Books for 7-9 year olds

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Reading to both a 4 and a 7 year old

June 2011

I'm wondering if any parents out there have had success ''crossing reading interests'' with their kids so that they can read to both of them at the same time... I guess age matters (this used to be easier when they were both younger). My oldest will be 8 in a few months and she's an advanced reader, mostly wanting to read to herself, but I (selfishly?) crave the connection of still reading together. My 4-year-old likes longer books lately (William Steig, some chapter books like Mercy Watson and Mr Putter and Tabby). I wonder if there's something I'm not thinking of that would enchant them both? Loving to Read Mama

You might try hidden object books like the ''I Spy'' or ''Can You See What I See?'' series. My kids (3 and 5 years) both love these books and they take turns picking which page to look at. If the older kid is finding things too fast or getting bored waiting for the little one to catch up, have her help the younger one along by giving clues to where the objects are. aw
If the older child is a good reader, and you want family time... why not have the older child pick a book and read it to the younger one? They'll enjoy it and so will you! bookworm
Have you tried the Magic Treehouse series? By Mary Pope Osborne? My husband and I have read all of them (there are about 45 books in the series) with our 7 year old daughter and they are fantastic! Start with the first one in the series and work your way through. The series is about a brother and sister who find a treehouse filled with books, and when they open a book, will be transported back in time to be a part of the story. Most of them are factually based, and I've learned a lot by reading them, actually. In the beginning of the series, the brother writes notes in a journal that he always carries with him. When my daughter was ''too shy'' to read in front of us, we could always get her to agree to read Jack's journal entries since they are short and easy to read. Now, she's reading on her own and we really miss the books. I think the stories would be fun for a 4 year old too. book lovers
My 4 and 6 (almost 7) year olds love The Faraway Tree stoires (Enid Blyton). It's 560 pages. The adventures are fun but fairly bite-sized so your younger child won't get lost in a complex plot. Very imaginative.

I think it is set in the 1930s. Three kids move to the edge of The Enchanted Wood which has a tree with various magical creatures and lands. They climb the tree and have many adventures. Anon

Our kids are about the same age and we have all enjoyed sharing books like Charlotte's Web, Wind and the Willows, All of a Kind Family, Magic Treehouse series, James and the Giant Peach, etc. A newer graphic novel called the Invention of Hugo Cabret worked for the different ages too. Book lover

Keeping up reading over summer: rising 2nd grader

May 2011

It's been a bit of a long haul through first grade for our son learning to read. He's *almost* at the point of wanting to pick up a book by himself and try reading alone, but he's not there yet. I'm kind of dreading the extended pause from reading the summer break forces on us and would love to hear what other parents do/have done to keep up reading skills over summer.

Here's what we do already--what should we change/add/do another way? We read books to both kids at night and during the day on weekends, and we encourage quiet/reading time every Sunday morning. We are firm about no TV on school nights -- and for the most part our kids watch TV only on weekend mornings when we're asleep or on family movie nights. We have no game consoles etc. And we try and model reading as enjoyment and relaxation too -- hard sometimes! -- by finding the time to read books, magazines, etc. when the kids are around (obviously this is not something we do a lot of...)

I know that eventually reading will come to him, but the timing of the summer break is bad for us as far as his confidence and enthusiasm around reading is concerned. And we really want him to start second grade excited about reading. Reading anxiety

All libraries have summer reading programs. Check your local library. I would also talk to his teacher and ask him/her for suggestions. There are reading lists (through your school or on the internet) you can get and have your son work through over the summer. Make a game out of it with a reward at the end for the number of pages read. --Reading is Fundamental
I'm a second grade teacher and all my students do an internet based program called Raz Kids. Not sure if a parent can get a subscription but you might want to check them out. There are no pop ups or ads of any kind. You can start them off at any level you want. Talk to your child's teacher this year about what level (it should explain the levels on the website) they should start at. After they read and answer quizzes, they get points and build a ''rocket room''. Highly motivating. Just go to www.raz-kidsdotcom anon
You don't say where you live, but in the Oakland Public Library in past years there has been a summer reading program where kids can earn credit for reading books over the summer. They use stickers to keep track of their time and can return the book of stickers for a prize or a free book. The free books aren't high quality but it's still fun for the kids to pick one out of the bin. Hopefully this program will happen again this summer, or look at other library systems near you to see if they do the same thing. Loves to read
Have you tried some non-traditional ''boy'' type reading? Either something that appeals to the typical ''boy'' scatological sense of humor and is easy reading (e.g. the Captain Underpants series), or perhaps something of the graphic novel variety (maybe the ''Bone'' series), or even some of the more commercial ''picture book'' style ones geared toward kids who like Pokemon or Bionicles or other such (Scholastic carries a bunch of these, and some kids' libraries do too). Some of this may seem a little junky, but what kids read doesn't matter nearly as much as that they read. This might get him hooked enough to read during the summer. My son LOVED LOVED LOVED all of this stuff. He didn't really start reading until about this time in first grade, then got completely hooked on Captain Underpants, and now in 4th grade... well, he's deep in a series he found in the Young Adults section at our library, and literally can't put the books down. Karen
We have a voracious reader, but I have three suggestions. 1) Take turns reading aloud at night. Your read a page (or a paragraph), then he reads. 2) Go to the public library and sign up for a summer reading program. They usually ask the kids to list the books they read and when they've read X many, they get a prize. 3) Find a series of books to get him hooked. At that age, Magic Treehouse was great. Bookworm
Try the summer reading program at the Berkeley or Oakland libraries. I hope and assume they will be continuing this program this year. I also have a rising 2nd grade son who has not yet embraced reading, and am definitely going to do the program (I have done it in the past with my daughter). In Berekely, at least, children visit a Berkeley library in June and choose a goal: read 10 books, 10 hours, or 1000 pages. They get a little journal to keep track of their progress. When they have visited the library 2 more times and have accomplished their goal, they get a prize, which they also get to choose. Examples are a free ice cream at Ben and Jerry's, free bowling at Albany Bowl, stuffed animal, or book. We did the Oakland program one year too, and it is similar. Liz O.
Hi, I highly recommend taking your son to your local library to participate in their summer reading program. Both Berkeley Public and Oakland Public have incredible resources and quality programming to help facilitate childrens' interest in reading. melissa
I suggest that your child have easy books to read. His confidence will growth when he is a more fluent reader. Don't pressure him to read challenging books when he is reading independently. At these times he should read books that are just right (not too hard, not too easy). When he reads to you, an you are there to help him sound out words, or to encourage him to self-correct, then more challenging books could be used. You are doing so many things that model a love of reading. Keep it up. I find that kids who are fluent readers and have lots of great books that are appropriate and available do eventually find success as readers. -A Teacher
We are in nearly the same boat (perhaps even the same that you seated next to me??).

