Pragmatic Mom

February 5, 2010

Books That Teach Compassion

Thank you to the reader who suggested a posting on books that teach compassion.  This will be a “rolling” list.  Please comment with your suggestions to add to this posting and we can build this list together!

If you want to purchase a book, please click on the image of the book to buy at Amazon.com.  Thank you!

Hooway For Wodney Wat by Helen Lester.  Rodney Rat’s lisp makes him very shy until one day when his lisp makes him a hero.  [Picture Book, ages 4-7]

 

Halibut Jackson by David Lucas.  Halibut Jackson is so shy that he makes special outfits so he will blend in with his surroundings.  At a party for the King and Queen, he miscalculates and accidentally stands out.  Everyone loves his outfit and requests one so he opens a successful store and learns that he’s not so shy after all.  [Picture Book, ages 4-7]

 

It’s Ok to Be Different by Todd Parr.  A lovely and appealing book that sends a message that what makes us different also makes us special.  [Picture Book, ages 3-6]

 

Yoko by Rosemary Wells.  I have selected this book because it’s about bullying and acceptance.  Yoko is Japanese brings “weird” food to lunch and snack and everyone in her class makes fun of her.  Her teacher frets and comes up with a plan to have an International Food Day.  This is a great success except no one tries Yoko’s food, except at the end, Timothy tries it and loves it and becomes Yoko’s good friend throughout the rest of this series.  [Picture Book, ages 4-7] 

Yoko Writes Her Name by Rosemary Wells.  Yoko is back and this time the story is about “girl” bullying.  Yoko does things differently; she writes her name in Japanese, she brings in a Japanese book that reads left to write, and she writes her numbers in a strange way.  Two classmates think that Yoko isn’t going to graduate from Kindergarten because she can’t write her name.  When Yoko is upset and hides under a table, a kind classmate, Angelo, befriends Yoko and tells her she knows a secret language that he wants learn.  The tables are turned on graduation day when the girl bullies panic that they can’t write their names in Japanese and won’t graduate but Yoko shows them in time for the graduation march.  [Picture Book, ages 5-8]  

Thank You Mr Falker by Patricia Polacco.  Tricia has difficulty reading and Mr. Falker figures out that she is dyslexic which is life-changing.  [Picture Book, ages 6-12]

 

Mr. Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Pollaco.  Principal Mr. Lincoln can see the good in a bully and gently helps him to find his way.  [Picture Book, ages 6-12]

 

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson.  A Newbury Honor book.  I actually have to read this book but my middle daughter had it for a holiday book club because the mom wanted to have the kids think about others who are less fortunate.  The story line is about a happy vagrant living under a bridge in Paris who suddenly has to share his space with a widow and her three children.  He finds that eventually he feels compelled to help the family find a permanent home.  [Chapter Book for Newly Independent Readers, ages 7-10]

Rules by Cynthia Lord.  Having a special needs younger brother is hard on twelve-year-old Catherine.  On the one hand, she protects him by giving him rules to follow so he can fit in better. On the other hand, she’s embarrassed about him.  When she meets an older boy with a physical special need, they connect but is she too embarrassed to invite him to the school dance?  Will her friends accept him?  Is she misjudging her friends?  [Chapter Book for Grades 3-5, ages 8-12] 

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan.  Percy Jackson keeps getting kicked out of school because something bad always happens.  It’s not really his fault that bad accidents happen when he’s on a school field trip.  He’s also dyslexic and has A.D.D.  When he finds out his special needs are due to the fact he’s a half-blood (half mortal, half Greek God), it’s up to him to prevent WWIII from happening when a lightening bolt is stolen from Zeus.  [Chapter Book Grades 3-5, ages 8-16]

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January 25, 2010

Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan

I took a day off the computer yesterday and just read books 2 through 5 of the Percy Jackson series.  I have to say it was the best day ever!  This is a really wonderful series with wide appeal both in age and in gender and the range is ages 8-adult.  There is also no weak link in the series and every book stands on it’s own, though I do suggest reading them in order.  I’ve included my previous book review of the first book, The Lightening Thief, below, and can add that I stayed up way past my bedtime, AGAIN, to finish the last book. They Are Simply That Good!

