• The Best Book Lists (Picture Books and Chapter Books) from Intentional Homeschooling
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  picture books

    The Best Books – A Guide to the Best Book Lists

    If you’ve been around here for any length of time you’ll have noticed that I share a few book lists (the understatement of the year).

    I thought it would make sense to create a place to share some of the best and most popular of the book lists so that’s what this space is!

    This is by no means an exhaustive collection of all the book lists on this site, I also have many book lists by grade, monthly book lists, seasonal book lists, our monthly reading wrap up and a lot more. You can see all the lists here.

    I will keep this list updated and share the best of the best book lists from the blog here.

    Have an idea for a future book list topic? Let me know!

     

    If you love reading and discovering new books I would also highly recommend signing up for my monthly book-ish newsletter where I share all sorts of book-ish things:

     



     

    The Best Books for Kids - great book lists with over 150 book recommendations for babies, preschool, elementary, middle school, high school and adults!

     

    PICTURE BOOKS

     

     

    MONTHLY THEMED PICTURE BOOKS

     

    CHAPTER BOOKS

     
  • The Best Picture Books Published in 2019 - so far - part two
    book lists,  elementary,  picture books

    The Best Picture Books of 2019 – Part Two

    Every year I like to make picture books of the best books published that year.

    I take my job very seriously and read a ton of picture books.

    Many of them do not make these lists.

    Some times it surprises me what actually gets published, there are some truly terrible picture books out there!

    But there are also some great ones!

    Earlier this year I made a part one to some of our favorite picture books published this year and today I am sharing part two!

    If you have some favorite picture books that have been published in 2019 that I haven’t shared on either list, let me know, I’ll definitely check them out and maybe they will make the next list!

     

    The Best Picture Books Published in 2019 - so far - part two

     

    THE BEST PICTURE BOOKS PUBLISHED IN 2019 (SO FAR) – PART TWO

    This is a new release this year and is one of our favorites from the year! The illustrations remind us so much of Julie Morstad’s (my daughter even noticed it without me pointing it out) and we love a book with so many possibilities.

    BE A MAKER

    How many things can you make in a day? A tower, a friend, a change? Rhyme, repetition, and a few seemingly straightforward questions engage young readers in a discussion about the many things we make–and the ways we can make a difference in the world. This simple, layered story celebrates creativity through beautiful rhyming verse and vibrant illustrations with a timely message.

     

    Perfectly Polite Penguins

    Penguins are always polite. They say “please” and “thank you,” they wait their turn patiently, and they always help to clean up when playtime is over. But one day, Polly Penguin decides that being polite is boring. So she interrupts when others are talking, refuses to clean up, and makes a mess at the dinner table. Soon, all of the penguins copy Polly and lose their good manners, too! Can Polly help make things right again?

     

    Brave Molly

    What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. Until finally…Molly faces her fears.

     

    This book had my kids laughing so hard!

    Undercover Ostrich

    Animals can be sneaky. But do you know who is especially sneaky? Undercover ostriches! They’re everywhere, and they’re masters at going undetected. You’ve probably seen one and just assumed it was another woodpecker or owl. The narrator of this book is on the case, following a single ostrich on his many adventures. Not until the final twist does author and illustrator Joe Kulka let the readers in on the narrator’s true motivation: a peanut collection mission involving undercover elephants.

     

    When I Pray For You

    With lyricism, whimsy, and heartfelt emotion, Matthew Paul Turner reveals the tender emotions connected with watching a beloved child grow up and experience the world. Paired with Kimberley Barnes’s vivid and playful illustrations, When I Pray for You is a beautifully affirming book, in which children and parents will see their own stories come to life.

    When I Pray for You celebrates the dreams, hopes, and longings parents pray over their children, and shares with the little ones how much care and concern a loved one feels for them.

     

    How To Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps

    Step one: fill the bath
    Step two: put the cat in the bath
    Step three: put shampoo on the cat
    Step four: rinse the cat
    Step five: dry the cat

    Seems simple, right? One problem: the cat has no intention of doing ANY of these things! Watch as the steps keep changing, the cat keeps escaping, the girl keeps eating cookies and the mess keeps escalating. Soon it’s not just the cat who needs a bath–it’s the whole house!

