• A great list of classics for middle school - grades 5, 6, 7 and 8!
    book lists,  middle grades

    Classic Novels for Middle School

    Middle grade books are admittedly some of my favorites to read. Both when I was in middle school and now as an adult.

    My only regret is that I hardly read any classics when I was in middle school. I have been remedying that problem as an adult and have read a lot of great middle grade classics over the last few years.

    Today’s list includes some great middle grade classics for you to read to or with your middle schoolers or suggest they read on their own.

    That being said, remember, middle grade books aren’t just for middle schoolers! Many upper elementary students will also enjoy these books as well as high schoolers and adults!

     

    A great list of classics for middle school - grades 5, 6, 7 and 8!

     

    Classic Novels for Middle Grades

     

     

    I know Anne of Green Gables is the L.M. Montgomery book that is always raved about but I actually prefer The Story Girl!

    The Story Girl

    Sara Stanley is only fourteen, but she can weave tales that are impossible to resist. In the charming town of Carlisle, children and grown-ups alike flock from miles around to hear her spellbinding tales. And when Bev King and his younger brother Felix arrive for the summer, they, too, are captivated by the Story Girl. Whether she’s leading them on exciting misadventures or narrating timeless stories–from the scary “Tale of the Family Ghost” to the fanciful “How Kissing Was Discovered” to the bittersweet “The Blue Chest of Rachel Ward”–the Story Girl has her audience hanging on every word.

     

     

    My eight year old has really been enjoying the audiobook for this one!

    The Hobbit

    Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

     

    Little Women

    Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

     

     

    I’m not going to lie, there are going to be tears.

    Where the Red Fern Grows

    Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks.

    Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.

     

     

    Once you are done reading the book you can check out the movie!

    A Wrinkle in Time

    It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

    “Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

    A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time.

     

     

    You can read just the first book but reading the whole quartet wraps things up a lot better!

    The Giver

    The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

     

     

    Number the Stars

    As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

    Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.

     

     

    Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone

    Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

     

     

    I clearly remember my grade 5 teacher reading this book to us. It’s a torturous idea to read it in a classroom setting because of all the tears that ensue.

    Bridge to Terabithia

    Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.

     

    Okay, what are some of your favorite classics for the middle grades? Let me know!

     

    Oh, and if you like all things books – sign up for the bookish newsletter!

  • Books Coming out in 2019 we are looking forward to reading
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  picture books

    Books Coming Out in 2019 We Are Looking Forward To

    A couple of years ago I would take time at the beginning of each month to look ahead and see what picture books were all coming out that month that we were looking forward to reading and then wrote a blog post about it. I thought it would be fun to do that again but instead of making it a monthly post this year it will probably be quarterly-ish.

    That’s what today’s post is. The books on this list are all coming out at the beginning of 2019 (or may have just came out) and based on the cover (cause yes, I totally judge a book by its cover) and description, I’m excited to read them!

    Now, because I haven’t actually read the books yet this list will be different than most of my other book lists where I am generally telling you our favorite books, ones that I can highly recommend, there are no guarantees with this list and I would suggest checking to see if your library has the books or is planning on getting them soon. I have linked to Amazon because they show the publication date, that way you can see when the book is coming out.

     

    Books coming out in 2019 we are looking forward to reading - picture books and middle grade chapter books

     

    I plan on having a few “favorite books of 2019” lists this year and those will be books that pass our tests. This list is for those of you who are curious about new books and enjoy making use of your library (or don’t mind bringing a book you bought to the thrift store).

    I have done one other thing differently than my previous “books we are looking forward to” lists – I’ve included a few chapter/middle grade books! When I did these lists a few years ago Raeca wasn’t at the point of reading much more than very very short chapter books but she is an avid reader now and I’ve included some books that sound good that I think she will enjoy. Some of them I may end up proof reading or finding other people’s reviews before putting the books into her hands.

    Okay, this is an incredibly long post, so let’s get on to the books!

     

    PICTURE BOOKS WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2019

     

    If this book is any good I want to buy it, I feel like cover totally represents my kids, a rare find (now, if only there was a cat instead of a dog, it would be perfect).

    When I Pray for You

    Something about seeing a beloved child come into the world, grow, and experience the wonder and pain of life drives adults to pray for the kids they love. When I Pray for You celebrates the dreams, hopes, and longings we pray over our children, and shares with the little ones how much care, concern, and love a parent, family member, or friend feels for them.

    From the moment I saw you, 
    I started to pray.
    Big prayers and small ones 
    I have sent God’s way.

    I prayed you felt safe,
    full of joy and content.
    When I whispered “I love you,”
    you knew what I meant.

