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Sci-Fi Books For Pre-Teens?

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the needle-definitely-oh-and-mission-of-gravity dept.

Sci-Fi 1419

o2binbuzios writes "I have two pre-teen boys who are avid readers, and I am going through my mental catalog for great sci-fi & fantasy books for them. What are some of the classics (and maybe new additions to the classics) that would be great for them to read? I am asking because some of the 'straight-up' classics I remember actually seem kind of dark & cynical for younger readers. Starship Troopers and some of the other Heinlein are definitely darker and more political than I remember... Foundation Trilogy and psycho-history maybe too dry. Road-trip reading season is upon us — what are the good reads for the kids in the back seat?"

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1419 comments

Try these (3, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 6 years ago | (#24109163)

I'd suggest you try Anne McCaffrery's "Decision at Doona" and James Blish's "Welcome to Mars."

Both are great SF, both are aimed at younger readers, both are upbeat and greatly enjoyable to read.

Re:Try these (5, Informative)

TheRedSeven (1234758) | about 6 years ago | (#24109327)

Anne McCaffery has some good ones, but they are generally dragon & space oriented. Pretty good reads, and there's quite a few in the series.

Orson Scott Card has Ender's Game (and several more in that series). These are definately classic.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, and the follow-ups are all very well written, though some of the deeper themes might be a bit above your kids depending on how sharp they are.

CS Lewis' Space Trilogy is excellent, though it gets pretty violent, and might be a bit advanced for pre-teens.

Terry Pratchett's books are funny, but they tend to spoof the politics and happenings of the US and the UK, so your kids might not grasp all the jokes. Much better would be Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the (increasingly misnamed) Hitchhiker's Trilogy (there are five books there).

If you like, you might even start them on JRR Tolkien, which is more fantasy than sci-fi, but definitely a classic. You also have the advantage of the movies once they're done with the books. (Books are better though.)

Those are my picks, and that should be enough reading for at least this summer, if not longer. You can also walk into your local Borders and ask someone. There's tons of great kids books in Sci-Fi...

Re:Try these (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109481)

Ender's Game has some elements which some pre-teens may find disturbing (animal torture) and the sequel has some graphic elements involving planting a tree. Plus, the message is a bit advanced for a pre-teen. I'm not sure most pre-teens would really grasp it.

Enders Game (2, Informative)

jhittner (66567) | about 6 years ago | (#24109177)

Ender's Game or just about anything from Orson Scott Card

Re:Enders Game (3, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | about 6 years ago | (#24109229)

He wanted stuff that is not "dark and cynical". That pretty much rules out _Enders Game_.

Re:Enders Game (3, Informative)

Robert1 (513674) | about 6 years ago | (#24109231)

I wouldn't say ANYTHING by him. Ender's Game is obvious, but his early sequels to it were too preachy, dull, and moved away from a preteen protagonist. His later sequels/retellings?, however, are great - the Ender's Shadow series.

Re:Enders Game (0, Flamebait)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 6 years ago | (#24109487)

Ender's Game ...

Cripes, what's with people's fascination with this book? It's a great little short story badly padded out to book length. Well, more accurately, it's a mediocre short story about the belief-beggaring "tragedy" of turning babies into warriors with a great short story about the training and trials of a natural leader buried underneath it. Seriously, 7 to 11 year old children are not physically or mentally capable of the things Card has them doing, no matter what training regimen you put them through. It ruins a perfectly interesting military science fiction story in order to fulfill a stupid and unnecessary melodramatic point. Add 10 years on to all the kids' ages and the eyerolling quotient would have been reduced dramatically.

Re:Enders Game (1)

chillax137 (612431) | about 6 years ago | (#24109523)

Actually, I'd stay away from most of Card's work. As someone else mentioned, the early ender sequels were very preachy. The Ender's Shadow series is definitely some good stuff (except you may notice some prejudice creep into the most recently released ones). His other books have not-so-subtle Mormon overtones that turn an otherwise decent book into a terrible one.

Jules Verne (5, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 6 years ago | (#24109187)

When I was a kid, I had a lot of fun time reading Journey to the Center of the Earth, from the Earth to the Moon, etc.

Re: E.E. Doc Smith (2, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 6 years ago | (#24109273)

Those are good. Along those lines, if the readers in question can put up with a style like Verne's (in the sense that it isn't a modern style) they might enjoy E.E. Doc Smith's Skylark and Lensman series; those were very cool to read. The styles can be a show-stopper for some, though. Personally, I just re-read the Skylarks and they were great.