    This spoof on an instruction manual features an increasingly bewildered human, a nonchalant cat and a know-it-all narrator . . . who really doesn’t know it all. How DO you give a cat a bath? Read on to find out!

     

    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.

    An ode to hope and a powerful tribute to the courage of those who ran for freedom, The Bell Rang is a stunning reminder that our past can never be forgotten.

     

    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!

     

    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!

     

    We Are the Gardeners

    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!

    You and your children can learn all about the Gaines family’s story of becoming gardeners in Joanna’s first children’s book—starting with the first little fern Chip bought for Jo. Over the years, the family’s love for gardening blossomed into what is now a beautiful, bustling garden.

     

    Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival

    A solitary polar bear travels across the sea ice in pursuit of food. As the ice melts and food becomes scarce, she is forced to swim for days. Finally, storm-tossed and exhausted, she finds shelter on land, where she gives birth to cubs and waits for the sea to freeze again.

    Informed by the author’s background in marine science, Sea Bear is a vivid and moving page-turner with a vital message about our changing planet. This is a gorgeously illustrated book, with the perfect marriage of scientific fact and poetry, that shows the reality of climate change and how it poses a threat to animals of the Arctic.

  • The Best Picture Books Published in 2019
    book lists,  elementary,  picture books

    The Best Picture Books for October

    It’s time for another monthly book list! I can’t believe that October is almost here – we are officially close to the end of the year!

    I know that most people would lean towards a pumpkin themed list for October but I feel like those have been done so many times over I wanted to do something different.

    Things definitely start getting chillier here in October and I like to change up my own reading list, while I like to read things a little darker at this time of year (more fantasy and mystery and books involving the English moor), I wanted to be more whimsical for a picture book list.

    If you want to check out my fall book list for adults you can find that here.

    Since we are spending more of out time indoors as the weather gets chillier I thought a list of picture books that show great imagination and imaginative play would be perfect for this month.

     

    Beyond the Book - The Paper Dolls extension activities

     

    I really believe that some kids begin more imaginative than others, but I also think that imagination can be learned. I have one child who has so much imagination she can hardly decide what to focus on first and another child who has developed his imagination over the years under the guidance of his sister.

    While I wouldn’t say that a child with great imagination is never bored, it is a lot less likely to happen, and what parent doesn’t want a child that can easily entertain themselves?!

     

    The Best Picture Books to Spark a Child's Imagination - great books to inspire imaginative play in children

     

    THE BEST IMAGINATION BOOKS TO READ IN OCTOBER

     

    This is a new release this year and is one of our favorites from the year! The illustrations remind us so much of Julie Morstad’s (my daughter even noticed it without me pointing it out) and we love a book with so many possibilities.

    Be a Maker

    How many things can you make in a day? A tower, a friend, a change? Rhyme, repetition, and a few seemingly straightforward questions engage young readers in a discussion about the many things we make–and the ways we can make a difference in the world. This simple, layered story celebrates creativity through beautiful rhyming verse and vibrant illustrations with a timely message.

     

     

    This is another great book about imagination, I mean, just look at that cover! (Do you see it?)

    Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse

    Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse–the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.

    But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?

    The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn’t get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.

    Written with tenderness and poignancy and gorgeously illustrated, this book will show readers that kindness is always rewarding, understanding is sweeter than judgment, and friendship is the best gift one can give.

     

     

    This was another favorite book we read this year, it’s the true story of J.R.R. Tolkien told with fabulous illustrations. There is even a section in the back that shares any creative license they used while writing and illustrating to keep things as accurate as possible.

    John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien

    John Ronald loved dragons. He liked to imagine dragons when he was alone, and with his friends, and especially when life got hard or sad. After his mother died and he had to live with a cold-hearted aunt, he looked for dragons. He searched for them at his boarding school. And when he fought in a Great War, he felt as if terrible, destructive dragons were everywhere. But he never actually found one, until one day, when he was a grown man but still very much a boy at heart, when he decided to create one of his own

     

    Wallpaper

    Wallpaper tells the story of a young girl whose family moves into a new house. Outside, she can hear other kids playing, but she’s too shy to say hello. So she picks at the old wallpaper in her room―revealing an entryway to a fantastic imaginary adventure world behind the walls.

