Let’s have a conversation about time. The universal concept that, like weather, can carry any attempt at small talk across cultures, borders, and possibly even languages. Begin any discussion with someone over 30 by saying any of the following, “Where does the time go?”, “Oh, would you look at the time.”, “Are there ever enough hours in the day?”, or “All I did was blink and 10 years went by.” and suddenly you have plenty of time to communally lament your lack of time.
It would be the easiest list I can imagine:
Things I Don’t Have Time For:
And now, with your severe lack of time firmly established, you are forced to deal with the ironic reality that your staunchly independent reader needs help finding books to read. One would think that the older a child got, the less work it would be to find books for him or her. Nope. You not only need to painstakingly browse the picture books for that perfect combination of clever words and magnificent illustrations, you also need to have pre-read the entire junior section of the library in search of that perfect combination of intelligent wittiness and late elementary school goofiness.
In an effort to give you enough time to search the library for a book of your own (I know!), here is my list of authors you can give to your middle to late elementary school aged child with the confidence that they will enjoy any of their books. And you will not have to read every book before hand (but you probably will because they are that good).
- Roald Dahl – Your timing could not be better for a summer of Roald Dahl. With the BFG coming out as a movie, you have the perfect starting point. You cannot go wrong with Dahl, his writing is the perfect combination mentioned above.
- E.B White – We all know the treasure and torture that is Charlotte’s Web, but White’s other books are excellent as well. The Trumpet of the Swan is the one to try next.
- Kate DiCamillo – If your child has not read Because of Winn Dixie yet that should be their first library check out next week. But don’t stop there, she has so many excellent books including a series,the Mercy Watson books, for your beginner chapter book reader.
- Stuart Gibbs – For those kids who have read every Boxcar Children and Encyclopedia Brown book they can find, Gibbs’ Moon Base Alpha series and Spy School books are the perfect answer. His books are exciting, adventurous, and full of fun mystery.
- Beverly Cleary – In some use of magic few authors possess, Beverly Cleary has been able to transcend time. Her books take place in a world and culture far different from what our kids know and somehow her stories still relate. Every child can appreciate the sibling drama of Ramona and Beezus but there are many more equally fantastic stories to be found by her.
- Chris Colfer – Yes, you read this right, Chris Colfer – the guy from Glee. I was skeptical at first as well, but honestly his books are excellent. Each of his books in the Land of Stories series has been a best seller and for good reason. These are the only books that my 9-year-old literally could not put down. Think of this series as the book version of the television show “Once Upon a Time” but for kids.
- A.A. Milne – The original Winnie the Pooh books are amazing. The first time I read them to my older kids I was shocked by the depth, wittiness, and wisdom in Milne’s words. Don’t let your child be scared off by the fact that these are the “Winnie the Pooh” stories, they are so much more.
- Eleanor Estes – If you have an animal lover, Estes’ stories about the pets of the Pye and Moffat houses will be well loved. Newberry Award winner Ginger Pye is the one to start with but they will want to keeping read the others.
- Brian Jacques – Redwall. Do I need to say more? For the budding fantasy fiction lover, these books are a great place to start.
- Patricia Wrede – Her Enchanted Forest Chronicles books are the equivalent of The Paperbag Princess for chapter books. Disgruntled princesses, dragons, wizards, and magic…what more could you ask for?
- BONUS – Because you have read all the way to the bottom of this list, here’s an extra one for you! Suzanne Collins (of The Hunger Games fame) wrote an excellent, lesser known series called The Underland Chronicles. The first book Gregor the Overlander will have your older elementary school age child enthralled by this bizarre underground world.
(I should also say that C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling have been left off intentionally; much like Dr. Suess, they have transcended lists.)
Which authors would you add to the list?