• Great Middle Grade Books - books to read for grade 4, grade 5 and grade 6!
    book lists,  middle grades

    14 Great Novels for Middle Grade

    A couple times a year I like to make a list of the books my kids have each been reading in the last few months.

    Today I’m going to share some great middle grade books. These are some that my daughter, who is in grade five, has been enjoying lately.

    Some of these she’s on to the second, third or fourth book in the series already but I’ll just share the info for book one since it doesn’t make sense to share about books that are later in the series.

    I think these books would be good for most kids from grade four through six (and up, honestly, I’m an adult and I really enjoy some of the books on this list, some of them made it onto my list of middle grade books adults will like).

    If you are looking for middle grade book lists, here are a few more you may want to check out:

     

    Great Middle Grade Books - books to read for grade 4, grade 5 and grade 6!

     

    14 Great Books for Grades 4, 5 & 6

     

     

    My daughter read this book a few months ago and just got book two for Christmas.

    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.

     

     

     

    She just flew through this book and enjoyed it so much.

    The Unadoptables

    In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek has been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once have the Rules for Baby Abandonment been broken. Until the autumn of 1880, when five babies are left in outrageous circumstances; one in a tin toolbox, one in a coal bucket, one in a picnic hamper, one in a wheat sack, and finally, one in a coffin-shaped basket.

    Those babies were Lotta, Egg, Fenna, Sem, and Milou. And although their cruel matron might think they’re “unadoptable,” they know their individuality is what makes them special–and so determined to stay together.

    When a most sinister gentleman appears and threatens to tear them apart, the gang make a daring escape across the frozen canals of Amsterdam. But is their real home–and their real family–already closer than they realize?

     

    This is a fun and quick read.

    Bob

    It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house.

    It turns out she’s right.

    Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who―or what―he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.

    Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.

     

     

    My daughter read this entire series and loved all of the books!

    The False Prince

    In a discontented kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

    As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

     

    A fun fantasy story!

    Nevermoor

    Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

    But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

    It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each with an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

     

     

    It’s such a classic!

    Anne of Green Gables

    As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever . . . but will the Cuthberts send her back to to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected—a skinny girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match. If only she can convince them to let her stay, she’ll try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes and blurting out the first thing that comes to her mind. Anne is not like anyone else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special—a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreams of the day when she can call herself Anne of Green Gables

     

     

    She had a lot of fun with this story.

    Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls

    A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut that’s perfect for fans of Stu Gibbs.

    After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results.

    But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…

     

     

    A Beverly Cleary that isn’t shared much but she really enjoys.

    Mitch and Amy

    Mitch and Amy both think being twins is fun, but that doesn’t stop them from squabbling. Amy is good at reading. Mitch is a math whiz. Amy likes to play pretend. Mitch would rather skateboard. They never want to watch the same television show. And they always try to get the better of each other.

    Then the school bully starts picking on Mitch — and on Amy, too. Now the twins have something rotten in common: Alan Hibbler. This twosome must set aside their squabbles and band together to defeat a bully!

     

     

    Another fantasy series, there are a few of them on this list!

    Land of Elyon

    An extraordinary debut weaving magic and heroism into a classic tale of good and evil, featuring a heroine you’ll never forget. Inquisitive twelve-year-old Alexa Daley is spending another summer in the walled town of Bridewell. This year, she is set on solving the mystery of what lies beyond the walls. Legend says the walls were built to keep out an unnamed evil that lurks in the forests and The Dark Hills. But what exactly is it that the townspeople are so afraid of? As Alexa begins to unravel the truth, pushing beyond the protective barrier she’s lived behind all her life, she discovers a strange and ancient enchantment — and exposes a danger that could destroy everything she holds dear.

     

    The Fowl Twins

    One week after their eleventh birthday, the Fowl twins–scientist Myles, and Beckett, the force of nature–are left in the care of house security (NANNI) for a single night. In that time they befriend a troll who has clawed his way through the earth’s crust to the surface. Unfortunately for the troll, he is being chased by a nefarious nobleman and an interrogating nun, who both need the magical creature for their own gain, as well as a fairy-in-training who has been assigned to protect him.
     
    The boys and their new troll best friend escape and go on the run. Along the way they get shot at, kidnapped, buried, arrested, threatened, killed (temporarily), and discover that the strongest bond in the world is not the one forged by covalent electrons in adjacent atoms, but the one that exists between a pair of twins.

     

    Land of Stories

    Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.

    The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

    But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

     

    A Tale of Magic

    When Brystal Evergreen stumbles across a secret section of the library, she discovers a book that introduces her to a world beyond her imagination and learns the impossible: She is a fairy capable of magic! But in the oppressive Southern Kingdom, women are forbidden from reading and magic is outlawed, so Brystal is swiftly convicted of her crimes and sent to the miserable Bootstrap Correctional Facility.
     
