Read widely: The number one tip for readers and writers aged 12-15 (and a list to get them started)

Read widely

The lovely Allison Tait has written quite a few books lists for me to share with readers. In recent email chats about her latest book The Wolf’s Howl (Maven & Reeve #2) I asked Allison if she would be happy to write a new list that shared books by different genres – with the aim of helping our boys read widely. Both of the younger boys are reading well at the moment but they are both really stuck in particular genres. Al said yes and I am super excited to share this comprehensive list of books suitable for 12 – 15 years olds!

If you ask any writer (and I have asked plenty on my So You Want To Be A Writer podcast) what their number one tip for improving creative writing skills might be, most of them will answer ‘read widely’. 

And the ones who don’t give that answer are probably just trying to offer something different. 

As an author myself, I can confidently say that I became a writer myself because of the thousands and thousands of books I have read across my lifetime. Every single one of them fed into my understanding of story, clarifying structure, building my vocabulary, expanding my knowledge of character and the deft insertion of information. 

But the tip, you’ll note, is not just to ‘read’. It’s to ‘read widely’.

Any reader will tell you that they have favourite genres. Personally, I’m all about a crime or mystery novel, which is probably why both my early fantasy adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, had strong mystery elements. 

And why my third series, The Maven & Reeve Mysteries, are straight-out detective stories, albeit set in a Medieval-style world against a backdrop of rebellion and intrigue (because who doesn’t love a good rebellion, right?).

Reading widely, beyond my favourite genre, allows me to bring elements of fantasy, adventure, history, romance, classic ‘buddy’ novels, non-fiction and more into my work. 

Reading widely opens up a whole new world of ideas, inspiration, writing craft, characterisation, vocabulary, word play and more for young readers and writers.

Encouraging them to branch out,  however, can be difficult. 

So, here’s my tip. Let them read what they love. Ask them why they love it so much. Then look for other books, different books, that might contain some of the elements they adore about their favourite genres.

Introduce them to new authors and new ideas, and then stand back and watch as it feeds in to their own writing.

Or at least opens up new worlds for them.

Nicole asked me to create a wide reading list for 12-15 year olds. Her boys are stuck in a rut, and I’ve seen the same with my own.  I’ve got some suggestions below (with those boys in mind), but if you’re looking for specifics, join the Your Kid’s Next Read community on Facebook

We’ve got 20,000+ members standing by to help you out.

A. L. Tait is the internationally published bestselling author of three middle-grade series: The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. Her new novel, The Wolf’s Howl (Maven & Reeve #2) is out now.

Read widely


‘Feels Real’ fiction


Sci fi


If you have any books you think 12 – 15 year olds would like in these genres please list them below (with the genre) so we can keep adding to the list!

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