2014 offered a bumper crop of great books, and with so many to choose from, we wanted to offer some suggestions of books you won't want to miss when shopping for holiday gifts.
In compiling this list, we have included books that will meet a range of interests and age levels, including picture books, fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels. Above all, any one of these books is one that would be a pleasure to own, to share, to reread.
Always by Emma Dodd
Always is is a sweet and simple little book with a very important message about unconditional love. Beautiful silver foil embellishments throughout make this a special gift to be shared with the little one in your life. (baby/toddler)
Little Humans by Brandon Stanton
Reminiscent of its predecessor for adults, Humans of New York, but perfect for the younger set. These are great pictures of active and creative New York City kids, dressed in their best and inspiring other little humans to grow, play, and love BIG! (ages 4+)
The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak
This hilarious book begs to be read aloud! As Novak points out, the way a book works is that the reader must say whatever words are on the page. This is true even if the words make silly sounds, or even if they don't make any sense at all! You may have your doubts about a picture book with no pictures, but kids of all ages will be laughing out loud at this fun, clever, and unique book! (ages 4+)
The Mouse Mansion by Karina Schaapman
This book is amazing and absolutely enchanting! Readers of all ages will spend time poring over the pages, marveling at the tiniest details of the real-life dollhouse made of cardboard boxes and papier-mâché and containing over one hundred different rooms. This simply lovely and completely unique collection of short stories is sure to be enjoyed by everyone who opens it up! (ages 4+)
Rainbows Never End by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot
Did you know that rainbows never end? That's right! A rainbow is actually a full circle, but we can't see the whole thing because it is blocked by the horizon. So cool, right? In this super fun non-fiction fact book, you will learn all sorts of amazing things about weather and the environment, from why thunder booms to how frost flowers are formed in the Arctic Ocean. Kids of all ages (and adults, too) will surely learn something new! Also, be sure to check out the other books in the Did You Know series! (ages 5+)
Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon
Being the youngest kid in the family isn't easy; Dory's brother and sister think she's too much of a baby to play along with them, and getting any attention can be tough. But with an imagination that's larger than life, as well as a seemingly never-ending supply of energy, Dory certainly finds many ways to keep herself entertained. Plenty of illustrations and great fun make this a perfect pick for new chapter book readers. (ages 6+)
Quest by Aaron Becker
The amazing story began last year in Becker's first book, Journey, a high level wordless picture book celebrating the power of imagination. In this second book of a trilogy, follow the girl with the red crayon and her new friend, the boy with the purple crayon, as the magical adventure is taken to a whole new level. With a sophisticated plot and interpretive story line, this one will be best appreciated by ages 8+.
Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers
Don't be fooled into thinking this is a children's book only! Adults and kids alike will delight in Oliver Jeffer's witty short stories dedicated to each letter of the alphabet. From Helen who lives in a Half House to my personal favorite, the Owl and Octopus in the Ocean, these clever stories had me Literally Laughing out Loud! A great choice for fans of Shel Silverstein! (ages 4-104)
Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins
This animal adventure tale is filled with friendship, courage, and imagination! The description of squirrel culture is fun and entertaining, and makes for a unique tale perfect for readers who are ready for for a little more depth of story! (ages 6+)
House of Robots by James Patterson
In this new highly-illustrated series from James Patterson, an extraordinary robot signs up for an ordinary fifth grade class. This light and funny story incorporates plenty of humor, both in the text and in the accompanying comic-style illustrations. (ages 8+)
Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
Fans of the incredibly popular Percy Jackson series are guaranteed to devour this book from cover to cover. Learn about the Greek gods from the wise-cracking demigod himself, Percy Jackson. This gorgeously illustrated book is laugh out loud funny as well as informative, and is the perfect book for Greek mythology enthusiasts! (ages 8+)
Animalium by Jenny Broom
This beautiful book is a must for animal lovers of all ages! With an over sized format, magnificent natural history-style illustrations, and fascinating animal facts, you'll feel a sense of exploration and discovery on every page! A gorgeous gift! (ages 8+)
This is the World by Miroslav Sasek
This iconic compilation of Sasek's beloved travel stories from the last 50 years takes readers of all ages on a whirlwind trip to the world's greatest destinations. Includes fabulous illustrations and fun icons, with tidbits of information on each country. A wonderful gift that will be appreciated by the whole family for years to come. (ages 8+)
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
This NYT bestselling author is back with a quirky and fun new book! Eleven year old Ellie loves puzzles and all things logical, but science? She's not so sure. When her cousin (or is it her grandfather?) comes to visit, she starts to see things differently. A smart book with a unique twist. (ages 8+)
Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson
Evie has no memory of the past, and doesn't even know her own name when she arrives at Pennyroyal Academy, but enrollment has expanded beyond those with a royal pedigree. She is given a new name and a new identity, and begins her princess training, which turns out to be a lot different than you might expect. Packed with action and adventure, Pennyroyal Academy will turn your idea of what it mean to be a princess on end. (ages 9+)
The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill
A silent boy, a mischievous pot of magic, a strong independent girl, nine year old souls trapped in stones, and the uncertain fate of two kingdoms -- this epic tale is tightly packed into one awesome story of friendship, selflessness, and ultimately, of letting go. Fantastic! (ages 9+)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
In this beautifully written memoir of her childhood, Jacqueline Woodson chronicles the hardship, as well as the beauty, of growing up in New York and South Carolina during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. While written in verse, her story reads like prose and chronicles her realization that she wanted to become a writer, even though she struggled with reading as a child. A beautiful and inspirational story. (ages 10+)
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
The world of teenage life is fraught with loss, drama, community, and love. Meg Wolitzer has created a character and a world to examine these powerful issues with wit and warmth. You will become immersed immediately, and barely take your head up until the entire story has been absorbed and cherished. (ages 12+)
Egg & Spoon by Gregory Macguire
From the author of Wicked comes a breathtaking new novel that weaves elements of traditional Russian folklore with original storytelling. Elena Rudin's dismal village life is upended with the arrival of Ektarina, the daughter of a noble family. The adventure that unfolds contains elements of well known fairy tales and lesser known gems. Teens will love this! (ages 12+)
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
This book is written in such a cool way, has some twists and turns, has relatable characters with some romance thrown in, and plenty of family drama. And just when you think you have it figured out you will find the rug being pulled out from under you. As everyone who has read it has said, go into this blind…don’t let anyone ruin it for you with spoilers. (ages 12+)
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sonia are complete strangers; they live no where near one another, and never meet. The thing they have in common is a mysterious girl named Leila, who is driving 4,000 miles across the country in an attempt to leave the past behind her. Along her journey, Lelia meets and befriends each of these teens, and each at a pivotal time in their lives. When she drives back out of their towns as quickly as she drove in, each of their lives is forever changed because of her. But in the end, what Leila has been looking for all along is actually where she least expected it. Told in five parts, this great contemporary young adult fiction, perfect for fans of John Green or Rainbow Rowell. (ages 14+)
Thanks to Kaley Strane DeGoursey of R.J. Booksellers!
2013 offered a bumper crop of great books, and with so many to choose from, we wanted to offer some suggestions of books you won't want to miss when shopping for holiday gifts.
In compiling this list, we have included books that will meet a range of interests and age levels, including picture books, fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels. Above all, any one of these books is one that would be a pleasure to own, to share, to reread. Books in the first category, Great Family Reads, were selected family sharing in mind, so they will appeal to a broad age range.
Tips for selecting books as gifts:
· Take the reader's interests into consideration. Does your kid like sports? Animals? Humor? Nonfiction?
· In selecting a book for a particular age or reading level, remember you are choosing something the child will own and grow with. It's okay to choose something just a bit above his or her reading level – just as you are more likely to choose clothes for your kids to grow into.
· When selecting books for multiple kids in a family, you may select books with the corresponding age levels in mind, but you can give all the books to the family as a whole and let the kids decide which book(s) they want to read.
· Still not sure what to get? You can always ask your local public librarian for suggestions, based on your kid's reading interests. Or how about a magazine subscription? Again, your librarian will be able to recommend good ones. And what kid doesn't like getting mail?
Great Family ReadsThe Animal BookBy Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin, $21.99, 208 pp.
In this treasure trove of information, Jenkins relates fascinating facts about 300 different animals, looking at them in sections that highlight various qualities, traits, and behaviors. The author/artist combines dramatic, eye-catching cut-paper collage images of each animal with clever and succinct writing.
Poems to Learn by HeartSelected by Caroline Kennedy ; illustrated by Jon J Muth
Disney/Hyperion, $19.99, 191pp.
There's not much emphasis these days on memorizing poetry but Kennedy argues in her introduction that it can help to build confidence and give kids a sense of accomplishment. Whether kids choose to memorize one of more of the poems included in this volume, or simply come to know them by heart through repeated family readings, there is a great variety of poems within – funny and sad, serious and nonsensical – arranged into nine broad thematic categories such as School, Sports, War, Family, and Nature, and illustrated with stunning watercolor paintings.
The Tortoise & the HareBy Jerry Pinkney
Little, Brown, $18.00, 40pp
"Slow and steady wins the race." We all know this moral to Aesop's most famous fable, and here, Pinkney cleverly spins that line out, tortoise style, so that it's the only line of text in what is otherwise a wordless story. The tortoise, the hare, and all of the other animal spectators are shown as species native to the American southwest, and the precise detail in each watercolor illustration will make this elegant volume something kids want to pore over, in a slow and steady style.
LocomotiveBy Brian Floca
Richard Jackson / Atheneum, $17.99, 60pp.
With words and pictures, Floca recounts the 19th century journey of a mother and her two children, travelling from Omaha to Sacremento via steam locomotive shortly after the transcontinental railroad was completed. Each page offers a feast for the eye as we get an inside view of personnel, passengers, equipment, and accommodations, as well as the majestic passing landscape. There's so much here for children and adults to see that it will no doubt inspire many return trips.