    There, she runs between the vibrant and varied environments―surrounded by birds, swimming in a frog pond, in a herd of art-deco sheep―as she finds herself chased by a monster. He is frightening at first, until it becomes clear he simply wants to be her friend. When it comes time to go back to reality, the girl feels inspired with the courage to approach the other kids and say hello.

     

    The Whisper

    When a little girl received a curious book filled only with pictures, a whisper urges her to create the words she cannot see. As the pages turn, her imagination takes flight and she discovers that the greatest storyteller of all might come from within.

     

    This is a sweet book and it is illustrated by one of our favorite illustrators: Julie Morstad!

    This is Sadie

    Sadie is a little girl with a big imagination. She has been a girl who lived under the sea and a boy raised by wolves. She has had adventures in wonderland and visited the world of fairytales. She whispers to the dresses in her closet and talks to birds in the treetops. She has wings that take her anywhere she wants to go, but that always bring her home again. She likes to make things — boats out of boxes and castles out of cushions. But more than anything Sadie likes stories, because you can make them from nothing at all. For Sadie, the world is so full of wonderful possibilities … This is Sadie, and this is her story.

     

    One of my absolute favorite children’s books.

    THE PAPER DOLLS

    A string of paper dolls go on a fantastical adventure through the house and out into the garden. They soon escape the clutches of the toy dinosaur and the snapping jaws of the oven-glove crocodile, but then a very real pair of scissors threatens.

     

    What is beyond the pond? You’ll love finding out with this book!

    BEYOND THE POND

    A stunning picture book about the power of imagination. Just behind an ordinary house filled with too little fun, Ernest D. decides that today will be the day he explores the depths of his pond. Beyond the pond, he discovers a not-so-ordinary world that will change him forever.

     

    This was my favorite picture book as a child, I still have most of it memorized.

    RAINY DAY MAGIC

    One of my most cherished books from childhood! I can still quote it all. It’s a rainy day, boring as can be, until Victor and Joey decide to make their own fun. Soon chairs turn into castles, bumblebees turn into tigers, and whales and starfish frolic in a watery kingdom.

     

    This one is a classic for a reason!

    ROXABOXEN

    Marian called it Roxaboxen. (She always knew the name of everything.) There across the road, it looked like any rocky hill — nothing but sand and rocks, some old wooden boxes, cactus and greasewood and thorny ocotillo — but it was a special place: a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. Come with us there, where all you need to gallop fast and free is a long stick and a soaring imagination.

     

    In this book a little girl’s creativity and imagination is used to make something useful – the most magnificent thing!

    THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

    A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

     

    If you are a parent I’m pretty sure you already know that a box is not just a box.

    NOT A BOX

    A box is just a box . . . unless it’s not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows. Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real—when the imagination takes over and inside a cardboard box, a child is transported to a world where anything is possible.

     

    WHAT DO YOU DO WITH AN IDEA?

    This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.

     

    Wild One

    Can you stretch like a cat or hang like a bat? This little one can do those things and so many more as she bounds energetically through her day. Author Jane Whittingham’s sprightly couplets take her from the park to the pool to dinner and bed, while Noel Tuazon cleverly illustrates the animal companions of a child’s imagination

     

    Watch Out for the Crocodile

    A delightful picture book about a father and daughter’s trip into the wilderness, and how children can help parents see the world in a different way.

     

    What are some of your favorite picture books about imagination?

     

    The Best Picture Books to Spark a Child's Imagination - great books to inspire imaginative play in children

  • Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades,  picture books

    The Best Pirate Books – Picture Books & Non-Fiction

    We’ve been learning all about pirates for the last week in preparation for Talk Like a Pirate Day and of course I had to share a pirate book list!

    This list includes a bit of everything, picture books, chapter books, fiction and non-fiction.

    If you are interested in continuing to learn about pirates you can check out a list of the resources we used for our pirate unit study here.

     

    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day

     

    We did everything from drawing pirates to creating pirate names, to watching videos about why they actual wore eye patches and of course: reading pirate themed books!

    Check out the pirate mini unit study resources.

    Now, on to the books!

     

    The Best Books About Pirates - picture books, chapter books, fiction and non-fiction

     

    THE BEST PIRATE BOOKS

    Our favorite Mem Fox picture book!