     

    This book has me rooting for Tiny T. Rex, look how adorable he is!

    Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug

    Tiny T. Rex has a HUGE problem. His friend Pointy needs cheering up and only a hug will do. But with his short stature and teeny T. Rex arms, is a hug impossible? Not if Tiny has anything to say about it! Join this plucky little dinosaur in his very first adventure—a warm and funny tale that proves the best hugs come from the biggest hearts.

     

    This looks like a cute wordless picture book!

    Another

    Christian Robinson brings young readers on a playful, imaginative journey into another world.

    What if you…
    encountered another perspective?
    Discovered another world?
    Met another you?

    What might you do?

     

    Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish

    The most important rule is #1: It must be your birthday. 

    After that’s been established, a crew of hilarious animals help picture book pros Tom Lichtenheld and Beth Ferry take readers through a joyous romp that covers the most important elements of every year’s most essential holiday, including singing; closing your eyes and making a wish; blowing out candles on a cake, then settling into bed and dreaming of your wish coming true.

     

    I think this one is actually already published and being re-published as a board book, but it looks adorable, I can’t wait to read it.

    Made for Me

    Of all the children that ever could be, 
    You are the one made just for me.

    From a child’s first uttered “Dada” to his or her first unsteady steps, nothing can adequately convey the joy and awe of watching the birth and growth of a new child. Now releasing as a board book filled with adorable illustrations and the refrain, “You are the one made just for me,” Made for Me is a winning presentation of tender moments that tie a father and his new child together forever.

     

    How to Catch a Unicorn

    Can you catch the unicorn?
    You’ll have to use your brain,
    So set your traps and prep your team
    To pet that rainbow mane!

     

    Believe: A Pop-Up Book of Possibilities

    All of life’s possibilities are just a page turn away in this beautiful pop-up book from renowned paper artist Robert Sabuda. Throughout, phrases and images evoking potential (an acorn, an egg, a paper airplane) are answered by a glorious 3-D image on the following spread (a towering tree, a flock of birds, a rocket soaring upward). An ideal gift for graduates from kindergarten to college and beyond, Believe is the perfect way to celebrate life’s passages and look forward to new horizons.

     

    You Are My Happy

    As mama bear and her cub cuddle together before closing their eyes for a good night’s sleep, they reflect on the everyday wonders of life that make them happy.

    Inspired by her own nighttime routine with her daughter, Haley Joy, Kotb creates another beautiful treasure for parents and children to enjoy together. With charming and lush illustrations from bestselling artist Suzie Mason, this soothing yet playful lullaby explores the simple joy of taking a moment to be grateful.

     

    Love Made: A Story of God’s Overflowing, Creative Heart

    The joy of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has existed for all eternity. That indescribable joy bubbled over to make creation. God made so many wonderful things, but we are by far His greatest work of art.

    Share that precious truth with your little one with this unique children’s book celebrating the miracle of God’s creation. Boys and girls will learn about God as the Trinity, the Creator, and about how they are made in His image.

     

    Because

    Mo Willems, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, composes a powerful symphony of chance, discovery, persistence, and magic in this moving tale of a young girl’s journey to center stage.

     

    Circle

    This book is about Circle. This book is also about Circle’s friends, Triangle and Square. Also it is about a rule that Circle makes, and how she has to rescue Triangle when he breaks that rule. With their usual pitch-perfect pacing and subtle, sharp wit, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen come full circle in the third and final chapter of their clever shapes trilogy.

     

    Say Something

    The world needs your voice. If you have a brilliant idea… say something!If you see an injustice… say something!

    In this empowering new picture book, beloved author Peter H. Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, have the chance to say something: with our actions, our words, and our voices. Perfect for kid activists everywhere, this timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice. There are so many ways to tell the world who you are… what you are thinking… and what you believe. And how you’ll make it better. The time is now: SAY SOMETHING!

     

    The Good Egg

    Meet the good egg. He’s a verrrrrry good egg indeed.

    But trying to be so good is hard when everyone else is plain ol’ rotten.

    As the other eggs in the dozen behave badly, the good egg starts to crack from all the pressure of feeling like he has to be perfect.

    So, he decides enough is enough! It’s time for him to make a change…

    Dynamic duo Jory John and Pete Oswald hatch a funny and charming story that reminds us of the importance of balance, self-care, and accepting those who we love (even if they are sometimes a bit rotten).

     

    Right This Very Minute

    What’s that you say? You’re hungry? Right this very minute? Then you need a farmer. You have the stories of so many right here on your table! Award winners Lisl H. Detlefsen and Renee Kurilla’s delicious celebration of food and farming is sure to inspire readers of all ages to learn more about where their food comes from – right this very minute!

