Editor’s Note: NPR recently listed 100 “ultimate reads” for ages 9-14. That age span is quite large, and the appropriateness of some titles depend on the specific child. There are several titles on the list that I encourage my boys to wait to read, either due to mature subjects (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, which I know Aidan will love someday) or because they are so good (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill a Mockingbird) that I want to be sure he’s old enough to fully appreciate them---or at least enjoy them enough to give them another go when he’s older.
Aidan has read 31 of the 100 titles (he wants me to add, 10 of those 31 titles represent entire series of books he’s read), and agreed to give his perspective on the list, 3 books at a time.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
I first read it: during spring break, March 2013
What it’s about: Ivan, a circus gorilla that grew up in the big-top exit-8 mall and arcade, lives a true adventure when a dying elephant makes him promise to take care of the newbie baby elephant, Ruby, and get her a new, circus-free home. With the help of friends (and some artistic talent) Ivan finds a way to bust Ruby out of the mall.
My favorite moment: When the first part of Ivan’s plan succeeds because you get a hint of what Ivan’s going for (I can’t say more without giving it away…).
Aidan Score: 10-10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Because it’s funny, has great dialogue and plot---it’s action, comedy and tragedy all in one.
For Ages: 8-12
If you like this, you might like: Bridge to Terabithia
Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by James and Deborah Howe
I first read it: in early 2011
What it’s about: When the Monroe family arrives from the theater with a strange little bunny they name Bunnicula, everything turns up-side down. First, there's the strange white and dry veggies that look like vampire victims. That and the fact that the paranoid family cat, Chester, is obsessed with destroying the cuddly undead!
My favorite moment: When a misguided Chester tries and fails to use a steak to slay Bunnicula because it shows just how desperate Chester is to get Bunnicula.
Aidan Score: 8-10!!!!! Creepy and funny!
For Ages: 7-11
If you like this, you might like: NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (Book One) or the next in the series, Howliday Inn (Bunnicula #2)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 by Jeff Kinney
I first read it: summer of 2010
What it’s about: When Greg Heffley enters middle school, he has no idea it would be full of 8 feet tall gorillas and nerdy wimps. stuffed to the brim of of moldy cheese, evil teachers and misfit 6th graders. He knows he’s destined for greatness, but for now, he’s stuck with morons. Greg learns to accept it, but when his best friend steals his comic strip and becomes a stuck-up popular idol, he’ll do any thing to save their friendship.
My favorite moment: is when Greg and Rowley go trick-or-treating because it shows you life is hard and happy endings don’t always show up. (Editor’s Note: While I despise this series and find Greg completely unlikeable, I did enjoy when the dad got them all wet at the end of their trick-or-treat adventure!)
Aidan Score: 9-10!!!!!!! It’s hilarious!
[Editor’s note: you are 8 years old in that photo at the top, so basically you just admitted I was right and you were too young to be reading that book!]
If you like this, you might like: Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life