Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Booklist: Our Favorite Silly Books

We love silly books so these are some of our favorites. Being silly does not mean a book is not living. It just means it is a lot more fun.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Favorite Silly Books

Adams, Douglas. Hitchhiker’s Guide (series) and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (series). We love these books. They are a bit atheistic. Dirk Gently is probably less so. Teens.

Anderson, M.T. Pals in Peril (series). With titles like Whales on Stilts and The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen, you know they are silly. Middle years +. (Anderson has some other good books but some also have more mature content.)

Angleberger, Tom. Horton Halfpott. Some of Angleberger’s books are fairly twaddle but we liked this one. Middle years.

Clark, Henry. What We Found in the Sofa and How it Changed the World. We still remember that rare zucchini-colored crayon. Maybe a little twaddle but we liked it. Middle years.

Dahl, Roald. The king of silly living books. I can’t pick just one. Some of our favorites are: The BFGJames and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but he has lots of wonderful lesser-known books as well. Elementary-middle.

Jinks, Catherine. How to Catch a Bogle (series). We loved these. Middle years.

King-Smith, Dick. Twin Giants. King-Smith has lots of animal stories (which also have a fair amount of silly) but this one is just silly. Elementary.

Mayne, William. Hob Stories (series). We loved Hob and his pockets. Elementary.

Lindgren, Astrid. You know her from Pippi Longstocking (classic silly) but she has lots of other great books. One favorite is The Children of Noisy Village. Elementary-middle.

Lowry, Lois. The Willoughbys. Lowry is prolific and has some series books (The Giver) and some good chapter books (Goonie Bord Greene, also a bit silly) but this one is just silly. Middle years.

MacDonald, Betty. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (series). Classic silly chapter books about kids who do wrong and get just punishments. Elementary.

Slobodkin, Louis. Round Trip Spaceship, Spaceship in the Park, and Spaceship under the Apple Tree. Wonderful older author. Elementary-middle.

Steig, William. Steig has so many great (long) picture books it is hard to pick just one. You probably know Shrek (not much like the movie) but what about Solomon the Rusty Nail and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble? Elementary.

Wodehouse, P.D. Jeeves (series). Silly isn’t just for little kids! Middle years-adults.

Wood, Mary Rose. The Incorrigibles (series). Because it is our favorite series ever, I have to include the Incorrigbles again here. Middle-teens.

What are your favorite silly books?

Scientific Evidence for the Power of Fiction

Dear Reader,

Just a few random thoughts today from books I have been reading.

First from Virginia Woolf, a feminist writer of the 1920s:

“Fiction is likely to contain more truth than fact.” A Room of One’s Own (Leonard Woolf, 1957) p. 4

And Abigail Marsh, from a secular professor of psychology and neuroscience:

” . . . books are windows into the minds of the people who wrote them and the people who are written about. Fiction, in particular, represents what the psychologist Keith Oatley calls ‘the mind’s flight-simulator’ — a vehicle for exploring the rich mental and emotional landscapes of people, we have never met.

” . . . fiction enables us to become emotionally invested in the characters we encounter, to care about their plights and their fates.” The Fear Factor (Basic Books, 2017) pp. 243-44

Marsh goes on to argue that written fiction does this better than other media because it requires the use of the imagination in a way visual media do not. She cites studies which show that reading fiction increases people’s compassion and empathy and further says that:

“People who read fiction (but not nonfiction) are better at identifying complex and subtle emotions in others’ faces. And when subjects in one study were experimentally assigned to read a work of literary fiction, they reported increased empathetic concern for others even long after they had closed the book.” p. 245

If you are uncomfortable with these non-Christian sources — and even if you are not — I also highly recommend “Christians and Lit,” a recent episode of the Mortification of Spin podcast in which the hosts discuss the value of fiction, and give lots of good book recommendations.

Off to do some reading!

Nebby

Booklist: Books about Literature and Authors

Today’s list is one of the shorter one: books about literature and authors.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Books about Literature and Authors

Berne, Jennifer. On Wings of Words. Re Emily Dickinson. Elementary.

Coville, Bruce. William Shakespeare’s … (series). Picture book versions of the bard’s plays. Elementary-middle.

Johnson, D.B. Henry Builds a Cabin, et.al. Picture books on Henry David Thoreau. Elementary-middle.

Lamb, Charles and Mary. Tales from Shakespeare. Narrative versions of select plays. Elementary-teens.

