Middle grade / Beginning Chapter Books

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Middle grade / Beginning Chapter Books

Post by rowan » Mon Sep 5, 21:30 2016

Most of you here have kids younger than mine (except MFS but he doesn't count), but we struggled* a bit with reading last year. I say struggled but I think that is a function of the way school is structured, not anything with my kid per se. It did however make a hard year, because so much of her course work depended on her reading. By the end we were fine though. (This was 2nd grade, if your kid isn't reading on their own before it, you might want to work on it? maybe. I don't feel like pressuring is the way to go though. Depends on your kid.)

Anyway I thought it would be good to get some chapter books that we've been reading and my thoughts on them, and people can chime in with ones they've heard of and/or remember. Kind of like the kids' book thread but for the next step up. Kids are pretty varied, and I think a big driver in getting them to read is to find stories that they like.

Some ones that were bridge books were the Step-Into)reading superheros ones, DC mostly though the wonder woman one was not as good. It was a good review of origin story but that's not really what kids want, y'know? They want stories. And she doesn't really show up in the other ones, which sucks.

Moving to more complex things:
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and also the MicroSeries. These are comics, and thus read like comics. However the stories are for the most part pretty good. You don't really need to know the TV seriese to read them, though they do track the TV series to some extent. Complex stories that sometimes span multiple issues, though you can get compendiums now, if you don't want to go to the comic store all the time.
Highly recommend, both my husband and I read this sometimes even before she does because it's good. (maybe sometimes even in the car before I drive home :shiftyeyes: )

Magic Treehouse series. This is kind of meh for me but the kid devours them. I have some issues with the way Jack/Annie interact, but at least it seems like both contribute to the story. Does give some insight into historical things, though obviously there is a lot of fiction as well. Kid has started getting the non-fiction books that accompany the stories too, so there's that.

Upside-Down Magic. I also thought this one was all right. It purposefully has a lot of diversity in it. One reviewer on Amazon said it felt like they were "trying too hard" but honestly apart from the fact that there was actually diversity I didn't think so. Since you get a lot of diversity in real life, I think it's just a testament to our general literature being too white & able-bodied. This is a "going to a new school" book. It's about fitting in (or not fitting in; the whole group doesn't) Also magic. Looking forward to the next installment whenever it shows up on our doorstep.

Foxcraft by Inbali Inserles. I loved this one, kid doesn't want to read it. Whatever. I thought it was good. It's about a fox, and fox magic. 2nd one is coming out soon.

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon. Go buy this right now. Admittedly by one of my favorite authors in general (be careful; she also writes adult material, though that is generally under T. Kingfisher pen name). This one's about a 12 year old witch who scams her way into getting her own castle under the guise of it being summer camp. Seriously. No plans for a sequel right now but my kid cosplayed Molly, was her first ever cosplay. This is more of an upper middle grade book instead of 1st/2nd grade.

Harriet the Hamster Princess. By the same author as above, but more my kid's reading level. Harriet has a curse that basically makes her invincible & therefore she decides to go adventuring. We have read the first two and are awaiting the third one to show up on our doorstep. Re-tellings of fairytales, with a twist.

Also by this author: Dragonbreath series, which I hear is good but haven't read yet, and Nurk, which we thoroughly enjoyed (but we read to her, as it is larger/longer).

Rainbow Fairies. I have not read any of these but the kid is devouring them as well. They don't sound like anything I'd like haha. I guess they've been around a while, one of my students said she read them as a kid?

Kid vs. Squid. One of the first middle grade books I ever read, I really liked it. Again I think it's more of a 4th/5th grade book so the kid hasn't gotten there yet. It's buried somewhere on the shelf to be honest, I'll have to dig it out. Also by this author Boy at the End of the World definitely worth a read. Not sure the grade level on that one. Beware again this author writes a variety of age levels and has some things definitely not for kids (but also good! Norse Code, and the California Bones series are NOT for kids. the latter if you like Tim Powers stuff).

Older books she's read:
Little House books (she loved)
Ramona the Pest (she was kind of meh about, I'm not even sure she finished?)
Surprises According to Humphrey (she loves)

I'm sure there are others. I've heard the Warriors series is good (about cats) but she hasn't read them. Said she thought she'd be made fun of for reading them? I have zero idea where she got that from.

Anyway, this summer has been the summer of reading. :)
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Re: Middle grade / Beginning Chapter Books

Post by melsbells » Fri Sep 9, 14:01 2016

rowan wrote:I think a big driver in getting them to read is to find stories that they like.
Definitely this. I once tutored a kid who had been held back twice in elementary school and was still a couple grade levels behind on reading skills. He was given a book from the Captain Underpants series because it was supposed to be at his reading level but he thought it was utterly stupid. I don't think we ever found books that both matched his reading level and maturity level, but once we started reading books better suited to his interests, it didn't matter that they were more difficult.

One of my cousins kids read the Warriors series and was really into it. She was bulllied in school, but I don't think it was instigated by her reading choices.

I don't know any recent books for this age group but I've heard great things about the Adventure Time comics.