CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS
Part 2: children’s Chapter Books
Here is the promised second post about children’s chapter books that would make good holiday gifts (or at any other time of the year!). It took me a little longer than the four or five days that I promised in my post on Sunday, but I’m sure you all know about this time of year. The days just seem like they go by so quickly! On top of that, the weather here has been amazing for December. We’ve had fifty degree days all week. This means that Dennis and I had to get outside and enjoy it while we can. This included many walks to our local downtown area. It’s about a two mile walk each way and we always reward ourselves with a stop for tea or coffee, so it makes it extra fun! In fact it was such a good day on Thursday, rather than drive downtown to do some Christmas shopping we decided to walk down and stop for lunch. Every time we do this, we feel like this might be our last opportunity for several months, so we’re loving it while we can!
There are so many chapter books for me to suggest. My niece Sarah and I brainstormed a list and it’s way too long for one post! Some of the titles have been around for a long time, but are still available and are still great books. Others are newly published within the last few years. What I thought I would do, is list the title, the author, the genre, the level and a short summary. This is similar to the “Book Blasts” that I used to do with my classes at my school. After one of these, the books flew off the shelves! So here goes – hope you find one or more that might appeal to the children in your life! Oh, by the way, these are in random order and there are links for each one which leads you to one of the many places where you might purchase these books.
The Witches by Roald Dahl. Lexile 740; AR 4.7
This is a fantasy about a seven year old boy and his encounters with a REAL WITCH and how he tackles his problem with the help of his magical grandmother.
This is just one of Roald Dahl’s many amazing fantasies that will intrigue and entertain your child.
Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo. Lexile 520; AR 4.3
This is a story with lots of comic book type illustrations and lots of humor. Flora is a girl who discovers Ulysses (a squirrel) and after a terrible accident with a vacuum cleaner, Ulysses is born anew as a squirrel with super powers. This was the 2014 Newberry winner (best chapter book of the year). If your child enjoys Flora, be sure and introduce Kate Dicamillo’s other books, especially The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
Great Illustrated Classics AR 4.2 – 6.0
I first learned about this series when I was looking for books for my son many years ago. These are adapted versions of many of the classics. The books are so popular with children, because in addition to the great stories (big favorites are always 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Moby Dick, Treasure Island and The Secret Garden, among others) there is a full page illustration on almost every other page. This is especially good for those children who are resisting leaving behind the illustrations of their picture books and early chapter books.
The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall. Lexile 800 – 940; AR 4.7 – 5.6
This series is a refreshing, cozy tale of four sisters, two rabbits and their friend named Jeffrey. The first book takes place during one summer on Jeffrey’s seaside estate and describes lots of adventures and lots of fun.
Love that Dog and Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech. AR 4.5 – 5.0
These are short books, which are great for reluctant readers, because they are both written in poetry form. Therefore, there isn’t as much text on the page (which helps with those children who are resisting reading a chapter book), but the story will still draw the reader in. If your child enjoys these, Sharon Creech has written lots more books, many with a meaningful message.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien. Lexile 790; AR 5.1
This book holds a special place in my heart, because my husband read this to my two sons many years ago and they loved it. This is a perfect book for the animal lovers in your family. It is a story of a widowed mouse and her family who are helped by the Rats of Nimh, highly intelligent extraordinary creatures, to solve their life threatening problem. This is the first of three books in the series. If your child enjoys these, you can suggest The Redwall series by Brian Jacques next.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Lexile 700; AR 4.1
This is one of my all-time favorite books. Claudia and her brother Jamie decide to run away and Claudia insists that their destination be an elegant one. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City! The story describes their adventures as they hide from the guards and avoid detection for several days, as well as their investigation into the mystery statue the museum purchased at a bargain price. Is it really by Michelangelo and therefore worth millions?
If your child enjoys this, be sure and look for many other titles by E.L.Konigsburg.
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass; Lexile 770; AR 4.5
It’s a little difficult to choose the genre of this book or any of Wendy Mass’s other books. They are predominantly realistic fiction, but there is always a little bit of magic or fantasy in each one that will leave the reader wondering long after they’ve finished the book!
In this book Jeremy is going to turn 13 in a very short time. He and his friend, Lizzy live in New York City and are on their own for much of their days while their parents work. Jeremy would rather not venture more than a few blocks from his apartment, but Lizzy is already to go anywhere for an adventure. Jeremy’s life suddenly changes when a mysterious wooden box arrives. It is a gift from his late father and is said to contain the meaning of life, but there is a problem. The keys to the fascinating box are missing. This is the story of Jeremy and Lizzy’s adventures as they explore the city to find the keys and how they meet some intriguing people along the way.
Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan. Lexile 770; AR 5.6
This is a relatively new book, and it was probably my favorite of the past year. Willow, a 12 year old genius, loses her parents in a car crash very early in the story. Hearing that, you would assume this is going to be a sad and grief filled book. There is grief, but there is so much joy as well, as Willow fights through her sadness and finds a loving home in a totally unexpected surrogate family.
Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull. Lexile 700 – 790; AR 4.8 – 5.6
Kendra and Seth are sent to spend the summer with their grandfather, who they barely know. He warns them to stay out of the woods surrounding his house, but of course, Kendra and Seth can’t help but venture into the forest. Their explorations lead them into many adventures after discovering the mythical and magical creatures that live there.
As I said in the beginning, there are far too many wonderful chapter books to be included in one post! Be assured, I will write more in the new year and add some titles to the list. Meanwhile, please have a wonderful time choosing some books for the children in your lives, either at the library or the bookstore. I look forward to your comments about these titles and your suggestions about more titles to add to the list!
Finally, I wish you a holiday season full of love and peace with your family and friends!