Friday, January 6, 2017

10 Great Books for Kids 8 to 13

Children’s literature comes in many forms. From realistic stories, to historical fiction, to fantasy and science fiction, there is a book for every child’s interests. This article compiles a list of some great books to get kids to keep reading, or start reading more outside of school. Each book is accompanied by its author, and a short list of plot/and or themes. While all of these are meant to be read by children between eight and thirteen, some may contain sensitive issues, and I have made not of that for parents notice. I have tried to mix older books with newer ones, and to include books which feature different cultures and traditions to expose children to.

Dragon of the Lost Sea (Laurence Yep, fantasy/folk tale) Shimmer, is a dragon princess without a home, Thorn is a human orphan wanted no where. Together they “adopt” each other and set off to find the pebble that a witch used to capture Shimmer’s home, known now as the Lost Sea. This is the first in a four book fantasy series based on many old Chiness folk tales, which greatly flavor the story, but the themes of friendship and home are universal.


Princess Academy (Shannon Hale, fantasy/adventure) When it is divined that the prince’s wife will come from the mountain community of Mount Eskel, a makeshift academy is set up to educate the girls from the village for lowlander life, and in preparation to meet the prince. Miri, who is small and weak, and has never been allowed to work in the quarry mining linder with the others, faces both the intense competition among the other girls, and her conflicted desires to be chosen. Themes include education, communication, and prejudice.


The Ear the Eye and the Arm (Nancy Farmer, adventure/science fiction) After their three children are kidnapped, a high ranking political figure and his wife call in three gifted detectives known as the Ear the Eye and the Arm to find them. This fast paced adventure tale takes place in a futuristic version of Zimbabwe, and incorporates both interesting speculated technologies, and tradtional elements of that regions language and folklore.


Number the Stars (Lois Lowry, historical fiction) In 1943, a ten year old Danish girl is caught up in historical events when her and her family take grave risks to protect her best friend and her family from Hitler’s campaign against the Jewish people. This tales powerful theme of friendship is seamlessly wrapped around the historical account of the Danish resistence against the Nazis. Though it does not go into detail, this novel does reference some of the horrific events of the Holocaust, and parents may want to discuss the book with their children before or after reading.


The Boy Who Saved Baseball (John H Ritter, realistic fiction/sports story) People in DIllontown don’t agree on much, but they all agree- if the boy named Cruz de la Cruz had not existed, someone would have made him up. Tying an ages old sports story to the rhyme and rhythm of a small rural California town with all the trappings of a great tall tale makes this tale of underdogs and combacks a spicy mix, along with its themes of the importance of words.


Holes (Louis Sacher, tall tale) Forced to go to Camp Green Lake as sentencing for a crime he did not commit, overweight and unlucky Stanley Yelnats recalls while digging holes the tales told to him by his family about the source of their unlucky past, and he begins to notice how events are converging to finish the story and settle the score for all involved. Segments from several different stories and eras converge in this surreal story of one family and those they came in contact with.


Hatchet (Gary Paulson, adventure) When the small plane he was on crashes into a Canadian lake, teenaged Brian Robinson gathers up every ounce of courage he has, and forces himself to survive the dangerous Canadian wilderness with in his possession, just a hatchet. A tightly written adventure, followed by several sequels and an alternate ending story.


Maniac Magee (Jerry Spinelli, realistic fiction) Jeffery Lionel Magee left the unhappy home of his bickering aunt and uncle one day running at top speed, and never stopped. Arriving in the town of Two Mills which is divided down the middle based on race, he becomes a local legend, sleeping with the buffalo in the zoo, and making friends on both the east and west sides. This unusual and humorous story deals deftly with racial issues while never losing its sense of spirit or humor.


Ribbons (Laurence Yep, realistic fiction) Eleven year old Robin loves ballet, and is resentful of her parents when they stop paying for her lessons in order to pay to bring her grandmother over from Hong Kong. But Robin is undeterred, and continues to practice on her own, so strenuously that it leads to a medical problem that may bring her closer to her distant grandmother then anything else. Yep writes gently about the Chinese American experience, culture clash, and family amid this tale of a passionate young girl’s devotion to her art.


A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle, science fiction) The first in a five part series, Meg Murray, her brother Charles Wallace, and a neighbor boy named Calvin O’Keefe embark on an adventure to rescue Mr. Murray, believed dead by many, on a business trip by his family, lost on a far away planet on a secret project for the government involving faster then light travel. But the universe contains many dangers as well as wonders, and it will take all the strength that the three have to even survive. Based off real scientific concepts, and never patronizing to its target age group, may require extra explanation for some to get into the story.


Labels: 10 Great Books for Kids 8 to 13

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