Re:Jules Verne (2, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 6 years ago | (#24109493)

agreed!

I'm less than a month past my 24th birthday and have just started getting into Jules Verne. He's not just for kids - its great literature and you can learn a lot. Verne was waaaay ahead of his time with some of the things he discusses.

For instance, he proposes hydrogen fuel cells (using electricity to separate the hydrogen and the oxygen) as an alternative to coal (which he predicts to run out in 250-300 years) in "The Mysterious Island," which is sort of the sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Re:Jules Verne (4, Insightful)

SputnikPanic (927985) | about 6 years ago | (#24109547)

At first I was going to suggest The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and the Foundation series -- you know, the classics. Then I got to thinking a bit and the sad thing is that I'm not sure the kids today would appreciate those works as much as we did when we were their age. If they were to read those when they're slightly older or maybe even as adults, then maybe they might appreciate them more. But now? Probably not so much. I mean, we're talking about a generation that's grown up on a style of television and film different from that that we grew up with. Today, a camera angle rarely holds for more than 10 seconds before it cuts to another angle.

All this to say that I think your recommendation of the Verne novels is pretty spot on. There's more plot and more stuff happens in those Verne novels -- which are indeed great -- than in the works of Bradbury and Asimov which tend to be more contemplative and intellectual.

Ben Bova Exiles trilogy (1)

MajorDick (735308) | about 6 years ago | (#24109193)

I read this in about 4th grade (althought it was new then, ugh 1975(=)

If my meory is right about 100some pages each and pretty gripping stuff....

Exiles from Earth was the first I think

Right in line with a 6th grade or so reading level I would say...

Larry Niven: A World Out of Time (4, Informative)

drdanny_orig (585847) | about 6 years ago | (#24109195)

Always at the top of my list. It's one of those books that when you finish, you think "how the hell did he fit all that in so few pages?" I can't remember if there's any sax or violins, but that's good for kids too.

Re:Larry Niven: A World Out of Time (2, Insightful)

Ugmo (36922) | about 6 years ago | (#24109301)

I love almost all of Larry Niven's books but World Out of Time may not be good for pre-teen boys. Part of the plot is that most of humanity is wiped out. The remainder is look like pre-teen boys but are actually immortal. So far so good. These boys do maintain a breeding population that consists mostly of women with the minimal number of men to keep them pregnant. There is at least 1 orgy scene and some other sex scenes. Minimal violence though. So if you don't mind your 10 year olds reading about orgies, go for it.

Terry Pratchett (5, Insightful)

rminsk (831757) | about 6 years ago | (#24109199)

Almost anything by Terry Pratchett.

Re:Terry Pratchett (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#24109255)

Agreed. I read some of these as a preteen. Also, Ray Bradbury. The Star Trek and most of the Star Wars novels are all suitable for preteens.

Re:Terry Pratchett (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#24109277)

Oh, yeah, and *I* read the Foundation Trilogy when I was like 12 or 13. Loved it. Still do.

Re:Terry Pratchett (1)

robbkidd (154298) | about 6 years ago | (#24109329)

Seconded. Strata [amazon.com] and The Dark Side of the Sun [amazon.com] are his sci-fi books. (But his fantasy is the really good stuff.)

Re:Terry Pratchett (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | about 6 years ago | (#24109397)

Not almost anything. As much as I love his stuff, there's a mighty whopping of violence and/or death (plus a few naughty words) in some of his Discworld novels. "Maskerade" [amazon.com] , for instance, is one that I would recommend for a slightly older audience (who would also appreciate the "subtle" Phantom of the Opera references).

That being said, "Going Postal" [amazon.com] (and Making Money [amazon.com] ), as well as "The Truth" [amazon.com] , would probably go over well.

Re:Terry Pratchett (1)

The Rizz (1319) | about 6 years ago | (#24109437)

Absolutely. His best scifi is the Bromeliad Trilogy (consisting of Truckers, Diggers, and Wings).

The Johnny Maxwell series is quite good as well.

Re:Terry Pratchett (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | about 6 years ago | (#24109497)

I'd put most of Terry Pratchett's work in the Fantasy category rather than sci-fi, although the sci-fi he has written is pretty good. I really enjoyed the Douglas Adams books as a kid, although I was lazy so I preferred listening to tapes of the Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy radio play.

Whichever the preference, humour is generally a good way to keep it interesting, at least it was for me as a kid.