I’ve added the classic Mythology by Edith Hamilton which I read and loved as a child.  You may as well capitalize on an interest in Greek Mythology and even Roman Mythology that this series will instill in your child.  The Usborne is great for younger readers but Edith Hamilton is THE expert and her Mythology book has greater detail.

I also wanted to add that I bought the 5 book set listed below; the one that looks like it’s in a treasure box.  It’s $52 but the books are all hard cover, so I feel like it’s a bargain.  Also, I never found any of the Percy Jackson books sitting on the library shelves and I was too lazy to reserve so it was easier to just buy the set.  My 4th grader was just as excited as I was to open the box, and she abandoned Harry Potter, Book 6, to dive right in.  She also LOVED them which was very gratifying to me.   I do feel that I’ll get good use out of the books as I’m quite confident all my kids will go through this series at some point and LOVE IT!

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riodan.  This is “Harry Potter meets Greek Mythology” and it’s a fantastic read!  It’s such a page-turner that I stayed up to 2 a.m. to finish it!  This is a MUST READ before the movie comes out!

Percy Jackson is an ADD, dyslexic 6th grade hero who has trouble staying in school because, as it turns out, he’s no ordinary human but a half-blood related to one of the big three in Greek Mythology.  He must find and return Zeus’ lost lightening bolt to prevent WWIII.  This series makes Greek Mythology come alive so I’ve included a Greek Mythology book as well.  The level of difficulty is slightly easier than Book 1 of Harry Potter; this book is 375 pages long, normal sized type.  [ages 8-14]

(boxed set of first three books, $11.69)

(boxed set of all 5 books, $51.97)

January 20, 2010

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Grace Lin is the children’s literature version of Amy Tan. Her latest book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is her best yet.  She weaves Chinese folk tales into a tapestry of stories where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.   There is always a  sweetness and  innocence to her writing; there are always loving parents and children learning to believe in themselves and their culture.

This could be Grace Lin’s own story. A RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) graduate, she dreamed as a child to become a children’s author and illustrator. And, it turns out, she did this with her best friend from childhood…the one who moves away to California just like her book The Year of the Rat.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is an Asian-American version of the Percy Jackson series starting with The Lightening Thief. Where Riordan weaves in Greek Mythology into his plot, Grace Lin uses Chinese Folk Tales into a wonderful, inspiring and heart-warming story that teaches all of us to just… BELIEVE.

My kids’ friends in 5th grade all voted this book the best book they’ve read this year. It is age appropriate for 8-12-year-olds, but frankly I enjoyed it too. Grace LIn gives a wonderful bibliography of Chinese Folk Tales that she used in the writing of the tale. She has beautifully illustrated this book to resemble Chinese paper cut-out art mixed in with 4 color paintings.  I’ll be shocked and surprised if she doesn’t win a slew of awards for this book!

If you are interested in a book discussion comparing Where the Mountain Meets the Moon to The Lightening Thief, I came up with some open-ended questions.  Some might require outside research.

1)  How old are the Chinese Folk Tales approximately?  How old are the Greek Myths?

2) Do you see any similarities in any of the stories?  Why do you think there might be similar stories?

3) What causes rain?  How do Chinese Folk Tales explain rain?  How about Greek Mythology?  Why do you think they have these stories?  What makes rain so important to the ancient Chinese?  ancient Greeks?

4) What causes death?  How do Chinese Folk Tales explain death?  How about Greek Mythology?  Which story do you like better?

5) Do we have any myths or beliefs that we can portent the future?  What about fortune tellers or psychics?  Who do you go to in Chinese Folk Tales to get your future told?  How about in Greek Mythology?  Why is knowing the future so important to people?  Are we so different than ancient Greeks or ancient Chinese?

Favorite Books For Reluctant Boy Readers

Filed under: Age: Grade 3-5,Age: Grade K-2 — Pragmatic Mom @ 4:21 pm
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I  love to find books that excite reluctant readers.  The key is to find that magic intersection that marries your child’s just-right level with content that matches their interest and a layout that is visually appealing (small chunks of text broken by pictures, larger font size, etc.).  Alas, this is a moving target.  I have an actual person that I select these books for, my youngest son’s best friend’s older brother who is a 4th grader with my oldest. 

