Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chapter by Chapter

I've been approached several times in the last couple weeks by both parents and kids asking for some good books to read for teens and younger. I haven't really researched any newer material, but I thought I would give you a couple that I loved as a kid! I tore through books, so I loved series more than anything. In fact, they're really the only ones I remember. So, without further ado (okay I just wanted to say ado), here are some of my favorite Chapter Books.

Believe it or not, I didn't always hate historical fiction. Children's Historical Fiction is a lot broader in scope than adult.

Little House
(Laura Ingalls Wilder 8-10)
Don't even act surprised, you knew I was going to go there. I don't really have to say much about these, you all know what they are. Primarily girl's books, they focus on family environment and are great for young readers.

Christian H
eritage Series
(Nancy N. Rue 8-12)
I read the first of these books as a school assignment. By the time we were supposed to be done with the first set (of six), I was done with all three (now there are 5). Each set is set in a critical time of American history. Starting in Puritan Salem, leading up to Santa Fe in World War II. These are great books for boys! (finally!) Every book in led by a strong male lead, a wonderful alternative to the Little House Books.

Dear America
(Multiple Authors 8-12)
The Dear America books are written as Diaries of girls (sorry boys) in different periods of america. Colonial, froniter, war times, ect. There's even a girl on the Titanic. I have to say as interesting as the subject matter is, they can get kind of monotonous after awhile. the good thing is, they are stand alone books so you can just read whichever one you want without missing anything.

Bonnets and Bugles
(Gilbert Morris-10-13)
You're going to see a lot of Gilbert Morris. He wrote three ten book series. The first I have here is a Historical Fiction that takes place during the Civil War. These books follow neighbors who are on opposite sides of the Civil War. Sisters, Leah and Sarah, are helping their father who
is a Sutler for the union army. Whereas, Jeff and Tom, are serving the confederate army as a drummer boy and soldier. These books are a little less about family and more about friendship while still sticking to what you believe. Geared towards an older age, these books do have some romance.

Because who doesn't like a good mystery?

Boxcar Children
(Gertrude Chandler Warner 8-12)
Boxcar Children... let's try this again... BOXCAR CHILDREN! I love these books more than I care to elaborate on. The first book is definitely the best, because they are actually living in the boxcar. The rest are mystery books where the kids track down rare coin collections, hidden rooms, and "singing ghosts."

Encyclopedia Brown
(Donald J Sobol 8-10)
You know you love him! The kid genius who knows everything and solves mysteries like it's a game of pic-up-stix. These books are all about details and logic, and really make a child think!

Nancy Drew
(Carolyne Keene all ages?)
Okay, so I know it's not technically all ages, but they are just so good! Nancy Drew is a teen detective, eighteen to be precise, which is funny since the book is clearly not written for eighteen year olds. Anyways, the originals (not that lame paperback stuff), are great mysteries that center around Nancy Drew, her close friends, and her lawyer father. And what is Nancy Drew without...

Hardy Boys
(Franklin W. Dixon 8-12)
I know I was supposed to read Nancy Drew, but I couldn't get enough of Frank and Joe Hardy. Ironically, possibly intentionally, both Hardy Boys' The Tower Treasure and Nancy Drew's The Secret of the Old Clock open with the teens driving to deliver legal paper to their fathers. Hardy Boys was originally published in the 1920s, and is still a wide spread favorite, that's got to mean something!

(Side note: The Nancy Drew books were rewritten in the 1950s, the orginals can be purchased from Applewood books. In the originals Nancy Drew is sixteen, and quite a bit more independent and strong willed. In fact, she is not above carrying a pistol as her younger, more reckless
self. They are also longer, which is a plus.)

I wouldn't consider these books exactly fantasy, but they are definitely not reality.

Magic Treehouse
(Mary Pope Osborne 8-10)
Not a christian series, but still a great read for any kid with imagination. These books tell the stories of a brother and sister duo (Jack and Annie), who find a treehouse full of books. Each book sends them into a new adventure, starting with Dinosaurs Before Dark and ending (1-8) with Midnight on the Moon. I haven't read all of these books, only the first eight were out when I read them. I love these books because of the relationship between Jack and Annie. Anyone who has been lost in a book can
relate to the way Jack and Annie are whisked away into adventure.

Animal Ark
(Ben M Baglio)
Animal Ark is, well not my first choice of books. The series is based around Mandy, daughter of Vets. The first book, Kittens in the Kitchen, kind of says it all. They are cute and light, but not much substance. They were a good read when a lighthearted read is needed.

The Littles
(John Peterson 8-10)
I cannot tell you how much I loved these books. The Littles are a family of six inch tall people with... TAILS! The two Little children (who live with their family in Mr Bigg's House) have all kids of adventures that include taming the Bigg's cat, and getting locked in the refrigerator. SO much fun!

Okay, this is the part I like, this is the fun stuff!

