Please read this post before you start browsing the books section so that you are better able to navigate my recommendations.
Every child is unique and it is very difficult to choose books that all children will love. We have read many books my son loved but my daughter didn’t care for much (and vice versa). On this website, I grouped the books based on what MY children read. I suggest you take my recommendations with a grain of salt and make sure to read about the books more in detail on Amazon before you decide if’s something for your own kids.
My daughter has been an independent reader for a bit more than two years (she turned 8 in April, 2014) and is reading the 6th Harry Potter book right now. My son realized two months ago that the Magic Tree House and Dinosaur Cove series are not as long and difficult as he thought they’d be (he turned 6 in February 2014). They have both listened to audiobooks for two or three years, mainly in the car. (I am writing this in October 2014)
I’ve been thinking about how to categorize my book recommendations but as the listening level is always higher than what children can read on their own, I am afraid that you would miss a good read for your 8-year-old if I post it in the section for 6-year-olds because my kids loved it as an audiobook. Thus I created a section Listening 5 and up. There you can find books that would be great for a 7-or 8-year-old for independent reading but a 6-year-old would enjoy listening to. If you are looking for good books for your kids to read, browse the categories first to get an idea because it is hard to categorize books in age groups. Your 7-year-old may enjoy a book my daughter read when she turned 8 (but I would not place it into a 7 and up category because what if it is one of those books that would have been difficult for her if she had read it sooner).
I am a huge advocate of audiobooks and reading aloud to kids, no matter what age they are. When picking a book to read aloud, I take my children’s interest into consideration but sometimes I also try to choose a nice story that I know my daughter would not be willing to read on her own. She is not too keen on animals as characters so it is hard to persuade her to try such a book (a picture of a mouse on the cover is all it takes for her to lose interest). However, when she finally gives in and starts reading one or when I read it aloud, she usually likes it.
I think that my son would have been deprived of great stories if we had read only picture books to him until he was old enough to start reading on his own. This past summer (at 6 and 1/2) he LOVED The Hobbit. We read it in Czech but regardless of the language he could not possibly understand every sentence. Nevertheless, he enjoyed it tremendously and when asked about his favorite book, he names The Hobbit all the time. I am sure he will reread it in a few years and will appreciate it even more.
There is one problem with choosing good reads for my daughter. She now likes books that are in the age range 8 – 12 on Amazon. Now, as you can imagine, the difference in maturity and reading level between and 8-year-old and 12-year-old is huge. I try to make the best guess but sometimes I get a book that she does not enjoy because it is either too complicated, she is not mature enough for it, or the vocabulary is difficult. In that case, I just move the book from one list to another and try it again in a few months or a year. I suggest you do the same.
I am not a librarian and have not read the books myself (except for those we read aloud together) so I can only rely on my kids’ feedback or on recommendations from other parents. I have browsed discussion forums about good reads, scanned reviews on Amazon, and placed the books in my lists based on that. Regarding the lists for kids older than 8, I’ll be moving the titles around over the next months and years as my kids get old enough to read those books. As I try to place the books in an age group at which the book could be read at the earliest, I suggest you browse categories for younger kids as well. Many books are for a wide age range; kids just need to be mature enough to understand the topic. If you have a 10-year-old, you can find great ideas in the 8 and up category as well.
When looking for a book to read for your child, always check the preceding age categories to see if there are titles s/he hasn’t read yet. Many books have a wide age range and I tried to place them in the lowest possible age category (i.e. in the age group when I thought kids could read the book on their own, not listen to it.)
!!! Everywhere I share a list of the books my kids actually read, these books are not included anywhere else. As soon as one of my children reads a book from the general list, I move it to ‘their’ list. So make sure to check out both lists – the general list and my kids’ list.
Category 5 or 6 and up is divided into 5 groups:
- Books my son or daughter listened to at this age
- Beginning readers (books that we either read or are recommended for beginning readers)
- Books my daughter read in 1st grade
- Books my son has read in 1st read so far
- Other books for kids in 1st grade (if some are too hard we will try them a few months later again—that is what I did with my daughter and it worked well)
Category 7 and up is divided into 3 groups:
- Books my daughter read mostly in 2nd grade
- Other books for second graders (including books for boys because my son will probably read different books than my daughter did)
- Books that I listed at the end of 1st grade for advanced readers but are great for second graders.
As for listening, I am not sure if it makes sense to create a separate group of books to read aloud or listen to. At this age, my daughter listened to audiobooks geared toward age 8-12, the same books she was able to read on her own, and sometimes books she’d be able to read in a year or two. If you are looking for a book to read aloud that would be at a higher reading level, I suggest you simply select a book from a higher age group to read with your child together.
Category 8 and up is divided into 2 groups:
- Books my daughter read mostly in 3rd grade
- Other great reads for this age category
Categories 9 and up, 10 and up, 11 and up, 12 and up and Young Adult are work in progress. I am adding to them constantly as I research books online. They will contain more titles in a few months.
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