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Gift Guide for Independent Readers

December 5, 2010

Although I’ve done the Ledger’s roundup of kids’ books for various ages for a few years, the category I always have trouble with is the books for tweens. They’re just starting to read chapter books on their own. So they need something that very definitely isn’t YA… maybe. Because you get readers at all levels- sometimes the super voracious skilled readers who are barreling through Harry Potter at 8 or 9. And then you get kids at the same age who would rather have a more straightforward tale with tons of pictures, the Wimpy Kid setup.

I’ve said it here before: Waggit’s Tale, by Peter Howe. Ages 8 and up. Set in New York. Great illustrations. I don’t usually like talking animal books, so the fact that I’ve recommended this so much really says something.

Also. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I first read it when I was eight, and have read it about once a year since, as my blog readers know. It’s still so good.

Assuming the Shel Silverstein classics, A Light in the Attic and Where The Sidewalk Ends are already on the bookshelf. You can get audio files of Shel Silverstein reading his poems on iTunes and Amazon MP3. I think they’re also on CD. Hearing Shel Silverstein be demented is just too much fun.

Chapter books for ages 8-11 or so

The Ordinary Princess- M.M. Kaye. A novel approach to the fairy tale idea. A princess with brains, who gets to lead an ordinary life!  I remember reading this when I was about seven or eight.

The Candymakers- Wendy Mass. If your reader is into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, put this one on the list. Goofiness in a candy factory, minus the oompa loompas.

Oobleck, slime and Dancing Spaghetti by Jennifer Williams– this one’s an interactive project for a kid and a grownup. Science experiments. They’re completely adorable (and the book is a book list itself, since all the experiments are based on kids’ books)

I had a gorgeous edition of Wind in the Willows when I was growing up… Dad read it to me, and it was illustrated with really lovely paintings. I suspect it might be out of print but will do some sleuthing before I link to it.

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