Modesitt (3, Informative)

YoungHack (36385) | about 6 years ago | (#24109203)

I like the Recluse series by L. E. Modesitt. I read those books over and over.

Ender's Game (4, Informative)

MattW (97290) | about 6 years ago | (#24109209)

Ender's Game [ender.com] , of course.

Best sci-fi ever (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109213)

Ender's game, by Orson Scott card.

By far some of the most entertaining, interesting, hard-to-put-down sci-fi I've ever read. The following series is also pretty good.

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109215)

Enders Game.

Anne McCaffrey (1)

gradient (262495) | about 6 years ago | (#24109221)

I grew up reading Anne McCaffrey's "The Dragonriders of Pern" series and they're still the only books I reread on a regular basis.

Re:Anne McCaffrey (2, Informative)

turtledawn (149719) | about 6 years ago | (#24109317)

In particular, McCaffrey's Dragonsdawn even has a little bit of science in it! A smattering of biomed, genetic engineering, some light AI, space navigation and terminology (this is where I discovered Oort clouds), a tiny bit of geology and botany. It's fun, and the psionics comes in late enough that you can ignore it if you want.

Re:Anne McCaffrey (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 6 years ago | (#24109369)

I heartily second that. Todd McCaffrey (her son) is also taking up the torch and continuing the series, and from what I've seen so far, he's doing a pretty good job of it.

Though I'd catagorize the mid-timeline books (the first 2 books of the original trillogy and others set slightly before then.) more as fantasy than sci-fi.

Re:Anne McCaffrey (1)

doas777 (1138627) | about 6 years ago | (#24109375)

I would typically leave mcaffrey for early teens and up. I was rather surprised that for an elderly lady, Ann is really into male homosexuality. nothing wrong with that, but may be better for a slightly older audience.

Bradbury (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#24109227)

Ray Bradbury is good, although I was less inclined to read him once I found out that my mother had herself read them when she was a kid (not having the term "pre-teen" in her day.)

Granted also that I didn't understand them... and still don't.

Ender's Game (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109235)

Ender's Game, by Orscon Scott Card.

Baroom Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs (3, Interesting)

gral (697468) | about 6 years ago | (#24109243)

He is the same guy that wrote Tarzan. There are several on http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/b#a48 [gutenberg.org] They are a little light on the Science part on occasion, but they were written in 1914.

Just give them the "dark" ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109247)

They seem kind of dark and cynical because you are older. When you are a teenager, all you remember is the hero kicking ass and getting the girl.

My suggestions (1)

Forrest Kyle (955623) | about 6 years ago | (#24109269)

I really enjoyed 2001: A Space Odyssey (and the sequels!), as well as some of the Rama books, all by Arthur C. Clarke. I was about 14 when I read them. It sounds like your kids are younger, but they may still enjoy it. It never hurts to over-estimate your kids. I read some pretty heavy tomes by the time I started high school.

I really recommend Timothy Zahn's Star Wars "Heir to the Empire" series. It's not "great" literature, but it's some of the best Star Wars writing out there.

"1984" by George Orwell is a good book. It might spark some interesting discussions about current events. (wire tapping, Habeas Corpus, etc)

"Invitation to the Game" (M. Hughes) (4, Interesting)

PlatyPaul (690601) | about 6 years ago | (#24109271)

Back in six grade, we read "Invitation to the Game" [amazon.com] by Monica Hughes, and I've been hooked on scifi ever since.

Brief plot synopsis: unemployment is skyrocketing due to mass mechanization of society, although the unemployed are well taken-care-of due to the same efficient use of resources. It can be dull to be unemployed, at least until you get an invitation on your doorstep mentioning a secret game with a very exclusive list of players.

Mystery/adventure/scifi, very highly rated, but do not read the Amazon editorials (thar be spoilers afoot).

Airborne and Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109275)

http://www.airborn.ca/

Good story, not hard-core "science" fiction, but in that genre. Definitely pre-teen or so.

Alfred Bester (2, Informative)

Syrente (990349) | about 6 years ago | (#24109279)

I found Alfred Bester's works to be timeless classics. Especially "The Stars My Destination."

Re:Alfred Bester (1)

The Rizz (1319) | about 6 years ago | (#24109463)

I love Bester's work as well, but am unsure I would suggest any of his non-comic book work to pre-teens. If I were going to choose one, I'd probably go with The Demolished Man over The Stars My Destination.