     

    We Are the Gardeners

    In We Are the Gardeners, Joanna and the kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From their failed endeavors, obstacles to overcome (bunnies that eat everything!), and all the knowledge they’ve gained along the way, the Gaines family shares how they learned to grow a happy, successful garden. As it turns out, trying something new isn’t always easy, but the hardest work often yields the greatest reward. There are always new lessons to be learned in the garden!

     

    My Heart

    My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed…or opened up wide.

    Some days your heart is a puddle or a fence to keep the world out. But some days it is wide open to the love that surrounds you.

     

    Have I Ever Told You?

    This little book holds the message of dignity that every child on this earth needs to hear: You are loved. You matter. You make me smile. You make me the happiest person in the world, just by being you.

    “Have I ever told you that, for me, there is no one more special than you? That for me, you are the most special child in the world, and that I love you now and will love you forever? Have I ever told you that?”

     

    Sea Bear

    Lindsay Moore’s remarkable and beautifully illustrated picture book follows a lone polar bear as she makes her way across sea ice in the Arctic. Sea Bear is a deeply moving and informative story about perseverance, family, nature, and climate change that will resonate with readers of all ages.

     

    I Love You, Funny Bunny

    Together, parents and children will giggle their way through I Love You, Funny Bunny as they discover the fun and loving parts of their own relationship.

     

    What Is Given From The Heart

    “Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service– the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temple’s “love box,” but what does he have worth giving? With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack–with stunning illustrations by Harrison–delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us all that what is given from the heart, reaches the heart.

     

    There Are No Bears in This Bakery

    A tough gumshoe of a cat–the name’s Muffin–protects his territory: The Little Bear Bakery. But there are no bears here. Not on Muffin’s watch.

    One night, Muffin hears a suspicious noise. Mouse? Raccoon? Bat? Nope, not the usual suspects. But Muffin hears . . . growling. Could it be? Yup. A bear. Just a cub. Whose stomach is definitely growling. Muffin’s got this case solved–clearly this bear needs some donuts.

     

    Sealed With a Kiss

    What’s a seal to do when she’s new to the zoo? Make new friends, of course!

    But when the other animals aren’t so friendly, a wise sparrow inspires them to surprise Seal with a special treat.

     

    Elvis is King

    Here’s the perfect book for anyone who wants to introduce rock ‘n’ roll and its king to the child in their lives. In single- page “chapters” with titles like “The First Cheeseburger Ever Eaten by Elvis” and “Shazam! A Blond Boy Turns into a Black-Haired Teenager,” readers can follow key moments in Presley’s life, from his birth on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in the Deep South, to playing his first guitar in grade school, to being so nervous during a performance as a teenager that he starts shaking . . . and changes the world!

     

    Chicken Talk

    The chickens on the farm have a message for their farm owners! They’re tired of arugula salad, how about putting a fan in their hot coop, and HEYwatch out for that snake in your tent.

    As the children walk around their beloved farm, they discover more and more chicken talk scratched into the dirt. The family can hardly believe it. What will the chickens possibly say next!?

     

    Fearless Mary

    A little-known but fascinating and larger-than-life character, Mary Fields is one of the unsung, trailblazing African American women who helped settle the American West. A former slave, Fields became the first African American woman stagecoach driver in 1895, when, in her 60s, she beat out all the cowboys applying for the job by being the fastest to hitch a team of six horses. She won the dangerous and challenging job, and for many years traveled the badlands with her pet eagle, protecting the mail from outlaws and wild animals, never losing a single horse or package. Fields helped pave the way for other women and people of color to become stagecoach drivers and postal workers.

     

    Brave Ballerina

    Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, this is the story of a remarkable pioneer.

     

    When Sadness is at Your Door

    Sadness can be scary and confusing at any age! When we feel sad, especially for long periods of time, it can seem as if the sadness is a part of who we are–an overwhelming, invisible, and scary sensation.

    In When Sadness Is at Your Door, Eva Eland brilliantly approaches this feeling as if it is a visitor. She gives it a shape and a face, and encourages the reader to give it a name, all of which helps to demystify it and distinguish it from ourselves. She suggests activities to do with it, like sitting quietly, drawing, and going outside for a walk. The beauty of this approach is in the respect the book has for the feeling, and the absence of a narrative that encourages the reader to “get over” it or indicates that it’s “bad,” both of which are anxiety-producing notions.

     

    The Bell Rang

    Every single morning, the overseer of the plantation rings the bell. Daddy gathers wood. Mama cooks. Ben and the other slaves go out to work. Each day is the same. Full of grueling work and sweltering heat. Every day, except one, when the bell rings and Ben is nowhere to be found. Because Ben ran. Yet, despite their fear and sadness, his family remains hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he made it North. That he is free.