    Tough Boris

    Boris von der Borch is a mean, greedy old pirate–tough as nails, through and through, like all pirates. Or is he? When a young boy sneaks onto Boris’s ship, he discovers that Boris and his mates aren’t quite what he expected.

     

    Another ones of our favorite pirate picture books (also, I love that the French version is Petite Paul).

    Small Saul

    When Small Saul joins the crew of The Rusty Squid, it doesn’t take long for the other pirates to notice something is very different about this tiny fellow. He was born to sing sea shanties, bake pineapple upside down cakes and redecorate, not to hold a sword and plunder. Being rough and tough just isn’t in his nature.

     

    The Pirates Next Door

    Meet the Jolley-Rogers — a pirate family who is moving to Dull-on-Sea, a quiet seaside town, while they fix up their ship. This unusual family soon has the whole neighborhood gossiping. Defying the grown-ups, Matilda becomes friends with young pirate Jim Lad. When the JolleyRogers return to sea, the town realizes that they were wrong to assume the worst when it is discovered that the pirates have buried treasure in everyone’s yard. The neighbors are thrilled, but Matilda is sad to have lost her new friend, until she discovers her own treasure — a pen pal!

     

    Pirate Boy

    After reading his favorite book about a pirate boy, Danny wonders what would happen if he sailed away on a pirate ship. Luckily, his mother reassures him that she would find him, even if she had to swim on a dolphin, battle sea monsters, and wield a bottle of pirate-shrinking magic spray to do it! Young readers will love this adventurous and ultimately reassuring tale of a mother’s love.

     

    How I Became a Pirate

    Pirates have green teeth—when they have any teeth at all. I know about pirates, because one day, when I was at the beach building a sand castle and minding my own business, a pirate ship sailed into view.

    So proclaims Jeremy Jacob, a boy who joins Captain Braid Beard and his crew in this witty look at the finer points of pirate life by the Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator David Shannon and the storyteller Melinda Long. Jeremy learns how to say “scurvy dog,” sing sea chanteys, and throw food . . . but he also learns that there are no books or good night kisses on board: “Pirates don’t tuck.” A swashbuckling adventure with fantastically silly, richly textured illustrations that suit the story to a T.
     

    Pirates Past Noon

    It’s a treasure trove of trouble! Jack and Annie are in for a high-seas adventure when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to the days of deserted islands, secret maps—and ruthless pirates! Will they discover a buried treasure? Or will they be forced to walk the plank?

     

    Beware, Pirates!

    The old Canadian Flyer in the attic of Emily’s new house looks like just another old sled. But when eight-year-old Emily and nine-year-old Matt rub the sled’s maple leaf logo, they suddenly find themselves transported from the dusty old attic to Frobisher Bay. What’s more, they’re aboard Martin Frobisher’s ship The Aid and the year is 1577! Adventure beckons, and Emily and Matt are happy to follow. Until, that is, they meet up with honest-to-goodness pirates! This rollicking, fast-paced adventure, with black and white illustrations, brings Frobisher’s search for the Northwest Passage to life.

     

    A Year on a Pirate Ship

    Ahoy, mates! Would you like to know what life is like on a pirate ship? Then come live on board for the next twelve months. Check out these eight action-packed scenes for a bird’s-eye view of the life and work of pirates on the open seas. See how the pirates attack a ship, deal with a whale, and handle a storm. Keep your eye on the calendar too. By spending a whole year with the pirate crew, you can watch events unfold as the seasons change.

     

    This was one of our favorite books, we read through most of it, learning about different ways to be a “good” pirate, some of the myths and truths and some information about actual pirates.

    Pirate Handbook

    This is a humorous guide to life on the high seas packed with intriguing historical detail that no self-respecting sea-dog should leave port without. Young landlubbers can become the fiercest of pirates by finding out how to keep their ship in tip-top shape, the best way to settle an argument with a shipmate and how to survive a storm at sea. It reveals the true nature of piracy to be more fascinating than the myths of peg legs, eye patches and parrots.

     

    You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pirate’s Prisoner!

    Pirates have many ingenious tortures, and once they have got what they want from you, the best you can hope for is to be marooned on an island.