Great Picture BooksBullyBy Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Roaring Brook/Macmillan, $16.99, 32pp.
After being rejected by a playmate, an angry little bull stomps around the barnyard calling all the other animals species-specific names ("Chicken!" "Pig!") until a goat turns the tables on him and calls him "Bully!" This label so hurts the little bull's feelings that it causes him to think, apologize and ask the other animals to play with him. Seeger's bold illustrations carry most of the story as they show the emotional impact of each animal's actions on the other barnyard animals.
JourneyBy Aaron Becker
Candlewick, $15.99, 40pp.
In a completely wordless story, a young girl with a red crayon draws a door in her bedroom wall that opens onto a fantastical world where she begins her adventure. Lushly detailed illustrations provide a lot for the eye to explore, and both boys and girls will want to follow her to see where just she goes and how she escapes danger each time, thanks to her magical red crayon.
Niño Wrestles the WorldBy Yuyi Morales
Roaring Brook/Macmillan, $16.99, 36pp
A young, masked, underwear-clad boy takes on one opponent after another as he imagines the toys strewn on his floor as full-size rivals in a lucha libre match. The only rivals he can't beat are his toddler twin sisters, Las Hermanitas. Illustrated in a comic style, this vibrant picture book integrates Spanish words and expressions into the English text and aptly captures the energy and noise of a small boy at play. Included at the front and back are amusing trading cards for Niño and each of his adversaries.
Take Me Out to the YakyuBy Aaron Meshon
Atheneum, $15.99, 40pp
A young boy describes what it's like to go to a baseball game in America with his Pop Pop and in Japan with his Ji Ji. Although the game is basically the same, the experiences are different – from the modes of transportation to get there to the snacks sold in stadiums to the souvenirs and the cheers. (In Japan, for example, the crowd yells "Do your best!"). Each double-page spread shows the boy at an American game on the left-hand side and at a Japanese game on the right-hand side.
Xander's Panda PartyBy Linda Sue Park; illustrated by Matt Phelan
Clarion, $16.99, 40pp
Since he is the only panda at the zoo, Xander has to expand his invitation list to include all bears. But when Koala points out that she is actually a marsupial, he must expand further to include all mammals. And then Rhinoceros shows up with his bird friend. The constantly expanding party parameters cleverly introduce the scientific concept of taxonomy, and it's all told with a tongue-twisting rhyming text that will delight young ears when it's read aloud.
Great Transitional BooksThe Big Wet BalloonBy Liniers
Toon Books/Candlewick, $12.95, 32 pp
Toon Books has launched a popular series of easy-to-read stories that use comic book conventions and can serve as a child's first introduction to graphic novels. In this latest offering, sisters Matilda and Clemmie find ways to have fun on a rainy Saturday, in a story that requires kids to read both text and pictures. At the end parents will find helpful tips on how to read comics with kids.
Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented BasketballBy John Coy; illustrated by Joe Morse
Carolrhoda, $16.95, 32 pages
In the winter of 1891, James Naismith was hired to teach physical education to a group of unruly male students who had energy to burn. Because they were confined to a gymnasium, he wanted to come up with a game the boys could play indoors with existing equipment, and with two peach baskets and a soccer ball, he came up with a game that proved so popular, the boys never wanted to stop playing it. Young sports enthusiasts will enjoy the pictures and the story, but the serious fans will be fascinated by the Naismith's original typewritten rules that decorate the opening pages of the book.
Ling & Ting Share a BirthdayBy Grace Lin
Little, Brown, $15.00, 43 pages
In the second volume in an easy reader series about identical twin sisters, Ling and Ting have different ways of preparing for the sixth birthday they share, but the one thing they have in common other than their birthday is that they both want it to be a happy occasion for their twin. Six short episodic chapters with just a few lines of text per page make this series accessible to kids who are just starting to read on their own.
That's a Possibility! A Book about What Might HappenBy Bruce Goldstone.
Henry Holt, $16.99, 32 pages
Some kids love math, and it's not easy to find good books to meet their interests and expand their knowledge. Thank heavens for Bruce Goldstone! In his latest math offering, he uses eye-catching color photographs and a text that invites the reader to look at the pictures and to make predictions about them, thereby introducing the concept of probability. Even kids who think they don't like math will find it hard to resist the challenges they'll find here.
The Year of Billy MillerBy Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow/HarperCollins, $16.99, 229pp.
At the beginning of second grade, Billy is worried he won't be smart enough to keep up. By the end of the school year, he has enough confidence to get up in front of an audience to read a poem he has written about his mother. In between, he has a number of child-like experiences at school and at home that shape him – trying to stay awake all night, working on his first diorama, getting caught making fun of a classmate, etc. The structure and design of this easy but satisfying chapter book make it perfect for newly independent readers who, like Billy, will gain confidence with each page turn.
