I am a fan of children’s literature and was asked recently for my ideas about books for children ages 8-12. I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorites. Note that EL means Elementary and MS denotes Middle School.
- The Great Brain John D. Fitzgerald MS A series set in Utah with the Brain being able to make money while getting others to do his work. These books are a terrific segue for talking about values, hard work,and honesty. 11 and 12 year olds can read this on their own, but I would only read the aloud with my 8-10 year old for discussion.
- Caddie Woodlawn, Magical Melons Carol Ryrie Brink MS I love Magical Melons- I just purchased it since it is hard to find at the library now)
- The Master Puppeteer, MS Katherine Paterson An interesting tale of the life of Asian puppeteers.
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins,Richard Atwater EL, MS This is not like the movie- it is better! Mr. Popper is a lovable, hard working man who loves the penguins so much that they become like family.
- Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White EL, MS While younger students can read this, I think is holds more meaning for middle school students as they see the value of friendship and sacrifice.
- Trailblazer Books, Dave and Neta Jackson MS A fictionalized series about the lives of missionaries based upon their work overseas.
- Phoebe the Spy, Judith Griffin EL This is based on a true story about George Washington during the American Revolution. Be sure to read this book yourself because it is interesting and will be a terrific book to discuss courage in the face of opposition.
- Toliver’s Secret Esther Wood Brady EL An easy read book set during the American Revolution.
- Redwall Brain Jacques MS If you can find this on tape or CD, listen to them! I love how the author narrates his own book and has other actors as well. The CD’s are well done and make the book come alive.
- Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindren EL, MS This is a fun book with Pippi doing outrageous things such as sleeping in a hammock and having a horse live in her house.
- Homer Price, Centerburg Tales, Robert McCloskey MS Homer is a creative young man who lives in a small Ohio town during the 1950’s. My favorite story is about the lost wedding ring and the donut making machine.
- 101 Dalmatians, Dodie Smith MS If your child has not seen the movie, reading the book will be delightful. Cruella Deville gets her just desserts as we learn that you can’t have everything- certainly NOT a Dalmatian fur coat!
- Henry and Ribsy Beverly Cleary EL, MS This is a book about the adventures of Henry and his amiable dog, Ribsy.
- By the Great Horn Spoon, The Whipping Boy, Sid Fleishman MS If your child has dreams of digging for gold and “striking it rich”, they will love By The Great Horn Spoon. The Whipping Boy is about a servant who runs away from the palace as he is unhappy about being spanked instead of the prince. However, the story takes a twist as the prince ends up coming along!
- The Matchlock Gun , Walter D. Edmonds I love this book! It is based upon a true story that shows courage, adventure, and obedience. This is a definite read aloud and younger children may get scared as a mother races for her life with Native Americans chasing her.
- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Mystery series books:
- Boxcar Children, Gertrude Chandler
- Encyclopedia Brown, Donald J. Sobol
- Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys (older editions not the new ones)
- Real Kids, Real Places, Carole Marsh The settings for these books are places that you can visit. Each book has comprehension questions, vocabulary, book club ideas and writing tips.
Please add your family’s favorites. I’d love to see what you are reading.