Check out these kids book recommendations from the CHB Staff!
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
I read The Westing Game in my 5th grade reading class, and I've made an effort to reread it every few years since. It's one of my favorite books of all time, and I somehow forget how much I love it until I stumble upon it again. Sam Westing is a patriotic millionare who promises all his riches to the potential heir who can solve the clues he's left them and discover the identity of his murderer (though Mr. Westing seems to know quite a bit more about his own murder than one might expect). Just like strange and unpredictable Mr. Westing, the book is much more than it seems on the outside. If you like mysteries and quirky yet fascinating stories and characters, then you definitely need to pick up The Westing Game. See if you can solve the mystery yourself.
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
For those who fell in love with Ella Enchanted, I personally feel that Fairest is even better. Following the story of Aza, a young village girl who is not much to look at but is a wonder to hear. Singing and beauty are the two qualities most prized in the kingdom of Ayortha, and though Aza has a voice that far surpasses all others, her looks are not much to behold, Hidden from society, Aza is suddenly thrust into an uncomfortable spotlight when she becomes a lady in waiting to the new queen. The queen has a special task for Aza, one that might prove exceedingly dangerous for Aza. This is not your traditional princess tale, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a good magical fantasy filled with plenty of palace intrigue.
The Gateway: Leven Thumps Book 1 by Obert Skye
I picked up Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo (as it was called when I read it) because I needed something to read for school, and I just knew I wouldn't like it. I read it, and it's been sitting firmly on my favorites shelf ever since. This fantastic book tells the story of Leven Thumps, an orphan left with a family who doesn't want him. Leven discovers a small creature named Clover who's been watching over him since birth, and along with Clover comes a great destiny. Leven must return to Foo, the magical land that enables humans to dream, and destroy the gateway his grandfather built. For once you've entered Foo, there can be no return to reality, lest the two worlds merge and collapse. Joined by Winter, a strange girl who can create ice, and Geth, a wise ruler of Foo who has been reduced to a sliver of wood, this unusual group must embark on the long journey to the Gateway, though the corrupted and powerful Sabine will do everything in his power to stop them and destroy their dreams forever.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
I read this book first in third grade, then again in fifth. It's one of those books that stays with you for years and years, and it only grows more fascinating the older you get because you understand something new every time. It tells the story of Meg and Charles Wallace, two kids whose father disappeared many years before. The mysterious beings - Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit - take Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe on a mystical and universe-traversing adventure to rescue Meg's father from the clutches of one terrifying and supremely evil being. It's a fascinating and pulse-pounding adventure through space and time, and it'll stay with you beyond the turning of the final page.
Disney After Dark: Kingdom Keepers Book 1 by Ridley Pearson
Anyone who is interested in Disney World must read this series. You think all of Disney's characters only exist in the imagination? They aren't real? Think again. All Disney characters actually exist and live in Disney World through the magic inherent in such a place. They exist peacefully and happily in Disney World until the dastardly Overtakers, a group made up of Disney's most feared villains, awakens and attempts to steal the Disney magic for themselves. Enter in the Kingdom Keepers, a select group of kids handpicked by Disney Imagineers to enter the parks in partially holographic form to outsmart the Overtakers and keep the Disney magic free and alive. Pearson actually worked with Imagineers to write these books, so all the insider information about Disney World is accurate and fascinating.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
I simply adore this book. The language is fantastic. For instance, the main character, September, is described in the beginning as "an ill-tempered and irascible child." As a kid (and an adult) I loved books with a vocabulary slightly larger than my own - books like this one make words fun. What I kept coming back to while reading it was that I haven't read a children's book like this since I read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Valente is definitely harking back to Lewis Carroll here in a big way and the results are amazing.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
This is one of my all time favorite books. It's a story that reminds us of the emotional depths within children that often go ignored. Writers like DiCamillo amaze me. She crafted an amazing book about loneliness and the power of animal-human bonds, and it is written for a ten-year-old audience. Do yourself a favor and read this one.
Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon
Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon have created a perfect middle grade mystery in Zora and Me. Using facts from Zora Neale Hurston’s early life they imbued this novel with a pitch perfect sense of time and place. The imagination at the center of this story fully realizes the spirit of Zora and her tall tales – child readers will enjoy the fun and fear of the mystery while adult readers see a portrait of the child Zora who will continue to challenge established ideas, create great stories, and teach us much about race and history through her collections of folklore. And adult readers get to enjoy the fun too.
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Stories about genuinely different kids trying to fit in always seem to resonate with me. This one is no exception. Like many of these stories, fitting in is always the goal in the beginning, but by the end of the novel that goal seems to be so utterly beyond the point. Counting by 7s is a great story about people growing into the best versions of themselves in order to support one another. This is a story of flawed, damaged people and with it Sloan is able to convey to her young readers how important it is to hold each other together. The main character, Willow, does eventually find her place in the world, not through fitting in but, like the seven colors of the rainbow and the seven important people in her life, by being “vivid and distinct.”
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry's The Giver has long been one of my favorite books. I read it during the greatest reading year of my life – the fifth grade. I was a reader before fifth grade, but the books I read that year and my amazing teacher really opened me up to what books could be. I have never quite been able to put my finger on what it is that makes The Giver so powerful. Is it the warning Lowry gives us? Is it that this book was my first real brush with the darkness of the world that can lie just beneath the surface? To this day I can't be sure. What I do know is that this novel amazed me as a kid and it continues to do so to this day.
Potato Chip Science by Allen Kurzweil
My Dad helped me with every science project I ever had in school and they were always awesome and fun! If this had existed when I was younger we would have been all over it!
5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything) by National Geographic Kids