In honor of National Stress Awareness Day in the U.S., let’s all take a deep breath…and let it out slowly. For many of us, reading is our go-to method of relaxing. Add a blanket and some tea and the trifecta is complete. But for super-sensitive, empathetic readers, reading a story about a character in peril can actually be very stressful. Sometimes it’s good stress: adrenaline, adventure, and new experiences we crave. Other times we are truly worried and fearful, even if we know certain stories need witnesses.
But are there teen reads that don’t cause too much stress — just fun, chill-out books? Every person’s own comfort reads fall into that category, of course, and “beach reads” tend to skew toward chick lit. Here, I offer a few titles I consider to be low-stress without being too personal or chick-lit-esque:
Hope Was Here, by Joan Bauer (2001 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults). Hope moves with her aunt to Mulhoney, Wisconsin to take over a small diner, but finds the owner’s not quite ready to go — in fact, he’s about to run for mayor.
Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman (1998 Best Books for Young Adults). Thirteen voices tell the story of a vacant lot transformed by an urban garden.
Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli (2001 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults). A new girl at Mica High challenges everyone’s definition of “normal,” especially that of the guy who falls for her.
A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck (2001 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults). Joey and Mary Alice spend rural summers with their “bad influence” of a grandmother. A novel in stories.
Al Capone Does my Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko (2005 Best Books for Young Adults). Moose’s family moves to Alcatraz Island, where his dad has taken a job as a prison guard.
Surviving the Applewhites, by Stephanie S. Tolan (2005 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults). Jake Semple has been kicked out of so many schools that he finds himself stuck at the homeschool run by the artistic Applewhites.
Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, by David Lubar (2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults). Scott decides to keep a journal for his as-yet-unborn baby sibling about his freshman year of high school.
The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett (2004 Best Books for Young Adults). When Tiffany Aching’s little brother is kidnapped by the Queen of Fairyland, she is determined to save him with the help of the Wee Free Men and her trusty weapon — a frying pan.
What would you add to the list? Chime in below!
–Becky O’Neil, currently reading Princess of the Midnight Ball, by Jessica Day George