Today begins National Young Readers Week, and I decided to kick it off at my house by creating a list of books that I’d like Megan to tackle during her middle school years.
Why just Megan, you may ask. Because Josh is already in 8th grade, so he doesn’t really have time to read them all. Add to that the fact that he tends to prefer non-fiction, so I don’t want to frustrate him. That being said, I am going to encourage him to choose a few books from this list to read over the next few months.
I don’t necessarily expect Megan to make it through the whole list, but I wanted to give her some variety. I also wanted to keep in mind something that Lee Binz pointed out on her college-bound reading list – homeschool families tend to focus on the classics and colleges like to see that kids have read current popular books. There probably aren’t going to be any colleges looking at my middle school book list, but I still wanted to make sure I included a good mix of classic and new favorites.
Also, please note: I missed out on a lot of these books in my teen and tween years. I plan to preview the ones that I haven’t read (which also means I get to enjoy them myself). There are also a couple that should probably be on a reading list for younger students, but I realized that we missed them when Megan was younger and I want to make sure she reads them.
100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes – Kids can be mean and sometimes, by the time you realize how cruel you’ve been, it’s too late to apologize. I think every kid should read this book.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket – This is one of those series that I haven’t read, so I’d want to preview it. I included it so I’d remember to check it out since it falls under that “currently popular” heading.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume – This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s gone out of style because Brianna said it was boring, but I’d love for Megan to read it.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls – This was the first book that ever made me cry. I love a book that touches me at a deep level, making me laugh or cry. It is a skilled author who can make his reader feel what his characters feel. As much as Megan loves animals, I think she’ll love this book as much as I did.
The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) by Rick Riordan – Megan started this one quite some time ago, but has never finished it. Every once in awhile, she’ll pick it up and plug away some more. I really want to encourage her to finish it and not be intimidated by its length. Plus, I love Greek mythology, so I think reading the book now (she’s already seen the movies) will lay an interesting foundation for the study of Greek myths later.
Holes by Louis Sachar – I’ve got to say, this one doesn’t really do anything for me. However, it’s an oft-suggested book for middle school kids. I thought the kids might be interested in reading it since they’ve seen the movie.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – I know that at this very moment there are those of you who are agreeing with me whole-heartedly and those who are now questioning my faith. Brianna never read the Harry Potter books and neither did I, based on what I heard about them. Then, this summer, I decided that I needed to see for myself what I thought about them, rather than judging them based on what I heard.
I really, really enjoyed the series – like sitting up until the wee hours of the morning reading, not getting anything else done enjoyed them. That’s all I’m going to say about that. I’m not going to defend my opinion, so there’s no need to leave those sorts of comments. If you love the books, feel free to include them on your kids’ reading list. If you hate them, don’t. We can still be friends.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume – I debated on including this one. I read it when I was a kid and remember it being maybe a little edgy. I also remembered really enjoying it, though, and I think it deals with a lot of coming of age things that may be uncomfortable for girls to bring up, so I thought it might offer some conversation starters. Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – We’ve seen the movie, so I thought Megan might enjoy the book.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – Really? Does anything more need to be said about this one. I’d love to have the video of the cartoon version that used to come on TV from time to time when I was a kid.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – The kids have loved both movies. I’ve always heard that the second movie sticks a bit closer to the storyline of the book. Yes, I just admitted that I’ve never read the book. Maybe Megan and I can enjoy it together.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt – Is living forever all it’s cracked up to be? The Tuck family doesn’t think so. I actually bought this one and read it for myself when the movie came out.
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor – Dog lover that she is, I fully expect Megan to love this book about a boy trying to protect a puppy, Shiloh, from his abusive owner and claim the dog for his own.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I’d love for Megan to read any of the Little House books on her own. We’ve read most, if not all, of them together, but you can never read a Little House book too many times.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell – A classic perfect for animal lovers.
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson – Another tear-jerker animal tale. The only version I know is the Disney version, so I’ll look forward to reading this with Megan.
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo – Are you starting to get the impression that I’m very willing to appeal to Megan’s animal-loving side? That’s okay. This is another “modern classic” that I’d love for her to read.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor – I’ve never read this one either. I suspect it’s very intense, but also contains a message that needs to be shared. I’ll probably wait until her 8th grade year to tackle this one.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – This is another book that I’ve seen only through Disney’s eyes. I’ve heard the book is much better. I don’t doubt that – it always is.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis – Seriously, you’d think I didn’t read anything when I was in school, but I read all the time. I always got summer reading awards and you didn’t want to pay too much by the book if you sponsored me in a read-a-thon. How did I miss so many of these classic books? I haven’t read this one either.
The Borrowers by Mary Norton – Um, yeah, I didn’t read this one either. It comes highly recommended by a friend, though.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – This one I did read – with Brianna. We both enjoyed it and I think Megan will, too.
How many of these books have you and/or your kids read? What would you add to the list?
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.