     

    Pirates: Dead Men’s Tales: Incredible Facts, Maps and True Stories about Life on the High Seas

    Who were the real pirates of the Caribbean—and beyond? Find out! Pirates: Dead Men’s Tales brings us face to face with some of the most villainous and scurrilous rogues ever to sail the seven seas. Travel from North Africa to the China Seas to meet the notorious Blackbeard, the fearsome Barbarossa brothers, and the women pirates Mary Read, Anne Bonny, and Zheng Shi. With five sumptuous maps, themed spreads, and true tales of a pirate’s daily life, this book takes you on an epic adventure.

     

    Lives of the Pirates: Swashbucklers, Scoundrels (Neighbors Beware!)

    This long-awaited new volume in the acclaimed “Lives of” series presents the fascinating true tales of both notorious and little-known pirates. Why did Blackbeard and Long John Silver go to sea? Who was Madame Cheng? How did pirates really talk? What did they eat and what did they do to pass the time during long sea voyages? Lives of the Pirates answers these and many other questions.

     

    Pirates: True Stories of Seafaring Rogues

    This highly illustrated swashbuckling title is a visual treat and a book for the whole family to treasure. In it, readers can discover who were the real pirates of the Caribbean (and elsewhere). In Pirates: True Stories of Seafaring Rogues, we explore pirates throughout history and across the globe. We come face to face with some of the most villainous and scurrilous rogues ever to sail the seven seas. Included are the notorious Blackbeard, who terrorized the Caribbean and the Atlantic seaboard of America until he met his end in a dramatic shoot-out; and Captain Kidd, who might be the unluckiest pirate of all time, and whose legendary treasure is still sought after. These in-depth pirate profiles are interspersed with highly visual maps and curiosities exploring all the incredible details of life as a pirate on the high seas.

     

    Pirateology: The Pirate Hunter’s Companion

    Step lively, pirate foes and fanciers! Mysterious booty found inside a long-lost sea chest, hidden for hundreds of years off the coast of Newfoundland, has just been uncovered for your enjoyment. Within these covers is the fascinating eighteenth-century journal of Captain William Lubber, an earnest soul who sailed the seas in search of the vicious female pirate Arabella Drummond. Prepare for a mesmerizing tale of the golden age of piracy — from storm-tossed sailing ships to tantalizing treasure islands, from pirates’ flags and fashions to their wily weapons and wicked ways. An extraordinary find for pirateologists, here is a true and complete companion for the dedicated pirate hunter.

     

    Pirates Magnified

    Ahoy shipmate! Grab your magnifying glass and seek out history’s most notorious pirates in this swashbuckling search-and-find adventure, packed with over 200 things to spot! Explore the lives of 10 real pirates and learn about life on the high seas, whilst using the free magnifying glass to spot more than 200 pirate-themed items in each eye-boggling illustration. Kids will have fun using the magnifying glass to search whilst learning about real life pirates in this seafaring adventure!Ahoy shipmate! Grab your magnifying glass and seek out history’s most notorious pirates in this swashbuckling search-and-find adventure, packed with over 200 things to spot! Explore the lives of 10 real pirates and learn about life on the high seas, whilst using the free magnifying glass to spot more than 200 pirate-themed items in each eye-boggling illustration. Kids will have fun using the magnifying glass to search whilst learning about real life pirates in this seafaring adventure!

     

    If you have any pirate books you would add to this list I would love to hear about them!

  • The Prairie Thief Book Review - fantasy for elementary and middle grade
    book lists,  elementary,  middle grades

    Fantasy Book Recommendations For Elementary and Middle Grades

    I was not a fantasy reader as a child and boy, do I ever feel like I missed out!

    I wasn’t even a fantasy reader as an adult until recently!

    I spent the last few years reading some elementary and middle grade fantasy to proof read for my kids and it really hasn’t been until this last year or so that I’ve started to get into older fantasy and I am really enjoying the books!

    I love that fantasy gives the characters purpose (some version of fighting the darkness) and isn’t so woe-is-me like other books can tend to get (obviously I’m generalizing here).

    My daughter has been a huge fantasy book lover for the last number of years and I suspect this list will continue to grow as she reads more.

    If you have some fantasy book recommendations for elementary or middle grades that we didn’t include I would love for you to leave a comment at the bottom of the post or send me a message so we can check them out and possibly include them on the list!