Anyway, my MIL says that she paid her sons (my husband and his brother) 10 cents a page (back in the early 70s since they are now 45 and 42 yo)...and that is what got them reading on their own. She suggested it to my SIL for my niece last summer and it seems to have worked out well.

I am planning on it too. Probably against all the ''parenting rules,'' but hey, it WORKED!!! My BIL reads constantly as do my PIL, my parents and my husband and looks like I am in for some cashola paid to my 6.5 yo this summer.

Looking forward to the other replies in case there is something even better than this one... Want to keep my son reading too; he really just started

You'll be happy to hear that the public libraries do a great job of keeping kids reading throughout the summer. They offer a summer reading game in which kids win prizes for time spent reading or the number of books read (details vary by library system and by year).

In addition, they have special programs for kids and families during the summer, such as puppets, magicians, music, etc. As we get closer to the end of the school year, the libraries put out program schedules and details on the reading game.

And of course, while you're at the library, bring your son to browse the level of books he's reading, such as picture books or easy readers. Often young readers want to read everything in a series once they've enjoyed a certain book. Have fun discovering all the great books they have for kids these days and your son will too. Librarian Mom

I would suggest joining a summer reading club through the library and/or your local bookstore. We personally love the one from the Storyteller bookstore in Lafayette, which rewards you with a party featuring a live storyteller, ice cream, and $15 coupon for use in the store if you satisfy your mutually agreed upon reading contract (the program costs $20 to join so you're still out $5 but it's worth it if it motivates your child as it does mine). The library ones also give you halfway and completion prizes. Our school has a program as well, with the students getting a small prize when they return their form in the fall. I find it's not the prizes themselves that are the motivators, but the child knowing s/he has a goal to achieve and getting the satisfaction of having ''earned'' the reward. Good luck! Bookworm
Your post reminded me of our son, now a fourth grader. At the same age, I worried that he would never LOVE reading the way that I do. Then he found the ''Captain Underpants'' series by Dav Pilkey, and the world changed. I knew he had been won over when I had to take the books out of his hands to go to bed, to eat.... Fast forward to now: he just finished the entire series of Harry Potter in 8 weeks, and loves to read.

Why Dav Pilkey? Lots of pictures, engaging narrative, and well...potty humor. The kids love his books, and once you love reading, the world opens up in new ways. Try it! Fan of Dav Pilkey

Books beyond Harry Potter for 2nd grader

Nov 2010

hi, my 7 1/2 year old son has finally become a reader and has been voraciously consuming the first 3 Harry Potter books. However, I'm not sure if the rest of the books are appropriate at this age--I've read them myself (tho' it's been awhile) and I think he'll enjoy them more when he's a bit older. (He's admitted that he skipped over some of the scary parts in Prisoner of Azkaban.) There are a lot of great recommendations in the archives, but I'd love recommendations specifically for engaging, adventure-type books appropriate for the 7-9 year old reader. I already know many of the classics--I'm mostly looking for the post-J.K. Rowling writers. thanks! book lover

You might check out (pun intended!) the Lighting Thief series by Rick Riordan, or the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins, both of which my son just loved. My college roommate is one of the founders of the web site StorySnoops, which is well worth checking out for lots of additional recommendations for young readers ( Claire
I highly recommend The Secret Benedict Society - my duagher loved it - we needed to back off Harry Potter after #6 where it got kind of dark. Also the series by Rick Riordan on the Olympians were fun and got her very excited about Greek mythology. Good luck! anon
Try the Secrets of Droon series. My daughter (who eagerly read Harry Potter) loved them in elementary school. They didn't appeal to me but not all books or movies can hit the spot both with adults and children. We both loved the Rick Riordan Lightening Thief series, too, but if you're concerned that later Harry Potter books are beyond your child's developmental level, you might want to wait to introduce them to your second grader. Read one first. SLB
At your local library you will generally find a list of recommended books for various age groups and reading levels. Also, look up the lists of award winners such as the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta King Scott Award, etc. Also, check with your children's reference librarian for suggestions. coco

Books for 8+ with intelligent/thinking boy role models

Jan 2010

I'm really happy to see all the new books out there with brave, smart and strong girls, and quiet and smart girls, etc. etc. For my son, I'm not finding books that have boys as such well rounded protagonists. Most of the books for boys that I've found emphasize brawn and cockiness, which is one positive aspect (when appropriate), but boys who are gentle and smart I'm not seeing that often. Some of the older books have this but then have one-dimensional girls and my son *knows* that girls can do anything so finds them pretty silly. He's getting convinced that people expect boys to just run into things and fight... Any suggestions for the 8+ crowd? Thanks! anon

I asked my 10 year old for recommendations and this is what he came up with: The Great Brain series, by John D. Fitzgerald Diary of a Wimpy Kid Also there is a series of Great Illustrated Classics, includes The Three Musketeers, Robinson Crusoe, Around the World in 80 Days, and others. Rebecca
One of my very favorite childrens' book series is Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. It has lots of action and adventure but it also touches on a lot of themes of family, responsibility, consequences of actions, etc. Gregor is a multi-dimensional hero who has to solve problems with his brain. The action can be a little intense at times ... my daughter read them at 8 no problem, but a more sensitive child might find it too much. The first one is the tamest so you could try that and then decide whether to carry on with the series. mom of a reader
Thoughtful boy characters include Jeff in Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt and Jonas in The Giver by Lois Lowry. Both books are fairly contemporary American and full of moral and psychological crises and suffering. If you're interested in older, kinder less earth-shaking but no less intelligent and perceptive views of boyhood, check out these characters in some of the old British classics: Tolly and Ping in the Children of Green Knowe and the other Green Knowe books by Lucy Boston, and especially Dick in Winter Holiday, Coot Club, Pigeon Post, Great Northern, and others by Arthur Ransome. (All of these are also great books for girls, and decent, thoughtful reading for adults too, for that matter.) - a reading mom
Two books come to mind immediately: 1. Swallows & Amazons - excellent male & female characters, and I think just about right for an 8 year old... 2. My Family & Other Animals - a true account of a family moving from England to Cofu, Greece - written from the perspective of the author (a boy) at 10. Check it out - it may be a bit beyond the 8 year mark, but I remember my mom reading it to me when I wasn't TOO much older & laughing, laughing, laughing! Another Avid Reader
Try the Blue Balliet books-Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and the Calder Game. I thought they were excellent and the main characters are 2 boys and a girl with 3 very different personalities who solve mysteries when they work together. My son also liked The Phantom Tollbooth. Sue
The Beverly Cleary series which include novels about Henry Huggins are classics, which were written decades ago, but still hold up. My hell-on-wheels grandson enjoys them. He also loves the ones about Henry's pesty little neighbor, Ramona. These books are good because they deal with feelings and conflicts children often experience. anonymous
Rowan of Rin a series of 4 books by Emily Rodda describes a quiet sensitive boy who has a number of adventures where his strengths and fears are shown. The first book is probably fine for an 8 year old, I read them to my boys when they were 9-10 yrs, and my sensitive boy found the final book in the series to frightening to read. mama of a very sensitive boy
My 9-year old loves the Percy Jackson and the Olympian books. The Artemis Fowl books were also a hit (Artemis does start out cocky, but learns better). ''Holes'' is just terrific. The Series of Unfortunate Events books are also worth a look. Ann