Lorbiecki, Marybeth. Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau’s Flute. Re Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau. Picture book. Elementary.

Ludwig, Ken. How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. This book is for the adults but I highly recommend it, especially if your own understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare is limited.

Maltbie, P.I. Bambino and Mr. Twain. Re Mark Twain. Elementary.

McCaughrean, Geraldine. Stories from Shakespeare. She also has a version of The Canterbury Tales. Lovely illustrated books. Elementary.

Nesbit, E. Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare. Narrative versions of select plays. Elementary-teens.

Stanley, Diane, The Bard of Avon and Charles Dickens. Stanley has lots of biographies. Elementary-middle.

Whelan, Gloria. Pathless Woods. Re Hemingway. Middle years.

Winter, Jeanette. Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World.  Elementary.

Yolen, Jane. My Uncle Emily. Re Emily Dickinson. Elementary.

Lastly, this list is supposed to be books about literature but I wanted to add the Poetry for Young People series (various authors) for wonderful, illustrated introductions to many great poets.

Booklist: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Dystopian

As I work on this quarantine project of posting lists of the books we’ve read over the years, I have put off this particular collection. Fantasy, and those other similar genres like science fiction and dystopian, is such a huge category in children’s and young adult literature these days and so much of it is so bad.  But fantasy itself is something I support. Books which take us to other, completely fictional worlds with different rules than our own often have a lot to say about the real world. I am trying to edit this list as I go and to give you only that best, or at least to provide honest assessments. I am sure there are many more which could be added to this list but here are some of our favorite fantasy and dystopian books.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Dystopian Books

Adams, Douglas. Hitchhiker’s Guide (series) and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (series). We love these books. They are a bit atheistic. Dirk Gently is probably less so. Teens.

Alcock, Vivien. The Stonewalkers. Older book about statues that come to life. Middle years.

Alexander, Lloyd. Time Cat, Arkadians, and Prydian (series). Alexander is a good author. Elementary-middle years.

Babbitt, Natalie. Search for Delicious. Not sure of the quality of this one my daughter read. Middle years.

Baker, E.D. Frog Princess (series). I am not sure they are great but my daughter liked them. If you have a girl that insists on princess stories, they are probably a safe choice. Middle years.

Banks, Lynne Reid. Fairy Rebel and Indian in the Cupboard (series). Elementary-middle years.

Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan. Classic fantasy. Middle years.

Bode, N.E. Anybodies (series). My daughter loved these. Middle years.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. I read this one aloud to my high schoolers (yes! you can still do read alouds with high schoolers, and you get to do more meaty books). It is a fairly slim book and we all enjoyed it. I do edit some as I read for mature content but I don’t think this one had much. Teens.

Bradbury, Ray. Martian Chronicles (series). We actually only listened to the first one but they seem to wonderful older sci-fi with nothing disturbing or mature. Middle-teens.

Buckley, Michael. Sisters Grimm (series). The whole family loved this series in which fairytale characters play a major role. Teens (but we did them as audio books much younger).

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. Rackety-Packety House. Dolls come alive. From the author of The Little Princess. Elementary.

Cameron, Eleanor. Court of the Stone Children. Statues coming alive is a popular plot. Middle years.

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander (series). My son loved this series. Teens.

DiCamillo, Kate. Magician’s Elephant. Elementary-middle years.

DuPrau, Jeanne. City of Ember. Dystopian. For a modern book this was is decent. It is written for a slightly younger crowd than ost dystopian I think. There is a series but I can only vouch for the first one. Middle years.

Eager, Edward. The Well-Wishers and Half-Magic. Middle years.

Farris, Jean. Once Upon a Marigold (series). Another okay one if you have a girl that insists on princesses. Middle years.

Funke, Cornelia. Inkheart (series). My boys liked these. A four book trilogy (I know, it bothers me too). Teens.

Gannett, Ruth. My Father’s Dragon (series). Wonderful chapter book level choice. Elementary.

Grahame, Kenneth. The Reluctant Dragon. Another good elementary choice. Elementary.

Hale, Shannon. Goose Girl. My daughter liked these. Middle years.

Ibbotson, Eva. Secret of Platform 13. Ibbotson is prolific. Elementary-middle years.

Jinks, Catherine. How to Catch a Bogle (series). We loved these. Middle years.

LaFevers, R.M. Theodosia (series). My son liked these. Not sure of the quality. Middle years.

