Top Ten Things Ten-Year-Old Girls Would Like to See More of in Books

Last week, a group of thirteen-year-old boys told me what they’d like to see in books. If you missed it, you can read it here:

Today, girls get their say.

Rhiannon Reading on Trampoline1

Only this time, I chose a slightly younger age. Not only did I want to see if gender made any significant difference to the requests, but also if middle grade preferences were vastly different to young adult.

So I gathered a group of eight ten-year-old girls and, after they’d had their fill of cupcakes and cookies, asked them to come up with their top five answers to the same question I’d put to the boys:

“What would you like to see more of in books?”

These are their top responses, from tenth to first:

10. Magic spells

9. Scary setting, like haunted houses

8. More pictures in chapter books

7. Sport stories – netball and equestrian were specifically mentioned

6. Bad guys not losing so easy (one girl even wanted the bad guys to “sometimes” win in the end)

5. Mysteries, not only in terms of plot but also in settings

4. Humour

3. Princess stories

2. Fashion industry settings

And the top answer was…

1. More drama (conflict) between friends, especially best friends

So there you have it. I must admit, I thought the top answer was very interesting. While the young adult boys’ top answer was humour and wisecracking jokes, the middle grade girls wanted friendships to be tested. Make of that what you will.

Happy writing,


The two groups used for this purpose were quite small, both only being eight in number. Do you think their answers accurately reflect the thoughts of young adult boys and middle grade girls in general? And why do you think their top answer is so different?


Top Ten Things Thirteen-Year-Old Boys Would Like to See More of in Books

Hi all,

Welcome to my Ten On… series, where I pose a question to a group of readers for their top ten answers on a topic.

Ten On

The manuscript I am currently working on is a contemporary fantasy novel targeted at the lower end of the young adult market i.e. twelve to fifteen-year-old readers. After being told by a publishing industry insider last week that, “Boys don’t want to read the same ‘types’ of books boys read twenty years ago” (a big generic statement, I know), I thought I’d get a group of thirteen-year-old boys together and put one question to them. I chose eight boys and asked them to each come up with five answers, without talking to or showing their companions, to the question below:

“What would you like to see more of in books?”

These are their top responses, from tenth to first:

10. Settings in out-of-space, but not necessary including aliens

9. Heroes and villains that aren’t too obvious/stereotypical eg. one boy said they could have similar personalities (this one I find especially interesting)

8. Settings in fantasy worlds reached through portals

7. Protagonists with major anger issues (another interesting one)

6. Medieval settings with dragons and knights

5. Race against time quests

4. Action fights

3. Twists that aren’t obvious – like to try to solve them

2. Protagonists they wish they could be like eg. due to their special powers or to their brains, courage or strength

and the top answer (drum roll please….)

1. Humour, humour, humour (yep, including that down-in-the-gutter type)

Hmm, now I don’t know about you, but I’d say that pretty much all of the above can be found in books dating back…forever?

Books really are timeless, don’t you think?

Happy writing,