    But with the help of the mysterious Madame Weatherberry, Brystal is whisked away and enrolled in an academy of magic! Adventure comes with a price, however, and when Madame Weatherberry is called away to attend to an important problem she doesn’t return.
     
    Do Brystal and her classmates have what it takes to stop a sinister plot that risks the fate of the world, and magic, forever?

     

    The Dream Traveler’s Quest

    What if you could find a way to enter another reality full of wild and life changing adventure? And what if every time you fell asleep you woke up in that other reality? Welcome to the world of Theo Dunnery, a twelve year-old boy who feels alone and full of fear when he stumbles on an ancient book that draws him into another world.

    In that world, he learns he must complete a quest to find the Five Seals of Truth if he is to conquer his fears. Facing great odds and many enemies, Theo sets off on the adventure of a lifetime to discover who he really is as the son of Elyon, and overcome the darkness that has haunted him for so long.

    Join Theo on The Dream Traveler’s Quest, one story told in four chapter books. Read all four and discover the truth for yourself.

     

    Keeper of the Lost Cities

    Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…

    But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.

    But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.

     

    What are some other great books you think my daughter would enjoy?

     

    If you are looking for middle grade book lists, here are a few more you may want to check out:

  • January 2021 New Picture Book Releases - Anticipated Picture Book Releases we are excited about!
    anticipated releases,  book lists,  elementary,  picture books

    New Picture Book Releases We Want to Read: January 2021

    Last week I shared a list of middle grade books coming at in the first few months of the year and this week I thought I would share some new picture book releases that sound really good.

    Originally I was going to make this list include picture books that were coming out January through to March but I got started with the list and realized there were enough good sounding books to make separate monthly lists!

    I actually did this a few years ago and so I guess this year I am bringing back the monthly picture book releases lists.

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time sifting through picture books that are being released and I think I’ve found some really good winners! Obviously, I haven’t actually been able to read these books yet so I can’t promise they are going to be amazing but I hope so!

    I hope to read as many of these as I can so that throughout the year I can share which books have been our favorites.

    I’ll have the list of February picture books up in about two weeks so be sure to check back soon!

     

    January 2021 New Picture Book Releases - Anticipated Picture Book Releases we are excited about!

     

    New Picture Book Releases We Want to Read: January 2021

     

    I am raising three different kids from three different races, we love to recognize and celebrate the differences.

    Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

    January 5th

    A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

    Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self-love and empowerment. This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages.

     

    This book looks so cozy!

    Blanket: Journey to Extreme Coziness

    Behold, the powers of your blanket are REAL.

    Readers will learn how to make their own snuggly, cuddly cocoon and all the things you can do when you feel safe and warm. Your blanket might take you to space, under the deep blue sea, or anywhere you can imagine. But what happens when you leave your blanket? Not knowing is scary, but also exciting!
     
    This adorable and exuberant story is filled with open-ended questions that encourage readers to be true to themselves, both inside and outside of their blankets.

     

    I can totally picture my daughter on the cover of this book.

    Outside, Inside

    January 5th

    Something strange happened on an unremarkable day just before the season changed.

    Everybody who was outside . . .

    . . . went inside.

    Outside, it was quieter, wilder, and different. Inside, we laughed, we cried, and we grew.

    We remembered to protect the ones we love and love the ones who protect us.

    While the world changed outside, we became stronger on the inside and believed that someday soon spring would come again.

     

    I like owls and I like picture books that have lots of facts and good information.

    So You Want to Be an Owl

    January 12th

    Welcome to Owl School! Professor Olaf Owl is here to tell you everything you need to know about being an owl, from hunting to camouflage to seeing in the dark. Study hard, and soon you’ll be a first-rate member of Team Owl! This engaging nonfiction picture book is full of vibrant, humorous illustrations and owl lessons that will have readers eagerly practicing their hoots, toe swivels, and alertness (even if they can’t grow feathers).

     

    I’m excited for another great sounding picture book biography!

    She Caught the Light: Williamina Stevens Fleming: Astronomer

    January 19th

    Ever since Williamina Fleming was little she was curious, and her childhood fascination with light inspired her life’s work. Mina became an astronomer in a time when women were discouraged from even looking through telescopes. Yet Mina believed that the universe, with its billions of stars, was a riddle—and she wanted to help solve it.

    Mina ultimately helped to create a map of the universe that paved the way for astronomers. Newbery Honor–winning Kathryn Lasky shares her incredible true story.

     

    I love helping my children have a strong vocabulary and this book sounds like a good one for it!

    Seaside Stroll

    Go on a snowy, sandy shore walk in a story where every single word starts with the letter S!

    Explore the beach in winter in this story told through clever language. During a sunset beach saunter, a girl stumbles and drops her doll into a tidal pool. Soaked! Celebrating the natural silence of an off-season location, the surf and sand are brought to life through this engaging story.

