William Pene du Bois

  • Summary. On a voyage in a hot air balloon across the Pacific Ocean, Professor Sherman lands on Krakatoa and discovers a world of wealth and eccentric inhabitants.

  • Reviews. The story is filled with adventure, excitement and hope that sparks imagination. The book is recommend for elementary and middle school students. However, the narrative can be overly wordy with too much detail and technical descriptions in certain parts, which slows down the story.

  • Newbery Medal Winner

Eloise Jarvis McGraw

  • Summary. An ancient Egyptian mystery about Ranofer who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a master goldsmith. First he must escape confinement by his evil half brother. When this poor young boy with no skills finds a priceless golden goblet, he knows his destiny is about to change.

  • Reviews. Story is well written and engages the interest of children. Appropriate for ages 8+. A good book to read aloud. Filled with informational Egyptian history, adventure and suspense. Some readers may find that the beginning is too drawn out.

  • Newbery Honor book

Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • Summary. Orphan Mary lives in her uncle’s grand mansion in the Yorkshire Moors. Life there is full of secrets. While exploring the property, Mary meets a new friend and discovers a secret garden that has been completely forgotten for years. She sets out to bring the garden back to life. This is a classic story of friendship.

  • Reviews. A classic that many read as a child and then later in life buy as gifts for children and grandchildren age 8+. Be sure to buy a full early edition. There are multiple editions available online; some are only abridged versions without the beautiful illustrations.

Jean Craighead George

  • Summary. Young Sam Gribley is unhappy living with his family in a crowded city apartment. He packs a few necessities and runs away to the peace, solitude, and danger of the Catskills mountains. He must rely on his own inherent will and the natural resources of the great outdoors. Along the way, he finds a side of himself he never knew before.

  • Reviews. Appropriate for kids age 9+ as well as adults. A favorite among most readers for a fantasy fulfilled, adventure and the idea of escaping to a land of peace and solitude. Many reviewers enjoyed reading this book again after reading it as a child. Pay attention to the edition as some mass market copies have weak illustrations.

  • Newbery Honor book

Armstrong Sperry

  • Summary. Written from the perspective of a teenage Polynesian boy, Mafatu, who gains the courage to overcome his fear of the ocean. In a canoe with only his little dog and pet albatross, Mafatu faces seaworthy challenges and rewarding adventures before finally returning home.

  • Reviews. Readers enjoyed this as a compelling story with excellent, descriptive writing. They enjoy the emotional adventure and inspirational tale. Some reviewers feel there is too much detail in certain parts of the book, slowing down the story. While some reviewers read the book with their children age 8+, others felt some of the scarier parts of the story, written in vivid detail, were better suited for teens or young adults.

  • Newbery Medal Winner, 1957

Science and Nature

David Macaulay

  • Summary. Engaging descriptions of the latest technology that has become a part of our everyday lives. From windmills and levers to lasers and Wi-Fi, the book offers insights and a visual guide into the mechanics and inner workings of common machines. An illustrated wooly mammoth explains scientific principles through humorous and entertaining references and instruction.

  • Reviews. The book is most often viewed as an excellent STEM reference for students in elementary and middle school. The book uses humor and creativity to help kids understand what would otherwise be a complicated introduction to physics. Many reviewers use the book as a teaching tool.

National Geographic Kids

  • Summary. Kids learn about nature’s skilled builders, including insects, birds, and beavers. The book has nearly 50 pages filled with expert-written texts and colorful images.

  • Reviews. Appropriate for elementary students. While also enjoyed as a read aloud with younger kids, this is a great nature book for independent readers. It is great for homeschooling curriculum as well as gifts for young students.

  • Related Books. You may also enjoy other National Geographic Kids books, including Great Migrations Whales, Erupt! 100 Fun Facts About Volcanoes, and Meteors.

  • Summary. This is a guide to the constellations. The book contains star charts, details by season, and descriptions of the movement of planetary objects. There are facts, figures and scientific information for each planet.

  • Reviews. An excellent book for learning about all the objects we see in the night sky. Readers bought this book for themselves and often as gifts for children.

Short Stories

Rudyard Kipling

  • Summary. This is a tale of a courageous young mongoose who saves a boy and his family from evil snakes that live in their garden. 48 pages.

  • Reviews. The hardcover edition (1997) is filled with beautiful illustrations that children love. The picture book is a wonderful read aloud with kids. It’s a classic story for children aged 7+ and a great book for independent readers to enjoy multiple times.

  • Summary. The Cunning Little Tailor is a tale of a wise little tailor who attempts to solve a princess’s riddles in exchange for the reward of marriage. He proves to be the best at solving the riddles and to win the ultimate prize of marriage, he must survive one night with a bear. This book is Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales, filled with dozens of short stories, including Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty.

  • Reviews. A classic fable and fun read aloud with kids of all ages. Appropriate for independent readers able to understand a higher level of written prose.


Kelly Milner Halls

  • Summary. A brief 62-page book exploring the construction, voyage and tragic shipwreck of the Titanic in 1912.

  • Reviews. A great introduction to nonfiction reading. This history book about the Titanic is appropriate for elementary students in grades 4 and up. The text is easy to follow and bold illustrations help independent readers understand the events.

LLC Penguin Random House

  • Summary. Collection of 25 short illustrated books about historical figures and American history.

  • Reviews. This is a great collection for young readers. Each book is well written for kids aged 9+ and filled with interesting historical facts. Children read and re-read the books often.

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