My mom friends have had success with these books for their reluctant boy readers and suggests you try them.  If you want to purchase a book, click on the image of the book to buy at Amazon.com.

The Secret of Droon Series by Tony Abbott. If your son is interested in the world of wizards, but Harry Potter is too dense, this is a great series.  The type is large.  [ages 6-9].

 

The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.  Alexander’s epic Prydain series has 5 books:  The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High KingThe Black Cauldron won a Newbery Honor Award and the The High King won the Newbery Medal.   Similar to The Hobbit series but not as intimindating to read, The Foundling is a “prequal” composed of 6 short stories with illustrations throughout and just 86 pages with decent sized type.  If your child likes The Foundling, try the first book of the series called The Book of Three

If your child likes the Beast Quest series and is ready to take the next level up, try this series. 

 

Beast Quest series by Adam Blade.  A great series for a newly independent reader about beasts who threaten a kingdom and a boy who can save them. Here are a few of them. [ages 6-9]

 

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney.  When Eben McAllister is challenged by his pa to discover wonders in his small farming community, he finds the extraordinary in a doll, a bookcase, a saw, a table, a ship in a bottle, a woven cloth, and more.  [ages 7-12]

If your child liked The Enormous Egg or How to Eat Fried Worms, this is a good choice.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. [ages 8-11]

 

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth.  Twelve-year-old Nate Twitchell hatches a strange egg laid by one of the hens on his family farm that turns out to be a baby Triceratops.  If you can imagine The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg made into a novel in the vein of Homer Price by Robert McCloskey then that would be The Enormous Egg.  [ages 8-12]

 

How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell.  A hilarious book in the vein of Diary of a Wimpy Kid about an young wimpy Viking boy named Hiccup who, like all Viking boys, must capture and train a dragon as a rite of passage.  Hiccup emerges as a hero when his forbidden “dragon whispering” ability and wits saves his village from two gigantic dragons. [ages 6-10]

 The BFG by Roald Dahl. [ages 8-11]

 

 26 Fairmont Avenue by Tomie DePaola.  Beloved author of Strega Nona fame has an autobiographical series covering 1938 through WWII.  Not all the books are in print but you can find them at your public library in the biography section.  [ages 7-11]

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  This is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life.  When I read it with my daughter, I finished after she went to bed because it’s that good…a page turner you can’t put down.  When I asked older siblings of my kids’ friends about what books they read over the summer, we’d both swoon with fond remembrance about how good this book is.  Although the main character is a girl who’s adjusting to moving to a new small town after her mother leaves her and her father, the story will appeal to boys as well.   Please read this book, it’s fantastic!  This won a Newbery Award but if there were an all-time Newbery Award Winner, this book would win it!  [ages 8-12]

The Trouble with Lemons by David Hayes.  My daugher’s flute teacher said this was her son’s all time favorite book in 3rd grade.  She said he was also a reluctant reader in 3rd grade.

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill.  Historical fiction about a teacher who comes to rural Alaska and changes the lives of her students.  This book is pretty short with decent sized text.  I’d try it as young as reluctant 3rd grade readers but really great for 4th or 5th grade boys as well.  [ages 7-10]

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney.   Both boys and girls can relate to this humorous “novel in cartoons” series about a boy coping with the social issues of middle school.  [ages 7-10]

If your child liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid, try How to Train a Dragon by Cressida Cowell.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Rodrick Rules. 

 

 Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Dog Days

Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  The Last Straw

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Do-It-Yourself-Book (To create your own comic book)

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.  I loved this book as a child and it’s being made into a movie which might prompt reluctant readers to seek this out.  Claudia convinces her little brother, Jamie, to run away with her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her, not so much as she’s mad, but just for an adventure…to be different.  They discover a mystery at the museum and end up at New York social fixture Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’s house to solve it.  It’s a great read.  It’s about the same level as the Ramona The Pest series. 

