envy them this wealth of books. Or not. I can read those books, too.
What books do you remember from your pre- or early teen years?