If your kids have finished their summer reading for school, now’s a perfect time to put some fun reading in front of them.
Shannon Wiersbitzky is a published middle grade fiction author, teller of stories, and early morning writer (really early!). Her book, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, was a 2013 Walter Allen White Award nominee. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, three fish whose names she can never remember, and one quirky rescue dog named Benson. Connect with Shannon on Facebook, Twitter, and at shannonwiersbitzky.com.
While I’ve read quite a few of Shannon’s suggestions with my oldest son, several of the books are new to me, like the ones under Historical Themes. I hope you enjoy Shannon’s list as much as I do. Don’t forget to check out Shannon’s book, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, too; my 9 year old is digging into it right now.
I get asked to suggest books all the time. Summer is one of the best times to pull out a paperback, turn on a Kindle or Nook, and settle down with a great story. Of course I’d say the same thing about fall too, or winter or spring for that matter. Anytime is story time!
It is almost impossible to create a reading list that will suit everyone. Why? Because reading is so personal! Picking a perfect book is like trying to pick someone a best friend. It’s hard to get it exactly right.
The books recommended here are all middle-grade novels, suited for ages 8-13. A mix of old and new titles, they can be read aloud with an adult or read alone,depending on the ability of the child. So be flexible. I’ve categorized the books by general topic. If your child likes one of more of the books in a category, share the titles with your local librarian and I’m sure they can find you more that are similar! After your kids read a book, let them review the book on Amazon or Goodreads. Reviews provide valued feedback to authors and are a great way to encourage kids to write, whether they write a page, a paragraph or even just a few sentences.
The Chronicles of Narnia: C. S. Lewis
A seven book series about children who slip into another world, where good battles evil, animals talk, and they play a key role in the history of this magical land.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH: Robert C. O’Brian
A widowed mouse with four young children turns to a group of highly intelligent rats from NIMH for help.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Roald Dahl
A poor boy wins a golden ticket to visit a mysterious chocolate factory.
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat: Lynne Jonell
After Emmy is bitten by a class rat and realizes she can understand him, life with her cold-hearted nanny Miss Barmy begins to change.
Inside Out and Back Again: Thanhha Lai
When the city of Saigon falls during the Vietnam War, a young girl and her family are forced to flee to America.
Z for Zachariah: Robert C. O’Brien
A young girl believes she may be the only person left on earth after a nuclear holocaust, and then a stranger arrives…
Eddie’s War: Carol Saller
A young boy is impacted by the war against Hitler, while he faces his own troubles in Ellisville, Illinois.
The Green Glass Sea: Ellen Klages
A young girl moves to Los Alamos to be with her mathematician father as he and others work to build “the gadget”.
Warriors in the Crossfire: Nancy Bo Flood
A young boy’s strength and loyalties are tested both before and after the U.S. invasion of Saipan.
Stories in Words and Pictures:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret: Brian Selznick
An orphan boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station crosses paths with a young girl and an old man, and uncovers a mystery that involves his dead father.
Wonderstruck: Brian Selznick
Two children’s stories, one told in words, the other in pictures, intertwine in unexpected ways, even though they take place fifty years apart.
The Memory Bank: Carolyn Coman
After her terrible parents abandon her little sister, Hope begins the search for young Honey and winds up at the Memory Bank, where dreams and memories are collected and stored for safe keeping.
Chains (Seeds of America): Laurie Halse Anderson
As the Revolutionary War begins, a young slave girl yearns to be free.
The Ballad of Jessie Pearl: Shannon Hitchcock
When tuberculosis strikes North Carolina in 1922, a young girl is forced to set aside her dreams and help her family.
Al Capone Does My Shirts: Gennifer Choldenko
After his family moves to Alcatraz Island, where his father is an electrician, a young boy finds a way to help his autistic sister.
The Sundown Rule: Wendy Townsend
A young nature lover is bounded by only one rule, whatever animals she collects must be released by sundown. Then her father goes away, she moves to the suburbs, and it seems as if everything she cares about will vanish forever.
The One and Only Ivan: Katherine Applegate
A friendly gorilla who lives at the mall with an elephant and a stray dog finds an unlikely path to freedom.
Hoot: Carl Hiaasen
A young boy in Florida crosses paths with a runaway and a family of endangered owls and finds himself in the middle of a campaign to save them.
Because of Winn-Dixie: Kate DiCamillo
An adopted dog helps a young girl discover friendships and her own history.
Bridge to Terabithia: Katherine Paterson
An unlikely friendship between the fastest boy in school and the girl who beats him leads to great adventure until an unexpected tragedy changes everything.
Walk Two Moons: Sharon Creech
A young girl retraces the journey of her missing mother in the hopes of finding her.
So pick a few that look interesting, find a magical spot to curl up, and let your little reader transport herself to another place!