I just tried this book out with my 10-year-old and she had difficulty getting into the book.  The plot was confusing to her because it’s told from Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler point of view as a letter she writes  to her attorney, who has ties to the Claudia and Jamie Kincaid.  [ages 9-14]

The EarthSea  series by Ursula LeGuin.  A reader suggested this series; see her comment below.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.  Grace Lin is the Amy Tan for the elementary school set.  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is an Asian-American version of the Percy Jackson series starting with The Lightening Thief. Where Riordan weaves in Greek Mythology into his plot, Grace Lin uses Chinese Folk Tales into a wonderful, inspiring and heart-warming story that teaches all of us to just… BELIEVE.   This book was listed twice as a favorite book on my kids’ elementary school newspaper.  [ages 8-12]

Rules by Cynthia Lord.  A really wonderful story about a girl whose special needs brother and special needs friend help her to discover the courage to just be herself.  Because the book is set in the present day and deals with topics that public school kids are familiar with such as fitting in, being embarrassed about people you love, and accepting special needs children, it’s very appealing and relatable.  It’s a Newbery Medalist.  [ages 8-12]

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. A funny tale of a dysfunctional family in which both the parents and children plot to get rid of each other.  The kids, naturally, emerge victorious.  Add in a loving nanny, an abandoned baby, a candy billionaire neighbor with a long-lost son and a happy ending.  This book has largish type and illustrations scattered throughout so it’s a great read at the level of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  [ages 7-11]

The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil by Wiley Miller.  A completely delightful story of a boy who finds adventure when a man in a hot air balloon passes by his window.  The book has large print and illustrations so it’s perfect for reluctant boy readers.  If he enjoys this book, there is a sequel, Attack of the Volcano Monkeys.   [ages 7-10]

 

Shiloh series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  This was a book that my oldest daughter’s entire grade was assigned to read.  Pragmatic Mom polled the play date kids that hang out at her house and it got a big thumbs up.  [ages 8-12]

The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park.  Set in 15th century Korea, Korea’s Golden Age, two brothers — one  skilled in kite making and the other skilled in  kite flying — combine their skills to compete in a kite flying contest on behalf of the king.  [ages 7-12]

If your child liked The Kite Fighters, try A Single Shard by the same author which won the Newbery Medal.

 

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.  Set in 12th century Korea during the Koryo era, an orphan who ends up working for a celebrated celadon potter is able to realize his own potential.  [ages 8-12]

If your child liked The Kite Fighters or The Rickshaw Girl, this is a good choice.

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins.  Set in Bangladesh, a daughter of a sick rickshaw driver strives to earn money for her family.  The length of this book is not intimidating and there are small illustrations scattered throughout to break up the chapters.  If your child can read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this is a great book to read independently with a smidge of help.   [ages 7-12] 

If your child liked Rickshaw Girl, try The Kite Fighters or A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck.  I have just discovered this Newbery Award-winning author and I have to say he’s an amazing story teller.  A Year Down Yonder is the Newbery Award winning book, and it’s the sequel to A Long Way From Chicago.  While this book is set in a small country bumpkin town during the Great Depression, it’s a hilarious story about fifteen-year-old Mary Alice who is sent to live with her Grandma for a year during the Great Depression while her parents get situated.  Grandma Dowdel is a force to be reckoned with; her resourcefulness is matched by her heart of gold and Mary Alice’s year is filled with enough drama to fill a newspaper.   A Long Way from Chicago is from Mary Alice’s older brother’s perspective during their eight summers at  Grandma Dowel’s farm and the antics they got into.  It also gives a gentle history on how the Great Depression impacted their community.   [ages 8-12]

 

Fair Weather by Richard Peck.   Thirteen-year-old Rosie Beckett and her siblings’ lives are about to change forever when a distant aunt sends them tickets to visit her in Chicago to visit the 1893 World Fair.  Not only are their adventures hilarious, butyou feel like you are stepping back in time  and visiting the World Fair which would be ten times more amazing than our modern day equivalent of visiting Disney World & Epcot Center.  [ages 8-12]

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riodan.  This is “Harry Potter meets Greek Mythology” and it’s a fantastic read!  It’s such a page-turner that I stayed up to 2 a.m. to finish it!  This is a MUST READ before the movie comes out!