Heinlein juveniles (5, Informative)

opencity (582224) | about 6 years ago | (#24109281)

Citizen of the Galaxy, Farmer in the Sky, Have Space Suit will Travel, Starman Jones - all by Heinlein. These are his juveniles and are all good stories, drama and action along with some moralizing about studying hard etc ... I read them as a kid and was hooked. The Larry Niven short stories.

Re:Heinlein juveniles (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109431)

Don't forget Heinlein's Red Planet.

Re:Heinlein juveniles (2, Interesting)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | about 6 years ago | (#24109513)

I have to agree with the Heinlein books that are written for children (his adult science fiction is way beyond pre-teens). Asimov has some good ones that might work. Janet Asimov's (written with Isaac) Norby Chronicles are also fun books. John Christopher's Tripod books are good too (The Sword of the Spirits is good as well but is more fantasy than sci-fi).

Ender's Game, as many have said is great too but much of it other than the action will be lost on youngish kids.

There are also some great newer books (the following are mainly fantasy) for kids (Bartimaeus Trilogy, Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Harry Potter (they've probably read them though), etc.). There are many more but I can't think of them right now.

Bradbury -- yes. Heinlein -- yes. (3, Insightful)

gunnk (463227) | about 6 years ago | (#24109283)

Both Bradbury and Heinlein are wonderful. I loved The Martian Chronicles in Junior High.

On the Heinlein side, check out his youth fiction rather than his more political stuff. He wrote a bunch of novels targeted directly at youth.

I think Heinlein would be ok (1)

j-pimp (177072) | about 6 years ago | (#24109287)

I never read him, but I've had similar experience with 1984. Obviously, I though it was political when I read it at 14 (~1996), but I considered it as well as The Lion an the Unicorn an impossibility since we beat the Russians, and the British were pretty democratic. I think even if 9/11 never happened, or if we ignored it I'd still think differently about it.

I think preteens will appreciate the meaning of books they read at that age when they are older. I certainly saw the whole epic good versus epic evil themes of the lord of the rings in 5th and 6th grade, and sensed that was some sort of Christian allegory. I later learned Tolkien was a devout Catholic and hated allegory which explains why the christian symbolism didn't quite add up.

Re:I think Heinlein would be ok (3, Informative)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#24109429)

In "Time Enough for Love" (by Heinlein), the protagonist has sex with both his mother (there is time travel) and with his X-duplicated, female clone. Lots of his stuff would be fine, but not really all of it.

Ender's Game (1)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | about 6 years ago | (#24109291)

Dark *is* fun. Kids know when they're being coddled, and that's enough to turn some kids off a whole genre or reading altogether.

Anyway, Ender's Game is great -- playful but also rife with doom. I didn't always have a huge attention span when I was a youngster, though, so I read all the volumes of Hugo short-story winners I could find. Some great stuff in there.

Hmm (1)

aitikin (909209) | about 6 years ago | (#24109293)

Herbert's work is always wonderful. Asimov goes without saying.

I don't really know much about the preteen scifi stories though, I jumped right to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings when I was about 11.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109365)

"Dune", by Frank Herbert

"the mote in god's eye", by larry niven and jerry pournelle

"gateway", by fredrik poul

"foundation", by isaac asimov

Timothy Zahn (1)

Gambrinus (103988) | about 6 years ago | (#24109303)

Timothy Zahn has written several books that would be of interest. Some have been republished. A used book store would be a good place to visit.

The answer, of course, is 42! (1)

Landshark17 (807664) | about 6 years ago | (#24109319)

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Also, though it's not sci-fi, Masters of Doom by David Kushner is a fantastic book about the development of id Software in the early 90s. It's a fun read for anyone into gaming.

As I remember it ... (0, Offtopic)

Fractal Dice (696349) | about 6 years ago | (#24109325)

A field guide to birds. Come on, it's got to be fiction ... little creatures that go around waving their arms to defy gravity? Surely those things only exist in cgi "nature" documentaries.

(that's it, I've officially gone all old and grumpy, thinking that there's so much fiction and fantasy in the world that we've stopped looking at the reality out the window)

Belgariad by David Eddings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109331)

Fantasy series. Easy read and it was very accessible when I was that age.

Fantasy (1)

doas777 (1138627) | about 6 years ago | (#24109333)

in terms of fantasty, though it is far from classic, I'd recommend David Eddings' "the Belgariad" series. a great story, without too many adult overtones.

once their a few years older, peirs anthony is great for early teens.

