For this section, I’ve listed chapter books of interest to elementary/middle school students.
Ranking system: 5-MUST read (do not, I repeat, do not miss)/4-GREAT read (particular moral or educational value) /3-GOOD read (worth the time for all readers, but especially voracious ones)/2-FAIR read (not bad, just not exceptionally good ((which can be bad when you’re still learning to identify good literature)))/1-DON’T read (bad)
- 4-The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
This was my favorite book growing up. It follows the life of a young zealot in Jesus’ day as he learns to love and forgive.
- 3-The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
- 5-Three Months Under the Snow by J.J. Porchat
The true story of a young boy snowed into a cottage in the Alps, and how God uses the experience to bring the boy to Himself. Excellently written, very spiritually encouraging, and well worth the trouble of tracking it down! Warning: parts of the book made me cry.
- 3-Derwood, Inc. (and The Peabody series) by Jeri Massi
These books are for younger intermediate readers. They are written from a Christian perspective, and they actually tackle some ‘real’ issues (bullying, broken families, witnessing) at a very age appropriate level.
- 4-Usborne Internet Linked Complete Book of the Microscope
I could look at this book for hours. Very fun and educational! Older editions are just as good as newer ones, and an awfully lot cheaper. GREAT for visual learners and/or to spark an interest in science. Slightly biased in favor of evolution.
- 5-The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Allegorical Christian tales that are also very good family read alouds. The Last Battle is a little bit unorthodox (in typical Lewis fashion).
- 2-Once Upon A Summer and other books by Janette Oke
Clean, Christian, and very, very light. Very good as an occasional read; not good if this type of thing is all you read (like *ahem* me at times in my growing up years)
- 1-The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
This book is very well written, very funny, and with an excellent point of view–but it is saturated in crude and profane language that seems to me quite inappropriate especially for the age for which it was penned.
- 3-Anne of Green Gables series and other books (including Emily of New Moon series) by L.M. Montgomery
Well written, well loved, very imaginative and funny, descriptive (some might argue too much so).
- 2-Waterless Mountain by Laura Ansel Adams
The Newberry Award winning story of a young Navajo boy who discovers his calling as a medicine man. Historically accurate, wonderful nature descriptions, very strongly pantheistic (making nature into God), a slow plot.
- 4-The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Great vocabulary builder (thus earning the ‘4’) written by a very creative wordsmith. Best for advanced intermediate readers. Might be a good read aloud or novel study; parents will probably ‘get’ even more of the humor than the kids. An allegory similar in style (though not content) to Pilgrim’s Progress. At times it is a little slow moving.
- 3-Eight Cousins (and other books) by Louisa May Alcott
I loved Alcott growing up; Tim didn’t (a boy/girl difference?). I do appreciate her respect of adults (her main characters are mostly children, but they don’t ‘know better’ than all their elders).
- 3-Kavik, the Wolf Dog (and other books) by Walt Morey
Adventure + animals=a good combination for boys…but I liked them, too.
- 4-Boris by Jaap ter Haar
“The story of a boy, a city, and a war” reads the tagline–a boy named Boris trapped in the seige of Leningrad in World War II. It’s an interesting, engaging, and historically true account (earning it a ‘4’ rating) of two children’s experiences in this dreadful time. It is not told from a Christian perspective, and several times raises the question of what happens after death without giving any answer. Yet it advocates forgiveness and love, even to enemies while at the same time relating in a historically acurate way an aspect of World War II (the Russian struggle) that is often overshadowed by the Holocaust. I felt like it was a very worthwhile read! Warning: parts of the book are very sad.
- 3-The Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
See “Early Readers” (Ages 8-12)
- 3-Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
A battle of brains and powers between the fairy world and a 12-year-old genius who’s out to get their powers. Entertaining, exciting, clean, dry humor, fantasy, good vs. evil, but of little ‘extra educational’ value.
- 4-The Return of the Twelves by Pauline Clarke
A story about a boy named Max who finds twelve wooden toy soldiers that come alive. Well written, engaging, fantasy, valuable literary references to the Brontes (earning it a ‘4’ rating), good Biblical references but a tendency to de-emphasize God’s sovereignty.
- 3-A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Well written, good vocabulary builder and link to Edgar Allen Poe (thus the ‘4’ rating), written in EAP’s dark, depressing, no-happy-ending style (yet in a light enough way not to be too ‘sad’ a book–so many bad things happen to these children it becomes a bit hard to take them all too seriously). BUT I would recommend a parent pre-reading it before giving it to their kids to read because it is dark and pretty scary.
Please keep in mind that these opinions are just mine, and I’m not a professional book analyzer! I will constantly be updating this list (there are so many good books for this age group) as I re-read some of my old favorites and discover other new ones.