Middle grade book recommendations for parents of kids ages 5-12

Read Aloud

For the younger set, a collection of easy, gentle stories that won’t drive you crazy when you’re reading them night after night after night…

Joyful Noise: Poetry for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in Age 8-12, All Book Recommendations, Poetry & Novels in Verse, Read Aloud | 0 comments

Joyful Noise: Poetry for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman

Such fun! This series of poems about insects is designed for two people to read aloud. The lines alternate, and then sometimes come together, making the reading into a performance piece. It’s a great way to make poetry more active and accessible. Some poems are funny and some are more thoughtful. Those bugs really come alive as the words fly around between the two readers.  P&P...

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Remarkable by Lizzie Foley

Posted by on Apr 25, 2015 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Crash! Pow!, Read Aloud | 0 comments

Remarkable by Lizzie Foley

Jane Doe is an ordinary girl in a town full of people with remarkable talents. Her brother is an amazing painter, her sister a math whiz, her father a noteworthy novelist, and her mother a renowned architect. Jane is the only kid who attends the regular public school, because everyone else goes to the school for the gifted. Hijinks ensue: her fifth grade teacher becomes a pirate, and her grandfather (the only other non-remarkable in the town) is jailed for sabotaging the town’s new bell tower in an effort to save the secret lake monster. It’s funny and silly, with a nice underlying message about what it means to be gifted. Amazon...

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Classics, Read Aloud, Series | 0 comments

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I love this book. I love the language and the imagery and the bravery and the adventure. I love the talking animals. I recently reread it to my six-year-old, and remembered all over again how beautiful and spare and kind it is. Lewis wrote it for his goddaughter, and his love for her suffuses the story. For those who haven’t read it (you should!), it’s the story of four children who hide in a wardrobe and discover through the back the magical world of Narnia, which is under the spell of an evil witch who has made Narnia always winter, but never Christmas. The four children join forces with a rebel alliance of beavers, fawns, and a mighty lion to defeat the witch and become kings and queens of Narnia. There is a definite Christian theme of betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption, but I don’t find it overly heavy-handed (others disagree). The battle scene and the scenes with the witch are a bit scary, and some of the language is difficult, as it’s set in England and was written sixty years ago. The plot is clear and straightforward, though, so I like it for younger, strong readers, or as a read-aloud. Anyone would enjoy it, though, at any age. Amazon...

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Classics, Read Aloud | 0 comments

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

So fun! Our kids actually liked the book better than the movie. You know the story, though in the book there is some additional backstory on the scarecrow and the tinman, and less of the frame story in Kansas. Otherwise, it’s the same familiar and exciting tale of Dorothy’s adventures in Oz and defeat of the Wicked Witch of the West. The chapters are satisfying mini-stories, which make for a nice bedtime read-aloud. The flying monkeys are less scary in the book. Dorothy’s shoes are silver, not red, which blew my mind. There are thirteen sequels, for those who want to keep going.  Amazon  P&P...

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Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Classics, Read Aloud | 3 comments

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

You know the story – plucky family with three young daughters settles the American frontier. Each chapter has its own adventure and resolution, so it lends itself well to bedtime reading. The book and its portrayal of that time has captured my kids’ imagination, and entered their conversation and their play. We discuss how hard the settlers worked and how little they had. It’s a wonderful foil for our consumerist time. But, the racism. The adults in the book, including Ma and Pa, are lousy with it. They talk about the Native Americans as if they are wild animals, and call them “savages.” The girls are more curious than afraid, and the Native Americans in the story are, with one exception, fine and upstanding. At the end, when the chief rides by on his horse, leaving the territory, Pa salutes him. Ultimately, I decided this was an opportunity to discuss racism with the kids, though I admit I did skip over some of the most awful language. There are nine books in the series, beginning with Little House in the Big Woods. Amazon P&P Kids who like this book may also like May B. and...

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Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn

Posted by on Jan 22, 2014 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Read Aloud |

Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn

What a treasure. This is a series of three stories in one book, all starring a married mouse couple named Tumtum and Nutmeg. They live in a grand English country house and just want a quiet life, but get pulled into adventures, mostly because of their desire to help others. Because it’s three different tales contained in one book, you get the benefit of a longer book but with shorter stories that are easier for younger kids to follow. Fun illustrations, too. There are a few scary parts, but there is no violence and everything works out in the end. The word “stupid” is used, but nothing harsher than that. There is a little sexism – Nutmeg is always cooking, and her ideas are discounted. But the stories have an old-fashioned feel that made that seem not out of place, and it’s clear that Nutmeg has the better ideas. Overall, a great read aloud (not least of which because it’s really fun to say “Tumtum and Nutmeg”). There is a sequel. Amazon ...