Everything (4, Insightful)

Saxerman (253676) | about 6 years ago | (#24109335)

My advice would be, don't hold back. I had a voracious appetite for books as a teenager which crossed many demographics and genres. But the most memorable to me are the ones with more of an adult edge that really made me think. Personally, I think we spend too much time holding children back and looking to make their lives better than our own. Not every novel I've read was a classic, but there are very few I would say I didn't at least enjoy. Let them read everything you can get your hands on that looks interesting.

1632 series by Eric Flint (1)

azazrael (809236) | about 6 years ago | (#24109337)

The 1632 series by Eric Flint - alternate history - politics but a history lesson also - many in series can be can be downloaded for free fron Baen books http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com]

MYTH Adventures series (2)

GuanoTO (567373) | about 6 years ago | (#24109339)

Robert Aspirin's Myth Adventures books, the first 3 are: Another Fine Myth Myth Conceptions Myth Directions Quite funny, lots of pun names and general hilarity. Terry Pratchett's Disk World novels are also very funny, with lots of "play on word"s to keep a young mind on its toes (so to speak)...

Re:MYTH Adventures series (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109479)

I remember a few passages from the myth book dealing with the villians dead sister that def would not be appropriate for a you reader.

Re:MYTH Adventures series (1)

GuanoTO (567373) | about 6 years ago | (#24109567)

And yet, I started reading them as a pre-teen. I did not then, nor do I feel now, that the three Myth books I referenced are inappropriate for the age group.

Van Vogt, Russell (4, Informative)

shoor (33382) | about 6 years ago | (#24109357)

I mostly bring up old-timers because they're the ones I read when I was young. Asimov's Robot novels like "Caves Of Steel" might be more appealing than the Foundation stuff. Heinlein wrote a lot of juveniles. I've read that "Starship Troopers" was supposed to be a juvenile but it was deemed to rough by the editors and re-marketed as adult. However, "Double Star" is a good juvenile by Heinlein.

In the old days, Sci-Fi was mostly short stories, go find good anthologies! The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame anthology of the best science fiction stories is a good place to start.

Other recommendations would be "Voyage Of The Space Beagle" by Van Vogt, "Wasp" by Eric Frank Russell.

How far pre-teen? (1)

east coast (590680) | about 6 years ago | (#24109359)

I don't know how young you mean but I think that Dream Park is a great introduction to Larry Niven... I would think they should be in their mid-teens though...

Piers Anthony (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 6 years ago | (#24109361)

Might be a little early for them, but the Xanth series was great. Kind of silly fantasy humor, though there is a little bit of sexual content as I recall (nothing that a teenager can't handle).

My dad gave me a copy of A Spell for Chameleon as I recall the first book of the series was titled. I was about 13 or so at the time and that series reintroduced me to books at a time I had started to grow away from reading for fun.

These... (1)

Monkey_Genius (669908) | about 6 years ago | (#24109367)

Asimov
Clarke
Elison
Niven

Try short stories (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about 6 years ago | (#24109373)

For non-dark full length novels, I remember liking Rendezvous with Rama by Clarke. And I think lots of Robert Silverberg stories were OK, though none stick in my head.

All of my favorites were dark though. All-time favorite was novella The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe.

Maybe one way to go is short stories - easier to hold their attention than full-length novels, and it gives them a chance to find out what they like. Brian Aldiss had some good short stories, though I suppose a lot of them are somewhat dark. And of course there's lots of treasury collections that have interesting stuff in them.

Ursula Le Guin (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109377)

other suggestions:

Diana Wynne Jones: Howl's Moving Castle
William Sleator : Interstellar Pig, Singularity, House of Stairs.
Joan Vinge: Psion (Cat trilogy), etc.

Harry Potter, of course (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | about 6 years ago | (#24109383)

No doubt Slashdot is full of Harry Potter haters. I was one, too, until I actually read the entire series last month. It's still not exactly my cuppa, but it's an incredibly well-crafted work of fantasy fiction for young adults. The first couple of books are pure wish-fulfillment, which will appeal to any pre-teen. The books are too long for young readers to make it through all of them back to back, though, so by the time they get around to the later volumes, they will be just the right age to appreciate the darker aspects and more complex themes of the series's conclusion.

Unfortunately, most kids will probably just watch the movies.

Re:Harry Potter, of course (1)

scott792283 (800957) | about 6 years ago | (#24109563)

Same here, though I read them a year or so ago. Good story (completely ripping off LOTR, Worst Witch and other books probably), and presented in an attractive way. JK lies though... she didn't plan it all from start to finish, otherwise every book wouldn't introduce something completely new and unheard of before. The films aren't bad, but generally films rarely live up to the book.

