Book clinic: which books might wean my teenage daughter off screens?

From ghostly tales to pop music, our expert picks the titles that are just as compelling as any computer game

Q: Do you have any book suggestions for my 14-year-old daughter? I am trying to wean her off screens. She likes to be scared, loves music and has huge empathy.
Marie-Claude Gervais, 51, psychologist, London

A: Fiona Noble, children’s books editor at the Bookseller, writes:
The lure of screens in teenage life looms large but books still have the power to bewitch. A deliciously strange ghost story, Frances Hardinge’s A Skinful of Shadows bristles with menace and follows the story of a girl possessed by the brutish spirit of a bear.

More chills are to be found in the Red Eye horror series, notably Alex Bell’s Frozen Charlotte, in which haunted dolls terrorise an old Scottish school house. Classics, too, are a rich source of scares. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca or Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, subject of a recent Netflix series, may well entice.

For a reader interested in different perspectives, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a mystery narrated by a boy with Asperger’s, is a good place to start. Angie Thomas’s award-winning The Hate U Give, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, is a powerful look at racism in 21st-century America. An author whose books I’d press into the hands of any teenage girl is the fierce and funny Holly Bourne. Her Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? explores mental illness and the power of compassion and kindness.

Finally, in Sophia Bennett’s Love Song a teenage girl goes behind the scenes with a fictional boyband. Smart and romantic, it’s a compelling portrait of pop culture, fame and falling in love with music.

Submit your question for Book Clinic below or email


Fiona Noble

The GuardianTramp

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