Langton, Jane. Astonishing Stereoscope. Middle years.

LeGuin, Ursula. Catwings (series). Elementary-middle.

Lewis, C.S. Narnia Chronicles  (series). Classic Christian fantasy. Young children will not get all the imagery and that’s okay. Let them get what they can from it. Elementary-teens.

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Award-winning dystopian. Middle years +.

Keyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. This is a wonderful, thought-provoking sci-fi book but it does have mature content. Teens.

MacDonald, George. The Light PrincessThe Princess and Curdie, and The Princess and the Goblin. Another Christian writer. Elementary-middle.

Mayne, William. Hob Stories (series). We loved Hob. Elementary.

Meloy, Colin. Wildwood (series). My son liked these. Not sure of the quality. Middle-teens.

Nesbit, E. Enchanted Castle and Psammead (series). Nesbit is wonderful. Middle years.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. A great first dystopian book because there is no mature content and with animals as the main characters it can appeal to a lot of ages. We used it for literature study (see here). Middle years +.

Riordan, Rick. Kane Chronicles and Percy Jackson. Mythological characters. We liked these when we listened to them though I hear later books get more sexual and not necessarily in traditional ways. Teens.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter (series). I know there are mixed feelings on such things. I am okay with positing a world of magic, even if it is ostensibly within this real world. My boys loved these books and read them again and again. Middle years+.

Selfors, Suzanne. To Catch a Mermaid and Fortune’s Magic Farm. My daughter liked these. Not sure of the quality. Middle years.

Sendak, Maurice. Brundibar. Dystopian picture book from the author of Where the Wild Things Are. I love this book. Elementary+.

Selznick, Brian. Invention of Hugo Cabaret. Wonderful book. Elementary-middle.

Slobodkin, Louis. Round Trip Spaceship. Wonderful older author. Elementary-middle.

Thurber, James. Thirteen Clocks. Wonderful. Elementary-middle.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (series). More classic Christian fantasy. Middle years +. Look also for his lesser known books which tend to be easier: Smith of Wootton MajorLeaf by Niggle, and Roverandom.

Ursu, Anne. Breadcrumbs. My daughter liked this. Not sure of the quality. Middle years.

White, T.H. Mistress Masham’s Repose. Wonderful older book. Middle years.

Wilson, N.T. 100 Cupboards (series). I have been told he is a Christian. Elementary-middle.

What would you add to this list?

Booklist: The Life of Girls

We looked at boys’ life books so now it’s the girls’ turn.  These are books which depict a girl’s life and/or in which girls are the main characters.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Girl’s Life Books

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. A classic girls’ book. Middle years +.

Banks, Lynne Reid.  Farthest Away Mountain. From the author of The Indian in the Cupboard. Fantasy. Elementary-Middle years.

Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks (series). We loved these (the boys too). Middle years.

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. A Little Princess, Sarah Crewe and  The Secret Garden. More classic girl books. Elementary-middle.

Creech, Sharon. Ruby HollerChasing Redbird, et. al. Creech is a modern author with lots of good books featuring girls. Elementary-middle.

Enright, Elizabeth. Thimble Summer. Enright has lots of good books. This is one of my favorites. Elementary-middle.

Estes, Eleanor. One Hundred Dresses. Estes has lots of good books. Elementary.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. For the most macabre girl.  Middle years.

Gates, Doris. Blue Willow. Elementary-middle.

George, Jean Craighead, Julie of the Wolves. A well-known book about an Eskimo girl. The plot includes a rape scene. Middle years.

Hirsch, Odo. Hazel Green (series). My youngest loved these. Elementary.

Horvath, Polly. Canning SeasonEverything on a Waffle, and One Year in Coal Harbor. Horvath has a lot of good books. Elementary-middle.

Lenski, Lois. Strawberry Girl. Old-time Florida. A classic. Middle years.

Lovelace, Maud Hart. Betsy Tacy (series). An older series which has seen a revival. Elementary-middle.

Lowry, Lois. Goonie Bird Greene  (series) and Anastasia Krupnik (series). My youngest loved the Goonie Bird books especially. Elementary.

MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. My oldest loved this one. Look for the sequels too. Elementary.

McCloskey, Robert. Blueberries for Sal. Classic picture book. Early elementary.

McKay, Hilary. Saffy’s Angel and sequels. We really liked this series. Middle ages.

Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables (series) and Emily (series). You know Anne of Green Gables, but my daughter tells me her other series are even better. Middle years.

Paterson, Katherine. Jacob I Have Loved, Paterson has a lot of good books. Middle years.

Porter, Eleanor. Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up. Despite the negative connotation of the name Pollyanna, these are good books. Middle years (read aloud earlier).

Rylant, Cynthia. Cobble Street Cousins (series). I don’t love all Rylant’s books but these are decent easy chapter books. Elementary.

Snyder, Laurel. Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. Elementary-middle.

Spyri, Johanna. Heidi. Classic. Middle years.

Stratton-Porter, Gene. Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost. Wonderful older books. Middle years.

Streatfield, Noel.  . . . Shoes (series). Older books with names like “Ballet Shoes.” Middle years.

Umansky, Kate. Clover Twig (series). Silly. She has a great boys’ series too. Middle years.

Vanderpool, Clare. Moon Over Manifest. Middle years.

Whelan, Gloria. Listening for Lions, et. al. Whelan has a lot of good books, often historical. Elementary-middle years.

What would you add to this list?

Booklist: Family Stories

Today’s topic is family stories: books that feature good, wholesome family relations.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Family Stories

Alcott, Louisa May. Little WomenEight Cousins, et.al. So many family books here. Middle years.

Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks (series). They have some issues but we love the Penderwicks. Middle years.

Carlson, Natalie Savage. The Family Under the Bridge. Set in Paris. Elementary-middle years.

Caudill, Rebecca. Fairchild Family (series). The first book in the series is Happy Little Family which says it all. Elementary.

Enright, Elizabeth. The Melendy Quartet (series). A fun series. Elementary-middle.

Estes, Eleanor. The Moffats (series). My daughter liked these. Elementary-middle years.

Horvath, Polly. The Pepins and Their Problems. We have really liked Horvath’s books. This one is pretty silly. Elementary-middle.

Langton, Jane. Hall Family Chronicles (series). She writes adult mysteries too. Middle years.

Nesbit, E. The Railway Children. I love Nesbit. This one is a don’t miss. Elementary-middle years.

Norton, Mary. The Borrowers (series). Tiny people. Middle years.

Peterson, John. The Littles (series). More tiny people. Elementary.

Ransome, Arthur. Swallows and Amazons (series). The parents don’t play a large role but the series is very good. Middle years.

Rylant, Cynthia. The Lighthouse Family (series). Rylant is prolific and I don’t like all her books but this series is good. It is an easy chapter book level. The Cobble Street Cousins series by her is also not bad and the same level. Elementary.

Sidney, Margaret. Five Little Peppers (series). An older series. Middle years.

Taylor, Sidney. All-of-a-Kind Family (series). The good family series par excellence. Elementary-middle years.

Warner, Gertrude. The Boxcar Children (series). Classic mysteries. Choose the earliest books only. Elementary-middle years.

Waugh, Sylvia. The Mennyms. Middle years.

White, E.B. Stuart Little. A good family with one mouse child (though it is actually my least favorite of White’s books). Elementary-middle years.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie (series). Elementary-middle years.

Wood, Mary Rose. The Incorrigibles (series). Okay, they are an odd family with some issues but we all adored this series. It is probably our family favorite of all the series/books we have read over the years. Middle years +.

What would you add to this list?

Booklist: Christmas Stories

Today’s list is a short one: Christmas stories.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Christmas Stories

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. This is one of Dickens’ shortest works so it is actually a good place to start with him. Middle years, read aloud earlier.

Estes, Eleanor. Coat Hanger Christmas Tree. A wonderful older author. Elementary level.

Nesbit, E. Conscience Pudding. Nesbit is another favorite author. Elementary.

Seredy, Kate. Tree for Peter. Elementary-middle years.

Booklist: The Life of Boys

We continue today with booklists I have put together over the years. Today’s topic is the life of boys, those books which depict a boy’s life and/or in which boys are the main characters. I also have a couple of older posts on books for boys: Book Series for Tween and Teen Boys and Classics for Boys.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Boy’s Life Books

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Men. A book about boys from the author of the most famous girl book. Middle years +.

Blume, Judy. Fudge (series). Okay, these are probably not living but they are a lot of silly fun. Elementary-middle years.

Brown, Jeff. Flat Stanley. The first in the series isn’t bad. Elementary-middle.