     

    Oooh, this is a good one after the last year!

    Windows

    January 19th

    Out the window, I can see
    a new world looking back at me.
    The streets are still,
    there are no crowds …
    but looking up, I see the clouds.

    Told through the voices―and windows―of children from around the world, this story’s comforting message and bright illustrations bring hope into your home even as our world changes outside. The book’s beautiful design reveals similarities―“In different windows everywhere, I see rainbows, hearts, and teddy bears”―that can comfort and unite us, even in hard times.

    Author Patrick Guest was inspired to write this story when he was forced to isolate from his family as a medical worker. His lyrical writing gives hope to our shared experience. In addition, Jonathan Bentley, award-winning illustrator of more than 30 children’s books, infuses the book with warmth and delight.

    When you look out your window, don’t forget that we’re all looking out―together.

     

    This one sounds really sweet.

    Love

    January 19th

    Everyone loves everyone in Tess’s house, but when Tess has to leave for school for the very first time, she is worried that her family’s love might not stretch that far. Mom explains that love is like a string, it connects people together even when they are far away. At school Tess notices that all the children have strings! Some are new, some are old, some stretch a long way, and some even stretch right up into the sky. But what happens when a string breaks?

    Love is the third in a trio of feel-good picture books from author Corrinne Averiss (Joy (2018), Hope (2019)) – a pure delight from start to finish. A wonderful story that subtly tackles difficult topics of death, grief, separation, and overcoming anxiety.

     

    Bear Island

    January 26th

    Louise and her family are sad over the loss of their beloved dog, Charlie. “Life will not be the same,” Louise says, as she visits a little island that Charlie loved.

    But on a visit to the island after Charlie’s death, something strange happens: She meets a bear. At first, she’s afraid, but soon she realizes that the bear is sad, too. As Louise visits more often, she realizes that getting over loss takes time. And just when she starts to feel better, it’s time for Bear to bed down for the winter.

    Once again, Louise believes that life will not be the same. But sometimes, things can change for the better, and on the first warm day of spring, her family welcomes a new member. Here is a lovely, poignant story about loss and healing that will bring comfort to even the youngest readers.

     

    Marsha is Magnetic

    January 26th

    Marsha is a scientist who has never met a problem she couldn’t solve. But when it comes to making friends to invite to her birthday party, she is stumped.
     
    Luckily, Marsha knows the solution to being stumped: the scientific method.
     
    With equal parts creativity, determination, and humor, Marsha sets out to attract as many friends as she can—what could possibly go wrong?

    In this hilarious celebration of friendship and ingenuity, Beth Ferry and Lorena Alvarez show readers that the best way to attract friends is to simply be yourself.

     

     

    As someone who is NOT a hugger I want this book for myself!

    Don’t Hug Doug: (He Doesn’t Like It)

    January 26th

    Doug doesn’t like hugs. He thinks hugs are too squeezy, too squashy, too squooshy, too smooshy. He doesn’t like hello hugs or goodbye hugs, game-winning home run hugs or dropped ice cream cone hugs, and he definitely doesn’t like birthday hugs. He’d much rather give a high five–or a low five, a side five, a double five, or a spinny five. Yup, some people love hugs; other people don’t. So how can you tell if someone likes hugs or not? There’s only one way to find out: Ask! Because everybody gets to decide for themselves whether they want a hug or not.

     

    A Best Friend for Bear

    January 26th

    Bear is in his room. He is sad. He wants a best friend to play with. “Go outside,” says Daddy. “You’ll meet a friend to play with.”
    Bear takes his ball and goes to the forest. But where will he find a best friend? He looks everywhere(behind the trees, between bushes, etc.).
    Rabbit sees Bear and Bear says he is looking for a best friend. So Rabbit joins in on the search. Owl flies down and asks what they are doing.

    So Owl joins in the search but only sees Fox & thinks she can help. Squirrel sees them and she joins in the quest to go to Fox.
    Badger is the last one to join them. But when they got to Fox’s house, Fox tells them Owl was wrong and she doesn’t know where to find a best friend.

    Bear is sad. As he sits on the rock, Squirrel tells him he is not alone, all the animals are there. Bear thinks about it and he lights up. He realizes he not only found one best friend but 5!

     

    What’s the Matter, Marlo?

    January 26th

    Marlo and Coco are best friends. They do everything together―they read together, laugh together, and play games together. After all, they’re best friends. And that’s what best friends do.

    But one day, when Coco asks Marlo to play, he doesn’t answer. Instead, Marlo turns away ignoring Coco, until he’s lost in his anger. Coco is worried about her friend, but then she remembers she can always find Marlo.

    In this charming, thoughtful picture book, author-illustrator Andrew Arnold explores empathy and sadness, and how friends can help each other navigate big emotions. Because that’s what best friends do.

     

    We just spent all of November and December listening to Rend Collective’s A Jolly Irish Christmas Volume 2 album and so now I want to visit Ireland and this book sounds like a fun alternative for the moment.

