Two Lists….



Since this is the season for lists, I have two of them for you today…

On Small Business Saturday, I went to Buttonwood Books and Toys in Cohasset where there were local authors in the store to talk about their own books – and suggest a few of their favorites for holiday gifts. I was especially excited that one of the authors was Susan Cooper, the author of The Dark is Rising series among other award-winning books for middle grade readers. Events like these are when I feel most “different” from the mainstream. I looked at Susan Cooper standing there and thought “why are we all staying so calm?” If you could have read my mind, it was going something like this: There is one of the most respected children’s writers in the world just standing there willing to talk with anyone. This is better than realizing Taylor Swift is in the same store!

Of course, I asked Susan to sign one of her books as a gift for a young relative, but I also enjoyed seeing her list of favorite children’s books. Here it is:


If you can’t read it very well (using cell phone in store), her list includes:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (note: recommended for ages 12 and up)

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Skellig by David Almond

Holes by Louis Satire

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Half Magic by Edward Eager

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame


Last week, walking through a crowded pre-Thanksgiving grocery store, I saw a friend who teaches 5th grade. She told me that her class has a large group of reluctant readers, mostly boys, and asked for book recommendations. Here are ten ideas for her class – and parents or teachers who face the same challenge:

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (an obvious choice for a good reason…every reluctant reader I know loves stories about Greg Heffley)

The Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger (In the first entry, a sixth grade boy talks to his classmates using a finger puppet of Yoda – the Star Wars character)

Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty (The title explains the appeal!)

Holes by Louis Sachar (one of the greatest children’s books in the world – I’ve yet to meet a reader who didn’t love it. See Susan’s list above)

Ungifted by Gordan Korman (a story about a boy who could be described as a troublemaker who – through an administrative error – ends up on a list of gifted students and sent to a new school – but it works out pretty well)

Starjumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius by Frank Asch (an inventive boy builds the Starjumper, a cardboard spaceship, to get away from his younger brother – give this one to kids who like to tinker)

– The Genius Files by Dan Gutman (a fast-paced adventure series about twelve-year-old twins named…..Coke and Pepsi)

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser (the story of a Stone Age boy who would rather paint pictures on cave walls than catch a “jungle llama”)

Sidekicks by Dan Santat (this list would not be complete without graphic novels. The mix of limited text and images are perfect for reluctant readers. Graphic novels teach visual literacy and build a reader’s fluency.  Give this one to superhero fans!)

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale (a series of historical graphic novels. Recommend this one to kids who think history is boring – this series is guaranteed to change their minds…)

More end-of-year lists to come….





4 thoughts on “Two Lists….

  1. I love both lists! Kids and I are listening to “Where The Mountain Meets the Moon” audiobook. I’m fighting lots of temptation to listen without them!

  2. This list came at just the right time! I am getting some of these for my reluctant reader 5th grade grandson for Christmas. I’ve shopped for my toddler grand babies from your previous lists. Thank you, thank you, for making book shopping so much easier for this grandmother.

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