Percy Jackson is an ADD, dyslexic 6th grade hero who has trouble staying in school because, as it turns out, he’s no ordinary human but a half-blood related to one of the big three in Greek Mythology.  He must find and return Zeus’ lost lightening bolt to prevent WWIII.  This series makes Greek Mythology come alive so I’ve included a Greek Mythology book as well.  The level of difficulty is slightly easier than Book 1 of Harry Potter; this book is 375 pages long, normal sized type.  [ages 8-14]

(boxed set of first three books, $11.69)

(boxed set of all 5 books, $51.97)

 How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell.  Can Billy win the bet by eating a worm a day for fifteen days?  
This book has very short chapters with illustrations.  The story is really appealing to boys.   [ages 8-12]

If your child liked How to Eat Fried Worms, try The Enormous Egg  by Oliver Butterworth or The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney.

Holes by Louis Sacar.  Every boy who has read this book seems to love it.  It’s on my list to read.  I’ve read a bunch of other titles by Sacar and his weird, quirky characters seem to really appeal to children.  [ages 8-11]

The Light at Tern Rock by Julia Sauer.  A boy and his aunt are stranded tending the Tern Rock lighthouse .  What will happen with Christmas right around the corner?  [ages 7-10]

A Series of Unfortunate Events:  The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket.  This is a series about three very unlucky children, the Baudelaire siblings, who are magnets for misfortune.  In the first book,  The Bad Beginning, their family home burns to the ground with their parents inside rendering them orphans.  It goes from bad to worse when they are left in the care of an evil distant relative, Count Olaf.  Fortunately, the children are clever and resilient and their misadventures have a comic book-like appeal.  [ages 6-10]

If your child likes this series, try The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. 

Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan.  An orphan girl who lives in an orphanage for boys rides a horse named Freedom to safety.  [ages 7-10] 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.   This book is deceptively thick because it’s 250+ pages of illustrations that tell part of the story that I call “The Phantom of the Opera” of children’s literature.  Set in 1930’s Paris, Hugo Cabret is an orphan with a talent for all things mechanical.  The key to his future, he believes, is unlocking the secret of an automaton “wonder.”  With other interlocking stories that weave together, this is a riveting story about the power of friendships, magic and perseverance.  [ages 8-12]

 

 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.  Jeffrey “Maniac” Magee, an orphan and an athlete of legendary acclaim, breaks the racial barrier existing between two neighboring towns. If your child is a reluctant reader, this might be a 4th grade or 5th grade read.  It’s about the same difficulty level as the Ramona the Pest series. [ages 10-15]

Non-Fiction

Invaders from Outer Space by Phillip Brookes.   (Level 3:  Reading Alone) 

Secrets of the Mummies by Harriet Griffey.  (Level 4:  Proficient Readers). 

Ice Mummy, The Discovery of a 5,000-Year-Old-Man by Mark Dubowski and Cathy East Dubowski.  Step 4, Reading Paragraphs, Grades 2-3. 

The Titantic:  Lost and Found by Judy Donnelly.  Step into Reading, Level 4.  Grades 2-3.

Tut’s Mummy, Lost…and Found by Judy Donnelly.  Step 4, Reading Paragraphs, Grades 2-3. 

Owen and Mzee:  The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Craig Hatkoff. [ages 6-10]

Owen and Mzee:  The Language of Friendship by Craig Hatkoff.  [ages 6-10]

The website, The Art of Manliness, has posted a list of 50 Best Books for Boys and Young Men:  http://artofmanliness.com/2009/11/15/50-best-books-for-boys-and-young-men/

November 30, 2009

Favorite Books for Middle School Kids

Once your child can read Harry Potter, the entire universe of books opens up, but what is age appropriate?  I have handed my oldest books that were Newbery Award winners, on the thin side, and with decent size type only to find them a tad too old for her based on content.  I have a tendency to steer what I call “Grapes of Wrath” realism to middle school; I think these books are fine for 4th or 5th grade as a classroom assignment because the teacher provides context, but reading for pleasure should be … a pleasure.  Another reason why some of these books are on this list is that, as historical novels, it will be a much richer experience to read them while learning about that period of time in history class.  But, as always, it’s just a personal call.  I have used the Boston Public Library’s book list as a guide.  As always, if you want to purchase a book, just click on the image and you will be transported to Amazon.com.

My original list was quite sparse simply because I’m backlogged with books for grades 3-5.  In a testimony to the power of texting, my Mother’s Helper Extraordinaire (and straight A student) texted her Straight A Student Friends for help compiling:  20 Books I have Read in Middle School and Enjoyed.  She said that she was shocked to get the list completed in 10 minutes.  I will read these books eventually, but they have MHE after it to indicate it’s a recommendation from my 8th grader Mother’s Helper Extraordinaire (MHE).  And who knew we read some of the same adult books?!