    The Great Irish Farm Book

    January 31st

    Everything your child needs to know about Irish farms!

    Did you know that there are almost 2,000,000 pigs in Ireland?

    And that sheep have rectangular pupils, which means they have amazing vision?

    Would you believe only 10 per cent of the milk produced in Ireland is consumed here?

    And that hens are pregnant for 21 days, but a horse can be pregnant for up to 345 days?

    How about the fact that despite our love of spuds, grass is Ireland’s top crop, covering 3,700,000 hectares, while potatoes cover only 9,000 hectares?

    From the farmer’s day to the changing of the seasons, from animals and crops to machinery and technology, and from ancient times to the modern day, The Great Irish Farm Book will take you on a fascinating journey through life on an Irish farm.

     

    Do you know of any good sounding picture books coming out in January? (Or other months of the year?)

    Check back soon for February’s list!

  • Middle Grade Books Coming Out in 2021 That I'm Looking Forward to! Middle Grade Anticipated Releases for January-March - Middle Grade books coming out in January 2021, February 2021 and March 2021
    anticipated releases,  book lists,  middle grades

    Anticipated Middle Grade Releases in 2021: January-March

    For the first time this year I am paying attention to release dates of new books.

    I am blaming it on the fact that for the last year I have been in the depths of BookTube sharing about what I’ve been reading and hearing about the books everyone else is excited about.

    I shared on my YouTube channel about some of the books I am excited to read in the first bit of this year and I thought it would be fun to make a list of solely middle grade books that are coming out this year that I am excited about.

    Obviously I’ve never read any of these books before so I can’t say they are great but they are either on this list because the description sounds really good or I’ve read something by the author or a previous book in the series. I’ll try to make share why each book sounds interesting to me.

    Do you know about any good sounding middle grade books that are coming out this year? If I’ve missed a good one, let me know! I would also love to hear if there are some from this list that sound good to you!

     

    Middle Grade Books Coming Out in 2021 That I'm Looking Forward to! Middle Grade Anticipated Releases for January-March - Middle Grade books coming out in January 2021, February 2021 and March 2021

     

    Anticipated Middle Grade Releases in 2021: January-March

     

     

    I love Gary D. Schmidt’s writing and am looking forward to this book!

    JUST LIKE THAT

    January 5th, 2021

    Following the death of her closest friend in summer 1968, Meryl Lee Kowalski goes off to St. Elene’s Preparatory Academy for Girls, where she struggles to navigate the venerable boarding school’s traditions and a social structure heavily weighted toward students from wealthy backgrounds. In a parallel story, Matt Coffin has wound up on the Maine coast near St. Elene’s with a pillowcase full of money lifted from the leader of a criminal gang, fearing the gang’s relentless, destructive pursuit. Both young people gradually dispel their loneliness, finding a way to be hopeful and also finding each other.

     

     

    I’m always drawn to middle grade books with kids that like science because both of my kids love it!

    Clues to the Universe

    January 12, 2021

    The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

    Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

    Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

    As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

     

     

    We listened to Barbara O’Connor’s “Wish” as a family and love it. I’m hoping this one is just as good!

    Halfway to Harmony

    January 12, 2021

    Walter Tipple is looking for adventure. He keeps having a dream that his big brother, Tank, appears before him and says, “Let’s you and me go see my world, little man.” But Tank went to the army and never came home, and Walter doesn’t know how to see the world without him.

    Then he meets Posey, the brash new girl from next door, and an eccentric man named Banjo, who’s off on a bodacious adventure of his own. What follows is a summer of taking chances, becoming braver, and making friends―and maybe Walter can learn who he wants to be without the brother he always wanted to be like.

    Halfway to Harmony is an utterly charming story about change and growing up.

     

     

    This book sounds fun, it reminds me a lot of the game, Outfoxed, my kids have played for years, I especially think my son will like this one.

    The Animal Rescue Agency #1: Case File: Little Claws

    January 12, 2021

    When an animal is in trouble, there’s only one place to turn: the Animal Rescue Agency!

    Dashing Esquire Fox used to organize the world’s most elaborate chicken raids until the day she encountered Mr. Pepper. Meeting the blustery old rooster changed her heart, convincing her to turn from a life of crime and instead form the Animal Rescue Agency, which masterminds rescue operations across the globe.

    Esquire and her unlikely chicken business manager coordinate their far-flung agents to get them to the Arctic. In that frozen land they learn that what happened to the polar bear cub was no accident—and that saving him will pit them against the scariest predator in the world: a human.

     

     

    I love dystopian books plus it sounds like this one is written in verse!

    Alone

    January 12, 2021

    When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She’s alone—left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned.

    With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten.

    As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie’s most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie’s stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life?

     

     

    This is a debut novel that I’m interested in!

