The Book Jam Blog
Read our latest reviews
For many students in New England, it’s April vacation week. This year, the things that families usually do during their spring time off may look markedly different. With say at home orders in place in most states, there won’t be the much anticipated trips to visit relatives or to take in new sites. Instead, there will most likely be many hours spent in familiar surroundings without the structure of new zoom classes and dedicated homework time. We thought families might want some additional inspiration so we asked a few students from our local elementary school - the Marion Cross School (and some of their younger siblings) - to recommend great books for reading aloud with their families or for just a good “curl up” on the couch. We hope this post finds you all well, and that many kids (and adults) will enjoy “traveling” to fun new places in their minds with these varied and well-curated titles.
Witches by Roald Dahl (1983) - I think this book is probably, definitely for 7-year-olds. I liked it because the author is really good and because I like scary stuff and it's really scary. When the boss of the witches takes off all of her witch clothes and she's all slimy, it's pretty cool. My teacher read it to me at school and I liked how she read it. She made really good scary witch voices. When my dad read it, he made the same kind of voices and it was good too. There aren't a lot of pictures but there are enough. Twice as much pictures as a chapter book. ~ Selected by Arlo, preschooler who is also 5 years old
Explorer Academy Series by Trudi Trueit (assorted years) - I like these books because they are very adventurous stories. I also like these books because they are very suspenseful. The main characters are Cruz, Emmet, and Sailer. Their school is called Explorer Academy. I think kids ages eight through twelve would like it. ~ Selected by Ben, grade 4
Greetings from Somewhere: The Mystery of the Gold Coin and other books in this series by Harper Paris (assorted years) - This book series is about a set of twins named Ethan and Ella. They travel all over the world and solve mysteries. Grampa Harry gave them each a gift that helped them find clues to solve the mysteries. You will find out what his special gift is in book 1. I never wanted to put the book down because there was a new clue or discovery in each chapter. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I did. ~ Selected by Annabel, grade 4
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (1954) - This book is about a ring that hypnotizes people and turns them into zombie monsters. A hobbit named Frodo has to destroy the ring, but it’s very hard because there’s so much violence. It has evil monster orcs who are after Frodo. They want the ring to control Middle Earth, where everybody in the book lives. My favorite characters are hobbits Merry and Sam because they are afraid but also brave. There is a King of Horses named Shadowfax who is superfast. I recommend this book if you little kids like violence, but your parents should read it with you. ~ Selected by Malcolm, grade 1
Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland (2012) - I think Wings of Fire is an amazing story with imaginative characters & lots & lots of dragons.
Each dragon has its own personality & has its own skill. My favorite dragon is Peril, in book 8 & she is a Sky Wing dragon. She was born a twin. Her twin brother didn’t have enough fire & she was born with too much fire & burning hot scale’s.
My other favorite dragon is a Sand Wing dragon, named Qibli. I like to think he’s a bit like me. He’s always focusing on more than one thing. In the 5th book, when Moon reads his mind, she can tell that Qibli is focusing on at least 3 different things.
Wings of Fire has 15 books in the series. You‘ve got to give book 1 a little bit of time, as it takes a while to get exciting. It’s about a Mud Wing, called Clay. He can only breathe fire when he’s warm & loves mud. ~ Selected by Harrison, grade 5
The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy (2019) - I would recommend this book for many reasons, but one of the big ones is the inclusivity displayed in the characters. The plot not only incorporates the struggles of being Indian-American in the small, almost all white town of Greenfield for the main character, Rahul Kapoor, but also the hardships of coming out. The writing is top quality, and the voices of the kids featured are very genuine. So if you need or want a diverse, realistic, middle grade book featuring queer characters, this is a good one to read.
Not only is the content interesting, the plot is outstanding. While dealing with an increasing habit of checking things, which evolves to be OCD-like, Rahul has just started 7th grade, and is subject to bullying and teasing. So when his grandfather advises him to “Find something you like and become the best at it,” Rahul decides he knows how to combat social pressure and anxiety: Follow this piece of grandfatherly guidance, and begin a quest with his best friend, Chelsea, to seek out and conquer the talent that will put him at the top. Read this book to find out what he comes up with!
Special note: The author of this book also played Jonathan in 30 Rock. ~ Selected by Roxy, grade 5
Don't forget you can access most public libraries (and thus these books) on line. Check out this article - https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2020/03/public-libraries-novel-response-to-a-novel-virus/609058/ - for some ideas.
Also, Hanover High School (NH) Football players recorded themselves reading picture books in an effort to help entertain young children for long enough that parents can throw in a load of laundry or perhaps just sit. Here is the video link - http://www.hudl.com/v/2DRrr8.