HHGTTG and Ender's Game (4, Informative)

The Rizz (1319) | about 6 years ago | (#24109385)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a good, easy read, and is what actually got me started reading Sci-Fi.
Ender's Game is excellent, and while a little dark in places, it's no darker than most classic fairy tales.

Also, if you're at all interested in getting them some fantasy books, two of the absolute best reads would have to be Clive Barker's The Thief of Always, and China Mieville's Un Lun Dun.

Douglas Arthur Hill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109389)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Hill

His books were some of the first sci-fi / fantasy books I read as a child. They're quick reads. The only downside is that I don't think any of them are in print. You may be able to find them at your local library though.

Although the series goes down hill rapidly "Wizard's First Rule" by Terry Goodkind would be a pretty good ready for a 12 year old. Although, there is some graphic violence and adult concepts (rape, torture, etc...). I don't really have a good handle on what should be allowed at what age. I do remember reading "The Stand" before I could drive (I think 14).

Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer (1)

kg4mxz (880882) | about 6 years ago | (#24109405)

More of a fantasy series, but I definitely enjoyed it (ie couldn't put it down). Has a romantic element to it though, but a great read nonetheless.

Burroughs + modern classics (1)

smalloy (600866) | about 6 years ago | (#24109409)

I have fond memories of reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars series when I was about 11. Women in servitude, men fighting alien beasts with swords, political intrigue, betrayal. Everything a growing boy needed.

More modern classics are also probably in order. Ender's Game, the Rama series, Armor, The Diamond Age, HHGTTG, etc. And don't automatically dismiss RAH's work because it's too political - that's part of what makes them good. While I wouldn't necessarily start a pre-teen off with the Lazarus Long I've-always-been-too-fond-of-Mom saga, I'd have no problem handing some of his earlier works to a similarly aged relative.

Don't underestimate your kids! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109415)

Maybe you should let your kids decide for themselves if books like the Foundation Trilogy are "too dry". I personally liked more sophisticated, intellectually challenging books by that age. It's a real tragedy that kids are often confined to dumbed-down, "age-appropriate" books. Of course, telling them that "these books might be too advanced for you" might be exactly the right thing for encouraging them to read more.

Necroscope! (1)

conteXXt (249905) | about 6 years ago | (#24109417)

Brian Lumley's amazing fantasy series about psychic warfare and AWESOME vampires. Might want to wait until you catch them laundering their own sweat socks though.

Asimov's Norby series (1)

ryder (111) | about 6 years ago | (#24109419)

Start with "Norby, the Mixed Up Robot". I remember reading these when I was pretty young and loved them.

Sword of Truth (1)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | about 6 years ago | (#24109421)

The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind is very good in my opinion. In each book the theme varies from Critical Thinking (book 1) to objectivism (book 6). Some of the books are extremely preachy (books 5 and 7) and dull IMHO.

However, the first 3 books are easy to read, and carry a message that I think is very pro-science. However, that is hidden from younger readers I would think.

I think that teens interested in Fantasy would devour at least the first 2 books.

Leiber and Schmitz (1)

mjc_w (192427) | about 6 years ago | (#24109425)

Leiber - Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser - Enjoyable sword and sorcery.

Schmitz - The Telzy Amberdon stories - especially good for girls.

LeGuin & L'Engle (1)

More Trouble (211162) | about 6 years ago | (#24109435)

Earthsea & A Wrinkle in Time, et al.

Here's some that got me started, decades back. (2, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 6 years ago | (#24109439)

Here's some that got me started, back in the late 50s. They are all quite accessible to a young reader:

Eric Frank Russel's _Wasp_ (Also good: _The Space Willies_ A.K.A. _Next of Kin_)
Murray Leinster's Med Ship series.
Hal Clemmet's _Needle_ (A.K.A _From Outer Space_)
Heinlein's _Red Planet_
George O. Smith's _Space Plague_ (A.K.A. _Highways in Hiding_) and _Venus Equilateral_ (though the latter is quite dated, using vacuum tube technology.)

Foundation (4, Insightful)

mrsam (12205) | about 6 years ago | (#24109441)

"Foundation" is not "too dry". The best thing you can do for your kids is to give them reading material -- sci-fi or any other genre -- that challenges their mind, and makes them think.