Twilight Series - inappropriate for 9-year-old?

Aug 2009

Help! My 9 year old daughter has gone nuts over the Twilight Series. I reluctantly let her read the first 3, after I read them, but I have said ''no'' to book 4 because it seems like too much sexuality for a 9 year old. This has, of course, just made her determined to read it anyway. How do others handle this issue for kids that are good at reading -- we try to steer her to age appropriate books, but she's often wanting to read books more meant for teens. Any thoughts are appreciated! signed, --need a reality check

Oh, the sexuality thing. And they're getting younger and younger and younger as they are exposed to it. I think that even if you forbade the Twilight books (and hey! she's reading!) your daughter would get plenty of exposure to steamy stuff in conversations in school, DVDs, TV, Youtube, magazine ads! My solution to this with my thirteen year old boy has been: talk, talk, talk. Instead of just trying to whip it away from her, saying ''you're too young for that,'' start talking about how the vampire/sexuality thing is interesting and a little scary. Death and sacrifice and sex... With my son I acknowledge sexual feelings as normal and good but also very powerful and potentially harmful when unleashed at a young age. In a way, that's what the Twilight books are about, so you can address how they combine sexual passion with death wish. How can sex be good? How can it be harmful? What kinds of relationships are good (hint: not ones where you have to donate blood in order to be loved). How old should you be before thinking of getting involved physically with someone, and why? Obviously nine is too young for that kind of involvement, but fantasies are normal and OK -- it's just interesting and useful to inquire into why certain fantasies (Twilight) are appealing on such a large scale.

I don't think it's too early to start having conversations with your daughter about sex, especially if she can read (and is into) Twilight. And to give some perspective -- my son once googled ''sex'' on the internet and guess what came up. We've already had our big ''internet porn conversation.'' just trying to keep up

That 4th Twilight book is really the pits, isn't it? I think, though, that she's going to find a way to read it come hell or high water. If I were you, I'd offer to read it with her or to her IF and ONLY IF she's willing to talk to you about it while you're reading. I guess you could skip the sex parts if you want, but they are not intense. There's so much more to object to!

Then you read it to her and tell her (keep it simple) why the book bothers you. And if I were you, I'd restrict that to a few simple ideas:

1)the book portrays sex as not okay, even for a loving *married* couple... and that's just kind of crazy.

2)the book has some truly bizarre imagery of what pregnancy and mothering are like.

3)The idea of imprinting is not something that usually happens to humans, despite our romantic ideas of finding ''the one right person.'' And no matter what anyone says, imprinting on a baby is just creepy.

4)Ultimately the book is poorly plotted. Trust me: there is nothing like pointing out the conveniences and contrivances of the plot to deflate the dramatic love of a book.

5)Renesmee is a dumb name. (Just kidding on that last one)

Middle School Teacher

It's my experience that if they are really determined, they're going to do it anyway. Also, they're all interested in what older, cooler kids do. When I was 12, I hid a book that had sex in it, where the plot point was the teenager had an abortion. I hid it under my mattress and my mom never knew.

It's a sad state of our society that this is what our children are exposed to. You have Miley Cyrus at a teen event working a stripper pole during her act, sexualized clothing meant for children, and exposure to the full gamut of adult subject matter from a young age. To some degree, you have to live in a cave or become Amish to avoid it. Or have your kid in a Waldorf school and be careful to give her a secluded life until she's older. But is that really the answer?


You did open the door with this thing. So see it through. Read the book WITH her. Make an agreement that you're going to talk about each chapter together. This way you can give guidance about the subject matter. This is much more work for you, but I bet she'll read this book anyway, and if she does it secretly, she won't be able to talk to you about her ideas, fears, concerns, and questions.

I know how you feel, at least somewhat. My 8 year old son read some of the Twilight series,and is waiting for when I am done with the books so that he can read it. I told him there was a lot of kissing (yuck!) going on there, but he said he would just skip those pages and was more interested in the rest of the story. So, maybe that's what your daughter is doing.

She can even read the more racy pages, but I doubt she will really ''feel'' them, because she hasn't experienced any of that herself. She will have to re-read the books when she's much older and had actually kissed someone to really get it.

It's not just about the sexual stuff. There are many other meassages there that she won't understand now. Just like with Harry Potter and the author's thoughts on the bout of her clinical depression that's only obvious to people who had that experience first-hand.

For your girl, it must be just the perfect love story, with the added benefit of advocating sex AFTER marriage only (the 3rd book goes on and on about the physical temptations that both Bella and Edward fight).

It must feel weird (at least!) for you to see your girl read things like that, but you won't be able to limit her. I was like your daughter a long time ago, and I used to hide under the blankets with a flashlight reading books my parents wouldn't let me read - or when it was just too late to read.