Great PageturnersBluffton: My Summers with BusterBy Matt Phelan
Candlewick, $22.99, 223pp
In the days of vaudeville, the theaters were just too hot to draw an audience, so actors typically spent their summers in colonies like Bluffton, just outside of Muskegon, Michigan. This graphic novel spans three summers and is told from the point of view of a young boy who lives in Muskegon, who befriends a young actor his age named Buster Keaton. Although Buster is the star of his family's act, already known for his famous pratfalls and deadpan expression, he relishes the summer months when he can be like other kids and pursue his love of playing baseball. Today's readers won't need to know who Buster Keaton was to appreciate this story, but it may inspire them to look up some of his old silent movies so they can see his remarkable comic acts.
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated AdventuresBy Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by K. G. Campbell
Candlewick, $17.99, 231pp
A cynical ten-year old girl, obsessed with comic books, finds an unlikely super hero is a squirrel who has been endowed with super powers after being accidently run over by a neighbor woman using a Ulysses 2000X vacuum cleaner. There's a laugh on every page of this original novel that's told in short chapters and lots of black-and-white illustrations.
I Even Funnier: A Middle-School StoryBy James Patterson and Chris Grabbenstein; illustrated by Laura Park
Little, Brown, $13.99, 368pp.
When your name is Jamie Grimm, your parents and only sibling were killed in a car accident that left you disabled and in a wheelchair, and you now share a home with your cousin who is also the school's biggest bully, nothing should be funny, right? Wrong! Jamie has an uncanny ability to find humor in his everyday life and use it in his comedy act as he works to become the world's greatest stand-up – okay, sit-down – comedian in the second volume of the popular series, illustrated with comic line drawings.
P.S. Be ElevenBy Rita Williams-Garcia
Amistad/HarperCollins, $16.99, 274pp.
After returning to Brooklyn after spending a summer in California with their mother (One Crazy Summer, Amistad, 2010), eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters settle into a new school year while adjusting to changes in their life: an uncle who has just returned from Vietnam and their father's new girlfriend. This warm, humorous story about three sisters caught up in their love for a new musical group, the Jackson 5, gives a good sense of the late 1960s while also capturing the universals of family life.
Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How Do We Really Know What Dinosaurs Looked Like?By Catherine Thimmesh
Houghton Mifflin, $17.99 64pp
Dinosaurs have long been a topic that fascinates many children, and Catherine Thimmesh capitalizes on this interest in beautifully illustrated book that shows how different kinds of scientists use existing evidence to figure out what dinosaurs actually looked like. In doing so she show where theories have changed over time and where contemporary scientists sometimes disagree. Each page-turn reveals a lifelike reconstruction by one of several paleoartists who use this scientific evidence to create sketches, paintings, and even digital graphics that offer a peek into the distant past
Great Advanced ReadsThe Golden DayBy Ursula Dubosarsky
Candlewick, $16.99, 160pp
Age 12 and older
Don't let the title and jacket fool you. This gripping story about eleven Australian school girls who go on an off-the-record field trip with their teacher, and then return without her, will keep readers on the edge of their seats, and will inspire discussion about what exactly happened, long after the book is finished.
If I Ever Get Out of HereBy Eric Gansworth
Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $17.99, 368 pp
Lewis Blake is the only Tuscarora reservation kid tracked with the "braniacs" in junior high, and George, a new kid at the school, becomes his first, and only, white friend. In a narrative full of humor and rife with tender, honest, and unsettling truths, this novel explores adolescent identity, and what it means to find — and to be — a friend.
The LivingBy Matt de la Peña.
Delacorte, $17.99, 311pp
Age 12 and older
Shy has an enviable summer job, working on a luxury cruise ship, passing out towels by day and water by night. When a devastating earthquake wipes out California, and a tsunami destroys the cruise ship, he struggles to survive, trapped on a raft in shark-infested waters with a rich girl with whom he has nothing in common – or does he? Part thriller, part survival story, part disaster novel, this action-packed page-turner challenges stereotypes about race, class, and gender.
Still Star-CrossedBy Melinda Taub
Random House, $16.99, 352pp
Age 12 and older
Ever wonder what happened to the Montagues and the Capulets after the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet? This witty novel, written from the point of view of Juliet's cousin Rosaline, opens three weeks later, and offers mystery, romance, treachery, and murder, as well as a ferocious race against time.
Thanks to Kathleen T. Horning, Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, UW-Madison for compiling.
Ahoy Mateys! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! In honor of this special occasion, here are some great pirate reads for buccaneers everywhere. Arrrrrr!
By Mary Quattlebaum, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger .Two pirate captains set sail, each one determined to prove that s/he is the best in the world. They meet on the high seas, and the competition begins. Each demands, and refuses, to give way to the other using the most colorful pirate lingo. Then the insults begin to fly: "Grog swiller." "Landlubber." "Bilge rat." "Sea skunk." But when Mean Mo calls Bad Bart "Gentleman," and he counters: "Lady," there is no backing down from those fightin' words.