     

    Travel With Me and See Paris

    In her first Travel with Me & See adventure, B invites readers to explore the city of Paris, France. Her goal is to reach the Eiffel Tower by night so she can view the lights sparkle for 5 magical minutes. Finding friendship along the way, B and her readers learn about French culture, language and Parisian historical landmarks including:

    – Eiffel Tower
    – The Church of Notre Dame
    – Stravinsky Fountain
    – Pompidou
    – Louvre Museum
    – Mona Lisa
    – Sacré Coeur Church
    – Arc de Triomphe
    – Champs-Élysée
    – Seine River

     

    Limerick Comics

    Limerick Comics offers lighthearted original limericks on a wide range of history and science
    topics, each with an informational panel of surprising fun facts, all presented in entertaining
    comics. Young readers age 8 and up are invited to linger on each page to enjoy the humor, ponder inferences, and view the evocative details of each illustrated panel. The book is crafted to appeal to reluctant and advanced readers alike. The informational panel on each page can provide a springboard for discussion between parents and children about each topic.

     

    No More Poems!: A Book in Verse That Just Gets Worse

    In the tradition of Shel Silverstein, these poems bring a fresh new twist to the classic dilemmas of childhood as well as a perceptive eye to the foibles of modern family life. Full of clever wordplay and bright visual gags–and toilet humor to spare–these twenty-three rhyming poems make for an ideal read-aloud experience. 

    Taking on the subjects of a bullying baseball coach and annoying little brothers with equally sly humor, renowned lyricist Rhett Miller’s clever verses will have the whole family cackling.

     

    CHAPTER BOOKS WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2019

     

    I so enjoy Andrea Beaty’s picture books and can’t wait to check out the chapter book series (apparently I already missed book one!)

    Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants

    Ada Twist is full of questions. A scientist to her very core, Ada asks why again and again. One question always leads to another until she’s off on a journey of discovery! When Rosie Revere’s Uncle Ned gets a little carried away wearing his famous helium pants, it’s up to Ada and friends to chase him down. As Uncle Ned floats farther and farther away, Ada starts asking lots of questions: How high can a balloon float? Is it possible for Uncle Ned to float into outer space? And what’s the best plan for getting him down?

     

    Ada Lace and the Suspicious Artist

    Third grader and inventor extraordinaire Ada Lace is on spring break. But it’s just a little less relaxing than she’d imagined. Nina is beside herself with excitement about meeting her favorite artist and enlists Ada and Mr. Peebles’s coding-whiz nephew to help revamp her online portfolio.

    When Nina finally meets Miroir, he snubs her, and her confidence is shaken—but not enough to miss the art show opening. While there, Ada spots a suspiciously familiar painting that may mean Miroir isn’t the original he claims to be.

    Will the friends be able to reveal the artist’s true nature, before he fools someone else?

     

    Raeca loves all things fantasy and this book sounds like one she would enjoy.

    Secret in the Stone (The Unicorn Quest)

    Claire Martinson and her sister Sophie have decided to stay in Arden–the magical land they discovered by climbing up a chimney in their great-aunt’s manor. If what they’ve learned is true, the sisters are the last descendants of the royal family, and only a true heir of Arden–with magic in her blood–can awaken the unicorns.

    Since Sophie has does not have magic, the land’s last hope rests on Claire. The sisters journey to Stonehaven, a famed Gemmer school high in the mountains of Arden, so Claire can train in the magic of stone. As Claire struggles through classes, Sophie uncovers dangerous secrets about the people they thought they could trust. With Arden on the brink of crumbling, can Claire prove she is the prophesied heir and unlock the magic of the unicorns before it’s too late?

     

    It’s Not Hansel and Gretel

    Hansel and Gretel will not listen to their storyteller. For one thing, who leaves a trail of bread crumbs lying around, when there are people starving? Not Hansel, that’s for sure! And that sweet old lady who lives in a house made of cookies and candy? There’s no way she’s an evil witch! As for Gretel, well, she’s about to set the record straight—after all, who says the story can’t be called Gretel and Hansel? It’s time for these wacky siblings to take their fairy tale into their own hands. So sit back and enjoy the gingerbread!

    With laugh-out-loud dialogue and bold, playful art (including hidden search-and-find fairy-tale creatures), this Hansel and Gretel retelling will have kids giggling right up to the delicious ending!

     

    I remember reading one of the Baxter family books years and years ago and I’m very interested to see there is now a children’s series based on the family, I think it sounds like something Raeca would enjoy.