     

    The Best Fantasy Book Recommendations for Elementary and Middle Grade - great examples of light vs dark

    ELEMENTARY FANTASY BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

     

    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.

     

    The Kingdom of Wrenly

    Welcome to the Kingdom of Wrenly—a new chapter book series full of fantasy and adventure.

    Meet Lucas, the eight year-old prince, and Clara, the daughter of the queen’s seamstress. Lucas is an only child who longs to make friends and go on adventures. Clara knows the kingdom well, so she and Lucas team up and explore the lands of Wrenly!

    In The Lost Stone, Lucas and Clara search for Queen Tasha’s missing emerald. On their exciting adventure, they travel to all the main attractions of Wrenly: Primlox (the island of fairies), Burth (the island of trolls), Crestwood (the island of dragons), Hobsgrove (the island of wizards), and the beautiful Mermaid’s Cove. King Caleb has promised to reward the person who finds the precious stone, and Lucas and Clara are determined to search the entire kingdom until they find it!

     

    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!

     

    This book is hilarious, I highly recommend listening to it on audio as Neil Gaiman does SUCH a great job of narrating (as well as writing).

    Fortunately, The Milk

    “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.”

     

    Half Magic

    It all begins with a strange coin on a sun-warmed sidewalk. Jane finds the coin, and because she and her siblings are having the worst, most dreadfully boring summer ever, she idly wishes something exciting would happen. And something does: Her wish is granted. Or not quite. Only half of her wish comes true. It turns out the coin grants wishes—but only by half, so that you must wish for twice as much as you want. Wishing for two times some things is a cinch, but other doubled wishes only cause twice as much trouble. What is half of twice a talking cat? Or to be half-again twice not-here? And how do you double your most heartfelt wish, the one you care about so much it has to be perfect?

     

    You can read my full review of this book here.

    Prairie Thief

    Louisa Brody’s life on the Colorado prairie is not at all what she expected. Her dear Pa, accused of thievery, is locked thirty miles away in jail. She’s living with the awful Smirches, her closest neighbors and the very family that accused her Pa of the horrendous crime. And now she’s discovered one very cantankerous—and magical—secret beneath the hazel grove. With her life flipped upside-down, it’s up to Louisa, her sassy friend Jessamine, and that cranky secret to save Pa from a guilty verdict.

     

    City of Ember

    The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to dim. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. Now, she and her friend Doon must race to figure out the clues to keep the lights on. If they succeed, they will have to convince everyone to follow them into danger. But if they fail? The lights will burn out and the darkness will close in forever.

     

    The Spiderwick Chronicles

    After finding a mysterious, handmade field guide in the attic of the ramshackle old mansion they’ve just moved into, Jared; his twin brother, Simon; and their older sister, Mallory, discover that there’s a magical and maybe dangerous world existing parallel to our own—the world of faerie.

     

    MIDDLE GRADE FANTASY BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

     

    My daughter loved this book!

    Bliss

    Rosemary Bliss’s family has a secret. It’s the Bliss Cookery Booke—an ancient, leather-bound volume of enchanted recipes like Singing Gingersnaps.

    Rose and her siblings are supposed to keep the Cookery Booke locked away while their parents are out of town, but then a mysterious stranger shows up. “Aunt” Lily rides a motorcycle and also whips up exotic (but delicious) dishes for dinner. Soon boring, non-magical recipes feel like life before Aunt Lily—a lot less fun.

    So Rose and her siblings experiment with just a couple of recipes from the forbidden Cookery Booke. A few Love Muffins and Cookies of Truth couldn’t cause too much trouble . . . could they?

     

    Tuesdays at the Castle

    Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the Castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the Castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions.

    But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom.

     

    We listened to the first book on audio and can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series!

    Redwall

    The question in this first volume is resoundingly clear: What can the peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey do to defend themselves against Cluny the Scourge and his battle-seasoned army of rats? If only they had the sword of Martin the Warrior, they might have a chance. But the legendary weapon has long been forgotten-except, that is, by the bumbling young apprentice Matthias, who becomes the unlikeliest of heroes. 

     

    We are currently halfway through listening to this series as a family and need to continue to the end to find out how it all ends!

