Fan Mail Wednesday #104 (Thursday Edition)

Fabulous Fineas writes . . .

Dear James Preller,

I love your books!!! I am 8 years old.  I have pretty much read all your jigsaw jones books! My teacher always says I am getting up there! she says i am getting too old for your books because they are too short. Please write bigger books.  Write more mysteries!

From your fan, Fineas

I replied:

Thanks, Fin! Is it okay to call you Fin? Or Finn?

Good news: I have been writing longer books. I’d say the next step beyond Jigsaw in terms of length and difficulty would be: Along Came Spider, Justin Fisher Declares War, Six Innings, then Bystander.

But you are right, I should write another mystery. I’ve been meaning to get around to it again, at an older level, but I guess after 40 Jigsaw Jones books, I needed a break from that type of book. I’d like to write one that’s more complicated and perhaps even dangerous, more along the lines of a thriller. But right now, today, I’ve got nothing. Zippo.

Rough cover sketch by R.W. Alley. Click here to learn

more about his creative process!

You know, I have to confess that I hear this kind of thing a lot — kids being encouraged to move beyond “easy” books. And worse, that their current choices are somehow unworthy, certainly frowned upon, and I suspect that disapproval sometimes spills over to the reader himself.  I think many boys who loved reading comic books, for example, heard the same complaint all through childhood. It’s an unfortunate message, especially in a world where so many boys are not reading for pleasure at all.

So this is what I think, Fin. Your teacher is right to gently encourage you to continue to grow as a reader, to challenge yourself with new books. There are so many great books out there, just waiting for you. But at the same time, as a reader, I often like short books. And I like . . . what I like. The most important thing is that YOU ARE READING BOOKS, any books, even mine. Just keep that up — keep on reading, at least a little bit every day — and you’ll do fine. No worries.

Thanks again for the nice note!

JP

P.S. I recently made a video in response to a reader who had a similar issue at school. You can check it out below!

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