    Best Family Ever

    Brooke is the perfect older sister. For that reason, Kari and Ashley work hard to make their parents just as proud of them as they are of Brooke. Each girl has her own talents. Brooke is an excellent student. Kari is a great soccer player. Ashley, a talented artist. And they are always there for each other. But when the news comes that Dr. Baxter is moving the family from Ann Arbor to Bloomington, Indiana, and the Baxters need to leave the only home and friends they’ve ever known, no one is happy. Saying goodbye is hard but the family still has what’s most important—their faith and their love for each other. 

    The first book in the Baxter Family Children series, #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury and Tyler Russell tell the story of what it was like to grow up in the Baxter family, the best family ever.

     

    Gordon Korman is an author I remember reading when I was young, I might just read this one for nostalgia’s sake!

    The Teachables

    The Unteachables are a notorious class of misfits, delinquents, and academic train wrecks. Like Aldo, with anger management issues; Parker, who can’t read; Kiana, who doesn’t even belong in the class—or any class; and Elaine (rhymes with pain). The Unteachables have been removed from the student body and isolated in room 117.

    Their teacher is Mr. Zachary Kermit, the most burned-out teacher in all of Greenwich. He was once a rising star, but his career was shattered by a cheating scandal that still haunts him. After years of phoning it in, he is finally one year away from early retirement. But the superintendent has his own plans to torpedo that idea—and it involves assigning Mr. Kermit to the Unteachables.

    The Unteachables never thought they’d find a teacher who had a worse attitude than they did. And Mr. Kermit never thought he would actually care about teaching again. Over the course of a school year, though, room 117 will experience mayhem, destruction—and maybe even a shot at redemption.

     

    Raeca and I both have a not-so-secret dream to live in a motorhome or bus so this book sounds amazing!

    The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

    Five years.

    That’s how long Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, have lived on the road in an old school bus, criss-crossing the nation.

    It’s also how long ago Coyote lost her mom and two sisters in a car crash.

    Coyote hasn’t been home in all that time, but when she learns that the park in her old neighborhood is being demolished―the very same park where she, her mom, and her sisters buried a treasured memory box―she devises an elaborate plan to get her dad to drive 3,600 miles back to Washington state in four days…without him realizing it.

    Along the way, they’ll pick up a strange crew of misfit travelers. Lester has a lady love to meet. Salvador and his mom are looking to start over. Val needs a safe place to be herself. And then there’s Gladys…

    Over the course of thousands of miles, Coyote will learn that going home can sometimes be the hardest journey of all…but that with friends by her side, she just might be able to turn her “once upon a time” into a “happily ever after.”

     

    Which ones are you excited to read first?

  • Our Favorite Family Read Alouds - elementary read alouds we love as a family
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades

    Our 12 Favorite Family Read Alouds from 2018

    Here’s my first list of our favorite books form 2018! Soon I’ll share my favorite reads as well as our favorite picture books, but today it’s the chapter books.

    If you’ve read any of my chapter book lists in the past you’ll know that I have struggled with reading chapter books aloud in the past and while I wouldn’t say that I am great at it now I would say I improved by leaps and bounds this last year.

    It turns out I now know the secret to getting better at reading chapter books aloud: practice. No real surprise there.

    If you have struggled with with reading aloud in the past, one my favorite tricks is audiobooks. A lot of our favorites from this year we listened to on audio and you can read my best audiobook tips.

    Our favorite family read aloud chapter books that we read in 2018

     

    We really enjoyed a lot of books this year and a fairly wide variety too. We read everything from silly fiction to serious non-fiction and thoroughly enjoyed both types.

    I would love to hear if any of these are your favorites as well!

    OUR FAMILY FAVORITE READ ALOUDS FROM 2018

     

    This book actually made it on to our list of Ten Funny Chapter Books, it has been one of Ephraim’s favorites from this year.

    Mr. Popper’s Penguins

    The story of what happens when a small town house painter receives a penguin from Antarctica as a gift. A silly story that involves a troop of penguins and a show they take across the country.

     

    I read this book to the kids in October, I had not read it previously and I wondered if it would be kind of creepy but we read it and had a lot of fun with it and it turns out it was just completely hilarious.

    The Witches

    This is not a fairy tale. This is about real witches.

    Grandmamma loves to tell about witches. Real witches are the most dangerous of all living creatures on earth. There’s nothing they hate so much as children, and they work all kinds of terrifying spells to get rid of them. Her grandson listens closely to Grandmamma’s stories—but nothing can prepare him for the day he comes face-to-face with The Grand High Witch herself!

     

    We enjoyed this one so much that we continued on to book two!

    The Mysterious Benedict Society

    “Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?” Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.