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. Little Lord Fauntleroy. Another girly writer turns her subject to a boy’s life. Middle years.

Butterworth, Oliver. Enormous Egg. A wonderful story about a boy who finds, wait for it, an enormous egg. Elementary-middle.

Dickens, Charles. David CopperfieldOliver Twist and Great Expectations. I love Dickens. Middle-Teens.

Dodge, Mary. Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. A classic. Elementary-middle.

Fitzgerald, John D. The Great Brain (series). A boy in Utah in settler times. Elementary-middle.

Fleischman, Sid. Whipping Boy. The prince doesn’t get punished, his whipping boy does. Elementary-middle.

Kipling, Rudyard. Kim. Classic. Middle years.

McCloskey, Robert. Homer PriceCenterburg Tales and Lentil.  All his books are wonderful. Centerburg Tales is the sequel to Homer Price. They are elementary-middle years. Lentil is a picture book.

Milne, A.A. Winnie the Pooh. Christopher Robin, need I say more? Elementary.

O’Dell, Scott. The Black Pearl. All his books are good. Middle years.

Paterson, Katherine. Jip, His Story. Another author who usually writes more girly books. Historical fiction re the mid 1800s. Middle years.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The boys’ life books par excellence. Middle years but read loud earlier.

Umansky, Kate. Solomon Snow (series). We loved this silly mystery/adventure series. Middle years.

What would you add to this list?

Booklist: Animal Stories

Today’s topic is animal stories. These are not our nature lore books (see instead this list) which would be mostly non-fiction but fictional books featuring animals.

To keep things as simple as possible, I divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Favorite Animal Stories

Alexander, Lloyd. The Cat who Wished to be a Man. Alexander is a good author. This one features a cat. Elementary.

Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan. Cute book about a gorilla. Elementary.

Atwater, Richard. Mr. Popper’s Penguins. A must-read, funny book. Elementary. Often these easier books are good for discussing literary techniques with older children as well. See this post.

Averill, Esther. Fire Cat. An older author. Early elementary. She has another cat club series which may be good too.

Avi. Poppy (series). Avi is a one-named and very prolific author. This series is about animals. Elementary-middle years.

Banks, Lynne. Harry the Poisonous Centipede. From the author of The Indian in the Cupboard. Elementary.

Barklem, Jill. Brambley Hedge (series). Sweet stories. Elementary.

Bearn, Emily. Tumtum and Nutmeg (series). More sweet stories. Elementary.

Bond, Michael. Olga De Polga. Bond is better known for the Paddington books which are wonderful but we really loved this lesser-known volume. Elementary.

Brooks, Walter R. Freddy the Pig (series). We loved this older series about a detective pig. Elementary-middle years.

Burgess, Thornton. Burgess has too many books to list. The ones I am thinking of here have titles like The Story of . . .  and then an animal’s name. They are great first chapter books for kids to read.   The Animal Book and The Bird Book are harder. Early elementary-elementary.

Burnford, Sheila. The Incredible Journey. Classic animal adventure story. Elementary-middle years.

Byars, Betsy. Little Horse. Byars os prolific and I don’t love all her books but some are sweet. Elementary.

Cleary, Beverly. Ralph Mouse  (series), Socks, Henry and Ribsy (series). I am not a fan of the more famous Ramona books but I like these from Cleary. Elementary-middle years.

Dahl, Roald. The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Dahl’s books are wonderful. Elementary.

de Brunhoff, Jean. Babar (series). I love the Babar the elephant picture books. Look for the older ones by the original author. Early elementary.

DiCamillo, Kate. Because of Winn DixieThe Tale of Desperaux, and Mercy Watson (series). About a dog, a mouse, and a pig respectively. The Mercy Watson books are on the easier end. Elementary-middle years.

Estes, Eleanor. Ginger Pye (series). My daughter loved these books featuring a dog. Elementary-middle years.

Goudge, Elizabeth. The Little White Horse. We loved this one. Middle years.

Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. A classic. Elementary.

Henry, Marguerite. Henry has so many horse books I couldn’t possibly list them all. Elementary-middle years.

Horvath, Polly. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny (series). Cute books from an author we really enjoyed. Elementary.

Ibbotson, Eva. One Dog and His Boy. Ibbotson has a number of books. Elementary-middle years.

King-Smith, Dick. One of the most prolific authors. Most famous for Babe on which the pig movie is based. His books are great chapter books for those just getting into longer things. Elementary.