    365 Days to Alaska

    January 19, 2021

    Eleven-year-old Rigel Harman loves her life in off-the-grid Alaska. She hunts rabbits, takes correspondence classes through the mail, and plays dominoes with her family in their two-room cabin. She doesn’t mind not having electricity or running water—instead, she’s got tall trees, fresh streams, and endless sky.
     
    But then her parents divorce, and Rigel and her sisters have to move with their mom to the Connecticut suburbs to live with a grandmother they’ve never met. Rigel hates it in Connecticut. It’s noisy, and crowded, and there’s no real nature. Her only hope is a secret pact that she made with her father: If she can stick it out in Connecticut for one year, he’ll bring her back home.
     
    At first, surviving the year feels impossible. Middle school is nothing like the wilderness, and she doesn’t connect with anyone . . . until she befriends a crow living behind her school. And if this wild creature has made a life for itself in the suburbs, then, just maybe, Rigel can too.

     

     

    My daughter loves fantasy books so I’m always looking for new ones for her to read!

    Amari and the Night Brothers

    January 19, 2021

    Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.

    So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton—if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.

    Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny—especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

     

     

    This is book five in the Greenglass House series – I’ve only read book one but I enjoyed it!

    The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book: A Greenglass House Story

    February 23, 2021

    The rain hasn’t stopped for a week, and the twelve guests of the Blue Vein Tavern are trapped by flooded roads and the rising Skidwrack River. Among them are a ship’s captain, tattooed twins, a musician, and a young girl traveling on her own. To pass the time, they begin to tell stories—each a different type of folklore—that eventually reveal more about their own secrets than they intended.

    As the rain continues to pour down—an uncanny, unnatural amount of rain—the guests begin to realize that the entire city is in danger, and not just from the flood. But they have only their stories, and one another, to save them. Will it be enough?

     

    This is book three in the series. Rae loved book one and got book two for Christmas.

    Never Grow Up

    February 23rd

    When Kari Baxter is assigned an essay about what she wants to be when she grows up, her mind goes blank. She doesn’t want to grow up; she wants everything to stay just like it is. But Kari comes to realize that while making time stand still isn’t possible, she can enjoy every moment with her best family ever.

    Meanwhile, Ashley Baxter feels the same way. She is worried her siblings are growing up too fast. When she wins the role of Wendy in her school performance of Peter Pan, Ashley gets an idea. Maybe she and her siblings can pledge to never grow up at all!

    This third story in the Baxter Family Children series shares the reassuring message that even though growing up can be tough, family and friends are always there with support and love.

     

     

    Jennifer A. Nielsen has really proven herself as an author to me so I’m excited about this one!

    RESCUE 

    March 2

    Six hundred and fifty-seven days ago, Meg Kenyon’s father left their home in France to fight for the Allies in World War II, and that was the last time Meg saw him. Recently, she heard he was being held prisoner by the Nazis, a terrible sentence from which Meg fears he’ll never return. All she has left of him are the codes he placed in a jar for her to decipher, an affectionate game the two of them shared. But the codes are running low, and soon there’ll be nothing left of Papa for Meg to hold on to at all.

    Suddenly, an impossible chance to save her father falls into Meg’s lap. After following a trail of blood in the snow, Meggie finds an injured British spy hiding in her grandmother’s barn. Captain Stewart tells her that a family of German refugees must be guided across Nazi-occupied France to neutral Spain, whereupon one of them has promised to free Meg’s father. Captain Stewart was meant to take that family on their journey, but too injured to complete the task himself, he offers it to Meg, along with a final code from Papa to help complete the mission — perhaps the most important, and most difficult, riddle she’s received yet.

    As the Nazis flood Meg’s village in fierce pursuit, she accepts the duty and begins the trek across France. Leading strangers through treacherous territory, Meg faces danger and uncertainty at every turn, all the while struggling to crack her father’s code. The message, as she unravels it, reveals secrets costly enough to risk the mission and even her own life. Can Meg solve the puzzle, rescue the family, and save her father?

     

     

    This is book two in a series, so we’ll check out book one first but this one sounds fun!

    WINTERBORNE HOME FOR MAYHEM AND MYSTERY

    March 2

    Five orphans. Two sword-wielding vigilantes. One mansion. No rules.

    April thought she had her happy ending. After all, she has her new house and new friends and new guardian. But she also has a very big new secret.

    The kids of Winterborne House are the only ones who know that Gabriel Winterborne—famous billionaire and terrible cook—is really a sword-wielding vigilante.

    What they don’t know is that he’s not the only one.

    When a masked figure breaks in, looking for something—or someone—it’s clear that Gabriel has met his match, and now no one is safe. April and her friends will have to solve a decades-old mystery in order to hang on to the most important thing in the world: each other.

