Hello all! I am so excited to make my first post on this blog! My name is Emily and I am a lifelong reader and mom of 2 kids, a 9-year-old and 4-year-old. One of the most fun things about having a 9-year-old is that now he loves reading, too! In fact, he just started a book club with our family, including his grandparents! It’s so fun to read with him and then meet up over Alexa to talk about books together.
For our Themed Thursday posts, we will be sharing a handful of suggestions around a theme. If you have any ideas, or want recommendations, share them in the comments and we will do that theme as soon as we can!
For this week, I want to share some of my favorite Middle Grade books that are fun to discuss in a group.
Our Five Favorite Middle Grade Family Reads
The Losers Club by Andrew Clements
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on August 1, 2017
The beloved New York Times bestselling author of the modern classic Frindle celebrates books and the joy of reading with a new school story to love!
Sixth grader Alec can't put a good book down.
So when Principal Vance lays down the law--pay attention in class, or else--Alec takes action. He can't lose all his reading time, so he starts a club. A club he intends to be the only member of. After all, reading isn't a team sport, and no one would want to join something called the Losers Club, right? But as more and more kids find their way to Alec's club--including his ex-friend turned bully and the girl Alec is maybe starting to like--Alec notices something. Real life might be messier than his favorite books, but it's just as interesting.
With The Losers Club, Andrew Clements brings us a new school story that's a love letter to books and to reading and that reminds us that sometimes the best stories are the ones that happen off the page--our own!
Praise for The Losers Club!* "Clements's latest is engaging and funny. A laugh-out-loud first purchase for all middle grade collections, and a solid read-aloud choice for classrooms"--School Library Journal, Starred Review
"I LOVED this book...Five stars. I cannot wait to talk about this when we head back to school next year. I think my fifth graders are going to love it."--Colby Sharp, teacher, blogger, and co-founder of the Nerdy Bookclub
"Readers will instantly relate to Alec's passion and plight, and Clements once again effectively taps into the challenges of middle school social politics and mapping out one's identity. This empathetic coming-of-age journey makes it clear how limiting and pointless labels can be."--
"Best-selling author of beloved school stories, Clements (Frindle, 1998) celebrates readers, inclusion, and the joy of discovering new books. Refreshing and empowering."
Praise for Andrew Clements! "Clements is a genius." --The New York Times
"We have never read an Andrew Clements book that we haven't loved." --The Washington Post
The Loser’s Club by Andrew Clements is a great book club read. Alec is a voracious reader who is constantly getting in trouble for reading in class. He starts a reading club at his school that helps him connect with the world outside of books. Alec is a very realistic middle schooler, dealing with bullies, girls, and finding himself outside of books. One of the best things about this story is that it is constantly referencing other books, which helped our family find more great books to try. It even has a list of all the books mentioned at the end that you can reference. My son has already marked a few that he’s interested in checking out next.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Published by Candlewick Press on December 8, 2015
A classic tale by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, America's beloved storyteller.
One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie. Featuring a new cover illustration by E. B. Lewis.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is a family favorite, and was our first book club choice. In Because of Winn-Dixie, we meet India Opal Buloni who has just moved to town with her father. Her mother left when she was young and she doesn’t remember her. Opal rescues a dog, who she names Winn-Dixie. With Winn-Dixie by her side, Opal starts to make friends and even grows to understand her father more. This book was hands-down our book club’s favorite so far and I highly recommend it.
The Hotel Between by Sean Easley
Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 4, 2018
A magical hotel, a mysterious tree, and a cryptic story about their missing father leads twins Cam and Cass on a worldly adventure in this enchanting debut novel that's perfect for fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and Wildwood.
Twins Cam and Cass have never known their parents. They've been told their mother died, and Cass is certain their father abandoned them. Cam isn't so sure. He wants to prove her wrong; he must.
Cam's wish is soon granted in the form of a glistening, golden sign with elaborate flourishes that reads: The Hotel Between. With doors that open to countries all over the world, magical trollies, charmed corridors that can be altered on a whim, stone elephants that turn to life, sweets made from rocks; everything is possible in The Hotel. Cam has a hunch his father is somehow connected to this magical place, and may even be lost within its hidden halls.
Every journey has its risks, and The Hotel Between is full of dangerous secrets. If Cam's not careful, his stay may be over before his vacation has even started.
The Hotel Between is a newer middle grade fantasy novel by Sean Easley. Cam and Cass are twins whose father has disappeared. One day Cam discovers a hidden door that leads him to the Hotel Between. In the hotel, you can travel around the world just by opening a single door. This is a great book to discuss different places in the world and how fun it can be to travel. There’s also a lot of intrigue and can spur great discussions about trust and deception. This is a great fantasy read for kids who might not have read too much fantasy, as well, since so much of it is set in the real world, but with fantastical elements.
The Last Kids on Earth (Last Kids on Earth, #1) by Max Brallier, Douglas Holgate
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on October 13, 2015
Ever since the monster apocalypse hit town, average thirteen year old Jack Sullivan has been living in his tree house, which he's armed to the teeth with catapults and a moat, not to mention video games and an endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores. But Jack alone is no match for the hoards of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg. So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack's loyal pet monster, Rover; and Jack's crush, June. With their help, Jack is going to slay Blarg, achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success, and be average no longer! Can he do it?
The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier is one of my son’s absolute favorites. This is actually a zombie novel for kids. The end of the world has come and Jack Sullivan is barricaded in his treehouse. He builds a team of his best friends and together they take on the zombies and face the end of the world. This book is actually an illustrated novel, and the illustrations are one of the best parts. It’s a great transition read for younger readers who want interesting stories but still love having really fun illustrations. This book is the first in a series of 5 books (so far), so if your kids end up loving it then there’s lots more to check out!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc. on September 1, 1998
Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.
All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley - a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry - and anyone who reads about him - will find unforgettable.
For it’s there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him…if Harry can survive the encounter.(front flap)
No post would be complete without mentioning Harry Potter. I know probably everyone reading this post has already experienced the wonder that is the Harry Potter world, but seeing my son experience it was amazing. He went from a reluctant reader to wanting to start a family book club! We actually started the Harry Potter books on audio (shout out to Jim Dale, the best narrator in the business). Once he listened to them on audio, he felt much more comfortable picking up the books and read them all twice in a row. We love Harry Potter in this house (I’m a Ravenclaw, my son is a Slytherin) and I just loved sharing the wonder of Hogwarts with him.
What Do You Think?
I hope you enjoyed this first Themed Thursday! We are always looking for great family reads in this house, so please comment below any great books you and your family have discovered. And don’t forget to give us ideas for future Themed Thursdays!