Instead, you can talk to her about the books she's reading. She'll still be influenced by the book, but she will also hear your opinion and will be able to form her own. reader and mother of a reader

I read the Twilight series because several of my fifth grade students were reading the series. I was appalled. First, it is extremely poorly written, and second, the content of the last one is pornographic. If your child hadn't read it already, I would have said don't let her. Since she has read the series so far she'll probably find a way to read the final book whether you allow her to or not. I suggest you read the book to her, and find a way to skip the more offensive material. Older children still benefit from being read to and it can provide some extra bonding time for the two of you. Not a Fan of Twilight
I am confused by the nature of some of the responses posted here. More than one writer has suggested you can't stop your daughter from reading something inappropriate - really? I was a very advanced reader and brought home a Jackie Collins novel when I was 11. My mother said no and took it away. Guess what? I didn't read it! I think the Twilight books are too much for a nine year old (and I have read them). I would simply tell her that these are for an older child and that she is free to read them when she is - years old. There are many more appropriate books that are classics and actually well written. Roald Dahl, Lousia May Alcott, J.K. Rowling all have work that would be better suited to her age. Not to be overly critical, but I meet a lot of parents who seem to feel that access to adult topics in movies, TV, or books makes their child more advanced in some ''hip'' way. These kids seem to get in more trouble later on as they believe they are ready for grown up behaviors while they lack adult perspective. A Piggle-Wiggle Fan
I found this article by local children's book writer, Dashka Slater, to be quite interesting. If the link doesn't work just paste it into your browser. It's worth the 15 or so minutes it'll take to read it. Check it out.
As a school librarian I feel that the decision about what is appropriate for a 9 year old is one that should be made by parents, but with their children so that they can understand how, and why that decision was made. I don't think that banning books is the path to take. Kids will obtain books without parent knowledge. But, kids are usually very good at deselecting books that are not personally appropriate for them... they simply stop reading when they find the material boring or overwhelming.

There are many book review sources available in print and online to help. If you look at Amazon you will be able to see excerpts from several review publications. Reviews of children's and young adult books have age or grade ranges included. You can usually use these recommendations to help guide your choices. The recommended age range is not based solely on reading level. They also take into account the content of the book. (Publishers also look at the age of the protagonist when assigning recommended ages of readers.) I also suggest that you go to your local library and speak with the Children's or Young Adult librarian. They are professionals who are familiar with a wide variety of books both classic and contemporary. They can steer you and your child in the right direction.

As far as the Twilight series goes I would generally not recommend it for 9 year olds though I know some who have read it and say that they have enjoyed it. In short it is a teen romance novel with all that the genre has to offer... light reading, a lot of romantic chase with very tame physical encounters, a plot that moves along at a brisk pace, some action and adventure; it's fun, but not great literature.

to me the most troubling aspect of the story is Bella's persuit of Edward despite the fact that she knows he is dangerous. Not a great message for young women, but one that is common in literature... Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights & Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind are just two examples. He's simply a stock character.

I would not describe any of the Twilight books as pornographic. Though the relationship is consumated in the fourth book, after they marry, the author doesn't go into great detail. If a 9 year old has managed to wade through the first three books and maintain her interest (most won't) she is probably going to find a way to get her hands on the 4th one and read it. YA book fan

Challenging books for a 7 year old?

July 2008

My son is an advanced reader for his age (7) which is wonderful but presents challenges. He has read the entire Harry Potter series which he LOVES, but the last books in the series were certainly meant for a more mature, or older child. I wouldn't mind except that the stories, and disturbing themes (deaths of major characters, torture, etc.) affected him quite negatively. As such i have now banned Harry Potter from his reading for at least a year (and am reading his books before he does!), but am now faced with finding reading that is challenging (i.e. complex story lines and characters) without the 'death and disaster' plot line. He's read all the Cornelia Funke books (which are fantastic! They have some mature themes but nothing really disturbing) and has moved on from shorter chapter books such as Magic Treehouse, etc. He's not interested in Artemis Fowl and Lemony Snicket (which present the same issues).

Do you have any recommendations of any terrific authors or books? He's read all of Roald Dahl (and others like Wind in the Willows and we've read Chron. of Narnia which unfortunately was quite racist). I understand that books at higher reading levels were meant for older children, so it's unlikely to find such innocent themes but here's hoping! Thanks! Little Reader, Big Appetite

we found some wonderful books in the u.k. this summer that are not as complex as harry potter (so maybe too young for your kid) --they are rich in language but not too mature in content. In particular, the trouble with owls, and watch out for witches (hilda offen), the boy in the biscuit tin (heather dyer, some kids find a magic kit and it works and it turns out they save a grownup who was trapped by a spell gone awry years ago). Also more generally we liked dealing with dragons and the 3 sequels (patricia wrede, alternates between boy and girl protagonists), the spaceship under the apple tree (from 50's etc, so kind of old but a fun quick read), the phoenix and the carpet (nesbit), there are also Enid Blyton books (secret seven, etc.) that are lovely. And Swallows and Amazons. good luck, I look forward to seeing what other people post! a parent of another voracious reader
Yes, I had this problem with my 7 y/o. She is a voracious reader which ups the volume of books in addition to the advanced reading. We get about 8 books a week from the library. These are a combo of so-called picture books which can be read quickly (in 10 minutes or so) because there are some terrific books out there that I don't think we should ignore, chapter books (say, Arthur, Bailey School Kids, Dragon Slayers Academy), and ''novels'' which are longer (200 pages or more?). We have a section in the library which has a large selection of these novels for 10 y/o and above (which we read anyway) by authors like Barbara Park, Cornelia Funke, Louis Strachar, Dahl, Kate DiCamillo, etc. We are holding off on Potter so we have something new when she is older and can handle the darker parts. Some of the books we have ended up with have also been geared for middle school which can be difficult to screen (I don't have the time to read what she reads at this point). So, basically, find a section that he can peruse that has the novels and get a variety of stuff. Our school gives a summer reading list for intermediate readers so that we can order these from the local library. Anon
A few suggestions:

-Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, and Superfudge, all by Judy Blume
-The Wizard of Oz books (there are many! The ones written by L. Frank Baum are best)
-Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
- The Phantom Tollbooth
-From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
-Summerland by Michael Chabon
-The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, all by Roald Dahl
-The Trumpet of the Swan, Charlotte's Web, and Stuart Little by E.B. White

Finally - and perhaps most importantly - help your son develop a close relationship with a good children's librarian. I was an early and advanced reader, and having someone who knew me and was also well-versed in children's literature made a HUGE difference in my life. Still a bookworm and a bookworm's Mommy

2 recommendations to try

The Magic Treehouse series - There are a set of easier books, and then there is the ''Merlin Missions'' which are more difficult reading.

We really liked these books a lot

Based on his reading habits so far, you might like a Series of Unfortunate events - I personally wasn't as thrilled, but I know some kids who loved them.

2 other books that my son (10 years but average reader at best) has loved were Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Igraine the Brave Lee

This is a *perfect* question to ask your local children's librarian. When I was still working as a librarian, I prepared a list of about 25 titles for a boy with exactly the same issue -- his interests were that of a 7-year-old, so he didn't want to read scary or romantic stuff, but his reading skills were very advanced. He especially enjoyed the ''classic'' stuff I recommended -- mostly American kids' novels of the late 1950s and 1960s. I noticed in your post that you are aware of racial bias, which is a good point to keep in mind when reading these older books -- their attitudes toward race and gender are far from modern. The librarians at the main Berkeley and Oakland Public Libraries can keep this in mind when they make recommendations for you. I wish I still had my list for you! -- Children's Librarian (on hiatus)
Your message took me back to the totally inappropriate things I read in 6th and 7th grade, although by that age it was more the sex than the violence that was questionable.