Lawson, Robert. Rabbit Hill, The Tough Winter, et. al. Lawson has lots of great books, often featuring animals. Elementary-middle years.

Lisle, Janet Taylor. Dancing Cats of Applesap and Highway Cats. Older author. Elementary-middle years.

Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad (series), Mouse SoupOwl at Home, et. al. Classic easy readers with a fair amount of depth. Early elementary.

Lofting, Hugh. Doctor Dolittle (series). Everyone should read these classic books. Elementary-middle years.

London, Jack. Call of the Wild and White Fang. Classic dog stories. Middle years.

Marshall, James. George and Martha (series) and Yummers. I loved Yummers when I was little. Picture books. Early elementary.

McCloskey, Robert. Make Way for Ducklings. Classic picture book. All McCloskey’s books are wonderful. Early elementary.

Minarik, Else. Little Bear (series). These are some of my favorite easy readers. Early Elementary.

Moskin, Marietta. Lysbet and the Fire Kittens. An older book. I think it is early elementary level.

Mowat, Farley. Owls in the Family. Elementary.

Naidoo, Beverly. The Great Tug of War. Fable-like stories about animals. Elementary.

Naylor, Phyllis. Shiloh (series). Good books featuring a dog. Elementary-middle years.

North, Sterling. Rascal and Wolfing, et. al. I love North’s books. Many are more towards nature lore (meaning non-fiction). Elementary-middle years.

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Classic dystopian novel, but actually fairly accessible to kids. We used Animal Farm as part of our literature study (see here). Middle years+.

Peck, Richard. The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail. Elementary-middle years.

Salten, Felix. Fifteen Rabbits. From the author of Bambi. Early elementary-elementary.

Seidler, Tor. A Rat’s Tale. Elementary-middle years.

Selden, George. Chester Cricket (series). A Cricket in Times Square is his most famous but did you know there is a whole series of books featuring Chester Cricket and Harry Cat? They are all good too. Elemantary level.

Selfors, Suzanne. Smells Like Dog. My daughter liked these books. I believe there is a series. Elementary-middle years.

Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty (series). The first one in particular is a must read horse story. Middle years.

Slobodkin, Louis. Gogo the French Sea Gull. A great older writer. Elementary.

Stratton-Porter, Gene. Laddie. Older dog book. Middle years.

White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web and Trumpet of the Swan. I am not as big a fan of his other books but Charlotte’s Web is wonderful. Elementary-middle years.

Booklist: Favorite Adventure Stories

As a quarantine project, I went through some old records of books we read as my kids were growing up. I will be publishing these over the coming weeks in sections. There are probably many other wonderful choices out there, but these are some we enjoyed. Feel free to comment with your suggestions and we can keep the list going.

Today’s topic is adventure stories. Some of these are books my kids read themselves but many were family read-alouds or audiobooks. If you think reading aloud is just for little kids, I beg you to reconsider. I always used lunchtimes as a chance to read. The kids are a captive audience and it is a good diet aid for mom 😉

To keep things as simple as possible, I am going to divide the books into four ages ranges: preschool to early elementary; elementary; middle years (roughly 5th-8th grades); and teens. Keep in mind that many harder books can be read aloud to younger children and that older ones can still enjoy and get a lot out of easier books.

Favorite Adventure Stories

Adams, Douglas. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series) and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (series). These books have some adult content, more in terms of theology than  . .  . er, gender relations but we really like them. Dirk Gently is a lesser known treasure and light be a better place to start. Teens.

Aiken, Joan.  Wolves of Willoughby Chase (series). My daughter read this series. Wolves, sea voyages, orphans. All sorts of good elements. I believe she has other series as well. Middle years.

Appleton, Victor. Tom Swift (series). These are older boys’ adventure stories that my older son enjoyed. I believe there is a newer series too so look for the older one. Middle years.

Baum. L. Frank. The Wizard of Oz (series). The original series is a bit bizarre and not much like the movie. Middle years +.

Blyton, Enid. Famous Five (series). Older books about kids adventuring/solving mysteries. She has other series as well. Middle years.

Buchanan, John. The Thirty-Nine Steps. We really enjoyed this mystery. Middle years +.

Burroughs, Edgar Rice. Tarzan of the Apes. I read this one myself and found it a bit pulpish but it is a classic book and not bad. Middle years +.