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Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Posted by on Jan 12, 2014 in Age 5-8, Age 8-12, Read Aloud |

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is known for his spooky stories like Coraline and The Graveyard Book, but this book is a departure. It is a wild tale spun by a father to his two kids to explain why it took so long for him to return with the milk for their cereal. The story covers aliens and time travel and dinosaurs and pirates and a myriad other things. The illustrations are fantastic. It’s great fun for a day by the fire. You might also enjoy it as an audio book for a long car ride. The book is categorized as being for 8-12-year-olds, but it’s also fine for younger ones who can follow a longer story. Amazon ...

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Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Classics, Read Aloud |

Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Oh, it’s so cute! A mute trumpeter swan gets a real trumpet to play, has cross-country adventures with it, and then settles at home with a girl he loves. Particularly fun for kids who are into music. Amazon...

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The Littles by John Peterson

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Read Aloud, Series |

This is a series centered around a family of tiny people with tails (sort of a human/mouse hybrid) that lives in the walls of a house. It’s pretty old-fashioned in the language and content, which is just great for the younger folk. The stories are short and sweet; you can read one aloud in an afternoon. There is a bit of a sexist flavor to it (big brother Tom always gets to be brave and little sister Lucy always seems to be scared), but not blatant enough that I was turned off. Amazon...

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The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Award Winners, Read Aloud |

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The sweet story of a mouse who doesn’t fit in, but is brave and true of heart and saves a princess. A great read aloud – you’ll enjoy it as much as your kids. There is a dungeon with rats, which can be a little scary; I’d suggest just reading those parts in a light and happy tone, nothing to worry about here, kids. And there really isn’t, it all works out well and the conflicts are minimal. Plus this book won the Newbery Award, and there’s a really pretty hardcover version out which makes a nice gift.  Amazon...

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Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Age 8-12, All Book Recommendations, Crash! Pow!, Modern Classics, Read Aloud, Series |

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

As you probably know, this series follows Harry Potter from age 11, when he discovers he’s a wizard and heads off to wizarding school, through age 17, in which he defeats the dark wizard Voldemort. Book 1 is pretty light and almost cartoony (though parents reading it aloud to their younger kids should be aware of a scene in Chapter 15 in which a creepy Voldemort drinks unicorn blood). The books get darker and more intense quickly, however, and by the seventh book, Harry is abandoned by one best friend, another is tortured while he listens, and multiple beloved characters are killed. Rowling does an amazing job with character development, and there are some great messages here about loyalty, friendship, and courage. It’s a terrific series, but parents may want to delay their kids’ starting it for as long as possible; once they begin, it’s all but impossible to hold them off of the later and darker books. Amazon  P&P Kids who like this book might also like Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Mysterious Benedict...

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Disney Fairies

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Read Aloud, Series, Sparkle Ponies |

Disney Fairies

Not as bad as you fear. There’s actually a nice empowerment message in that each fairy has to find her calling, and that it will be something that she loves to do more than anything else. There is a romantic subplot between Tinkerbell and a male fairy which seems a bit out of place for the age range, and some scenes can be a little scary, but overall, it’s got fairies, adventure, friendship, what more could a kid want? Note that there is one series of three longer books (the Fairy Dust Trilogy), all written by Gail Carson Levine and all centered on Tinkerbell; these are good if your kid can handle a longer and somewhat intricate plot. For younger kids, there are a lot of shorter chapter books that each focus on a particular fairy. These are quicker and simpler than the Levine books, and also make a nice read aloud if you have a fairy-obsessed pre-reader. Amazon: Fairy Dust Trilogy Chapter Books     P&P: Fairy Dust Trilogy Chapter...

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Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 in Age 5-8, All Book Recommendations, Classics, Read Aloud |

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

The pig lives, the spider dies. Death is handled deftly in this classic story, but it is prominent, from the very beginning. The talking animals and farmyard setting make it a nice early read aloud, but be prepared for discussions on death and humans’ role in it. Otherwise, a funny and sweet story suitable for the youngest readers and pre-readers. Amazon...

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