I highly recommend Tomorrow's Children, edited by Isaac Asimov, a book of science fiction short stories about kids. It has been out of print for a really long time, but I suspect you could find a copy at a library. The Hobbit might be a good choice. The Lord of the Rings probably not. I read it in junior high, but there's a big difference between 7 and 12. Just did an Amazon search... What about Island of the Blue Dolphins, A Wrinkle in Time, Call of the Wild, White Fang, The Phantom Tollbooth, My Side of the Mountain, The Cay, The Westing Game, Little House on the Prairie, Mrs.Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Redwall Books by Brian Jacques, Dragonworld, the Great Brain books by John Fitzgerald, the Twenty-One Balloons, the Trumpet of the Swan, Wizard of Oz books. ItbDecember 2001s been a while since I read these, but I donbDecember 2001t recall anything particularly objectionable, and all are very good.

What about non-fiction? Biographies might be of interest. I recall reading a biography of Helen Keller in 5th grade that I enjoyed, but don't have any other specific recommendations. Mythology is goobdsome adult themes, but not disturbing imagery a la Harry Potter. Ah, the days when I had time to read!

There are lots of great books out there. Here are some of my suggestions:

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, the Great Brain books by John D. Fitzgerald, The Secret Garden by Burnett, anything by EB White (Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, Trumpet of the Swan), Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH by O'Brien, The Best School Year Ever & The Best Xmas Pageant Ever by Robinson, Swallows & Amazons books by Ransome, My Father's Dragon by Gannett, books by EL Konigsburg, books by Dick King-Smith (Babe, Funny Frank, many more), James Herriott books maybe, Natalie Babbitt books (the Search for Delicious, Tuck Everlasting, etc.), Bedknob and Broomstick, the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Freddy the Detective books by Brooks, and Pippi Longstockings books by Lindgren. I look forward to seeing what others suggest. Enjoy! brenna [at]

Here a some books we love:
- My Side of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George -- about a boy who lives by himself for a year in a hollow hemlock tree in the Catskills.
- The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois -- about a retired school teacher who attempts to drift in a balloon around the world, but lands on an island near Krakatoa which has a most fascinating culture indeed.
- Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane -- an annotated diary of a 18th century American boy, with lots of beautiful drawings of how things work.

All of these books still hold my interest even as an adult, but aren't violent or overly sophisticated. Alysson

Oh, almost forgot an absolutely wonderful series called Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. The stories take place in England (between the wars?), and are about a family of children who sail to an island in the little lake they live on and have many adventures. Alysson
Has he checked out Zilpha Keatley Snyder? My favorite, The Egypt Game, takes place in a city that is almost certainly Berkeley. Other books of hers include The Famous Stanley Kidnapping Case, The Headless Cupid, and Blair's Nightmare ( a trilogy). They are probably easier than Harry Potter and certainly shorter but I really loved them in 3rd or 4th grade as a good reader. Also, ''From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler''--the original ''night in the museum'' story. allison
As a kid I was an advanced reader - two series I really enjoyed were the little house on the prairie books (laura ingalls wilder), and the great brain series (john d. fitzgerald). Neither has excessive violence. Happy reading!
Try The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson. Her other books are great too, but this one is mild while exciting. It does involve a kidnapped kid, but my 7 year old had no problem with it. book lover

- J.R.R. Tolkein (or just The Hobbit, for now, if you think the whole series a bit too heavy)
- Diane Duane (there's scary stuff but it's much less random than in HP, and is framed in an optimistic way)
- Diane Wynne Jones (Howl's Moving Castle)
- Rosemary Sutcliff writes excellent historical stories, mostly of boys
- Watch out for Animorphs series - At the end of the series (dozens of books) the good guys lose and the planet explodes. My brother-in-law had this as a read aloud and was really angry about it.
- Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories
- Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series (a bunch of kids mad on sailing and camping on an English lake in the 20s - really very lovely stuff, but skip the one where they are on the South Seas.)
- Lloyd Alexander - retellings of Welsh myth

These are all books we read aloud and alone and are still treasured by my much older now kid. Enjoy lauowolf

Check out Shaun Tan's ''The Arrival'' It's an incredible graphic (wordless)novel with an amazing story about a man who leaves a land of oppression to find a better life for his family. You can revisit this book time and again and always notice something new. It was intended for older kids, but I've given it to several kids all under ten who loved it. I can't wait until they reprint his other books! Erich
I, too, have a boy who loves to read, is an advanced reader for his age and shies away from the scary/negative. He is 9 and he literally devours books. He just finished a series that begins with a title, The Lightning Thief. I think there are 4 in the series. The stories have something to do with mythology and current times... I honestly cannot keep up with the many plots he describes to me every day. But the series was not disturbing to him, just very enjoyable. He also LOVED the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. He really resisted (thinking they were ''girls'' books), but once I started reading the first out loud, he started sneaking them into his room and finished the series before I knew he had even started! The Black Stallion, Hardy Boys, the Charlie Bone series, The Great Brain series, The Secrets of Droon series... The last are shorter, but there are lots of them. What about biographies or mythology? It is tough because kids like ours will go through these shorter kids books so fast, but aren't ready emotionally for the heavier themes of longer books. My kid honestly goes through books like they were kleenex. Mom of another avid reader
I wanted to recommend this great new blog specifically for and about children's literature. What is age appropriate, great read aloud or self reading for various interests, it is pretty cool and the blogger is a mom of three (ages ranging from 3 to 14) she works in a book store and adores children's lit. check it out. marion

Junior Great Books for 2nd grader?

June 2007

Has anyone used Junior Great Books with their child? Have they been used at school, enrichment class, home-school curriculum, or at home? How are they used? Does your child always follow the grade level of the books? Does anyone know what pieces of the Junior Great Books are used with an individual child? Have you tried to get a morning Great Books discussion group going? I have an almost second grade daughter that could use the critical thinking skills that come with the discussion of the Junior Great Books, but I think that the grade level books seem to be below where she is right now. I do not want to put a lot of pressure into this activity and want it to be something we enjoy doing together. Raising a Reader

I've used the program with older kids in middle school. I think it's a great program. You should check out their website where you can order free sample units that include the type of interpretive questions that will make the reading most valuable for discussion. The program teaches that there are 3 types of questions to ask about a text: factual, interpretive, and qualitative.