Before Foundation, though, get them started on three Robot novels, then the seven Foundation books. After they're done with Asimov, give them the three Lord Of The Rings books. I read all three LOTR in my early teens, in high school. They weren't "too dry", in the least. I loved them. I had no problems with it, and English isn't even my native language.

Don't be afraid to challenge your kids. Challenging reading material is very good brain food. Other suggestions:

* The first three Mars books, by Edgar Rice Burrows. Some of that (mostly the first book) is a bit dated, and a bit bizarre (everyone on Mars walks around naked, and Martian women lay eggs). But, once you get passed the weird stuff, it's great pulp.

* War of the Worlds, by HG Wells

* A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court, by Mark Twain. Yes, it's sci-fi/fantasy.

That should be enough to last until next year. Come back then for more stuff to suggest.

Heinlein has some of the all time best... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 6 years ago | (#24109457)

Recommend the following:

"Time for the Stars"

&

"The Red Planet"

Also, the shorts "Green Hills of Earth" are pretty good and I think they're mostly decent for kids.

If they're avid readers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109459)

Have them read something outside sci-fi.

Turns out there's a lot of pretty good books in the world that aren't in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Maybe they'll even grow up just a little bit cultured.

give 'em all of it (3, Insightful)

BootNinja (743040) | about 6 years ago | (#24109473)

Ringworld, Snowcrash, Cryptonomicon, The Hobbit, LOTR, Harry Potter, Odd Thomas, Dragonlance (the stuff written by Weiss and Hickman, not the 3rd party crap), Star Trek novels, Sword of Truth, A Game of Thrones, Neuromancer is pretty edgy, but a great read. My younger brothers absolutely loved a series called Animorphs. When I was about 12 I really enjoyed Swiss Family Robinson. Maybe throw in some classics like Frankenstein and Dracula. H.G. Wells Time Machine, Gulliver's Travels, Around the World in 80 days, Dune

I would also second the suggestions of Card's early work. Ender's Game, Songmaster, The Shadow Series, The first few Alvin Maker books are good. I would definitely get them to read Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus.

You also can't go wrong with comics. There's a lot of really good stuff in trade paperback these days. You can introduce them to Marvel's Ultimate lines; Ultimate Spiderman, Ultimate Fantastic Four, etc. These series start over and reboot the universe. They will be more compelling for young readers because there isn't 40 years of continuity to sift through.

I would also suggest giving them books that you enjoyed as a child, or even an adult. Just because something is edgy or political doesn't make it automagically inappropriate for a child. You can tell them to come to you with any questions, and you will end up raising a kid who's wise beyond his years, and that will serve the kid well as he gets older.

Check your premises (1)

mitch.swampman (1216614) | about 6 years ago | (#24109475)

If you're looking for your classic sci-fi to be apolitical, you're basically looking for bad science fiction. Wherever science fiction depicts the future, it comments on the present.

Darkover! (2, Informative)

Deadstick (535032) | about 6 years ago | (#24109477)

One of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, Star of Danger, is pitched at younger readers...and it could lead them into reading the whole series when they get a bit older. Couldn't put those books down.

rj

Some books I read when I was young (1)

amstrad (60839) | about 6 years ago | (#24109499)

A Wrinkle in Time [wikipedia.org] by Madeleine L'Engle
Hitchhikers Guide (read when I was 10, I thought it was the best thing since the Thundercats)
The White Mountains [wikipedia.org] (Tripod trilogy) by John Christopher
I see Ender's Game has alread been mentioned

William Sleator (1)

Aldryd (823538) | about 6 years ago | (#24109501)

He doesn't seem to be as popular as other authors for young readers, but I really enjoyed reading books by William Sleator when I was in 6th or 7th grade. The first one I read was Strange Attractors, though I think my favorite was from him Interstellar Pig.

And My List (1)

tengu1sd (797240) | about 6 years ago | (#24109511)

Bug Park by James Hogan.
The Heinlein teen stories are dated, but I still enjoy them.
Short story collections, Rod Serling, Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Matheson. Bonus points for movie tie ins with some kids.
The Darkover books by Marion Zimmber Bradley. Some racey stuff in a few stories.
A Spaceship for the King by Jerry Pournelle, great adventure yarn.
Honor Harrington series by David Weber. Space opera updated and polished for today. You can't read just one.
The Dragon series by Anne and Todd McCaffery of course.
The High Crusade, by Poul Anderson.

Plus 5 Karma bonus for getting the kids hooked on reading.