By James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Juliana Neufeld .The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and traveling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents disappear on the job, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives. They'll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit of an evil treasure hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents–and find out if they're still alive.
By Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon. Building a sand castle at the beach one day, young Jeremy Jacobs encounters Brain Beard and his motley pirate crew. He joins them aboard ship as their official digger and off they sail to find a safe place to bury their treasure chest of gold and jewels. Jeremy learns pirate language ("Aargh!") and pirate manners (they don't have any), and tries to teach the scurvy dogs to play soccer. He doesn't have to brush his teeth. ("Maybe that's why their teeth are green," he observes cogently.)
By Patrick OBrien and Kevin OMalley, illustrated by Patrick OBrien
The dinosaur citizens of Jurassica are in a panic when a mob of misshapen mutants and reptilian cyborgs from the pirate ship Blackrot rampages through the Imperial Palace, making off with the famous Jewels of Jurassica. The President calls in Captain Raptor to pursue the evildoers. Raptor and his fearless crew give chase through the galaxy until their starship Megatooth is blasted by the pirates.
As summer comes to an end, it's time for kiddos everywhere to head back to school. ReadKiddoRead has put together a list of great books to get kids in the mood to do just that. There's a book for every reader on this list, whether your kiddos are starting kindergarten or high school (and a few that you might enjoy too).
Great Illustrated Books, ages 2 – 6
Great Transitional Books, ages 6 – 9
Great Pageturners, ages 9 -12
Great Advanced Books, ages 12 and Up
GREAT ILLUSTRATED BOOKS
Miss Nelson is Missing!
By Harry G. Allard Jr.
Miss Nelson cannot control her classroom. "The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again," the book starts off. "They were the worst behaved class in the whole school." "Something must be done," says a resigned, rosy-cheeked Miss Nelson. The next day the teacher is nowhere to be found, and the children rejoice and throw more paper airplanes-a little too soon. An unpleasant substitute in an ugly black dress, Miss Viola Swamp, sweeps in in her stead.
By Rosemary Wells
Take a glorious month-by-month tour through the kindergarten year with master teacher Miss Cribbage, a guinea pig, as seen through the eyes of Emily the rabbit, one of eight animal students in the class. As the months go by, they count, collect weeds and seeds, make maps, sing, and widen their horizons across the activity-filled curriculum.
By Joanne Ryder
At Wolong Nature Reserve in China, giant pandas are raised and studied by researchers who are helping to ensure the survival of these endangered creatures. Mother pandas often have twins but can only care for one cub at a time, so the workers at the panda nursery care for the twin and swap cubs so both get mom time.
School!: Adventures at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School
By Kate McMullan; Illustrated by George Booth
Laugh-out-loud funny, from the endpapers to the final page, this illustrated novel tells about a week of what would be very ordinary happenings – except that this particular hotsy-totsy, tippy-toppy, super-duper,hunky-dory, yowie-ka-zowie week is at the Harvey N. Trouble Elementary School – where everyone and everything is just a little different and a lot hilarious.
By Laurie Miller Hornik, Illustrated by Debbie Tilley
At the hands-on new Zoo School, where the motto is, "Let the animals be your textbooks," the student desks are actually fish-filled aquariums. The students include Ursula, who wants everything to be just like it was at her old school; Kitty, who knows a lot about animals and can't wait to learn more; Drake, who is terrified of animals, and is unnerved by the fish swimming in his desk; and Robin, who can't believe there's no nurse at this school, because she is used to spending half her day in the nurse's office.
The King of Show-and-Tell (Ready, Freddy! series)
By Abby Klein, Illustrated by John McKinley
It's Freddy Thresher's turn for show-and-tell on Monday, and he'd sure like to find something as cool as the alligator head classmate Robbie brought for show-and-tell today. When he rescues a baby bird that has fallen from its nest, he names it Winger. If he can keep Winger hidden from his mom all weekend and sneak it to school on Monday without his teacher seeing it, he knows he'll be the King of Show-and-Tell for sure!
What's the Matter in Mr. Whiskers' Room?
By Michael Elsohn Ross, Illustrated by Pail Meisel
For kids who find the study of science intimidating, wait till they meet the male counterpart to Ms. Frizzle (who kids already know and love from Joanna Cole's "The Magic School Bus" books)—Mr. Whiskers, a teacher with a beard, a blond crew cut, and a passion for "the big idea." His mission is to make science scintillating.
It's the First Day of School…Forever!
By R.L. Stine
Somehow, Artie Howard makes it through a terrible first day of middle school. Could it get worse? Yes! When Artie wakes the next morning for the second day of school, the events of the previous day begin repeating. In very short, action-filled chapters, Artie tells his own story, tapping into every kid's fears and worries about new schools and the beginning of new school years. Artie's keep-on-going attitude and his ability to find bits of humor in it all will have readers on his side.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
By James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, Illustrated by Laura Park
Middle School doesn't begin well for Rafe Khatchadorian. Between run-ins with the school bully, Miller "The Killer" and a book of rules that the school actually takes seriously, to say Rafe is disillusioned with the educational system would be understatement. And so it's totally understandable when his best friend, Leonardo, suggests that Rafe set out to break every rule in the book.