Cameron, Eleanor. Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet. Another older book. Space travel. I believe there are more in the series but  I am not sure how they are. Middle years. Could definitely be enjoyed by elementary ages too.

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A weird classic. Middle years.

Christie, Agatha. And then There were None, et. al. More mystery than adventure but these classic books are good for kids too. Middle years +.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Lost World. A great book from the Sherlock Holmes author. Middle years.

du Bois, William Pene. Twenty-One Balloons. A wonderful older book about a hot air balloon flight and the eruption of the volcano on Krakatoa. Elementary-middle years.

Fleischman, Sid. By the Great Horn Spoon. Historical Fiction re the CA Gold Rush. Funny. Elementary to middle years. He has other books which may be good as well.

Funke, Cornelia. Theif Lord. Street urchins in Venice. Funke had many other books as well, some easier, some harder and they vary in quality. Middle years.

Gaiman, Neil. Odd and the Frost Giants. A fantastical Viking tale. Try Coraline as well though it is a bit bizarre. Elementary-middle years.

Goldman, William. The Princess Bride. The book on which the famous movie is based. As good as the movie is, my daughter tells me the book is much better. Middle years.

Haggard, H. Rider. Allan Quartermain (series). Haggard is an older author with a number of good books. King Solomon’s Mines is a favorite. Middle years +.

Hammett, Daschell. Maltese Falcon. Classic noir book. Teens.

Hilton, James. Lost Horizon. I loved this older classic about a kind of Utopia in the mountains of Nepal (?). There’s a lot to think about here. It’s not a hard read. Middle years and up. See how our literary discussion went here.

Hirsch, Odo. Bartlett (series). Funny adventurous stories. Some of his other series are good too. Elementary-middle years.

Horvath, Polly. My One Hundred Adventures and Northward to the Moon. Horvath has lots of good books. Middle years.

Juster, Norton. The Phantom Tollbooth. A don’t miss class. Elementary – middle years.

Kipling, Rudyard. Captains Courageous and The Jungle Book. Classic tales. Middle years.

Konigsburg, E.L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Wonderful, fun story. Middle years.

Lawson, Robert. The Fabulous Flight. Lawson has lots of great books, often featuring animals. In this one a boy shrinks and has an adventure on a seagull. Elementary-middle years.

Lindgren, Astrid. Ronia: The Robber’s Daughter. From the author of Pippi Longstocking. Elementary-middle years.

London, Jack. Call of the Wild and White Fang. Classic dog stories. Middle years.

Merrill, Jean. Pushcart War. I am not sure it is quite adventure but we loved this book about a kind of kids’ crusade. Elementary-middle.

Nesbit, E. The Story of the Treasure Seekers. All of Nesbit’s books are wonderful. Middle years.

Norton, Mary. Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The book the old Disney movie is based on. Elementary-middle years.

O’Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins. O’Dell has lots of wonderful books, many of them historical fiction. Middle years.

Orczy, Emma. The Scarlet Pimpernel. Wonderful books set during the French Revolution (I will have another historical list but I couldn’t resist including this one here too.) Middle years +.

Paulsen, Gary. Rifle, Hatchet and Mr. Tucket (series). Paulsen has wonderful outdoorsy adventure stories that boys will love. Middle years.

Reaves, James (ed.). Exploits of Don Quixote. My kids really loved this edition of the classic novel. Though I would call it even high school level we read it when they were in elementary.

Sachar, Louis. Holes. Again, maybe not adventure per see but there are adventurous things that happen. I have a friend who hated this book but we liked it. I’m not sure about the sequels. Middle years. His Wayside School series are decent chapter books as well.

Scott, Walter. Ivanhoe and others. Classic Scottish novels. Teens.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. Kidnapped and Treasure Island. Classic pirate stories. I found my kids didn’t appreciate them till at least upper elementary. Middle years +.

Thurber, James. Wonderful O. The story of a land without the letter O. Middle years.

Twain, Mark. The Adventure of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These will also be included in my boys’ books list but they are must-reads for everyone so I am including them ere too. Middle years.

Verne, Jules. It is hard to pick just one book by this author. His name should be synonymous with adventure tales. Some of our favorites are 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days. Middle years +.

Wells, H.G. The Time Machine. Wells is more science fiction than adventure. He has a number of classic books. Teens.

Woodfine, Katherine. The Clockwork Sparrow. Set in Victorian England. Middle years.