A couple of weeks ago, Parent & Child magazine published its list of “Top 100 Greatest Books for Kids.” I’m not sure how they decided what “greatest” meant, but they should know books pretty well because they’re part of Scholastic Books (the folks who publish the books most of you probably have at your school’s book fairs).
- Charlotte’s Web — The #1 choice. Is it my top kid book of all time? I’m not sure, but I did love it and would’ve definitely put it in my top 10.
- Goodnight Moon — A classic bedtime story for kids. I couldn’t begin to guess how many times we went through this one with both our kids. A sentimental favorite for plenty of parents, if nothing else.
- Where the Wild Things Are — Who doesn’t want to escape to a magical, fantastic island away from the real world sometimes?
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — Not my favorite HP, but the series probably does deserve to be on the list.
- The Lightning Thief — I didn’t read this one until about half the series was out, but it hooked me. Actually, I think the quality of writing and storytelling got better with each book, which is always a good thing. My son and I are definitely Percy fans (especially with the new Heroes of Olympus series).
- The Hunger Games — I was a little surprised to see this one since it’s a relatively new book in the middle of so many classics. But I loved it, loved the entire trilogy, and thought they were very well written.
- Where the Mountain Meets the Moon — This was an interesting choice to me. I haven’t read it, but my daughter just did for a reading quiz bowl competition through school. Every kid on our team seemed to not like this one very much. Maybe I need to read it now to see for myself.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Adventures of Captain Underpants — Sure, these are funny, but I’m not sure they qualify for a “best ever” books list. Then again, it’s not my list.
Here’s the link to check out the entire “Top 100 Greatest Books for Kids.” See which ones are some of your favorites (or not on your favorite list), then come back here and leave a comment to let us know!
Kids want to read books that are realistic instead of cheesy, but a lot of parents want to be sure their kids read books that are decent and don’t push them into “too old” things too soon. One author who’s trying to make both groups (parents and kids) happy is Nicole O’Dell. The books in her Scenarios for Girls series offer something I’ve not seen in other Christian YA novels – the chance for readers to truly see the story from both sides of the spectrum.
The books tackle lots of issues facing girls today – cheating, purity, taking dares, dealing with parents or teachers, and more. Each story has you “along for the ride” with the main character until she reaches the point of needing to make an important, life-changing decision. The main story stops, and readers are asked to decide how they would handle the situation in the exact same circumstances. Then you continue the story, depending on how you answer. Better yet, you can read both endings to see how things might play out in the real world for both options. It’s a great way to help girls think through situations and the potential outcomes before they find themselves in the same predicament. Once a girl finishes reading the book, she has the chance to make a written commitment to implement the lessons she’s learned from the story. A parent or other trusted adult can witness her commitment and help her with accountability.
The stories I read were from Swept Away, which includes two of the Scenarios books – High Stakes and Essence of Lilly. I haven’t read others in the series, but love the whole concept. The stories themselves are interesting and right on target for today’s girls. Letting them become a part of how the story ends will hopefully help girls remember the story and its message, long after the book goes back on the shelf. I applaud O’Dell for writing for these girls in such a real way, and I’ll be passing Swept Away onto some of the girls at church. With Christmas shopping time right around the corner, you might want to look for Swept Away or the other Scenarios for Girls books for a special middle or high school girl in your life.
Ages and reading levels: Swept Away and the other Scenarios for Girls books are marketed as young adult fiction, which means they’re targeting kids in the 13-17 age range (or so). The characters in the books I read are in high school. Some of the topics might be a little more geared toward older readers, but the writing itself is fine for middle school girls and I would be fine letting a middle schooler read Swept Away. It might even be OK for some fifth graders, but I wouldn’t recommend it for girls younger than that because some of the situations might be too old for them.
For more info on Nicole O’Dell and her books and Teen Talk radio program, visit her online.