I have twin boys who are almost thirteen years old. They’re counting down the days (38 days from today) until they turn thirteen.
When they get to call themselves teenagers. They get to play in the teen basketball league.
They get to join Facebook.
They’ve been living in this “in-between” for the last year. This almost-old-enough-for-teen-books, this have-to-have-mom-and-dad-preview-movies place and they are so done with it.
Thing is, I’m not sure they’re going to find thirteen much different from twelve.
Sure, they’ll still have that basketball league, they’ll have “teen” in their age, and they’ll have Facebook–but books and movies? Maybe not quite what they’re envisioning.
Because there’s such a wide range of young adult books and PG-13 movies. The “Middle Grade” or PG/G genres pretty much ensure a clean read–one free of explicit language and sex. Whereas there are no such assurances in YA books or PG-13 movies. Nowadays it seems like anything goes!
I’d like to see more books (and movies) like Fablehaven, Harry Potter, The Beyonders, etc. Books that have more mature language (not swear-words, but obviously written for a more mature audience) and situations, but that are still clean and “fun”. Because my tweens are still into “clean and fun”. They just need more.
I have only released one middle grade book so far (Jump Boys: SOS), and while it has more grown-up situations in it, it’s sill not very long so someone like my son Xander might not want to bother with it because it’s just not long enough to be “worth it” for him. On the other hand, my son Charlie, who gets intimidated by big books, is the perfect candidate for a shorter, more mature book. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like to read science fiction so . . . I can’t win!
This age group is picky–and rightly so. They’re trying to find themselves and I think it’s a super important time for us, as parents, authors, teachers and librarians, to provide “older” content for a variety of readers.
The world is in a hurry to make our kids grow up but . . . is there really anything wrong with holding onto childhood a little bit longer?
I for one am not in a rush to push my guys into young adult literature and movies. They’re still kids, even if they are almost thirteen, and I want to help them experience life (and stories) with the innocence of childhood for as long as I can.
This post is part of Tween the Weekends, a monthly theme here at Emblazon. To participate, visit our TTW page and join in!
Alex Banks doesn’t live on Planet Earth. Alex lives on the Prime Colony Ship orbiting Jupiter or on a pirate ship off the Nova Scotia coast, or on a world called Insulunda where the land masses shift and move like clouds in the sky. Wherever there are dreams to be charted like stars, or fun to be had just down the street . . . that’s where you’ll find Alex Banks.
(Alex Banks is a pen name for YA/NA author, Ali Cross)
Jump Boys Site | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Email