     

    This is actually our second time through this book, it’s one that I recommend as a great first read aloud novel.

    Charlotte’s Web

    Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.

     

    I can’t believe this was my first time reading this book, it was so fun and while the book is better than the movie we enjoyed the movie as well.

    Nim’s Island

    A girl. An iguana. An island. And e-mail. Meet Nim–a modern-day Robinson Crusoe! She can chop down bananas with a machete, climb tall palm trees, and start a fire with a piece of glass. So she’s not afraid when her scientist dad sails off to study plankton for three days, leaving her alone on their island. Besides, it’s not as if no one’s looking after her–she’s got a sea lion to mother her and an iguana for comic relief. She also has an interesting new e-mail pal. But when her father’s cell-phone calls stop coming and disaster seems near, Nim has to be stronger and braver than she’s ever been before.

    And she’ll need all her friends to help her.

     

    This one may have choked me up a little, why did I decide to read this one aloud??? Oh yeah, cause it’s so good. Disclaimer: there are a few minor swear words in this book, another reason I was glad I was reading it aloud, I just skipped over those or inserted my own, more appropriate words.

    Shiloh

    When Marty Preston comes across a young beagle in the hills behind his home, it’s love at first sight—and also big trouble. It turns out the dog, which Marty names Shiloh, belongs to Judd Travers, who drinks too much and has a gun—and abuses his dogs. So when Shiloh runs away from Judd to Marty, Marty just has to hide him and protect him from Judd. But Marty’s secret becomes too big for him to keep to himself, and it exposes his entire family to Judd’s anger. How far will Marty have to go to make Shiloh his?

     

    This was another book we went through for the second time, it’s one of my absolute favorites.

    The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

    Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

     

    This year was my first time reading this book. I read it on my own first because I felt like I had heard such conflicting views on it for so long. I though my fantasy-loving girl would enjoy the book and I was right! After doing a little research I am going to let her read the first three books for now and then wait a little before she is allowed to move along.

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

    Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

     

    I cannot say enough good things about this book. This one that you HAVE TO listen to on audio, it is absolutely stunning. This would definitely go down as my favorite “read aloud” (okay, audiobook) from the year.

    Echo

    Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

    Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

    Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, Echo pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation to create a wholly original novel that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

     

    We love the Christian Heroes series, this story is one of my personal favorites.

    Nate Saint

    “Seven-year-old Nate Saint peered wide-eyed over the cockpit of his older brother Sam’s Challenger biplane. The eastern Pennsylvania countryside was spread out neatly below him like a fine tablecloth. Nate was determined to remember every moment of this first high-flying adventure.”

    Flying soon captured Nate’s heart. His air service ministry to isolated missionaries put him on a path of destiny that would ultimately end with a final airplane flight with 4 missionary friends to the “Palm Beach” landing strip in the jungles of Ecuador.

    The men’s lives given that day not only opened a door to the gospel for the unreached “Acucas”; it has been said that possibly no single event of the twentieth century awakened more hearts to God’s call to serve in missions.

     

    This was a fascinating read for us because of our family ties to South Africa.

    David Livingstone

    The lion’s jaws gripped David Livingstone’s arm. Razor-sharp teeth pierced his flesh as the lion savagely shook David in the air like a rag doll. A gunshot rang out. “God help us,” David moaned, as the lion dropped him and turned to charge David’s friend Mebalwe.

    With the heart of an explorer and the passion of an evangelist, David Livingstone mapped vast, unexplored areas of Africa, sharing the gospel with whomever he encountered. His stamina, perserverance, and dogged determination created the legacy of a trailblazing explorer with an undying hunger to make Christ known wherever his steps led him.

    David Livingstone’s captivating adventures and tireless zeal continue to inspire countless men and women to bring the gospel message of God’s love to those souls who have never heard.

     

    Another one of my favorites in this series!

    Corrie Ten Boom

    Suddenly, Corrie’s ordered life was lost in the insanity of war. With bravery and compassion, her family and countless other Dutch citizens risked everything to extend God’s hand to those innocents marked for certain execution in a world gone mad.

    Corrie ten Boom’s life of determination, faith, and forgiveness in the face of unimaginable brutality and hardship is a stunning testimony to the sustaining power of God.

     

    What were your favorite family read alouds from the last year?

  • Ten funny chapter books that will have kids laughing out loud. Great novels kids will love, especially the boys.
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades

    Ten Funny Chapter Books That Will Have Kids Laughing Out Loud

    In the last few months I’ve been realizing how much more Ephraim enjoys chapter books when they are funny. For that reason I’ve been trying to add more funny chapter books into our rotation and alternating them with the more serious ones.