     

    Golden Gate

    March 16th

    After thwarting a notorious villain at an eco-summit in Paris, the City Spies are gearing up for their next mission. Operating out of a base in Scotland, this secret team of young agents working for the British Secret Intelligence Service’s MI6 division have honed their unique skills, such as sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives. All of these allow them to go places in the world of espionage where adults can’t.

    Fourteen-year-old Sydney is a surfer and a rebel from Bondi Beach, Australia. She’s also a field ops specialist for the City Spies. Sydney is excited to learn that she’ll be going undercover on the marine research vessel the Sylvia Earle. But things don’t go exactly as planned, and while Sydney does find herself in the spotlight, it’s not in the way she was hoping.

    Meanwhile, there’s been some new intel regarding a potential mole within the organization, offering the spies a lead that takes them to San Francisco, California. But as they investigate a spy who died at the Botanical Gardens, they discover that they are also being investigated. And soon, they’re caught up in an exciting adventure filled with rogue missions and double agents!

    This mission is hot! The City Spies are a go!

     

     

    I am so very excited about this book, we love The Wingfeather Saga!!

    Wingfeather Tales: Seven Thrilling Stories from the World of Aerwiar

    March 23, 2021

    Immerse yourself in a land of bomnubbles and quarreling cousins, sea dragons and book publishers, thieves and Fangs and secret maps. Here within these pages lie six stories of the distant past, lost adventures, forgotten songs, and heartbreaking histories. The Shining Isle is restored, but Aerwiar is vast–and these authors have tales yet to tell:

        Explore the inner walls of Yorsha Doon, just West of the Woes of Shreve, on the edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, from the eyes of young Safiki in “The Prince of Yorsha Doon” from the creator of Aewiar, Andrew Peterson.
        Jennifer Trafton’s warm and whimsical writing brings to life a publishing nightmare populated by the many beasts of Skree in “The Wooing of Sophelia Stupe.”
        Learn the origins of Ollister Pebmrick’s mysterious entry in the Creaturepedia about his encounter with a raggant in “Willow Worlds” by N. D. Wilson.
        Travel with young Podo Helmer on an epic hunt for sea dragons in “From the Deeps of the Dragon King” from A. S. Peterson.
        Jonathan Rogers presents “The Ballard of Lanric and Rube,” sung by Armulyn the Bard, tale-spinner of the imaginary Shining Isle of Anniera, in On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.
        Discover what life was like for Maraly and Gammon in post-war Skree in “Shadowblade and the Florid Sword”—the first-ever Wingfeather comic—by Andrew Peterson.
        Douglas McKelvey’s epic, heartbreakingly hopeful novella “The Places Beyond the Maps” recounts a father’s journey to redemption.

    You’ll also find delightful illustrations by Justin Gerard, Hein Zaayman, Cory Godbey, John Hendrix, Nicholas Kole, Aedan Peterson, Joe Sutphin, Jay Myers, and Doug TenNapel.

    Enter a rich, imaginative world that becomes more real, more mysterious, more dangerous, and more beautiful with each story’s telling.

  • Kids Reading Challenge - a month long readathon for kids - with a giveaway!
    book lists,  books,  reading challenge

    KIDS READING CHALLENGE & GIVEAWAY 📕 a month long reading challenge for kids with a giveaway too!

    I recently hosted a readathon and my kids wanted to get in on the fun by hosting their own month long readathon.

    Oh, and of course we’re doing a giveaway as well.

    Watch the video for the details and then read on below for how to join!

     

    Kids Reading Challenge - a month long readathon for kids - with a giveaway!

     

     

    Here’s how to join the Reading Challenge

    #1 Go to Hey Reader and make an account

    #2 Join the Kids Hey Readerathon.

    #3 Add the books your kids want to read for each challenge.

    #4 During the month of November encourage your kids to read the books they picked and when they finish each book head back to Hey Reader to mark the books as read.

     

    ** For every book your kids read they will get an entry into the giveaway! **

    The giveaway winner will be announced on Hey Reader after the Reading Challenge is over.

  • Family Read Alouds we've read recently - middle grade books for the family
    audiobooks,  book lists,  elementary,  middle grades

    Family Read Alouds

    We are always reading (aka listening to) a book together as a family.

    I wanted to share some of our thoughts on the books we’ve been reading lately.

    I have all the books listed below but if you want to know what we thought of each of the books, be sure to watch the video.

    If you have any suggestions on books we should read soon that you’ve enjoyed, let me know!

     

    Family Read Alouds we've read recently - middle grade books for the family

     

     

    FAMILY READ ALOUDS

     

    BOOK SCAVENGER

    For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

     

    SWEEP

    It’s been five years since the Sweep disappeared. Orphaned and alone, Nan Sparrow had no other choice but to work for a ruthless chimney sweep named Wilkie Crudd. She spends her days sweeping out chimneys. The job is dangerous and thankless, but with her wits and will, Nan has managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again.
     
