Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Part TWO: Books Make the Best Gifts (Upper Elementary and Middle School)

Part II of the series…where do I begin when trying to find books for Christmas gifts?!  Part I included suggestions of LOTS of books for K-1st and 2nd-3rd grade students.  Here, I’m going to make suggestions for upper elementary readers and then make suggestions for our middle school readers.  Again, when it comes to independent reading, sometimes it is nice to just curl up with a good book that we LOVE…regardless of what grade level it might be associated with or its level.  I know that I tend to curl up by the fireplace during the break and enjoy reading new books that I think students might love…definitely not worried about my level as I get lost in the stories. 

The following suggestions are books that I have read, books that some of my co-workers have read, and books that a friend of mine…the one mentioned in the last blog post with two middle school kids (one girl and one boy)…says her kids simply cannot put down!  If middle school kids say the books are good…then I think I’m going to believe them. 

Upper elementary and middle school suggestions

I’m big on exposing kids to different series…just because if they LOVE it, then there are a lot of other books that they can then select at the library to enjoy reading as well! 

I Survived! Series – This series is written about different events in history, to include wars and natural disasters.  The stories are from the perspective of survivors and what it was like during that time period or in the midst of that event.  The books are not “too big” for students who are not keen on novels, but they capture their attention from the get-go.  I know a few middle school kids who still look for these in the bookstore, hoping to get their hands on the newest release. 

 Who Is…?  What Is…?  Where Is…? Series – This series is fabulous in terms of getting kids into reading about biographies, famous places, and famous events.  It takes the non-fiction encyclopedia feel out of reading about these topics.  The covers catch the reader’s attention right away. 


Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver– So, this might date me…but do you remember The Fonz, from Happy Days??  Well, he is now an author of a FABULOUS, funny series about a boy named Hank Zipzer.  You can’t go wrong with ANY of these books in this series!! 

Molly Moon series by Georgia Byng – Comical, deep, and adventures…what a rare combination!!!  The main character can morph and change, and in each new book receives a new power.  Kids in upper elementary AND even into middle school enjoy these stories!

Survivor series by Erin Hunter – Talk about a great collection of books!  Erin Hunter has written adventure stories about animals that have captured many readers 4th grade and up!  She is a New York Times Best Selling Author…and it’s not hard to figure out why.  These books are addicting!  Boys and girls devour these stories, with characters undergoing conflict at a variety of levels, facing tough choices, and deep themes.

Spy School and the sequels by Stuart Gibbs – A middle school boy is recruited to work with the CIA…both humorous and adventurous, this book will definitely capture the attention of boys and girl alike! 

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer and Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley – These stories take the main characters back into the fairy tales that they grew up reading.  The characters…both good and evil…are confined to their kingdom, and in order to keep trouble from brewing, they must stay that way!  These two series share a very similar plot line, so if your child loved one, then try the other!! 

The Divide Trilogy by Elizabeth Kay – A trilogy about a boy who encounters a parallel world near Costa Rica.  Mythical creatures and magic are REALITY, and he must find his way back home!

For the sports enthusiasts…Mike Lupica has written a TON of books about athletes who face various challenges in the midst of their work as an athlete.  Football, soccer, basketball, and baseball…your sports fans will enjoy the context of these stories. 

A collection of stories that will capture a reader’s interest…
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – If this one doesn’t steal your heart and tug on its strings… An impeccably written book from the perspective of a gorilla who has spent 27 years behind glass in a shopping mall.  He’s never questioned his life until he meets an elephant who starts to get him thinking about his existence.  Soon to be a movie, which is ALWAYS a fun reward for reading a book!!! 
Echo’s Sister by Paul Mosier – A story about a girl who has to learn who she is and what really matters when her sister is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. 
The War That Saved My Life and The War That I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – A story set in WWII about a girl who sneaks away with her brother to escape her mother.  Highly recommended by middle school readers, as well as a freshman in high school who devoured them both this past summer. 
The Brightest Stars of Summer by Leila Howland – A story about sisters and the lines that they do and don’t cross in life. 
Refugee by Alan Gratz – WOW!  This one has been read and discussed and read and discussed by people all over the nation!  Three characters in three different time periods in history who face fleeing their country and the struggles they face trying to find a safe place to live their lives.  Powerful…

Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger – A series full of adventure…the main character has telepathy and is hidden in among other humans.  She must figure out who she is and what her special gift means!  New York Times and USA Today best sellers!!

The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix – A GREAT series for middle school students!  The main character is a boy who struggles with severe asthma.  This seven-book series captures his adventure from almost dying in the woods to being saved and given a key…by Mister Monday.  He must figure out why he was chosen to receive the keys to the kingdom. 

Well, hopefully these two blog posts helped you to select some great new books for some special readers in your life!  There are SO many more great books out there…keep on reading and sharing that love for great books with kids!


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