The key isn't the reading level (you said you feared it was too easy), but the level of the discussion. There is a sample unit for the story Jack and the Beanstalk, for example, that have fostered really in depth discussions with middle school kids. If you are that interested----and it would be fun for you and your child if done well----you might consider signing up for one of their teacher workshops that would show you how to do it. Again, their website is very informative, as are the people you call through their number.

I will say that it's wonderful if the person leading the discussion understands the program. I'm not sure how successful you'll be just picking up a few of the books and diving in. Middle School Teacher

Science book for 8-10 year olds

Nov 2003

Any recommendations for a book that simply and clearly introduces basic science concepts for 8-10 year olds? I am not looking for science activities or glossy pictures or a multitude of plates with captions. The book my kid uses at school uses difficult terms without adequately explaining them and doesn't make clear how things work. I need a supplement. Any or all areas of science will do, even books written several decades ago, provided the presentation of basic concepts is clear and of interest to that age group.

I don't have a specific recommendation for a science book myself, but I would recommend calling or visiting the Discovery Corner Store in the Lawrence Hall of Science. I used to work there, and can guarantee that they have a ton of books on science and very knowledgable folks to help you find a good one. Their number is 510-642-1929. Suzanne
I have always been impressed by Usborne's science and social science books. Check out Usborne: Brenda

7 year old reader's focus on comics

Oct 2002

My 7 y.o. son is a great reader, sails through all the basic stuff at school. He loves to read at home, in the car, outside, anywhere, and becomes so distracted by what he is reading that he forgets about whatever else may be going on. Recently he is reading comic books almost exclusively - super heroes, adventure, fantasy, etc. I am thrilled that he is such an enthusiastic reader - but concerned a bit about his focus right now on comics. I read aloud to him every day, he reads aloud to his younger brother frequently, and he loves hearing chapter books read aloud. But his own reading choices are usually comics, and I am concerned that he may drift off in to a fantasy world of super-attenuated heros etc. Should I be worried about this? Or just support the fact that he is such an avid reader, and let him come to his own choices of reading materials? His dad, who lives out of state, has always been a big comic book aficianado, and I know he and our son share this interest, so I don't want to come between this common ground between the two of them. His dad definitely encourages the comic books, and has recently started a subscription to a super hero comic book for our son. Do I need to worry, or just let things take their course? Sorry to be so long winded..... anon please

My daughters and their friends of both genders have enjoyed certain ''comic books'' since about age 7, some of which perhaps have slightly more redeeming value than some of the superhero comics. You're already reading chapter books to your son, so perhaps what you might consider is finding some other comic-based series which you might enjoy having around.

The Tin-Tin comic novel series by Herge has a ''boy reporter'' globe-trotting protagonist, his faithful dog, and an amusing cast of characters. My kids read these over and over. You can find these at the library, or at most book stores and comic book stores. The Asterix comic novels are also enjoyable, although I don't find the english versions as funny as the French originals. My kids have formed opinions about Julius Caeser based on Asterix!

Even for my 9 year old, who reads complex chapter books well above grade level, an afternoon with Calvin and Hobbes is still appealling. The collections of Calvin and Hobbes comics by Bill Watterson are wonderfully funny (available at the library or often on sale at Borders). Also well worth searching for are the collected comic book versions of the Akiko comic books by Mark Crilley. The protagonist is a 10 year old girl who embarks on a sort of Wizard of Oz odyssey in space when she is called upon to rescue the Prince from the Planet Smoo. Her companions are a robot (Tin Man), space cowboy (Scarecrow), cowardly academic (Lion) and an enigmatic floating balloon-head named Poog. These originally came out in comic book form and then were collected into 5 books and then after that became chapter books, but try to find the collected series (at Cody's and at comic books stores.)

Since this interest in superhero comic books is a positive way for your son and his father to connect, and I don't think most standard superhero comic books are not that bad. If the child has other positive real live people around, I doubt he'll be overly influenced by the comic books. The comic book form has even produced superb adult books such as Maus by Spiegelman, so I wouldn't dismiss it as a literary form. Happy reading, Natasha

there's a book titled ''Understanding comics: The invisible art'' that might appeal to you--it explains the powerful techniques of visual imagery in comics! I use it in an undergraduate course on literacy & education at Cal. It's by Scott McCloud, 1993. jessica
My husband grew up with his nose in one comic book or another. He was a Dungeon and Dragons geek, and soaked up sci-fi and fantasy titles like a sponge. Today he is a third-year law student at Boalt, has an MPP from the Goldman School of Public Policy, speaks fluent Russian and French, and is one of the most intellectually curious and brilliant guys I've ever met (which is why I married him) And he STILL loves to read comics. Come to think of it, I've never met a comics reader who wasn't clever and interesting. Sounds like your son fits the mold. Get him that subscription, lady! A comic-loving mom
I wouldn't worry too much about the comic books. While there are certainly comics with questionable female role models, etc., the genre reinforces a child's need for moral definitions and allows them the ability to fantasize within a defined context. Comic books can be a great lead-in to authors like Tolkien (and related fantasy) or science fiction. Also, comics satisfy visual learners. I recommend asking for recommendations from a clerk at one of the local comic shops. They are able to steer you towards compelling comic novellas, recommend challenging age appropriate material, and steer you clear of comics that may not match your beliefs/morals. He may never grow out of it, but hopefully it will keep his love for reading going strong. Bennett
I have been an elementary school teacher for 15 years and I always encourage children to pick their own reading material. That's the trick to teaching them to love reading. You have nothing to worry about! You are really lucky that your son is not only good at reading but really enjoys it and shares a bond with his father. I think it would be a big mistake to try to interfere. He is getting exposure to plenty of other literature genres at school, from being read to and reading to his sibling. Let him expand his tastes at his own pace and respect his choices. Danielle
I really understand your concern as my son was TOTALLY into comic books (in high school, though.) And now he's OUT of comic books. I'll attach a recent email from him . . .

''I went through my Chuck Palahniuk phase quite a few months ago. He's inspired, brilliant, but ultimately a one-trick-pony and there's no doubt in my mind that I'd find in Lullaby just what I did in Choke and Fight Club.

