Jenny Jones

Jenny B. Jones is the author of A Katie Parker Production series, including In Between and On the Loose. When she’s not writing about the drama of teen life, she’s living it as a high school speech teacher in Arkansas . Since the author has very little free time, she believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits such as watching E!, going to the movies and inhaling large buckets of popcorn, catching Will Ferrell on YouTube, and writing her name in the dust on her furniture. Check her out at

The YA Bookshelf

I love to talk books. As a teacher, one of my favorite things is to discuss YA reads with my high schoolers. I have a classroom library and constantly shove books in my kids’ faces. (And normally it’s with a gentle hand, but some days . . .)

Young adult lit has come a long way since the innocent times of Sweet Valley High. I have a few recommendations for those ready to make a run to your local bookseller.

Rules For Girls

For the middle school age, I hear rave reviews from kids about Meg Cabot’s series Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls. Meg Cabot happens to be the queen of YA and all its principalities. The woman writes, like, 500 books a year, and many of them are optioned for TV/film. But I’m not jealous. Meg has a keen eye for all things funny and offers a mass appeal.

For middle-level boys (and girls actually), I love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. These books have to be the best to read in a carpoolDiary Of A Wimpy Kid line or doctor’s office because they are written and illustrated in little vignettes. Other great picks for middle schoolers or the young at heart include Richard Peck (a personal favorite, especially A Year Down Yonder), Gary Paulsen, Cornelia Funke, Lois Lowry, Scott Westerfeld, E.L. Konigsburg, and Avi.*

It used to be when you hit junior high, it was time to put away the Nancy Drew and read whatever the adults were buying. (Am I the only one who read Danielle Steele in the seventh grade? What? War and Peace was always checked out.) So not the case anymore (sorry, Danielle). Again, Meg Cabot has a lot to offer here with her multiple series for teen girls, but so does Libba Bray with her Gemma Doyle trilogy (though some will not appreciate her mystical elements). Guys and girls alike are eating up Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series. And unless you’ve been living in a sunken fallout shelter for the last couple years, the Twilight saga is still the thing. I went to the midnight release party of Breaking Dawn this past August. These readers had the same kind of screaming fit at twelve o’clock I had when I saw the New Kids on the Block back in . . . um, well, a few years ago. Other good bets include Walter Dean Myers, Louise Rennison, Sarah Dessen, and Garth Nix.**

For those wanting YA from the Christian fiction bookshelf, check out authors like Donita K. Paul (Dragonspell), SarahDragonSpell Anne Sumpolec (The Masquerade), Lisa Samson (Hollywood Nobody), Melody Carlson (Diary of a Teenage Girl), Bryan Davis (Raising Dragons), and Christian Fiction Online Magazine’s own Michelle Sutton (It’s Not About Me). And I hear that Jenny B. Jones chick is writing some Pulitzer-worthy stuff too (give or take a fart joke here and there).***

If you haven’t checked out YA in a while, a gaping hole is in your life that can only be filled by novels for the teen and teen at heart. From romance to mystery to dragons to espionage, these books have it all. So pick one up and join the conversation.

* These books not necessarily endorsed by Jenny B. Jones.

**These either. In fact, the only ones she is totally sure of are her own. No, she takes that back. She’s a writer, so of course she’s not sure about her own books and thinks every day it’s a marvel they got on the shelves and no one but her mother will read them.

***After throwing down three Diet Cokes and a box of Twinkies, the author would like to retract the previous statement.

Jenny B. Jones is the author of three YA books including OnThe Big Picture the Loose, The Big Picture, and In Between, which won the ACFW Book of the Year award in YA. When not writing, she imparts wisdom to high school students in Arkansas. If there is any free time remaining after that, she occasionally likes to sleep and bathe. Neither one happens often enough. Please visit her smelly self at where you can find more of her sage advice.