    On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

    Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

     

    My only problem with this book is the word “Princess” in the title, that would have scared me off as a child (because I was a tomboy) but it’s not really a princessy type of book and I totally would have enjoyed it.

    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.

     

    This book was written for book lovers!

    Tilly and the Book Wanderers

    Since her mother’s disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly has found comfort in stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents’ bookshop. But when her favourite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, appear in the shop, Tilly’s adventures become very real. Not only can she follow Anne and Alice into their thrilling worlds, she discovers she can bookwander into any story she chooses.

    Tilly’s new ability could even help her solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago. But danger may be lurking on the very next page . . .

     

    To be honest, this was a book my kids enjoyed more than I did. My daughter plan on continuing on with the series she enjoyed the first book so much.

    100 Cupboards

    What dangers are locked behind the cupboard doors? Henry isn’t brave, but when he hears a thumping and scratching on the other side of his bedroom wall, he can’t ignore it. He scrapes off the plaster and discovers mysterious doors—cupboards of all different shapes and sizes. Through one he sees a glowing room and a man strolling back and forth. Through another he sees only darkness and feels the cold sense that something isn’t right. When his cousin Henrietta boldly travels into the worlds beyond the cupboards, it’s up to Henry to follow her. Now that he’s opened the doors, can he keep the evil inside from coming through?

     

    The Enchanted Castle

    When Jerry, Jimmy, and Kathleen are forced to spend their entire summer at school they don’t imagine they will have a particularly interesting time. But that’s before they stumble upon a mysterious castle set in beautiful, abandoned gardens. Could this really be an enchanted castle? With the air thick with magic and a maze hiding a sleeping girl at its center, the holidays might just be looking up.

     

    Because this book has been turned into a movie I feel like it is more of the well-known fantasies on this list but from what I’ve seen of the movie trailer the book is a lot better!

    Ella Enchanted

    At her birth, Ella of Frell receives a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order, whether it’s to hop on one foot for a day and a half, or to chop off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not accept her fate…

    Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse forever.

     

    This is another book that we listened to the first book together and my daughter plans on continuing on her own. (We just don’t have time to listen to every series in its entirety together so I like to give them a sampling of books and see which ones they continue with.)

    The Green Ember

    Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

    Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.

    Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?

     

    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.

    This is INKHEART–a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life. Dare to read it aloud.

     

    Technically this book and series are for a bit of an older crowd though I personally think this book is great for middle grade and then the rest of the series is more for the teen readers.

    Goose Girl

    Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. As she grows up, Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but she never feels quite comfortable speaking with people.

    So when Ani’s mother sends her away to be married in a foreign land, she finds herself at the mercy of her silver-tongued lady in waiting, who leads a mutiny that leaves her alone, destitute, and fleeing for her life. To survive, Ani takes on work as a royal goose girl, hiding in plain sight while she develops her forbidden talents and works to discover her own true, powerful voice.

     

    I am linking to the first book here, the first three books in the series I think are great for ages 6-9 but then after that, from what I’ve read in my research, I plan on waiting a little before allowing them to get into the rest of the series as the books apparently get darker, not to mention thicker!

    Harry Potter

    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.

     

    And there you have it, the list (for now, I’ll probably add more in the future).

    If you have some fantasy book recommendations for elementary or middle grades that we didn’t include I would love for you to leave a comment here or send me a message so we can check them out and possibly include them on the list!

  • The Best Picture Books for Fall and September
    book lists,  elementary,  picture books

    The Best Picture Books for September

    It’s time for another monthly picture book list!

    To be honest, I quite love fall but in the past number of years I’ve allowed the impending winter to dampen my enjoyment of the season and I hope to change that this year.

    Because of the coming of autumn in the middle of September this is mostly a book list of our favorite fall picture books, all of which I am excited to read in the upcoming month and really get into the spirit of the season.

    If you have some family favorite fall picture books that aren’t on this list I would love to hear about them, I may even add them to the list!

     

    The Best Picture Books for Fall and September

     

    THE BEST PICTURE BOOKS FOR SEPTEMBER
    & FALL

     

    Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

    As trees sway in the cool breeze, blue jays head south, and leaves change their colors, everyone knows–autumn is on its way!

