High Interest Books for Middle Grade Readers

I have talked before about reluctant readers and transitional readers, particularly about finding books that can interest and engage them as they work to become more confident readers. (Check out the list here if this would apply to the books you are looking for). However, my kids are a little older now, so I have spent more time looking for the elusive perfect middle grade book to interest my high energy readers. They both love to read but only if the subject matter and action level meet their specific standards. I know this is a common issue since I have helped many a frustrated parent and child find something to read while working in the children’s room.

Why do I bring this up? Well, this week as I was unpacking a new order of children’s books I was thrilled to see a large number of books that fill this sweet spot of reads that would interest many middle grade readers. Right away I started mentally listing some of the best and realized how many zany, energy packed reads are available.middlegrade1

Here are some high interest, high humor, and high action reads for those who have trouble getting into a book, or who have convinced themselves that reading is boring. These are not readers who have trouble reading, only who are tired of being told what to read or have not found highly entertaining books and might have lost interest in books because of it.

Most of these suggestions are series starters or are by authors who consistently write this style of book, middlegrade2so if you find one that makes your reader happy they will have more to follow it up with.

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier & Douglas Holgate

Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson

Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein

Marvin and the Moths by Matthew Holm and Jonathamiddlegrade3n Follet

Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty

The Hero Revealed by William Boniface

The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R.A. Spratt

Wonkenstein by Obert Skyemiddlegrade5

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon

My Rotten Life by David Lubar

As usual, I found more books I wanted to include than can fit in a simple list, so more suggestions are: The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, SPHDZ by Jon Scieszka, The Robe of Skulls by Vivian FrenchHerbert’s Wormhole by Peter Nelson and Rohitash Rao, Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke, Dodger and Me by Jordan middlegrade6Sonnenblick, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis, My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara, The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry, The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, and The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson.

Did I miss a book that was a hit with you or a reader you know? Share the title here so we can give it a look too!

Fictional Family Troubles For Young Readers

Oftentimes reading about another person in a similar (or worse) situation than your own helps a reader of any age feel less alone and better about their personal situation.  It can also help them process what is happen and deal with their own emotions. While nothing helps more than a solid support system or counseling, reading a book that we can relate to can also do wonders. This is true for the children and teens in our lives, not just for adult readers.

If familythere is something serious going on in the home life of a young child in your life, here are some books they might relate to that could help them know they are not alone. They can also see someone else come to terms with and learn to cope with the same issues with which they are currently dealing. Most of these novels deal with the characters coming to terms with family issues such as separation or divorce, but some also include other family changes or conflicts.

family1Shelved in Childrens:
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
I, Lorelei by Yeardley Smith
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Sarah Simpson’s Rules for Living by Rebecca Rupp
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes
family2What Would Joey Do? by Jack Gantos
How Tía Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez
Your Friend in Fashion, Abby Shapiro by Amy Axelrod
The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell

Shelved in Young Adult:
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
family3Unbecoming by Jenny Downham
Dark Water by Laura McNeal
Far from Fair by Elana K. Arnold
Black, White, Other by Joan Steinau Lester
The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens by Ashley Juergens
Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
family4Zipped by Laura and Tom McNeal
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

As always, these are just some suggested titles, there was no way to include all the wonderful books out there that might help.  If you have a favorite book that you would suggest on this topic please share it in the comments.

Snowy Day Books for Little Readers

snowydayAs the weather gets a little colder, we have to face the fact that ice and snow will not be far behind. If, like me, you prefer the chilly days of autumn and early winter to the heat of summer, that this is not necessarily a bad thing. If you, or the young kids in your life, are looking forward to the colder weather and the possibility of snow days I have gathered some picture books and easy snowyday9readers that can help you all get in the mood. Here are some of my favor books about snow and snow days for our youngest readers.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Snow by Cynthia Rylant
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Snow by Uri Shulevitzsnowyday6
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Sugar on Snow by Nan Parson Rossiter
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
Snowballs by Lois Ehlers
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Big Snow by Jonathan Bean
Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow by David Soman
In The Snow: Who’s Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett Georgesnowday
The Snow Day by Komako Sakai
In the Snow by Sharon Phillips Denslow
Snow by Manya Stojic
The Three Snow Bears by Jane Brett
Snow Day! by Lester L. Laminack

Did I miss one or more of your favorites? Please share your favorite picture books featuring snow so that the rest of us can add it to our reading lists!

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Reads for Students Worried About Fitting In

Everyone faces some level of anxiety about being liked, fitting in, or finding their own place in the world. For children and teens that have just started getting into the swing of school for the year, this is especially true.

fitinThese are some books about children struggling with fitting in and finding their own worth in the face of new situations and bullies. More often than not, our main characters discover that everyone has the same worries and that standing out is not such a bad thing. As a bonus for readers that are not facing some of these fears, reading books about others struggling can help them empathize with siblings or classmates. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinellifitin2
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renée Russell
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Locker Hero by Rachel Renée Russell
The Detention Club by David Yoo
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yangfitin4
The Loser List by H. N. Kowitt
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart
Warp Speed by Lisa Yee
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Callie’s Rules by Naomi Zuckerfitin6
The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Massfitin7
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

There are so many wonderful books about fitting in and standing out that I only touched the surface here. Do you have a favorite from your childhood, or that you have recently discovered, that you would like to recommend? If so leave the title in the comments so the rest of us can check it out too.

The Joy of Following Your Own Rules

There is significant pressure in the world for us all to be perfect. The perfect employee, parent, student, child, and so on. There is a seemingly endless supply of information available claiming that it can help us get closer to that goal of perfection.  The pressure of this constant pushing can be hard to handle, and some make different choices (good and bad) than they might without the social pressures.

While it might sound easy, it is actually difficult to let go and ignore the people who should really have no say in our lives. Sometimes we need to put the blinders on and focus on doing the best we can with what we feel is important, rather than doing the best we can to fit the expectations of others. It is a challenge, especially now when new is so immediate and our lives feel so interconnected via social media.

I have found that there is a movement out there to help us all focus on what is truly important (the health and happiness of ourselves and those we love) rather than fitting the labels perfect1or expectations others might want to impose on us. Here are a variety of book that encourage us to let go of those restrictions to take care of ourselves and our loved ones in our own way. Fair warning though, there is some censored profanity in some of the titles, and the tone of the book often matches the title.

Big Girl: How I Gave up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight

Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional by Dale Archer

jacket-aspxF*ck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems by Michael I. Bennett, MD, and Sarah Bennet

The Tao of Martha: My Year perfect2of LIVING, or Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of The Dog by Jen Lancaster

Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone by Beth Lisick

Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin– Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons

Do you have a favorite read that helps remind you to just be you and ignore the critics of society? Please share it with us in the comments!