Maeve Visser Knoth: After Twilight: Romantic stories for tweens

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

After Twilight: Romantic stories for tweens

Several times in recent weeks, I have had the same question. It starts something like this; my daughter finished Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and wants more love stories. What can I give her?

Most of the young adult romances shelved near Twilight in the library are indeed much too steamy for middle school girls. What appeals to most of these readers is the idea of romance, lots of sentimentality and a little glimpse into the more adult world. There are a couple of different directions to point your nine, ten or eleven year old. My recommendations fall into three broad categories. Try her with some old-fashioned realistic fiction, some more contemporary fiction about middle school crushes, or some romantic fantasy.

Old-fashioned realistic fiction can be a life-saver when your reader is reading well past her chronological age. In these books she'll meet lively characters who grow up, fall in love and often get married. Try:

Daddy-Long Legs by Jean Webster
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter
Even the novels about Betsy and Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace might suit. They are extremely dated- they read like historical fiction now- but Betsy's struggles with identity and independence are universal.

There are some contemporary realistic novels that might just appeal to your Twilight reader. Try:

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle (Madeline L'Engle's books about the Austin family have recently been reissued. They are very thoughtful, and in some cases, very romantic.)
A Candle in Her Room by Ruth M. Arthur (This is the only one of Arthur's books readily available but if you find others, they will fit the bill too. Arthur's novels walk the border between realistic fiction and fantasy.)
Romeo and Juliet, Together (and Alive) at Last by Avi
The Beetle and Me; A Love Story by Karen Young
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (This is not a love story, but it has a rather romantic feel and might just lead your reader into reading more by Paterson. She could do worse!)
Bingo Brown and the Language of Love by Betsy Byars
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

Romantic fantasies are the easiest to find. Many of these novels are based on familiar fairy tales with the "fall in love with a prince" plot developed into something of substance. Again, if the novels are not overtly about a love interest, they have a strong romantic tone. The other benefit is that most of these authors have many, many books on the library shelves. Get your reader started and she'll have a lot to choose from.

The Bagpiper's Ghost by Jane Yolen
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
Owl in Love by Patricia Kindl
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
Searching For Dragons by Patricia Wrede


Blogger max said...

I always appreciate finding others who are concerned about helping children become readers.

That's because I grew up as a reluctant reader. And my father was the author of over 70 books. Now I write action-adventure and mystery books especially for tween boys. My blog, Books for boys, is # 4 on Google today.

Keep up your good work!

Max Elliot Anderson

2/22/2009 12:37 PM  

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