These are in order of book title, mostly. Our prejudice is to let our kids read/listen to whatever they choose, so I can't guarantee total absence of "mature" themes.
All of a Kind Family series...
The Animal Family by Randall Jarrel
My daughters love this book because it's about a mermaid.
The Bat Poet by Randall Jarrel with illustrations by Maurice Sendak
Kind of like "Are you my mother?" but with an artistic consciousness.
Encourage your children to read this before they get too mature. A lovely simple
story of a Poet and yes, he does happen to be a bat, who is looking for his Audience.
- The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) by Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket has a truly bleak sense of humor. Which my children adore. Read these before
your children do!
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Charlotte's Web (beware of the mortality themes...)
David and the Phoenix
by Edward Ormondroyd
My young daughter liked the ending, in which the phoenix does what phoenixes do. The friend who
extolled this book to her also warned her that she found the ending horrifying.
The Good Master by Kate Seredy
Little House on the Hungarian Prairie. This book won the Newbery in the 1930s.
It's the story of a boy and girl cousin
who live on a sheep/horse farm on the Hungarian plains (without electricity or motor vehicles)
in the years before World War I. Lovely black and white illustrations. The amount of
freedom granted to children and the amount of responsibility they had to assume in
those days astonishes everyone in my family.
Half Magic series
Harriet the Spy
Horatio Hornblower series (it starts with Mr. Midshipman Hornblower) by C. S. Forrestor
The Indian in the Cupboard series
Ingathering : The Complete People Stories of Zenna Henderson
Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Just So stories (beware non-PC language!)
- Keepers of the Animals : Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children
by Michael J. Caduto, Joseph Bruchac
Little Women series
- Little House on the Prairie
- Nim's Island by Wendy Orr, Kerry Millard (Illustrator)
- My Father's Dragon
by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Three whimsical tales; adults may feel that they are so whimsical that the plots become downright arbitrary,
but the story involves young readers and the words are not hard. The hardcover presents the
the intricate black-and-white illustrations beautifully.
- The Music of Dolphins
by Karen Hesse
Lovely but sad story of a girl who was raised by dolphins.
No Flying in the House
by Betty Brock, Wallace Tripp (Illustrator)
Our 5 year old delights in this book about the tiny white dog named
Gloria and her pet, the girl called Annabel.
by JM Barrie
The REAL book, not the Disney version.
It's hard to read it aloud
because some of the sentences are PAGES long.
Click here for a review of Peter Pan by a young reader
The Princess and the Goblin
Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is Junie B.'s
literary ancestor, although Ramona speaks better English. This series tracks a somewhat mischevious young girl growing up in Portland, Oregon. She deals with
the realities of school and the effects of her family's strained financial situation.
- Henry and Ribsy and other books in the Henry Higgins series by Beverly Cleary
Adults who re-read this book will marvel at the autonomy Henry has and by the responsibilities his parents expect him to fulfill.
Shows that growing up in the USA has changed, and stayed the same, in the 60! years since this book was published.
The Search for Delicious, or anything by Natalie Babbit (but, careful about mortality issues brought up by Tuck Everlasting...)
So You Want to Be a Wizard By Diane Duane
Horrible Harry in Room 2B
Song Lee in Room 2B
(or anything else by Suzy Kline)
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
About the childhood of King Arthur
Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and
Huckleberry Finn (but you know about the language used...)
Trumpet of the Swan by EB White
I won't label this a book about matter-of-factly overcoming one's disabilities;
it's so much better than that. I guess what it really is is a book about how one voiceless swan found his bliss, and it provides lessons in how we can find ours. The
book on 4 CDs narrated by the author is worth many listens.
View from Saturday
The story of how a group of gifted children find each other and themselves
or, anything else written by E.L. Konigsburg (for example,
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler)
- Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson, Annabel Large (Illustrator)
Wizard of Oz series (very strange, stranger even than the movie, but no sex)
Wolf Story by William McCleery, Warren Chappell (Illustrator)
A great book to read aloud to your child about a father who tells his son
a story. Especially wonderful if you know NYC and its suburbs well enough to
recognize the venues the boy and his father visit.
- Wrinkle In Time
, A Swiftly Tilting Planet
anything by Madeline l'Engle
Ogden Nash's Zoo
- Kids' books by James Thurber: The Thirteen Clocks, The Wonderful O, Many Moons
Sigh. Out of print.
All book reviews for readers in this age group
12 books met your specifications:
|Title||Author||Conceptual difficulty age||Vocabulary difficulty age||Genre||Year of publication|
|Bat Poet, The||Randall Jarrel||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction||1997|
| ||Kind of like "Are you my mother?" but with an artistic consciousness. Encourage your children to read this before they get too mature. A lovely simple story of a Poet and yes, he does happen to be a bat, who is looking for his Audience.|
| || In context....|
|Dark Dreamweaver, The (Chronicles of Remin)||Nick Ruth||Children 5 and up||Children 8 and up||fiction||2007|
| ||This is a COOL book. It is a story about a boy named David who meets a wizard cursed into the life cycle of a monarch butterfly. David has to help reverse the curse to save the little wizard's world, the dreamland of Remin.
