For the Juvenile recommendations I wanted to suggest some of the less popular and maybe a little older books to try to avoid telling everyone about books they have already read or heard about. I also tried to mix in as much variety as I could, so if anyone wants more genre specific suggestions let us know and we'll get working on it!
For the first book I went with an old favorite...
The Devils Arithmetic By Jane Yolen
The Devils Arithmetic is a really great story about a thirteen year old girl named Hannah. She is a typical girl with no patience or understanding for her family’s insistence on remembering the past and the importance of the Seder. That is, until she is transported back to WWII and the Holocaust. She experiences firsthand the past she should remember and gains a new appreciation for her family and the culture they share. It is a really great and educational book especially for fans of Number The Stars (another more well-known fiction on the Holocaust by Lois Lowry). It is a 4th grade reading level with the suggested age of 12+ due to violent content associated with WWII and the Holocaust.
My Teacher is an Alien By Bruce Coville
My Teacher is an Alien is a quick, lighter read about a girl just starting the sixth grade. She is looking forward to school, her teacher, and the class play...until she finds out her should be teacher has been replaced with Mr. John Smith. He is grouchy, by the book, hates music, and when she catches him pulling off his face she has to figure out how to get rid of him before students get abducted. The character development is a little lacking in this book, but it is fun and cute. It is a 5th grade reading level.
Touching Spirit Bear By Ben Mikaelsen
Touching Spirit Bear is a story about permanent consequences and taking responsibility for your own actions. Cole Mathews is the main character and is a troubled kid on a bad path. He has been stealing, fighting, and bullying. His last victim ended up in the ICU with brain damage which landed Cole in jail with the possibility of being tried as an adult. Cole blames everyone else for his actions and problems including his victims. He is offered one final choice: prison or Circle Justice. Cole will either live behind bars or spend one year in isolation to try and change before being charged. This book is almost a mix between Holes and Hatchet in some ways, but in this book the main character is actually in the wrong. Touching Spirit Bear is all about redemption and changing for the better. Touching Spirit Bear is 5th grade level and has some bullying and violence to look out for.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre By Gail Levine
The Two Princesses of Bamarre is a magical story about two sisters. Meryl is brave and dreams of adventures, fighting dragons, and protecting the kingdom. Addie is more timid and content to stay within the castle walls. The two are different in every aspect, except for their unwavering bond as sisters. When Meryl becomes gravely ill the tables are turned. Addie must go on a dangerous quest to find a way to save her sister. She encounters dragons, magic, and wizards. This is a great story with themes of adventure and family bonds. This book is a 4th grade reading level.
Among The Hidden By Margaret Haddix
Among The Hidden is about a boy name Luke who is the third child in a place where third children are not allowed. Because of this, he is a shadow child. He has never gone to school, never had a friend, and, after homes start being built around the farm, he cannot even go outside. One day Luke sees another kid like him, a girl named Jen, who is not happy to be kept in the shadows. This is a suspenseful story that really engages the reader and makes you want to keep reading.
This book is a 5th grade level. It does talk about population control and that could be a sensitive subject to some individuals.
The Frog Princess By E D Baker
The Frog Princess is a fairy tale story with funny and engaging characters. The main character Emma is an unconventional princess who does not fit in and longs to escape her frustrating life. However, she did not mean to escape her life by turning into a frog. Emma spends the rest of the book trying to figure out how to change back! This book is a 5th grade reading level.
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians By Brandon Sanderson
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is a really funny story about a boy named Alcatraz who has an unlucky knack for breaking things. He has been shifted from foster home to foster home because of it. On his thirteenth birthday, a grandfather he did not know he had shows up and tells him that his knack for breaking things is actually a gift-- the most powerful one in the family. Alcatraz then sets out on an adventure with his newly discovered family to stop the Librarians from conquering the remaining Free Kingdomers and ruling the world. Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors and always manages to make an engaging and unique story. This book is a 5th grade level.
Looking for some inspiration on what to read next? Who better to ask then the people who work around books for a living!? Each month we will post a "staff picks" blog post written by one of our staff members. These posts will vary in genre, theme, age appropriateness, etc. If you have any requests on a genre or age category you would like to see, submit a comment here and we will get it on the list!