Lots to choose from (1)

germansausage (682057) | about 6 years ago | (#24109521)

I gave my kid a stack of classics and let her pick. Farmer in the Sky, Lord of Light, Hiero's Journey, I Robot, The Stars My Destination, Voyage of the Space Beagle, Galactic Patrol, Swords Against Death, The Dying Earth. She is now plowing her way through all the Vorkosigan stories, and she wants Gray Lensman next. There is huge selection of great stories out there, if your kids develop a taste for Science Fiction and Fantasy they will never run out of books to read.

A few very basic suggestions (4, Informative)

moosesocks (264553) | about 6 years ago | (#24109525)

I'm not a huge sci-fi reader, but also never really found what I read to be all that difficult.

'Dune' is a great place to start out. I was never able to get through the sequals, but the original is a classic. Possibly a bit advanced and cynical, but definitely on the 'required reading' list. The Sci-Fi channel miniseries is also excellent.

Another obvious recommendation is The Hitchhikers Guide series. They're easy, they're funny, and unfortunately not strictly sci-fi. Either way, I'd have a hard time thinking of reasons not to read something by Douglas Adams.

On the fantasy end of things (more my tastes, and still closely related to SF), I'd strongly recommend His Dark Materials, LoTR (if you can manage to get through the first 250 pages), and anything by Terry Pratchett.

If your sons have any interest in The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, I'd highly recommend starting early, as the average lifespan of the typical human is only just barely long enough to cram them all in (I jest, but seriously.... if you follow the user-submitted reviews of the books on Amazon, the readers get fewer and angrier as the series goes on with seemingly no end in sight).

Earthsea (2, Insightful)

Bob54321 (911744) | about 6 years ago | (#24109535)

Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea novels + short stories are a fairly easy read. Also each is quite short. Can't remember anything in it that might not be suitable for younger children offhand.

How 'bout some non-scifi? (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | about 6 years ago | (#24109543)

What's wrong with books that aren't sci-fi or fantasy?

You do know there are other genres of books, some of which have even been around for centuries? They might even get "cultured" or something.

recomendation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109545)

i would recommend endars game

On the fantasy side . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109551)

I really enjoyed Birth of the Firebringer (Meredith Ann Pierce) when I was that age. Never read the sequels, though, so I can't speak for those.

Valentine's Castle (2, Interesting)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 6 years ago | (#24109555)

by Robert Silverberg. Gripping plot, accessible on several levels, no naughty words that I can recall.

Now I feel old (1)

SUB7IME (604466) | about 6 years ago | (#24109559)

When I was a preteen, I read the science fiction classics - not because someone forced it on me, but because the books themselves drew me in. I won't push my kids to read books they're not interested in, but I certainly don't plan on feeding them whitewashed drivel, either.

Star Wars (1)

Denger256 (1161267) | about 6 years ago | (#24109561)

There is an entire line of star wars books for young readers. Here is a link [theforce.net] to a list of them.

His Dark Materials (1)

Amy Grace (1205236) | about 6 years ago | (#24109569)

I loved The Golden Compass when I was about 11. Actually, I still do. I don't know if it would have been as cool if I had seen the movie first though, cos the movie definitely didn't do the book justice. I'm sure the "Heavy Atheism" has been prominent enough in the media that anyone buying these books for their kids will know that already.

DogsBody, by Dianne Wynne Jones, was pretty sweet too but it was kind of dark in the start.

Ooh, and although I don't know if it's appropriate for kids, The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter is about the height of rad escapism. It's an authorized sequel of The Time Machine, I guess.

It's like swiming just throw them in the deep end. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109571)

Start 'em off with a little Kurt Vonnegut. Most of the vocabulary won't be over their heads but the subject matter will get the little brain cells working and drive their teachers nuts when they give their book reports.

Hitchikers Guide -- D. Adams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24109573)

DON'T PANIC!

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the trilogy by Douglas Adams isn't as much sci-fi as all the others I've seen mentioned on this list so far. Still, it's sci-fi -- even the Babble Fish has become reality after all.

Fantasy Books (1)

chiefbutz (924863) | about 6 years ago | (#24109577)

Here are some good books, though I am not sure what the reading level on them is. The Lost Years of Merlin series (very good, probably suitable for pre-teens) The Abhorsen Series (3 books long, might be a little advanced) the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (very good, and a fast read for more advanced readers, probably suitable for pre-teens) There are also some Star Wars series that are you. the Young Jedi Knight series was one that I read and enjoyed.
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