The other day, I woke up to my favorite kind of e-mail. A friend wrote the following:
I always think of you as the “book guru” – do you have any novel
recommendations for me as well as for my daughter ? Maybe some books we can both read?? Any recommendations are much appreciated :)”
Of course, I love this person. How can you not love the person who calls you the ‘book guru’ but I digress. I was so excited to put a list together for this fifth grader that I got started right away. I brainstormed a bit on my own and then went to Caroline to gather her ideas. Caroline is a year older than the daughter of my friend so it was fun for her to think back to what she loved a year ago. It was also really interesting for her to think about books that had been read alouds in her fifth grade classroom and to decide if they would still be great for independent reading.
Here is our combined effort:
The Giver by Lois Lowry. This was the first book that came to mind. Caroline read it last summer and I re-read it at the same time. We had tons and tons to talk about. That said, there are some pretty mature themes in the book and Caroline got freaked out for a bit. If you haven’t read it yet, you should definitely read it first to decide. I’m only even suggesting it because it led to such great conversations.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. Tuck is the first book that I remember reading that was worthy of discussion. I’m pretty sure that Caroline had exactly the same experience when she read this book in fourth grade. I’ve re-read it twice in the past few years, once when Caroline read it and then again when Caroline and I were lucky enough to see Natalie Babbit speak this winter. This is a book rich in conversation possibilities.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. This is a beautiful story of a girl who struggles terribly in school. Fish in a Tree leads to lots of great conversations about what it means to feel different and we all know that every kid feels different at one time or another.
Rain Reign by Ann Martin. I have not read Rain Reign yet but Caroline promises it is very much worth talking about and not just because it is written by the author of her most loved Baby Sitter’s Club series.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Simply because no list of this kind can exclude this remarkable book. If you haven’t read this book as a family, stop what you are doing and go read Wonder immediately.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I read Ivan on my own and it was one of the read alouds that Caroline most remembers from fifth grade. We didn’t discuss it too much on our own but I am quite sure there would be lots and lots of material.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. I can’t believe I’m writing this but I actually have not read this one. Caroline loved it as a read aloud at school and I love Kate DiCamillo so I am pretty positive this would be a great family read.
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Out of My Mind tells the story of a little girl in search of a voice to communicate all of her thoughts. Reading and discussing this book was a great way for our family to gain a greater understanding of individuals with disabilities.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these or any other middle grade reads that could lead to great family conversations. Thanks for sharing!