By R.J. Palacio
It would be hard to overstate how special this book is – it is much more than just an exquisitely written story. This is a rare book that might – open a closed heart; it could make the world a better place. August Pullman, now 10, was born with a deformed face. He lives in Manhattan, where's it's hard to hide, so even though he's been homeschooled, he's felt the stares and heard the whispers. Now his parents have decided (not without reservations) that it's time for Auggie to meet the wider world, enrolling him in a private school for fifth grade.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
By Louis Sachar
There are strange things afoot on the thirtieth story of Wayside School. The classroom's first teacher, the wicked Mrs. Gorf, turned all her children into apples, but had to be replaced when they reversed her spell, turned her into an apple, and she accidentally was eaten by Louis, the schoolyard teacher. Whoops. The twenty-seven wacky kids are now in the hands of a bewildered nice, young teacher, Mrs. Jewls, and each chapter is devoted to their quirks, one classmate at a time.
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman
By Ben H. Winters
Ms. Finkleman is not the most popular teacher at Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School; neither is she the least popular. In fact, the mousy music teacher sort of embodies the word "unremarkable." Meanwhile, in Social Studies, Mr. Melville announces "Special Projects," a class favorite. The assignment: solve a mystery in your own life. Bethesda Fielding has the best idea – to uncover who this Ms. Finkleman really is!
SPHDZ Book #1! (Spaceheadz series)
By Jon Scieszka, and Francesco Sedita, Illustrated by Shane Prigmore
It's Michael K.'s first day in a new school, P.S. 868, in a new city, Brooklyn, New York, and though he's only been there for twenty minutes, it's already seriously weird. His new teacher, Mrs. Halley, has put him in the slow group with two strange new kids. How strange? The new girl just ate half of her pencil, and the new boy has just told him that they are Spaceheadz from another planet.
By Raina Telgemeier
There's plenty of drama in Callie's life – onstage and off! Callie is the set designer for her middle school play. She wants it to go off with a bang – literally – and is building a cannon that really "fires" for the show. If only she could add some spark to her love life. Callie's first experiences with romance are fizzling – and confusing. But nothing keeps infectiously-enthusiastic Callie down for long, especially when she's got set design and her stage crew to keep her distracted.
The Wednesday Wars
By Gary D. Schmidt
"Of all the kids in the seventh grade at Camillo Junior High School, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun. Me." So starts the sometimes slapstick, sometimes serious account by Holling Hoodhood about the Wednesday afternoons he is forced to spend with his stern and demanding English teacher. Though they begin as adversaries, Mrs. Baker, whose husband has just been deployed to Vietnam, becomes his touchstone who helps him deal with his perfectionist and bullying father.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
By E. Lockhart
The summer after her freshman year of high school, Frankie blooms into a "curvaceous young woman with an offbeat look." Frankie's sister, Zada, graduated in June, and now Frankie will be on her own at Alabaster Preparatory Academy, away from her overprotective family who treat her like a child. In September, Frankie encounters popular senior and golden boy, Matthew Livingston, on whom she's had a secret crush since freshman year. Not only does Matthew notice her, he flirts with her and introduces her to his friends. This is a compelling, enjoyable, diabolical, and witty read.
Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems
By John Grandits
Emotions erupt in Jessie's collection of 33 concrete poems, beginning with the title poem which is written around the perimeter of the front cover. They meander and cascade across each page in a swirl of assorted blue and black fonts. There's "A Chart of My Emotional Day," which she diagrams for a math assignment; "Volleyball Practice," with sentences that bounce back and forth on the page; and "My Absolutely Bad Cranky Day," a simply glorious alphabet and timeline combined.
Did you know that August 26th is National Dog Day? Here at ReadKiddoRead, we've compiled some of our favorite reads about our favorite four-legged friends. Visit ReadKiddoRead.com for more great recommended reads!
GREAT ILLUSTRATED BOOKS
May I Pet Your Dog?: The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs (and Dogs Meeting Kids)
By Stephanie Calmenson, Illustrated by Jan Ormerod
Some children are too afraid of dogs. Others are not afraid enough. How should we behave when we encounter a strange dog? Harry, a longhaired, chocolate-dappled dachshund, encounters a young boy and gives him a series of concrete and practical instructions on how to be friends with a dog.
By Daniel Kirk
Dog lovers will have a blast with this large, personable book of 22 meaty dog-narrated poems, all accompanied by soulful paintings of the notable pooches. Every aspect of dogdom is covered here; titles include: "In My Doghouse," "Pet Me," "Lapdog," "Chowhound," "Chasing My Tail," and my personal favorite, the final selection, the lullaby-like "Dog-Tired."
