One of the things I missed most during the pandemic was my children’s lit book club.
I joined it a few weeks after I moved to Utah and I LOVE this group of smart women who absolutely love children’s literature.
I am 100% the weakest link of this book club and probably read half as much as any one else.
But I love hearing what they think about books, what they’re reading, and I always come home with a massive new to-read list.
We didn’t start meeting again until midway through the year, but here’s what we read this year.
(P.S. If you’re interested, you can see the list of what we read in 2019!)
Children’s Lit Book Club
For August, we went with a back-to-school theme, reading recent books dealing with school issues.
Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber
Sarah loves absolutely everything about playing basketball. But as she gets older, her body begins to change and there are pressures to look a certain way. She begins to become slower on the court and her shot percentage is on the decline. That’s when she realizes she needs to make a change.
For as long as Bea can remember, it’s been just her and her mom. The best two-person squad anyone could ask for…until her mom decides to get remarried to someone with kids and pets of his own. On top of it, Bea’s new all-girl soccer team is suddenly co-ed. Will the girls on the team be able to have a voice to ensure equality on the team?
This story is written in verse and has illustrations to go along with. The question “If your house was on fire, what is the one thing you would save?” is posed to a middle grade school class. The answers are all over the board and the students answers provide a lot of insight to each of their lives. Great discussion starting book!
The twins, Maureen and Francine, are inseparable. They love all of the same things – activities, classes and food. But then, as they enter middle school, their interests start to diverge. Francine wants to join different clubs than Maureen and she even begins developing a love of fashion. Will the twin sisters be able to keep their tight bond or is it all over now that Francine wants to be set apart from Maureen?
For September, we read recent books focused on immigrant students.
Reha and her mom, Amma, have a complicated relationship. Reha loves her Indian American family, but also doesn’t want to keep up with every family tradition, especially at school. When Reha’s mom gets sick, Reha starts to rethink her goals and she decides she is going to do everything in her power to become a doctor in order to help her mom.
Junie Kim wants to blend into the background at school, but this wallflower mentality is challenged when racist graffiti shows up at her middle school. After interviewing her grandparents about the Korean War and the adversities they had to face during wartime, she decides to use her voice and stand up against the racism that is getting worse.
Khosrou (aka Daniel) tells his classmates all about being an Iranian refugee. It all began with his mother’s boldness about her Christianity in a country that wouldn’t allow such religion. It led to secret flights out of the country time and time again and they always led to the same place – sad refugee camps. The book is filled to the brim with fantastic stories of an Iranian family.
Ten-year-old Gabrielle has never felt more alone. After moving from Haiti to New York without her family, she has no friends, doesn’t know English well and is having a hard time with all of the cultural differences. So when a witch approaches her and promises her the ability to be a “perfect” American, Gabrielle jumps at the chance, but soon realizes all of the things she has given up.
In October, we read books from this year’s 5th and 6th grade Battle of the Books list.
The streets in Chennai, India are extremely tough for kids. Surrounded by untrustworthy adults, sisters Viji and Rukku take shelter under a town bridge and meet brothers Muthi and Arul. The four of them become like family, but their ability to take care of one another is challenged when Rukku gets sick. Can they ask an adult for help or will it lead to the trouble it has in the past?
Both Kee-Sup and Young-Sup have a knack for kites. Kee-Sup is the kite creator, while little brother Young-Sup is an expert flier. They are so good, the king has invited Young-Sup to come fly the royal kite in the New Year competition, but their father wants Kee-Sup to represent the family being the oldest son. Will the boys be able to convince their father that Young-Sup is really the one who should fly the kite?
I’ve read Gordon Korman’s book, Swindle, and loved it for its adventure and wide appeal for my elementary schoolers when I was a librarian. This one is different from Swindle, but still filled with a lot of adventure. Cameron Boxer is the ultimate slacker and hates to do anything but play video games and spend time with his friends. Because of an unpleasant mishap, Cameron ends up being an accidental overachiever.
A story of friendship and loyalty, Callum and Iona share a common goal – to keep a rare endangered Osprey bird safe from the dangerous poachers that would love to get their hands on such a treasure.
I read this book back when I was a school librarian and have been a fan ever since. Last spring, we listened to the whole 13+ hour audiobook in the car and my two older girls both LOVED it. As soon as we finished, Ella checked out the rest of the series and listened to them in a week (oh, to have that much listening time. . . ). The book begins with a strange ad in the newspaper asking super smart children to apply and when four children pass the test put before them. Now their job is to go on a secret mission at a mysterious school called the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, and puzzles, tests, and riddles will be everywhere they turn. The television series on Disney+ is also REALLY great.
I read this one way back in 2010 and enjoyed it! Zoe has high hopes of becoming a famous piano player and all she needs is a baby grand piano to make that dream happen! Unfortunately, her dad brings home an old organ instead and Zoe’s hope are immediately deflated. Will this quirky instrument take Zoe by surprise when she enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition?
During World War II, four siblings are sent to the countryside of London where they are to be kept safe from the war. One of the children finds a wardrobe that has the ability to transport them to a completely different world called Narnia. This series is full of excitement and adventure and has been beloved for generations.
In November, we read middle grade historical fiction titles.
The primary books were:
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
It’s 1940 in London, right in the middle of World War II when three children become orphaned. Unsure what to do, they leave their home and head for the countryside in hopes of finding a good temporary or even permanent home. I cannot WAIT to read this one to my girls this year.
Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus
A heartwarming true story about a group of French teenagers who put their lives at risk in order to save thousands of lives through forgery skills, high-risk message carrying and smuggling people through the mountains.
The secondary books were:
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte
This book has won numerous awards in the past couple of years and it’s on my to-read list. The story begins with Mary Lambert, who is deaf. She has always felt safe and connected with everyone because almost everyone on the island of Martha’s Vineyard is also deaf and uses sign language. This way of life is challenged though when a scientist arrives at the island trying to dig up the mystery of why deafness on this island is prevalent, using Mary as his experimental guinea pig.
Pony by R.J. Palacio
From the extremely popular book, Wonder, comes the author’s new story about a boy whose father is kidnapped in the middle of the night. Silas make the courageous decision to take one of the robbers horses to journey across the country in search of his dad.
The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Susan Blackall
I love The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, so I’m anxious to read this one to my girls as well. Baby Beatryce is found in the stalls at the monastery. She is dirty, bloody, sick as can be and clinging to a goat. As the monks take care of Beatryce, they figure out she has powers the king wants and he will do anything to get his hands on the girl.
If you’re wondering if I read all the books on this list this year, the answer is a definitive no. I did my best, but I wasn’t even CLOSE most months.
What did you book club read this year? I’d love to hear!
And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!