    When Nan gets stuck in a chimney fire, she fears the end has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself unharmed in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from soot and ash.

     

    Hatchet

    Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson, haunted by his secret knowledge of his mother’s infidelity, is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since the divorce. When the plane crashes, killing the pilot, the sole survivor is Brian. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present.

    At first consumed by despair and self-pity, Brian slowly learns survival skills—how to make a shelter for himself, how to hunt and fish and forage for food, how to make a fire—and even finds the courage to start over from scratch when a tornado ravages his campsite. When Brian is finally rescued after fifty-four days in the wild, he emerges from his ordeal with new patience and maturity, and a greater understanding of himself and his parents.

     

    FEVER 1793

    During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.

    Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie’s world upside down. At her feverish mother’s insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.

     

    Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione

    As the Knights of the Prince await His triumphant return, they are steadfast in their mission to take His story into the kingdom and recruit as many as are willing. But when a new and dangerous threat is revealed, their mission is jeopardized.

    Sir Kendrick and his young charge, the impetuous Sir Duncan, are sent on a mission to discover the identity and origin of a secretive new order known as the Conquistero Knights. They travel to the city of Bel Lione where Lord Ra has been enticing young people in the kingdom to join his festivals, after which many choose not to return home. Their families keep quiet for fear of repercussion.

    When Sir Duncan disappears while trying to discover the truth of Lord Ra’s castle, Sir Kendrick attempts to find and enlist the help of a mysterious warrior. Time is short for he must save Duncan and call upon the knights of Chessington to join in the battle against the evil Lord Ra.

    Journey to Arrethtrae, where these knights of noble heart live and die in loyal service to the King and the Prince. These knights are mighty, for they serve a mighty King. They are…the Knights of Arrethtrae!

     

    Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court

    Sir Bentley, an honorable young knight, abandons his calling in order to seek the truth of the Prince. Choosing to live as the Prince did, he forsakes his former lifestyle and wealth to live as a pauper. His travels take him to Holbrook, where the townsfolk live in poverty, paying high taxes to support the lavish lifestyle of Lord Kingsley and his court. But something even darker is lurking in the shadows of the beautiful castle.

    Bentley soon befriends Eirwyn, a mysterious but compassionate young woman who often distributes food among the poor. When Eirwyn is kidnapped by a ruthless tribe to serve as a sacrifice, Bentley battles a vicious mountain creature to save her life. But when he discovers who is really behind Holbrook’s downfall, he’s faced with an even bigger challenge–battling the Dark Knight’s most evil commander and his Shadow Warriors as they attack the castle.

    Will greed destroy the kingdom the way it destroyed Lord Kingsley? Or can Sir Bentley and Eirwyn work together to restore order and prosperity to the kingdom through the compassion and grace of the Prince?

     

    Wonder

    I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. 
     
    August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. 

     

    Loren Cunningham: Christian Heroes Then & Now

    Without warning, a huge map of the world appeared in Loren’s mind’s eye. Loren blinked, but the map was still there. Soon it was covered with ocean waves beating on every shore. Then the waves turned into the faces of young people flowing over every nation. Was Loren being given a glimpse of the future? If so, what part was he going to play?

    Ever since he was a young boy dreaming of writing “God is Love” on the moon so that all the world’s people could see it, Loren Cunningham has committed his life to reaching the whole world with the Good News of Jesus Christ, ministering in every nation on earth.

    Through his unswerving belief that nothing is impossible for God, Loren’s vision of waves of young people became the reality of Youth With A Mission, unleashing young Christians in missionary service when that was unheard of. Today, through the mission he began, multiplied thousands of believers- young and old- are working together to bring the gospel to the whole earth.

     

    George Muller: Christian Heroes Then & Now

    George Muller stared at the beggar girl. She was no older than five and was piggybacking her little brother. Her mother had died in the cholera epidemic sweeping England. Her father had never returned from the mines. Standing in the muddy street, this little girl gave a face to Bristol’s countless orphans.

    With scarcely enough food or money for his own family, George Muller opened his heart and home. Sustained by God’s provision, the Muller house “Breakfast Club” of thirty orphans grew to five large houses that ultimately over ten thousand children would call home.

    George Muller trusted God with a depth rarely seen. His faith and generosity set a standard for Christians of all generations.

     

    Mildred Cable: Christian Heroes Then & Now

    Standing atop a mound of rocks, Mildred wrapped her blue padded jacket tightly around her and squinted against the sand-laden wind. To her right the Great Wall wound east for fourteen hundred miles until it reached the Yellow Sea. Before her lay the rocks and sand of the vast Gobi Desert. She would enter this feared place in peace God was here too.

    Missionary trio Mildred Cable (1878-1952) and Evangeline and Franscesca French were the first Englishwomen to cross the infamous Gobi Desert, living for years among the diverse peoples of northwestern China in places few Europeans ever reached.

