We read good literature in our family.
Sure, my kids like to read fluff once in a while, but they always come back to the good stuff and even complain about their choices of pop fiction with its poor writing, incorrect references to mythology, and predictable plots.
I discourage my kids from reading much of the popular fiction with its themes of dating drama, sexual situations, and occult references.
We go to the library weekly and we see the marketing displays of popular fiction for teens. The book covers make me want to guard their eyes. It’s almost as bad as Harlequin romance novels with those ripped bodices! Many of the plots involve vampires and witches. Almost none of it is worthwhile reading material.
My criteria for good books:
- Is it stimulating to the mind and imagination? I want books that are engaging and require my kids to make connections or dream of possibilities.
- Does it cultivate our values? I often encourage reading books that differ from our worldview. It’s thought-provoking and a great conversation starter!
- Is it well-written? We don’t waste time on poorly written material.
- Is it interesting or challenging? I want books that encourage my kids to think long after they close the book. How can we be kinder, help others, be servant leaders?
- Does it encourage discussion? I love discussing books with my kids and hearing what they think about what they read!
We read world mythology and folk tales as part of our homeschool curriculum. And my kids loathe the Percy Jackson series because it’s so inaccurate, lol!
I see the value in dystopian lit and we often read these books together and discuss them. I do love sci-fi and fantasy and encourage my kids to love it too.
After completing my homeschool reading assignments, my older teens are welcome to read the popular YA fiction to see for themselves. And so far, they agree with me.
This list goes a bit beyond the great classics that everyone should read.
5 Great Book Series for Middle Schoolers
My 8-year-old daughter is a very advanced and mature reader and has read all of these and approves them.
I have listed the recommended ages and grade levels, but always preview reading material for appropriateness for your child and family.
1. My Side of the Mountain and more by Jean Craighead George
Fun adventure books about nature and animals.
These living books teach about survival skills, respecting the environment, identifying plants and animals. They’re great for any nature lover!
Age Range: 10 and up
- Grade Level: 5 and up
2. Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome
12 books about adventurous kids set between the two World Wars.
We love reading about these siblings and all their pretend play in a simpler time.
3. The Giver series by Lois Lowry
A great dystopian series about valuing all lives.
We love the lessons these books teach about society and relationships.
- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
4. Brian’s Saga series by Gary Paulsen
Survival and self-discovery.
Great books for boys and girls about survival skills, relationships, and learning about self.
- Ages 11-13
5. Wonder series by R.J. Palacio
Lovely books about looking beyond physical appearances and being kind.
We’re currently reading these and loving them! I encourage kindness in our lives.
- Age Range: 8 – 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 – 7
I’m always on the lookout for great literature to add to our collection. We don’t shy away from tough topics. Literature is important for us to learn about the world we live in. I’m raising readers!