    Join a young girl as she takes a walk through forest and town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with every flower and creature and gust of wind, she says good-bye to summer and welcomes autumn.

     

    I love this story that shares the work a family goes through to get through the year, it does make me wish a bit for a simpler time.

    Ox-Cart Man

    Thus begins a lyrical journey through the days and weeks, the months, and the changing seasons in the life of one New Englander and his family. The oxcart man packs his goods – the wool from his sheep, the shawl his wife made, the mittens his daughter knitted, and the linen they wove. He packs the birch brooms his son carved, and even a bag of goose feathers from the barnyard geese.

    He travels over hills, through valleys, by streams, past farms and villages. At Portsmouth Market he sells his goods, one by one – even his beloved ox. Then, with his pockets full of coins, he wanders through the market, buying provisions for his family, and returns to his home. And the cycle begins again.

     

    This is one of my daughter’s favorite picture books, she reminds me at the beginning of each season that we need to read it.

    Brambly Hedge – Autumn Story

    The mice of Brambly Hedge have been delighting adults and children alike for more than thirty years. All eight of the classic picture books are brought together in this exquisite volume.

    The mice of Brambly Hedge made their first appearance in 1980 when the four seasonal stories were published. Ever since, readers have loved exploring the miniature world of the hedgerow and meeting the families that live there.

    In this collection the mice have many adventures, but they always have time for fun and relaxation too. Whatever the season, and whether they are by the sea, in the High Hills, or simply at home by the fire, there is always someone ready to lend a helping hand.

     

    We have the Complete Book of the Fairy Fairies which includes all of the seasons and we read them all through the year.

    Flower Fairies of the Autumn

    A collection of beautiful poems about the various flowers and trees of autumn.

     

    Because of an Acorn

    Because of an acorn, a tree grows, a bird nests, a seed becomes a flower. Enchanting die-cuts illustrate the vital connections between the layers of an ecosystem in this magical book. Wander down the forest path to learn how every tree, flower, plant, and animal connect to one another in spiraling circles of life. An acorn is just the beginning.

     

    This is one of my favorite children’s books, I love the imagination and play.

    Roxaboxen

    Marian called it Roxboxen. There across the road, it looked like any rocky hill—nothing but sand and rocks, and some old wooden boxes. But it was a special place. And all children needed to go there was a long stick and a soaring imagination.

     

    As the weather gets colder all the spiders try to get into our house so this book seemed appropriate on the list!

    Spiders

    From tiny baby spiderlings to large tarantulas, nonfiction master Gail Gibbons’ introduction to these intriguing arachnids reminds us that even when they look scary, most spiders are harmless—and even helpful!

    There are over thirty thousand kinds of spiders in the world—small and large, colorful or gray—and they live, hunt, and adapt in different ways. A number of different species and spider behaviors are highlighted in this book, accompanied by clear, labeled illustrations and important vocabulary.

    Filled with interesting trivia and information on the history of spiders, as well as an explanation of the difference between spiders and insects, this is a great introduction that takes the fear out of our eight-legged, web-spinning friends.

     

     

    Fall is a great time to learn about leaves and this is the perfect book to take along for the adventure!

    Fall Walk

    Learn about autumn leaves through a lyrical tale with illustrations and activities

    With beautiful illustrations and a lyrical narrative, Virginia Snow takes children on a fun and educational adventure. Take a stroll through the woods and learn to identify 24 different kinds of leaves by their shapes and autumn colors. At the end of the day, learn how to press the gathered leaves and how to make a leaf rubbing.

     

     

    This book is one of my favorites for teaching geography and apple pie is such a fall food, it’s a great combination!

    How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

    An apple pie is easy to make . . . if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This deliciously silly recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients. First hop a steamboat to Italy for the finest semolina wheat. Then hitch a ride to England and hijack a cow for the freshest possible milk. And, oh yes! Don’t forget to go apple picking in Vermont! A simple recipe for apple pie is included.

     

    The Lost Words

    In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary ― widely used in schools around the world ― was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions ― the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual ― became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.

    Ten years later, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that will conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature. The Lost Words is that book ― a work that has already cast its extraordinary spell on hundreds of thousands of people and begun a grass-roots movement to re-wild childhood across Britain, Europe, and North America.