Top 5: James Patterson

Bestselling author James Patterson on his favorite young-adult reads.



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In part to encourage his own son to read for pleasure, author James Patterson of Briarcliff Manor, best known for his adult thrillers, has begun to write young adult (YA) novels. Patterson’s initial YA entry, the first in his Maximum Ride sci-fi series, debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times children’s bestseller list. His latest offering for the teen reader: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. Want to turn your own kids’ attention from the screen back to the written page? Patterson says these five titles should do the trick.



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1) The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
(Scholastic Press)
This Caldecott Award-winning tale about a 12-year-old Parisian orphan/clock keeper/thief is “a brilliant book for getting both boys’ and girls’ confidence up about being able to tackle full-length books,” Patterson says. “Of course, it helps that the first half is all pictures, but this is a story that really moves even when it migrates to regular old words.”


2) Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney
(Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Patterson’s secret weapon for book-resistant boys, this title uses an engaging cartoon-illustrated notebook/journal format to relate the narrator’s trials surviving middle school. “It’s got the humor and visual appeal of a comic strip but with a real story under the hood,” he says.


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3) The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
(Miramax/Hyperion Books for Children)
“If you’ve got a reader looking for a little adrenaline fix—parents of video-gamers and thrill-seekers take note—I’d suggest this one,” says Patterson. A fantasy adventure novel, it features a dyslexic teen who also happens to be the son of the Greek god Poseidon. “Today’s standards for adventure stories are higher than they were when I was in school, and for good reason. There are books, like The Lightning Thief, that put most of the ‘classics’ to shame.”


4) Twilight, Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown Young Readers)
If your daughter somehow has missed this all-the-rage teen vampire series—and now movie—Patterson recommends an ASAP trip to the bookstore. “Giving a kid a book that other kids are reading can be a great strategy to get them into reading. Remember, we tend to be social creatures, even in high school.”


5) Holes, Louis Sachar (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Featuring a teen sentenced to dig holes in the scorching hot desert for a crime he didn’t commit, Holes “is a terrific story that encapsulates for me a lot of what it’s like to be a kid in this world,” says Patterson.



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