Late March to early April is one of my favorite times to talk with kids about books. This is the time in the year when they have explored many different authors and genres of books, and for the most part kids, no matter their age, can tell you one author or book series that they can’t get enough of reading. Our goal for students is when they finish one book, they have a list of books waiting to be read next. I love their sense of independence and agency to keep growing in their reading lives this time of the year!
I thought it might be fun to share a few of my children’s and students’ favorites so far this year in case you might want to check out a few new options to finish out the school year or get a jump start on a summer reading book list.
- Graphic Novel Series: Investigators
If your children are fans of Dogman by Dav Pilkey, my hunch is they will enjoy the writing style of John Patrick Green. The main characters are alligators who are detectives. This series is well written with funny story lines, lovable characters, and the graphic novel format that many children enjoy. This is Ethan, Kaden, and I’s favorite graphic novel series that we have read together this year. We have recently finished the first two books in the series. Every night Kaden begged for me to read one more chapter.
2. Early Chapter Book Series: Dragon Masters
Scholastic has recently started publishing book series categorized as Acorns and Branches. These series are meant to help children transition from beginning reading books to early chapter books. The Dragon Masters series reminds me of a younger version of the “can’t put down” fantasy of Harry Potter and the characters you come to know and love with Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House. The chapter lengths are perfect to help readers gain momentum as they grow in their stamina for reading longer books. My mom bought the complete set for Ethan for Christmas, and reading the series has already brought him so much joy.
4. Middle Grades (4th-8th grade) Author: Gordon Korman
Gordon Korman’s books have been a huge hit with both our 4th-5th grade and 6th-8th grade after school book clubs. After reading our first book in the fall titled Masterminds, the clubs both begged to read more of his books later in the year. In each of these books, Gordon Korman writes each chapter through the eyes of different characters. The story line unfolds in multiple perspectives. Book club members shared how much they enjoyed finding 1-2 of the characters’ perspectives that they related to the most and which characters gave them a new perspective that they hadn’t considered before.
- Masterminds: This story line explores the question of “which matters more: nature versus nurture?” If criminal masterminds could be cloned and their clones could be raised by a perfect society, would the clones repeat the same evil plans as their cloned parents or would their new environment help them to choose a different path in life? What happens when the cloned children realize their entire childhoods were not what they had originally thought it to be?
- The Fort: This story line explores another facet of the theme “things are always what they appear to be” as a group of friends accidentally discovers an underground bunker. The friends turn it into their secret hideout. One friend desperately needs “The Fort” as a safe place to escape from his abusive stepfather. Although I was concerned that the content of this book might be a little too intense for some of our book club members, as I continued reading, my perspective is that Gordon Korman handled such a sensitive topic well. You couldn’t help, but to cheer for the characters as they grew to be more resilient and to bond with one another.
- Restart: I recently finished this one, because it’s one of our last book club books of the year. If you ever wondered what it might be like to forget everything about your past and start over fresh, this might be a good fit for you. I can’t help, but cheer for the main character Chase as he tries to figure out his new normal, sometimes choosing the same path as he would before his accident and other times paving a brand new path. The new Chase 2.0 is a character many can see themselves inside. In true “Gordon Korman” fashion, all of the characters are multifaceted and resemble real life people. Gordon Korman will have you laughing hysterically during one chapter and pausing to consider important life lessons in the next.
All in all, I would recommend all 3 Gordon Korman books for your middle grade readers!
Friend, I am curious to learn what books you and your children have loved so far this year? In this season of state testing, giving our kids engaging books can be just the mental break that they need! Please comment on the post with your favorites, so we can all add a few more books to our “To Be Read” lists. Happy spring Reading!