Why “Tween” Books are Amazing

This is an “Emblazoners: Tween the Weekends” post. You can find out more about this group of writers of “tween” fiction at www.emblazoners.com.


I dare say that most of my favorite book series either are, or started off, as “tween” fiction. What is “tween” fiction, you ask? It’s fiction written at a higher level than children’s books – high school level, typically – but that doesn’t involve what is stereotypically called “adult material.” The type of books that you’re looking for when you’re a ten year old who consumes books like locusts consume crops, voraciously devouring words until the children’s section of the library is bare of new material in what seems like mere seconds. (Do I speak with the voice of experience here? Why yes, I do.)

When you’re ten, and twelve, and even thirteen, you want a good story with enjoyable, believable characters, a story that’s well-written, a story that’s fast-paced and exciting and ends well – in fact, you want everything that an adult reader wants – it’s just that you want it without the four-letter words and bedroom scenes that are so typically found in books written for older readers.

And you know what? I still love to read them. From C.S. Lewis‘s The Chronicles of Narnia to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, from modern novels like Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Carol Kendall’s The Gammage Cup to classic works such as Tolkien’s The Hobbit, there are a large number of critically acclaimed and beloved works that, in my opinion, fall into this niche category.

Call me simple and naive, (Ph.D. student though I be), but I often come away from more current books written for adults with the thought, “I really enjoyed that story and those characters, but I wish they’d left out the language and graphic content.” It’s because of this desire to see more books that I would want to read myself that I write what I would term “tween” fiction. (Not that I typically call it that – I stick to “YA” in general company, or when I’m speaking to older audiences, I just say that I write fantasy.) But I do love to be able to recommend my novel, The Quest of the Unaligned, to adults as enjoyable reading material, to professors as potential class supplemental reading material, and to parents and grandparents as Christmas gifts for their tween family members.

One of the best compliments I got on my book was left as an Amazon review written by a pleased father of a 12-year-old girl: “thank you…for teaching while delighting both my daughter and me (and for provoking some good evening discussions about some very important topics).” That’s what’s amazing about tween books: deep enough to teach adults, safe enough to delight children (and their parents on their behalf), tween literature is a common ground where adults and children alike can enjoy the beauty of a well-crafted world and the journey of its characters together.

14 thoughts on “Why “Tween” Books are Amazing

  1. What a terrific post! It’s almost sad that stories that don’t include bedroom scenes and a plethora of foul language are seen as “refreshing”, isn’t it? We feel the same way about tween literature and are so glad for you to join us on Tween the Weekends. Thank you!

  2. Wonderful piece. I too feel happy when someone thanks me for using clean language and such in books. I love ALL the books you mention in your blog. Amazing reads.

    Thanks for joining TTW.

  3. Love your line: deep enough to teach adults, safe enough to delight children. It’s wonderful when you get reviews that make writing in this genre all worth while! Kudos on a feel-good post!

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