Chronicles of Narnia
Oh, come on, did you really think I could talk about books and not mention Narnia? I don't think I really need to tell you what these books are about. Read them, the end.

Seven Sleepers Chronicles
(Gilbert Morris 10-13)
I loved these books. They are Fantasy, but essentially they are Post Apocalyptic. The story starts in modern times, with Josh and Sarah. Josh's scientist parents construct sleeping... coffins? and at the outbreak of nuclear war, seven teens (only two of which know eachother) are put to sleep in these protective... I'm really n
ot sure what they are, but they remind me of Snow White in her glass coffin. Basically, when Josh wakes up, the entire world has changed. Deserts are jungles, and oceans are deserts. There are evil serpent people, and the Sanhedrin out to quench the move of Goe'l (If you can't figure this one out, read your Bible). These ten books each center on one of the teens individual struggle and climax at the last book which is called.... The Final Kingdom. Not exactly Narnia, but if you're a Lewis/Tolkien fan, you can pat yourself on the back every time you catch the LotR tribute. Or just get really indignant that he "stole" from them, either way.

(Cornelia Funke... stay tuned)
I struggled with this book. Not reading it, but whether or not to put it on here. Not because it wasn't amazing. It is very well written, while still understandable to children. It deals with Meggie's feelings of abandonment towards her mother, as well as her coming into her own person. If you've seen the movie and thought it was "okay" then read the book. Everything makes so much more sense, the characters really come to life, and there are huge inconsistencies that just work so much better in the book. The reason I didn't want to put this on here: Amazon will tell you the books are for children 8-12, however, there is at least one "bad word" in the second book. I can't remember if there are any in the first. So just be aware of that if that's not something you want your child to read. The subject matter is definitely "children's," but I would definitely give these a PG-13.

DragonKeeper Chronicles
(Donita K. Paul 10-14)
Because every fantasy series has to be a Chronicle ;-). I read the first of these books when I was 16, and I loved it even though I was "older." These are great books centered around Dragon Keeper, Kale, who has just been freed from slavery to go into the service of Paladin. (And this is the last one I"m writing, and I'm about to fall asleep so get on Amazon and read about it! They are Amazing!)

Science Fiction
To infinity... and Beyond!

Mars Diaries
(Sigmund Brouwer 9-12)
Mars Diaries are diaries of Mars? Yes! You win! Haha! Mars Diaries are the electronic musings of Tyce Sanders, the only kid on the Martian Colony. He is writing to the kids on Earth to give them a real perspective of what life on Mars is really like. There's just one thing: Tyce is in a wheelchair. Born on Mars, his spin was injured at birth due to lack of medical supplies. The cool part: He gets to control a robot! Yes, a robot. Even at fourteen, Tyce is an important part of the Mars Team. His diaries tell how he saves everyone on Mars, and solves the mystery of the Martians.

Daystar Voyages
(Gilbert Morris 10-13)
Once again, I love Gilbert Morris' series. This is his space series. It follows six Christian teens, who all have an extraordinary gift, through the galaxy. Which, of course, pairs my love for space travel, and super powers. Jerusha knows everything there is to know about spacecraft, and can read people almost to the point of a telepath. Ringo (don't you just love these names), works wonders with computers and has heightened senses. Each of the teens had been kicked o
ut of Space Academy and recruited by Captain Edge (my favorite) to man The Daystar on some, not-so-legal missions. Could this get any better? Well... did I mention there was a space dog? No joke! Jerusha brings her German Shepard along too.

And the Weird
I had nowhere else to put this stuff. Mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, none of it seemed to fit. These are what I like to call Spiritual Thrillers.

The Cooper Kids
(Frank Peretti 9-12)
Oh... My... Goodness. Frank Peretti is amazing. These are his only kids books, that I know of, but they are phenomenal. These are the books that got me hooked on Frank Peretti. These are suspenseful, intriguing, and at some point hilarious. Honesty check: I read Door in the Dragon's Throat when I was eight, and couldn't read the others for another year because they freaked me out. Once you get past that, they are amazing (Door in the Dragon's Throat is now my favorite). It combines Hardy Boys and Indiana Jones, then throws in spiritual warfare. Just don't read them at night, or you wont be able to put it down until the end!

Forbidden Doors
(Bill Meyers 9-12)
The difference between these and The Cooper Kids has to be noted. While Jay and Lila Cooper battle the spirit realm in archeological digs around the world, Becka and Scott face a very real enemy in High School. These books may not be as "out there" as Peretti's but that may make the plot line even spookier. Having just returned from Brazil, Becka and Scott are not new to spiritual warfare. When they enter public school for the first time, they soon discover they didn't leave the occult behind them. In The Society, Becka and Scott come against the club where Ouija boards and charms are "just games" that lead to more than just a good time. Honestly, some of the spiritual stuff is a little cliche and lame, but as a kid, I didn't think so.

What are some of your favorite childhood Chapter books?

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