July 1, 2009 -- These days television and the Internet compete with books for kids' attention, but "Good Morning America" parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy has some must-reads that are sure to turn your couch potatoes into bookworms.
These selections are divided into four categories -- supernatural, how-to, growing pains and books+ -- and are perfect for tweens and teens as they enjoy their summer vacations.
Click Here for our special books page full of book excerpts, author interviews and more!
Books about the trials and tribulations of growing up are staples of summer literature.
"The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate," by Jacqueline Kelly
Callie lives in rural Texas in 1899 with her six brothers. She's a real rebel, preferring to explore nature with her granddaddy to darning socks.
"Along for the Ride," by Sarah Dessen
Writing for older girls, Sarah Dessen presents a first-person account of a slightly awkward girl named Auden, who spends her summer before college at a small beach town with her dad and stepmom and their new colicky baby.
"Surface Tension," by Brent Runyon
In this coming of age story told over four consecutive summers, the narrator, Luke, goes from caring about fishing and skipping stones to checking out the girls in their bikinis to writing pretentious poetry.
"Jack Tumor," by Anthony McGowan
Hector faces an unlikely bully: a talking brain tumor. It's a know-it-all, too, and insists on coaching Hector even as it threatens his life.
"Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me," by Nan Marino
Ten-year-old Tammy is lonely and angry when she begins to bully the new kid Douglas, who just moved into a foster home down the street. She ridicules him for his outlandish lies: His uncle is Neil Armstrong, he's training for the Olympics and others. Slowly readers begin to understand what's behind her harsh attacks.
"Also Known as Harper," by Ann Haywood Leal
Fifth-grader Harper Lee Morgan has a lot of family angst. Her father with his drinking problem has gone, and her mom is late with the rent. Harper wants to enter her poetry in a school contest, but her hopes dim after her mom loses her job and she's forced to stay home with her younger brother.
The supernatural category is a hugely popular subgenre of young adult fiction. Beyond vampires, there are aliens, ghosts and more. If your teens have read all the vampire books, there are lots of other supernatural forces for them to read about.
"Daniel X: Watch the Skies," by James Patterson
James Patterson has jumped into the young adult arena with a series that includes superpowered alien Daniel X, who battles an array of vile enemies. It's a little like Harry Potter meets X Men.
"Fragile Eternity," by Melissa Marr
This sequel to Melissa Marr's best-seller,"Wicked Lovely," covers the typical aspects of teen romances: love triangles, longing and lust. The twist in this story: The relationships are between mortals and fairies.
"Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side," by Beth Fantaskey
The heroine discovers she is the heir to a vampire throne and betrothed to a bloodsucker, who happens to be a pompous, yet drop-dead gorgeous vampire prince.
The how-to genre keeps kids learning in the summer, but these are topics you won't have to force them to study.
"The Girl's Guide to Vampires," by Katie MacAlister
How do you scope out and kill a vampire? Learn the essential techniques as well as the history, culture and lore of vampires through the ages.
"The Girls' Guide to Rocking," by Jessica Hopper
Teens and tweens who fantasize about making it in the music business will get tips on how to form a band, write lyrics and reach the top of the billboard charts. For more inspiration, check out the book's historical timeline of chick rockers.
"Sir John Hargrave's Mischief Maker's Manual," by Sir John Hargrave
Sir John Hargrave explains how to do mischief, from prank calls to water bombs. Though you won't get hurt, you might get wet.
If your child is a reluctant reader, these books may be the answer. They're all interactive and are real page turners.
"The 39 Clues Series: Beyond the Grave," by Jude Watson
Follow the latest adventure of siblings, Amy and Dan, as they travel the world solving a trail of clues that will lead them to the source of their family's power. Readers can collect cards and go online to play games and win prizes of their own.
"Cathy's Ring," by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman
For a slightly older audience, the third and final in a saga, starring a spunky teen who must escape assassins, stalkers and solve murder cases, all while dealing with boyfriend troubles. Books are packaged as journals, complete with e-mail addresses, phone numbers and a MySpace account readers can visit.
"Fahrenheit 451," by Ray Bradbury
The classic dystopian tale is now a gorgeous graphic novel.
"Football Champ," by Tim Green
Troy White is a boy "football genius" when he's recruited the Atlanta Falcons to pick the key plays. But what happens when one reporter comes out to smear the Falcons, and Troy, as much as possible?
"Baseball Great," by Tim Green
Josh is a baseball great at high school, but when his dad puts him on a youth championship team, he starts to feel like everything might not be right with the older, sometimes violent players.