    Educated and rich, Mildred Cable once planned to be a concert pianist. Instead she served the people of China through wars and revolutions. Whether speaking the truth to a brutal general who held her prisoner, educating generations of Chinese girls, building self-sustaining Christian communities, or traveling the ancient Silk Road on a mule cart, Mildred followed Jesus with grit, determination, intelligence, and faith.

     

    THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE

    Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
     
    So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

     

    VIEW ALL THE BOOK LISTS HERE

  • The Best Picture Books of 2020 - so far! Great picture books to read with kids
    book lists,  picture books

    The Best Picture Books of 2020 (so far)

    I feel like we are behind in our picture book reading this year.

    I blame it (mostly) on the fact that the libraries were closed for a few months.

    But now that our library is back up and running we are taking full advantage of it again.

    (If you are curious, you can see inside a few of the books from our library hauls here.)

     

    These are the best picture books that have been published in 2020 that we have read so far. We’ve got a lot more that came out this year that we want to read yet so like most years I plan on doing this round up mid-year (those this one is a little late) and then I’ll do one at the end of the year or at the beginning of 2021.

    If you are curious about previous years you can check them out:

     

    The Best Picture Books of 2020 - so far! Great picture books to read with kids

     

     

    The Best Picture Books of 2020 (so far)

     

    Wood Wire Wings

    Emma Lilian Todd’s mind was always soaring–she loved to solve problems. Lilian tinkered and fiddled with all sorts of objects, turning dreams into useful inventions. As a child, she took apart and reassembled clocks to figure out how they worked. As an adult, typing up patents at the U.S. Patent Office, Lilian built the inventions in her mind, including many designs for flying machines. However, they all seemed too impractical. Lilian knew she could design one that worked. She took inspiration from both nature and her many failures, driving herself to perfect the design that would eventually successfully fly. Illustrator Tracy Subisak’s art brings to life author Kirsten W. Larson’s story of this little-known but important engineer.

     

    Rita and Ralph’s Rotten Day

    In two little houses,
    on two little hills,
    lived two best friends…

    So begins the story of Rita and Ralph. Every day they meet to play beneath the apple tree. It’s always fun and games — until one roundly rotten day when a new game means someone ends up crying. Who knew it could be so hard to say “I’m sorry”?

    Just when it seems nothing will ever be right again, a surprising thing happens. The old friends try something new, that isn’t new at all. Something they’ve done a hundred times…

     

    If I Couldn’t Be Anne

    In this whimsical and magical picture book, Anne’s boundless imagination takes flight! She imagines being all the things she loves so dearly. If I Couldn’t Be Anne, Anne with an e, what would I be . . . Anne wonders what it would be like to be the wind dancing round the treetops. A tightrope walker, breathless and brave. A princess in a palace made of apple blossoms. A magical frost fairy or a plain little wood elf. . . . But even as Anne’s imagination soars far and wide, she comes back down to earth, recognizing that some things – like friendship! – are even better than the imagination.

     

    Are You a Cat?

    Dogs chase cats. Everyone knows this, especially cats.

    When Dog wants to chase Cat, he politely asks, “are you a cat?”

    To outrun and outsmart Dog, Cat pretends to be other animals that dogs wouldn’t ordinarily want to chase. It’s a masterful plan indeed. But when an unexpected creature walks by, it’s impossible for Cat to play pretend for much longer.

    In a charming picture book filled with pleasing banter and hilarious quips, rising talent Coll Muir creates the perfect story about staying true to yourself.

     

    Mable: A Mermaid Fable

    Mabel isn’t like the other mermaids. Lucky isn’t like the other octopuses. But when they find each other, they discover that true friendship isn’t about how you look, and that sometimes what we are searching for is right under our noses.

    The inimitable Rowboat Watkins is back with another humorous tale about being true to yourself.

     

    Mayhem at the Museum

    Paintings and sculptures come to life when a young girl visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her classmates. What starts as just another tour of the museum becomes a joyful parade as the art, which must not be touched, touches the young museum-goers in surprising ways.

     

    I Found a Kitty

    Lucky dog Arfy has a home. When he discovers a homeless kitten, Arfy hopes Scamper can come live with him, but–achoo!–his person is allergic to cats! So, Arfy writes persuasive letters to prospective owners about what a great pet Scamper would make. But somehow these matches aren’t made in heaven. If Scamper can’t live with any of them, where will he go? He needs a quiet home where he could make people as happy as they’ll make him, full of laps, pats and purrs, and yarn balls….Arfy thinks he knows just the place!!

    Another winning, heart-tugging story that’s perfect for cat lovers, dog lovers, and pet adoption advocates. Troy Cummings writes a great read aloud, and the book showcases many styles of letters, making it appealing to parents and teachers looking to teach the lost art of written communication. Helpful tips in the backmatter inform children how they can help the plight of homeless animals.

     

    What are some of your favorite books from 2020 so far?