    There are some writers that just have that knack for writing silly chapter books, the more out there the better it seems sometimes.

    I actually had a few more books to add to this list, I’ll have to make a part two soon!

    What are some of the funniest chapter books you have read? I’d love for you to let me know in the comments!

     

    Ten funny chapter books that will have kids laughing out loud. Great novels kids will love, especially the boys.

     

    TEN FUNNY CHAPTER BOOKS THAT WILL HAVE KIDS LAUGHING OUT LOUD

    This book always has me in stitches along with the kids. This is great as a real aloud though I personally think it’s even better as an audiobook, Neil Gaiman does an amazing job narrating his own book.

    Fortunately, the Milk

    An absolute delight of a madcap story for the young (and young-at-heart), with equal parts pirates and piranhas, adventure and aliens, oddity and love.

    “I bought the milk,” said my father. “I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: t h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.”

    “Hullo,” I said to myself. “That’s not something you see every day. And then something odd happened.”

    Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal.

     

    You may notice Mr. Dahl show up a couple times in this book list, while not all his books are my favorite he’s got some really funny ones!

    The BFG

    The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

     

    We read this book over a year ago and the kids will often still call a pen a frindle. Ephraim actually made up his own word when he was three: fickadits (I’m not 100% sure on the spelling but that’s as phonetic as I could make it), it means “small pieces of paper”, it’s been over two years and that word is still going strong in our house.

    Frindle

    Is Nick Allen a troublemaker? He really just likes to liven things up at school — and he’s always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he’s got the inspiration for his best plan ever…the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn’t belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there’s nothing Nick can do to stop it.

     

    Can you imagine having twelve penguins in your home? Some silly antics ensue in this book!

    Mr. Popper’s Penguins

    The story of what happens when a small town house painter receives a penguin from Antarctica as a gift. A silly story that involves a troop of penguins and a show they take across the country.

     

    The other day I thought I was hearing a dog make a weird sound outside but when I went to investigate it turns out it was Ephraim listening to this on audio in his room and just giggling away.

    George’s Marvelous Medicine

    George is alone in the house with Grandma. The most horrid, grizzly old grunion of a grandma ever. She needs something stronger than her usual medicine to cure her grouchiness. A special grandma medicine, a remedy for everything. And George knows just what to put into it. Grandma’s in for the surprise of her life—and so is George, when he sees the results of his mixture!

     

    This is another book that Ephraim will giggle to when he is listening to it on audio, I have no idea how many times he has listened to it already.

    The Mouse and The Motorcycle

    In this imaginative adventure from Newbery Medal–winning author Beverly Cleary, a young mouse named Ralph is thrown into a world of excitement when a boy and his shiny toy motorcycle check in to the Mountain View Inn.

    When the ever-curious Ralph spots Keith’s red toy motorcycle, he vows to ride it. So when Keith leaves the bike unattended in his room one day, Ralph makes his move. But with all this freedom (and speed!) come a lot of obstacles. Whether dodging a rowdy terrier or keeping his nosy cousins away from his new wheels, Ralph has a lot going on! And with a pal like Keith always looking out for him, there’s nothing this little mouse can’t handle.

     

    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has some silly cures, I think what often has my kids giggling is that they can see themselves in some of the children she cures.

    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

    Meet Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! She lives in an upside-down house with a kitchen that is always full of freshly baked cookies. She was even married to a pirate once! Best of all, she knows everything there is to know about children.

    When Mary turns into an Answer-Backer or Dick becomes Selfish or Allen decides to be a Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has the perfect cure. And her solutions always work, with plenty of laughs along the way. This is the book that started it all!

     

    Who doesn’t secretly wish they had a friend like Pippi? From sleeping backwards in her bed to being able to lift her horse she’s one amazingly silly girl.

    Pippi Longstocking

    Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

     

    This is a super short book so we’ve read it a number of times and it still causes giggles. If only there were an anti-freckle juice I may give it a try.

    Freckle Juice

    More than anything in the world, Andrew Marcus wants freckles. His classmate Nicky has freckles—they cover his face, his ears, and the whole back of his neck. But when Andrew asks Nicky where he got them, Nicky just says he was born with them. Some help he is!

    That’s when Sharon offers Andrew her secret freckle juice recipe—for fifty cents, she promises, Andrew can look just like Nicky. His freckleless days are over! He rushes home to whip up the concoction. Grape juice, vinegar, mustard…

    But what starts out as a simple freckle juice recipe quickly turns into something disastrous. Andrew is still determined to get his freckles, and to show that pesky Sharon that she doesn’t know everything—and he has the perfect solution! Or does he?