The Helpful Puppy
By Kim Zarins; Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Comfortably old-fashioned illustrations help to tell the simple story of the brown-and-white puppy who lives on a farm and wants, more than anything, to help out. After all, the other animals have jobs to do! This puppy will try anything, and in page after page he does.
GREAT TRANSITIONAL BOOKS
Just a Dog
By Michael Gerard Bauer
Even kids who don't love dogs will love this book. Even if they don't own a dog, they will want to own this book so that they can read it again and again, and loan it to their friends and persuade their teacher to read it aloud in class. When Corey was three years old, his family let him choose a puppy from a litter of mixed-breed dogs. Without hesitation, he picked the puppy that was mostly white. The name "Mister Mostly" eventually became "Mr. Mosely," because Corey was too little to be able to say the letter "t."
My Senator And Me: A Dog's Eye View Of Washington, D.C.
By Edward Kennedy
"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Senator Ted Kennedy did just that—an effusive black Portuguese Water Dog named Splash, who narrates this breezy and informative tour of the nation's capital and guide to daily life in the Capitol. Splash attends the Senator's staff meeting, takes a ride on the tram, and is at Kennedy's side for a press conference.
Owney: The Mail-Pouch Pooch
By Mona Kerby
In October of 1888, a stray brown and white terrier wandered out of the rain into the post office in Albany, New York, and sacked out on a pile of canvas mail pouches. He stayed, hopping aboard the mail wagon each day for a ride to the train depot. One day he hopped aboard the train and rode it all the way to New York City, and didn't return for seven months.
City of Dogs
By Livi Michael
On Sam's birthday, the one he thinks will be the worst ever, his Aunty Dot brings to the house a small white dog she has just hit with her car. The dog, which Sam names Jenny, has no obvious injuries, though in her mouth, she is holding a sprig of mistletoe carved like a dart. What Sam does not know is that Jenny has come from another one of the nine worlds, where she inadvertently altered the course of destiny when she saved her master, Baldur, the Golden Boy, from death.
Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale
By Laurie Myers, Illustrated by Michael Dooling
It's been more than two centuries since Meriwether Lewis and William Clark undertook their famed expedition with the Corps of Discovery to chart the lands west of the Mississippi in 1803. They spent two and a half years, journeying 7,000 miles to the Pacific Ocean and back. Along with their 33-member team, Lewis brought along his huge black Newfoundland dog named Seaman.
Survivors: The Empty City
By Erin Hunter
In SURVIVORS, Erin Hunter, creator of the popular WARRIORS series, introduces us to a world of dogs rather than cats. Readers will find it as compelling, eye-opening and exciting as its feline counterpart. It certainly stands on its own, with appeal to both boys and girls looking for a great adventure. Fans of the WARRIORS will enjoy a look at another species and will be glad to see that the dog mythology is as complete as the cat mythology.
GREAT ADVANCED READS
The Dogs of Winter
By Bobbie Pyron
Readers will be riveted by five-year-old Ivan's tragic transformation from Mishka, his mother's little bear, into Malchik, dog boy, a member of a pack of feral dogs trying to survive on the streets of St. Petersburg. Although a stark lesson in human-failing, this story, based on an actual event, is unexpectedly uplifting.
In honor of the 55th anniversary of the creation of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), we've compiled a few of our favorite books for kiddos about outer space.
If You Decide To Go To The Moon
by Faith McNulty, Illustrated by Steven Kellogg
"If you decide to go to the moon in your own rocket ship, read this book before you start." So begins a resplendent you-are-there nonfiction picture book, narrated in second person, with sensational full-page paintings.
The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity
by Elizabeth Rusch
This stunning book, beautifully designed and chock-full of incredible images, outlines the conception, development, and implementation of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission.
A Black Hole is NOT a Hole
by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
The book playfully explodes the misinformation that surrounds black holes, from the myth that they "feed" on galaxies to their very name – because they are not holes at all! With this premise in place, the author sheds light on one of the biggest mysteries of the universe.
Mission Control, This is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon
by Andrew Chaikin, Illustrated by Alan Bean
To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this substantial-sized volume is filled with conversational and quote-filled accounts of all 12 of the piloted Apollo missions.
Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
by Catherine Thimmesh
In a large-format scrapbook of dramatic black and white and color photographs and white text set against a glossy black background, we read the gripping story firsthand from the (mostly) men who reveal the many challenges and problems they faced getting ready for the flight and in the mission itself.
You Are the First Kid on Mars
by Patrick O'Brien
This book will tell you what would happen, and what you would do, if you were the first kid on Mars. The author posits that someday, scientists, engineers, astronauts, and their families might set up a colony on Mars
Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity
by Dave Roman
In this graphic novel, Hakata Soy leaves his past as the leader of a superhero team to attend Astronaut Academy, a school on a space station orbiting Earth.