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli.  This Newbery Award winner author was born over two hundred years ago, yet her novel, set in Medieval England, is an enduring tale of a son of a knight who becomes a hero despite being crippled and discovers that there is more than one way to serve the king.  Her book makes the medieval times come alive.  I consider this as historical fiction. [ages 11-15]

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  MHE.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  MHE.

Deception Point by Dan Brown.  MHE.

The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. I consider this as historical fiction. [ages 11-15]

The Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi.  A mom friend met the author at an event at the Boston Public Library and really enjoyed meeting her and hearing about her background.  She bought this book for her son, a 4th grader.  He didn’t finish the book; it’s better for a slightly older age.   I consider this as historical fiction. [ages 11-15]

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creen.  MHE.

No Small Thing by Natale Ghent.  MHE.

Piper by Natalie Ghent.  MHE.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.  MHE.

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata.  I am a big fan of Cynthia Kadohata so I gave this book to my daughter to read when she was 8-years-old.  Another friend of her’s also read this at the same age.  It wasn’t that long, the print wasn’t mouse-sized, and it won a Newbery Medal.  Right? Wrong!  In retrospect, I should have read the book first.  It’s a story about a Japanese family forced to relocate during WWII, a particularly sensitive subject for me because my mom was forced to relocated during the war.  It has a Grapes of Wrath realism that would be better served for a middle schooler, and it would be a richer experience coupled with learning WWII-era  U.S. history. I consider this as historical fiction. [ages 11-15]

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella.  MHE.  I did read this book also, and I thought it was a cute love story from the author of the Shopaholic Series.  I personally wouldn’t have guessed that an middle-schooler would like this because I think of this as Chick Lit.  But, to my earlier point, there is not a line between young adult and adult fiction, truly.  This is an enjoyable read on the beach.  I probably would not hand this book to my 8th grader but if she found it on her own I wouldn’t stop her.  MHE’s friends also recommended Remember Me? also by Sophie Kinsella.  I have to say I bought this book to read on a long plane ride and gave up.  It’s not as interesting a story so I’m giving a fair warning.

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konisburg.  This might be Konisburg’s finest work, which is saying a lot given her two Newbery Medals!  This tightly woven story tells the story of four members of Mrs. Oliniski’s 6th grade Academic Bowl team and their unlikely state middle school championship, but also weaves together short story about each of the students reminding us that there is only two degrees of separation between kindness and love.

The Giver by Lois Lowry.  MHE.

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass.  MHE.

The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott.  MHE.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  MHE.

Beowolf:  A New Telling by Robert Nye.  MHE.  She notes, “Not as bad as orginal but pretty graphic.”

Maximum Ride series by James Patterson.  MHE.

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riodan.  This is “Harry Potter meets Greek Mythology” and it’s a fantastic read!  It’s such a page-turner that I stayed up to 2 a.m. to finish it!  This is a MUST READ before the movie comes out!

Percy Jackson is an ADD, dyslexic 6th grade hero who has trouble staying in school because, as it turns out, he’s no ordinary human but a half-blood related to one of the big three in Greek Mythology.  He must find and return Zeus’ lost lightening bolt to prevent WWIII.  This series makes Greek Mythology come alive so I’ve included a Greek Mythology book as well.  The level of difficulty is slightly easier than Book 1 of Harry Potter; this book is 375 pages long, normal sized type.  [ages 8-14]

(boxed set of first three books, $11.69)

(boxed set of all 5 books, $51.97)

Holes by Louis Sachar.  The Boston Public Library places this book under Middle School, but it’s also worked successfully as a book club book for boys in 3rd grade.

Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli.  Will Tuppence, a tightly-wound freshman in high school, learns about love and letting go after a family tragedy. [ages 11-16]

 

The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewert.  MHE.

The Land by Mildred D. Taylor.  MHE.

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.  MHE.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  The moms in my book club swooned over this book.  They were reading it for their mother/daughter book club and highly recommended this book.  We almost picked it for our adult book club.

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