     

     

    I haven’t read this one with the kids yet but I still strongly remember reading it in grade 5 and it’s going on the list to read to the kids shortly!

    How to Eat Fried Worms

    Because of a bet, Billy is in the uncomfortable position of having to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days. The worms are supplied by his opponent, whose motto is “The bigger and juicier, the better!” At first Billy’s problem is whether or not he can swallow the worm placed before him, even with a choice of condiments from peanut butter to horseradish. But later it looks as if Billy will win, and the challenge becomes getting to the worm to eat it. Billy’s family, after checking with the doctor, takes everything in stride. They even help Billy through his gastronomic ordeal, which twists and turns with each new day, leaving the outcome of the bet continually in doubt.

     

    If you like funny chapter books you may also like the lists of funny picture books I’ve shared before. You can check those out here, here and here.

     

    Now, let me know some of your favorite funny chapter books!

     

    Ten funny novels that will have kids laughing out loud. Great read aloud chapter books kids will love, especially the boys.

  • The Intentional Reading Book List - book suggestions and recommendations for the best books for babies, preschoolers, elementary, middle school, high school and beyond. Plus, receive the bookish newsletter with more recommendations and book extension activities
    adults,  book lists,  books,  elementary,  high school,  middle grades,  picture books

    Introducing: The Intentional Reading Book List & A Bookish Newsletter

    I have always been an avid reader, from sneaking books into the bathroom to read as a pre-teen and early teenager to putting off grown up responsibilities as an adults (*cough* doing the dishes *cough*).

    My to-read list is incredibly long but thankfully I have always believed that there are way too many good books in the world to spend time reading less-than-stellar books, so I stop those books and go on to the next good book.

    In case you are in need of some top notch book recommendations, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I’ve recently created my Intentional Reading Book List – over 70 book recommendations that include only the best of the best.

     

    The Intentional Reading Book List - book suggestions and recommendations for the best books for babies, preschoolers, elementary, middle school, high school and beyond. Plus, receive the bookish newsletter with more recommendations and book extension activities

     

    For the last two years I have been sharing all sorts of book-ish ramblings in my newsletter, I can’t wait to have you join in and hear some of your favorite books!

    Sign up here to receive the Intentional Reading Book List and receive regular bookish newsletters:

    CHANTEL’S BOOK-ISH RAMBLES

    * indicates required



     
  • Eight Middle Grade Novels - even adults will love! Middle grade novels for grades 3 and up
    book lists,  middle grades

    Eight Middle Grade Novel Recommendations

    I have been really into middle grade novels in the last few years. At first I was embarrassed about it, I’m in my thirties after all, but then I just decided to roll with it and I’ve come to learn that I am not alone in my love for middle grade novels!

    There is so much I love about middle grade novels, I plan on making that a separate post in the future so keep any eye out for that.

    Anyway, I did make a list nearly two years ago with another eight middle grade novels I thought adults would love, today’s list actually does have a little overlap and there is no theme other than middle grade. I do want to create more specific middle grade lists (fantasy, novels in verse, coming of age, etc) but that will be awhile yet. For the next few months I am just going to share general mid-grade books I would recommend.

    If you have middle grade books you enjoy I would love for you to leave a comment at the bottom of the page – I am always looking for great books to read!

     

    Eight Middle Grade Novels - even adults will love! Middle grade novels for grades 3 and up

     

     

    BOOKS MENTIONED IN THE VIDEO

     

    The Invention of Hugo Cabret

    Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

     

    Love That Dog

    Love That Dog shows how one boy named Jack finds his voice with the help of a teacher, a pencil, some yellow paper, and of course, a dog. Written as a series of free-verse poems from Jack’s point of view, and with classic poetry included in the back matter, this novel is perfect for kids and teachers, too.

    Jack hates poetry. Only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments—and Jack can’t avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns that he does have something to say.

    “I guess it does
    look like a poem
    when you see it
    typed up
    like that.”

     

    Princess Academy

    Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince will choose his bride from among the village girls.

    The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Soon Miri finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires. Winning the contest could give her everything she ever wanted–but it would mean leaving her home and family behind.

     

    Wednesday Wars

    Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

     

    Eight Middle Grade Novels - even adults will love! Middle grade novels for grades 3 and up

     

    Okay for Now

    In this companion novel to The Wednesday Wars, Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that some people think him to be. He finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, who gives him the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.

     

    Inkheart

    One cruel night, Meggie’s father reads aloud from a book called INKHEART– and an evil ruler escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books. Meggie must learn to harness the magic that has conjured this nightmare. For only she can change the course of the story that has changed her life forever.

     

    Greenglass House

    It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.

     

    Harbor Me

    It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.