As I'm devoting most of my time to reading right now I've got a few projects going at once. My primary one is working my way through an overall history of Philosophy (after finishing The Metaphysical Club to my satsifaction), which has been quite illuminating to the overall vision of things. In addition to that, I'm prancing through Stephen Wolfram's book on complexity theory and am picking and choosing at William James' excellent collection of essays in The Will to Believe. As for novels, I just started Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and am working my way through Arundahti Roy's absolutely precious The God of Small things. I realized about halfway through that its worth is due primarily to the incorporation of the better elements of Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible into a more involving storyline. The latter always seemed a little impersonal to me, despite being brilliantly conceived (much the same effect that the recently- ambandoned Allende's work achieved on me). Heh. Adam's book club. Bollicks to Oprah.'' So, there's hope that he'll expand his reading list! Mom who worried too much

As long as your son's behavior is okay (not fighting, trying to jump thru windows, etc) I wouldn't worry about the superhero comic books - its great that he is such a reader AND has something to share with his Dad. With my son that loves comics, I started giving him comic format history books just to widen his reading material - there are several on US History, World History, African-Americans, etc. and he loved those also (as well as Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield). Through comics, he developed a love of reading and now in middle schools reads EVERY night on his own - mostly fantasy/adventure. He began developing an interest in comics as art and as a form of expression and is now developing his own comic strips. So, I think comics have been great for him - interested him in reading, writing, and art. Karen H.
Comic books are a wonderful way for kids to enjoy reading, but it's true that the medium is not taken seriously as a legitimate form of literature. That is beginning to change, of course, especially after Art Spegelman won the Pulitzer prize for ''Maus'' - a comic book. By its nature the medium is richly imaginative, and it does help foster imagination. This is not to suggest that your son will begin to live outside of reality because of his interest in comics. Parents have worried about the harmful effects of comic book reading since the beginning of its history. There's a great docummentary film called ''Comic Book Confidential'' which addresses those fears.

I can speak from personal experience about the positive effects of comic book reading. I learned how to read from comics long before I began school. I have enjoyed them for many years, and I began writing and drawing my own comics when I was in college. I find the medium is a wonderful way to tell a story, to make sad things funny, for example. It's true that the medium attracts its share of... well... nerds. I have never known anyone for whom a comic-inspired fantasy life took over reality. What can happen however is obsessive collecting, attending conventions, and pretty much being a ''nerd''. And as is the same with television, movies, video games, etc., the medium is filled with stuff which is not appropriate for children, you know the drill, so use your best judgement. Mary

Chapter Books for 9-year-old Boy

May 2002

It seems like a lot of chapter books are geared more toward girls. Does anyone have a nine year old (or that age range) reader who has books *beyond* Harry Potter that they like? I'd like to encourage my son to read more this summer but I need some good books to plant around the house. Thanks!

The ''Dark is Rising'' series, starting with ''Over sea, under stone,'' has long been one of my favorites--the main character in book 2 (Dark is Rising) is Will, an 11 year old boy with, of course, ancient powers that he learns about when he turns 12! i'd recommend starting with ''The Dark is Rising,'' and then if he likes it, he can go back to meet the other kids in the series, or forward to meet them in ''Greenwitch.'' They're set in England and Cornwall, and full of Arthurian legend stuff. Written by Susan Cooper. jessica z.
I have the same problem locating good chapter books for my son and we've been through all four Harry P. books. My husband and I decided to go back to the classics of our own childhood and it has worked well, especially the books by Jules Verne. There are some very good editions for young readers that include very cool illustrations with technical-looking cross-sections of the submarines, photos and sidebars along with the classic stories. There is also a series, I am not certain of the name, I think it's ''Hello America'' or something like it, my son read and enjoyed one of the books in the series ''The Journal of Sean Sullivan'' By William Durbin. The book is a fictional reconstruction of a boy's diary who is working on the railroad in 1868 from Nebraska to Utah. I hope other parents have more recommendations for us. Cecilia
Over the years I have found that some of the best books for older kids were printed in the 40s and 50s. I used to haunt the children section of used book stores but an even better way is to do a book search on the Internet. Below are some books my son- -who is now 15 and a great reader--really liked.

Books by Howard Pease (The Tattooed Man, The Jinx Ship, Hurricane Weather, Foghorns, The Black Tanker, Secret Cargo, etc.)

The We Were There series published by Grossett and Dunlap. There are dozens and dozens of titles. In all of them two kids-- usually 12 and 14--are ''there'' during some moment of great historical importance. Some of the titles, just to give you an idea, are We Were There at the Battle of the Boston Tea Party, ...With the Pony Express, Pearl Harbor, ...With Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, ...At the Battle of Lexington and Concord, ...At the Normandy Invasion. If you buy one book all the others are listed.

''In print'' is the Brian Jacques' Redwall series. My son really loved these books though I am not quite sure why--I didn't think they were that well written but he didn't care.

Then, there are the great sea faring series: C S Forester's Captain Hornblower and the Alexander Kent series.

My son also loved the Tin Tin and Astrix cartoon books. He read every single one of each of those series and they actually have sophisticated vocabularies. In fact, I think comic books are a great way to introduce kids to the classics. There are several comic book stores around where you can buy great old comics...Moby Dick, The Last of the Mohicans, Treasure Island...On and on. I figure once you read the comic sone day you just might pick up the real thing. These old comics can be expensive, but if you are not collecting, just looking for good reading material, buy the ones with less than perfect covers-- they are much cheaper. Janet H.

Hello, A couple of recommendations and then a pitch.

Recommendations: Lots of stuff by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, James and the Giant Peach, the BFG).

Lots of stuff by Judy Blume (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge)

Lots of stuff by Beverly Cleary (Henry Huggins books, Mouse and the Motorcycle)

9 is not too young to start on the Hardy Boys mysteries, if he is into that.

If fantasy has grabbed his attention, then how about the Hobbit? Or the books in the Wizard of Oz series (true, it starts with Dorothy, but quickly moves on to include a whole variety of characaters).

Bay area author Zilpha Keatley Snyder has cranked out a number of wonderful books, including the Egypt Game, and the Headless Cupid.

Generally, you can check out books on the Newberry Award and Newberry Honor lists, as well as the Caldecott Medal and Honor lists (although I think the Newberry is more in your age range).

And here's the pitch. Go talk to a children's librarian. The books I have listed are ones that came to the top of my head from my own childhood. But there are new, fabulous books all the time, and they can tell you what's hot and what's not. Better yet, get your son to talk to the librarian -- he can tell the librarian what he likes and what he doesn't.