There are many neat, zany characters who jump in to help throughout their long journey, which leads deep into the depths and mysterious places of this new world.
| || In context....|
|Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism||Georgia Byng||Children 5 and up||Children 8 and up||fiction||2003|
| ||"Why don't they make books like THIS one into movies?," my 12 year old exclaimed. I was listening to this book on tape and dear daughter, who had read the book a few years earlier, was lured into listening.
Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism like Molly Moon's Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure, which we read a while back, narrates the story of Molly Moon, an orphan, and her best friend Rocky.
| || In context....|
|My Father's Dragon||Ruth Stiles Gannett||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction||1948|
| ||Three whimsical tales; adults may feel that they are so whimsical that the plots become downright arbitrary, but the story involves young readers and the words are not hard. The hardcover presents the intricate black-and-white illustrations beautifully.|
|Peter Pan||J.M. Barrie||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction||1903|
| ||Almost every child makes up a fantasy place with all of the things that they think about. Some of these places are 'made' alone; sometimes brothers or sisters or friends help. The book Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie is about one such place.|
| || In context....|
|Prince of the Pond, The: Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin||Donna Jo Napoli||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fairy tale||1992|
| ||A deeply imaginative, if sad, deeper look at the story of the Frog Prince.
In this version, narrated by the frog who becomes the prince's wife while he is a frog, the prince gradually adapts to his watery environment and becomes content in his amphibian incarnation.
|Princess and Curdie, The||George MacDonald||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction, fairy tale||1873|
| ||A parable that preaches unquestioning loyalty to an inherited monarchy and being hospitable to strangers.|
|Princess Bride, The ||William Goldman||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction; adventure/fairy tale||1987|
| ||Everyone in the family loves this book, and we might just love the
movie more. But that's because we know that Mandy Patinkin can do no
| || In context....|
|Rowan of Rin||Emily Rodda||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction||1993|
| ||A Quest, gently told; a good chapter book for a young/new reader.
In Questing to the top of the mountain with six fellow villagers to obtain water for his village, Rowan, a frail, young shepherd, gains confidence and courage.
|Trumpet of the Swan, The||E.B. White||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction||1970|
| ||I won't label this a book about matter-of-factly overcoming one's disabilities; it's so much better than that. I guess what it really is is a book about how one voiceless swan found his bliss (and his voice), and it provides lessons in how we can find ours. The book on 4 CDs narrated by the author is worth many listens.
| || In context....|
|Wolf Story||William McCleery||Children 5 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction||1947|
| ||A great book to read aloud to your child about a father who tells his son a story. Especially wonderful if you know NYC and its suburbs well enough to recognize the venues the boy and his father visit.
|Charlotte's Web||E.B. White||Children 8 and up||Children 5 and up||fiction||1952|
| ||Updated Sept. 11, 2006:
My then-10 year old daughter fixed her eyes on me, eyes that implied that she'd just realized that a Truth had been withheld from her, and she was going to get to the bottom of it.
"So, Mom," she said, "It seems as if what a fiction book is about is not really what it's about. Is it?"
"Hmmm," I answered. "What you mean is that a story is not just about its plot. Sometimes, often, in fact, a story has a message and the message is conveyed by the plot, but also by the author's choices of words. The message is sometimes called the theme of the book. It's what the author wants you to learn from reading the book. It's why authors go to all the trouble of writing books."
Which brings us to Charlotte's Web. Charlotte's Web has long been a favorite of mine and my daughter enjoyed listening to it for a year or two when she was very young. But when dear daughter (dd) was around four, her best friend was diagnosed with a disease that was, at the time, almost always fatal. We happened at the time to be listening to the audio book version of Charlotte's Web as read by the author, E.B. White. So, there we are in the car, listening, and dd asks, "Is L. going to die?" I turn the tape player off and answer that I don't know. Dd says "I don't like Charlotte's Web. And what did Cinderella's mother die of?"
I explain that in those times long ago, nearly everyone was more likely to die but that women of childbearing age were particularly at risk. Dd asked, "So, are you going to die? Am I going to die?" ....
For years after that conversation, dd did not willingly read or listen to Charlotte's Web. I believe that this is because, more than any other children's book that I have read, Charlotte's Web is about death as a normal consequence of living. And, no, I'm not saying that children/people never die in books, but they die romantically as in At the Back Of the North Wind or they die unexpectedly young at the hands of Evil Doers or they die off-screen, like Cinderella's mother. (Dd's friend lives and thrives, thank goodness.)