ages 9 – 12


favorite kids poetry

With April being National Poetry month, we had to share some of our favorite poetry collections. Most of these books were sent to us for review in the past, but they continue to stand out in our mind. I (Jennifer) am sharing 3 of my favorites first, and then I turn the list to Dawn, who shares two of her favorites.

  1. The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry – This is the first book that always comes to my mind when I think of poetry collections. The combination of new and classic poems and great illustrations is a win-win.
  2. Kenn Nesbitt’s The Tighty Whitey Spider- I love funny poetry, as does my son. This is one of mine and my son’s favorites.
  3. I Didn’t Do It! by Patricia Maclachlan – When I was browsing my past poetry reviews, this book featuring dog poetry by an acclaimed children’s book author and beautiful illustrations gave me fond memories.
  4. Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater – With spring awakening all around us, I find myself spending more time outdoors with my children, so what better time to pull out some nature-themed poetry? This collection offers poems related to all four seasons, with appreciation of the beauty of the natural world evident in them all.
  5. Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart by Mary Ann Hoberman – With over 100 poems in this wonderful collection, there is something here for every child to enjoy, from young preschoolers to older elementary children.


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Always Emily #MMGM

I have been a fan of Michaela MacColl for a while. I loved her first novel. Scroll all the way to the bottom to see links in the recommended posts to two of her other books I enjoyed.
Earlier this year, I decided to reread Wuthering Heights. It was interesting, but I stalled a bit. Reading Always Emily about the life of Emily and Charlotte Bronte in their teen years revived my interest.
Michaela MacColl writes historical fiction that will appeal to fans of the genre. I read it at times, but it’s not my favorite genre, but I always enjoy her books. They are written for an older middle grade through young adult audience (probably 5th to 8th grade), but are so enjoyable for

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5 Books That Hooked My Non-Reader {Friday’s Five}

To call my 10 year old son a non-reader is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.  Like many parents, especially those who love to read, I’ve read to both of my boys since birth. Board books, picture books, early readers, we’ve read them all.  Bedtime has always been our time to read, and that has continued for Alex, who has been reading independently for a few years now and moved from our family reading time in the loft to his bean bag in his room.  During the school year he has required reading that’s part of his homework, sometimes it’s a book they’re reading in class, but often he just has to read.  If he had his way, he would read graphic novels,

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Geronimo Stilton: The Hunt for the Golden Book

My children are still obsessed with Geronimo Stilton. They have read nearly every book in the series, as well as the spinoffs. The Hunt for the Golden Book is the 57th book in the original series, and it celebrates Geronimo’s 10th anniversary as an author. As always Geronimo and his family are engaged in a madcap adventure where he is pushed around by everyone who cares about him.
The illustrations make the book a delight to look at, and between the pictures and the fun fonts used for words on every page make this book a great one for reluctant readers. It is a fun read, and simple enough in terms of plot that younger readers can easily engage in it while there is enough hilarity

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Horses of the Dawn: The Escape #MMGM

Kathryn Lasky is well known for her Guardians of Ga’Hoole series, but she’s gone in a completely different direction with her new series, Horses of the Dawn. Like her other series, this is not your typical book in its genre. In the first book, The Escape, the first tribe is formed during the 1500s, loosely following legends of the Conquistadors as they attempted to find gold in the new world.
The book is a “horse book” but it is not at all like the ones I grew up reading. Though loosely marketed as a girls’ book, this appealed far more to my son, probably due to the somewhat violent – but sadly realistic – mishaps that befell the horses from a shark eating the main character’s

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5 Book Series my Middle-Grader Loves {Friday’s Five}

My son was always a good reader, but he didn’t always love reading. I can tell the difference between a book that he loves and a book that’s just okay, because he flies through the ones that really grab him. If it’s a series, he goes from one to the next without even coming up for air. Here are 5 series my son loved, and ones you might consider for your 4th – 6th grade readers (Edited — I showed my son this post, and he said, “I’d say up to 8th grade,” and he’s really correct. Any of these series can be appreciated through middle school for sure.)
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan — This series started it all. He started reading them at

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The Secret Tree

Don’t let the cutesy cover of The Secret Tree lead you into thinking that this book is geared toward young independent readers, for beneath it actually lies a middle grade novel dealing with a range of fairly complex emotional issues. Natalie Standiford has created a story of several layers, with the idea of secrets at the core, and the results are thought-provoking for middle grade readers.
At the heart of the story is almost-11 year old Minty, a lover of roller derby who has the entire summer break ahead of her to hang out with her best friend Paz, skating and reveling in what has always entertained them. Sounds perfect, except that Paz seems to be changing a bit this summer, trying to shed what

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5 Series to Read Aloud with Your Kids {Friday’s Five}

There’s no particular season that’s better for reading aloud with your kids. In winter time, curling up in one of my kids’ beds, we can journey together through a couple chapters of a book each night, and spring days start to get a little longer, allowing even more reading time before dark. In the summer, reading aloud by the fire on a camping trip is heavenly, while fall brings with it a seasonal spookiness that encourages hushed reading time together. See, whatever time of year, reading aloud rocks!
My two younger children are 6 and 7 (almost 8, she’d have me tell you!), and we’re big fans of chapter book reading right now. I enjoy sharing beloved books with them, in a sort of “round

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Goosebumps Most Wanted: Creature Teacher: The Final Exam

The wee ones fell in love with The Goosebumps series when we listened to the audiobooks during carpool rides years ago.  They’ve read all the current books and eagerly await each new installment.  R.L. Stine’s newest series within the Goosebumps realm is the Most Wanted that features the “creepiest, crawliest, grossest villains of all time.”  Creature Teacher: The Final Exam follows twelve year old Tommy Farrelly as he heads to summer camp.
Tommy comes from a competitive family.  Though it’s just four – his parents and his sister Darleen – they manage to compete for everything from who gets to a restaurant first to who finishes eating fastest and more.  Everything in life is a competition, except Tommy simply isn’t interested in following their example.

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Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Graphic Novels

Both of my kids are avid readers, and they enjoy graphic novels. In my 4th grade son’s case, there are some that he reads over and over again, for ease and comfort and enjoyment. But especially for those kids who dismiss reading as “not my thing,” graphic novels are a great way to experience a full story in a way that doesn’t feel as intimidating as a chapter book might.
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #2: Secret Sand Sleuths
The Nancy Drew “Clue Crew” books are typically early chapter books aimed at early readers (I’d say 1st – 2nd grade). Although one of the first panels in this graphic novel mentions it being a “3rd grade” field trip, I’d say that the style and

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Hilda and the Troll

Take a look at the little blue-haired girl on the cover of this book. That is the face of a determined adventurer, a young girl with an inquisitive nature and the heart of an explorer. Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson is the original in the Hildafolk comic series, and it has recently been reprinted in a new hardcover book format. Though I was never much of a comic book reader as a child myself, I have three children who all enjoy the format, and this book has been a hit with them all, from the 6 year old to the 13 year old!
Add my fandom to the mix, too, for I was pleasantly surprised by not only the presentation but also by

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Clara and Davie by Patricia Polacco

My second grader is going through a stage of extreme interest in figures from the past. She has been drawn lately to women who have made a difference in the history of our country, such as Harriet Tubman and Clara Barton, and our trips to the library have included stops in the nonfiction section to learn more about them. Patricia Polacco’s new book Clara and Davie takes a different route to Barton’s story, for while we’ve read many books about her actions founding the American Red Cross and providing medical care to Civil War Soldiers, with this touching picture book, my daughter and I both learned more about her childhood experiences that shaped the woman she was to become.
Born the fifth child in the

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