Good luck! Merrilee, daughter of a children's librarian

My son also read all of the Harry Potter books multiple times, and I've been on a year-long quest to find other books he approves of. We failed miserably on the Madeline L'Engle books (too heavy on the fantasy), but I found some others he likes a lot:

''A Series of Unfortunate Events'' (a series of books--need to read in order) by Lemony Snicket

''Artemis Fowl'' by Eoin Colfer

Anything by Daniel Pinkwater (not series but individual novels for young adults)

''Holes'' by Louis Sachar (but your son probably read this already)

My son still has to be encouraged to turn of the PS2 and read, but at least he is reading! Maria

My 7.5 year old son and I have been enjoying the Beverley Cleary books (Henry Huggins, etc). Although they were written in the 50's, we find many of the issue still relevant (and funny!). My son also likes the ''Clues Brothers'' - Hardy Boy books for younger readers. I'm not too fond of them, though. Barbara
Here are few suggestions from the ''Walton boys all time favourites'' bookshelf: Everything by Gary Paulson,''Hatchet'' etc.; Absolutely everything by Roald Dahl; Many books by Louis Sachar such as ''Holes'';Books by David Almond such as ''Skellig'' and ''Heaven Eyes''. Donna Jo Napoli's ''Stones in Water''; E. L. Konigsburg's books such as ''The View from Saturday'' and ''From the Mixed up Files....''; ''The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles'' by J. A. Edwards, and a really fun book called ''The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure''. Happy summer reading, Debby Walton
My son loved Harry Potter and we've also had trouble finding books with equal appeal. Here are some we've read or that were recommended to us.

Dinotopia The Hobbit Redwall The Phantom Tollbooth books by Roald Dahl A Wrinkle in Time A Series of Unfortunate Events (this got to be too much for my son after the first volume, but he was five at the time)

There are already many good recommendations in today's e-mail. One other author my son has really enjoyed is Dick King-Smith. Written for slightly younger children, perhaps, but the humor is ageless, and they should be an easy, entertaining read for a 9- year-old. Our favorites are Martin's Mice (about a cat who keeps mice for pets instead of chasing them), Three Terrible Trins (about triplet mice who are trained by their mother to take revenge on the cat who ate their father), and one called something like Magnus Mouse, about a mouse who's mother dined on some super vitamins when pregnant and produced a GIANT mouse with a voracious appetite. These books are lots of fun. Cynthia
As a grade schooler my son loved John Bellairs mystery series---The Specter from the Magician's Museum, The House With a Clock in Its Walls etc. and also the Wayside School books by Louis Sachar. Colleen
For a boy who likes the Harry Potter series, try ''Black and Blue Magic'' by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. This is a really great book that I read over and over again as a child. It's about a boy, also (coincidentally) named Harry, who does a good deed for a man he thinks is just a clumsy traveling salesman. As a reward, he gets a magic bottle containing a potion that gives him wings and the ability to fly.

The book is especially great for its very realistic descriptions of San Francisco in the 1940s, landmarks like the Zoo and Alcatraz Island, and very believable descriptions of the logistics of learning to fly. Just a wonderful book. Highly recommended (especially for those of us who always dreamed of being able to fly). Cecilia

Our son enjoyed the C.S. Lewis Narnia series. Another magical author is Edward Eager, who wrote a series of books, some of the titles including Magic or Not, Knight's Castle, Half Magic, etc. A two part series our son also loved is The Wreckers, and The Smugglers by Iain Lawrence. Don't forget E.B. White's 3 childrens books, which are classics and appeal to any child, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose books are not only for girls (although my son hasn't and probably wouldn't pick them up on his own). My son did enjoy having Farmer Boy read to him. It's the story of Almanzo Wilder's boyhood in New York, and it's a good one. Happy reading to you and your son! Sarah
I wanted to mention the Lloyd Alexander Prydain Chronicles: The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King. Also some of the books by Jay Williams: the Danny DUnn series and The Hero From Otherwhere. I second the rec for E. L. Koenigsburg, and also want to mention Louise Fitzhugh: Harriet the Spy and Sport. Mary Norton: The Borrowers series. Elizabeth Enright: The Saturdays, The Four- Story Mistake, etc. A book called Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (can't recall the author), about early navigation. And I agree, talk to the children's librarian, because let's face it, what we grown-ups know about from our own experience may not be the most up-to-date info.
I tend to agree, too, with the lukewarm mention of the Brian Jacques books -- I read the first Redwall book, and ended up concluding that if I were 10, I'd probably love it, but for the adult me, it was a poorly developed and cliche-ridden disappointment. Harry Potter is VASTLY superior. Wendy
Our son has loved many of the books others recommended. But the one series left out of the discussion is the Uncle Remus Tales. Brer Rabbit's cunning at trapping others in their own failings really brings out the Trickster in little boys. Get these in the new abridged editions with illustrations. Laura
I just remembered the Great Brain books, which both my brother and I really enjoyed in our childhood. Can't recall the author's name, but there is a whole series of the books Wendy
Another chapter book series that I haven't seen listed yet is the Freddy the Pig series by Walter Brooks. I ADORED these books as a child (as a girl I read adventure, fantasy, science fiction, history and mystery - still do). I was delighted to find these books in print again and gave a couple to my 11 year old son. He absolutely LOVED them and is begging for more. A sampling of titles includes: Freddy the Detective,Freddy the Pilot, Freddy and the Pirates, etc. Freddy is a pig who lives in an alternative reality where at least the animals on the farm where he lives (like Mrs. Wiggins the cow) talk and act pretty much like humans. Grownups will like these stories too, they're witty and have an ethical core. Karen H.
George Selden ''The Cricket in Times Square'' (a classic)

My husband's favorite when he was a child: ''The Jack Tales'' collected by Richard Chase (these are absolutely hilarious Appalachian folk tales) Melissa T

Baseball-themed books for 7-9 year olds

December 2001

Can anyone recommend some good baseball-themed books for my baseball crazy nephews, ages 7,8 & 9? I've looked through the baseball section at cody's and found baseball dictionaries and trivia collections, etc., as well as baseball-themed picture books for younger kids and short worshipful bios of stars like sammy sosa. They have all of those. What I'm looking for, if they exist, are chapter books that are wonderful stories in their own right but have baseball themes, fiction or non-fiction. Are there kids equivalents of Field of Dreams or The Iowa Baseball Confederacy or If I Never Get Back (wonderful novels for adults that happen to be about baseball)? Dashka

Matt Christopher has written numerous book about baseball for just that age. Good luck. Also if you want to give him a real treat, take him down to Dave's Dugout in Albany. Jamie
There is a series of chapter books by Matt Christopher that are probably just what you're looking for. Different books about different sports -- baseball, hockey, soccer, etc.. My 7 year old really enjoys them. Dianne
I don't know of any baseball novels, although I suspect they're out there. I just wanted to let you know that I have this great book called Shadowball. It's a nonfiction book about the so-called Negro Leagues of the early 20th Century. All the pictures are from that Ken Burnes documentary on baseball. It's very beautiful and informative. There might even be more chidren's books from the Baseball documentary. Good luck! Kerri