Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Books for the young reader: Between Judy Moody and Twilight

Do you have one of those Avid Upper Middle-Grade Readers?

Signs include: anywhere from 1-6 books lying half-read, spine-up, on furniture around the house at the end of the day (which you know you shouldn't pick up, teaches them all the wrong habits--grin); the phrase "Yeah, Mom, at the end of the chapter" uttered when asked to do chores; a flashlight under her pillow; a sensory dysfunction that manifests itself as an inability to hear when her olfactory organ is in a book.

I'm often asked, what do you let your 11-year-old reader read? People will tell me their daughters (it's usually girls) can read virtually anything (so far as skill level, sentence structure, and vocabulary) but need themes that are emotionally relevant for a middle-grader (roughly age 8-13). She's beyond Judy Moody, but not ready for Twilight. Well, here is my list of titles (supplemented by suggestions from my own AUMGR). Some of these are reviewed elsewhere on my blog.

Do you have any to add? My daughter's burned through these, and I'm still looking!! : )

Relatively new releases (as in things that weren't around when I was an AUMGR)

Diane Stanley, The Silver Bowl
William Goldman, The Princess Bride
M. Ende, The Neverending Story
Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me
Michael Mopurgo, War Horse (will be a movie soon)
Sharon Creech, The Wanderer and Walk Two Moons
Michelle Houts, The Beef Princess of Practical County
Andrew Clements, Things Not Seen and Things Hoped For
Julia Durango, Sea of the Dead (historical adventure)
Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Shirts and sequels (historical, about a boy whose father takes a job on Alcatraz, by turns funny and poignant)
Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard
Ann Rinaldi, Cast Two Shadows; The Fifth of March; The Coffin Quilt; The Hidden Staircase (verges on YA, complicated themes); this writer offers solid historical fiction about girls; well-drawn plots and settings, ie. Civil War, the Hatfield-McCoys, a New Mexico convent; some are better than others)
Patterson, Bridge to Terabithia (must confess I've never liked this one, but my daughter does)
Gail Carson Levine, Enchanted (she has other titles as well, in this vein) and Two Princesses of Bamarre
Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
Paula Fox, The Slave Dancer
Ann M. Martin, A Corner of the Universe
Laurie Halse Anderson, Fever, Chains and Forged (but maybe steer clear of her novel Speak, about date rape, for this UMG group)
Kirby Larson, Hattie Big Sky
Karen Cushman, The Midwife's Apprentice
Kate DeCamillo, The Tiger Rising
Hale, Princess Academy
Lesley Blume, Tennyson
John Grogan, Marley & Me

Classics (books I read as an AUMGR)

(NOTE: these books often depended less on immediate thrilling action and--hate to say it--tend to be better written than some of the fare out there these days; if your child is reluctant, read some aloud; sometimes it "takes")

Madeline L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, Wind in the Door, Swiftly Tilting Planet
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie series (the later ones, esp. Little Town on the Prairie, are better for AUMGRs; early ones are a bit "young")
Carol Ryrie Brink, Caddie Woodlawn (tomboy girl growing up in Wisconsin; good for younger AUMGR)
Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond (historical adventure/romance, but clean)
Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins; Thunder Rolling in the Mountains; The Black Pearl; Streams to the River, River to the Sea
JC George, Julie of the Wolves
Louisa May Alcott, LIttle Women
LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables series
Irene Hunt, Up a Road Slowly (for older AUMGRs; this is probably my favorite UMG/YA book ever; Witch of Blackbird Pond is #2) and Across Five Aprils
CS Lewis's Narnia series
Benedict and Nancy Freedman, Mrs. Mike (16-year-old Katherine moves from Boston to Canada, meets a Mounty, marries; true story, great voice)
The Diary of Anne Frank (for older)
Doughty, Crimson Moccasins

Adventure and other series: If your reader gets hooked, you are off the hook for finding a new book, for a bit. I've starred the books that have high "boy" appeal.

*John Flanagan's "The Ranger's Apprentice" series about a young boy who trains to be a spy in a fantasy world that sounds a lot like England/Scotland (about 10 books in the series)
Brandon Mull, The Fablehaven Series
The Penderwicks (and sequels)
Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society and sequels
*Barry/Pearson, Peter and the Starcatchers series (about Peter Pan before he was Peter Pan; about half a dozen in the series)
*Chris Bradford, The Young Samurai series (may be too scary, dark for some; I'd recommend for the 10+ crowd)
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games (OK, the premise is dark ... kids fighting kids to the death in an arena at the direction of evil politicians ... but it is "clean," with no sex, no swearing; it is primarily a book about teenage alliances; and Katniss the heroine rocks. NOT for every reader, but for some older middle-graders.) This is the first in a trilogy; the others are Catching Fire, Mockingjay (and the good guys win); compulsively readable
Kathryn Lasky, Guardians of Ga'hoole series
Anything by Rick Riordan--he has three series out right now, my daughter says
Sarah Prineas, The Magic Thief series
The Royal Diaries series from Scholastic (Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, etc.)
Jessica Day George, Dragon Flight series
Angie Sage, the Septimus Heap series (Magyk is the first)
Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass trilogy
Harry Potter (of course)

1 comment:

  1. Thx!! this helps soo much! I personally, though, think The Witch of Blckbird Pond was not a good book. To me it was a very slow seeming book it took me a week to finish the like 250 pages when it takes me normally a week to finish a 3-4 hundred paged book. When it comes to sugessting books here's what i got:
    Lauren Barnholdt-The secret idenity of Devon Delaney (Devon delaney lies to her summer friend about her life at school: Totally popular, always Dresses cute, DATING JARED BENTLY the MOS POPULAR boy in school! Harmless lies right? wrong. especially when Lexi (summer friend) is standing at the front Devons math class.) Devon Delaney Should Totally Know Better, Four Truths and a Lie (very good book)