At ReadKiddoRead, we know that parents are looking for ways to keep their kids learning throughout the summer. The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) offers great summer learning opportunities through Camp What-A-Wonder and Wonderopolis.org.
Camp What-A-Wonder is a virtual program that provides children and parents with inspiration and opportunities to read and learn together during the summer. Camp What-A-Wonder is a special segment of Wonderopolis.org and is available at no cost. Campers explore a different theme each week through online and offline lessons and activities, all created to show how wonder and learning can happen anywhere and at any time. This year's "Uncover the Wonder Around You" weekly themes include: Earth and Environment; Sky and Weather; Structures and Buildings; Technology and Innovation; Travel and Transportation; Plants and Animals.
Campers and their families have fun activities to do, exciting trips to take, and lots of Wonders of the Day to explore together. Visit Camp What-A-Wonder today.
Each year, The Patterson Family Foundation awards James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students that are studying education and are committed to teaching careers. Over the next few months, ReadKiddoRead will highlight Patterson Scholars at schools across the country. In the first post, we featured the scholars at Michigan State University. For the second post, we're introducing you to the recipients at University of Alabama. Read on to learn about their favorite recent reads and their recommendations for Kiddos!
Name: Karie DeermanHometown: West Blocton, Alabama
Teaching Focus: Multiple Abilities Program (Collaborative Special Education and Elementary Education)
Favorite Book I Read This Year: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. I love Nicholas Sparks' books, especially this one. You can really get into his books because the characters and emotions are so real. Once you start reading, you can't put it down.
My ReadKiddoRead Recommendation: The Cam Jansen series by Davis Adler. The mysteries in these books is so engaging that it makes you excited to finish the books and solve the mysteries. They are fun reads for young children making the transition to chapter books.
Name: Jessie DupreHometown: Willis, Texas
Teaching Focus: Elementary Education
Favorite Book I Read This Year: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. This book parallels the love story of Hosea and Gomer from the Bible. It's interesting to see how events in life can relate to things that happened many years ago.
My ReadKiddoRead Recommendation: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. This book is fun to listen to and also helps the students learn their ABC's.
Name: Kirsten HawkinsHometown: Decatur, Alabama
Teaching Focus: Elementary Education
Favorite Book I Read This Year: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. I really enjoy books that have a combination of suspense and romance. This book makes the reader feel like they are a part of the story.
My ReadKiddoRead Recommendation: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee would be my recommendation to any young adult looking for a classic read! Another plus is that the story is set in Alabama. Roll Tide! For younger children, I would recommend any of the Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park. I grew up reading these stories. Barbara Park did a good job relating to kids and keeping them laughing!
Name: Heather HensonHometown: Vestavia Hills, Alabama
Teaching Focus: Elementary Education
Favorite Book I Read This Year: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is such a beautiful picture of pure and perfect love, and it parallels one of my favorite books in the Bible, Hosea.
My ReadKiddoRead Recommendation: The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn. Her books are very relatable, and I always felt like I was part of the story. The characters seem real, which made me want to keep reading to find out how their lives would turn out.
Name: Meredith HogueHometown: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Teaching Focus: Elementary Education
Favorite Book I Read This Year: The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I loved reading and learning about the South in the 1960s. I also enjoyed the maids' funny stories about the families they have worked for. The Help is a book that will keep you wanting to read more!
My ReadKiddoRead Recommendation: Frindle by Andrew Clements. I would recommend any book by Andrew Clements but this is my favorite. He is a great children's author and can relate to kids with his entertaining stories and characters.
Name: Brooke JacksonHometown: Clarksville, Tennessee
Teaching Focus: Elementary Education
Favorite Book I Read This Year: Now You See Her by James Patterson. I enjoyed reading this book because it portrayed how a young woman dealt with things that happens in her past and what she went through to protect the life and reputation. This book made me think about things I would do to protect my reputation.
My ReadKiddoRead Recommendation: The Giving Tree by Shel Siverstein. This book is a tale that is up to interpretation by the reader. When I read the book to a class of third graders, I use examples to illustrate the interpretations I take away from the book. For example, it demonstrates that you have to work for what you desire in life and that everything is not just given to you.
Name: Savannah PerkinsHometown: Mobile, Alabama
Teaching Focus: Early Childhood Special Education, specifically focused on Autism
Favorite Book I Read This Year: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I loved the history and the suspense.
My ReadKiddoRead Recommendation: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. This book opens kids' eyes to other cultures and shows that everyone is equal.
Name: Caroline RectorHometown: Franklin, Tennessee
Teaching Focus: Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology
Favorite Book I Read This Year: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. The book was a psychological thriller, my personal favorite, and I enjoyed the revelation of secrets and suspense that built up throughout the book leading to the true cause of Amelia's death.
My ReadKiddoRead Recommendation: A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket. I read the entire series (all 13) for both Accelerated Reading and pleasure in middle school. Any child or young adult who loves suspense will become addicted to following the lives of the three Baudelaire orphans and the misfortune that follow them wherever they go.