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A Single Pearl by Donna Jo Napoli is the wonderful tale of a grain of sand and its journey to becoming a pearl. More than that, it's a story about the amazing changes we're all capable of making. With beautifully rich images and amazing color, the pictures will keep your tyke engaged while the story will resonate with everyone.
The Frog and Toad Are Friends series by Arnold Lobel is the classic story of two friends and their adventures together. The series gives new readers a lot of practice with sight words and illustrations that reflect the story line while also teaching children social skills and morals that will last long beyond the pages of the books.
The book to get your older elementary student is Wonder by R.J. Palacio. A touching story about empathy, bullying, acceptance and friendship, the story is told first by the protagonist, Auggie Pullman, and then by others in his life, all dealing with the facial deformity Auggie was born with as he starts public school for the first time as a fifth grader. In an era were bullying in schools is a very real issue, this book is a great starter for the conversation with your own children about how we treat others and what it means to be a real friend.
If your middle schooler complains books are boring, introduce them to The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet. A mysterious story in a magical setting (Paris), the book is filled with questions, intrigue and the quest for immortality. The protagonist, Maya, is forced to leave her home behind for Paris as her father accepts a promising job and her mother, in remission from cancer, pleads with her to go along with it. But once there, mysterious people begin following her and her brother around, strange symbols seem to pop up everywhere she looks, and a cast of suspicious characters who never seem to age want to get to know her. This is a book that will grab your reticent reader from the beginning and leave them asking for more by the end.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner is a fast-paced thriller and the perfect follow-up book for teens who loved the Divergent and Catching Fire series. It begins with Thomas, a young man who wakes up in a metal box, not knowing who he is, where he is or where he's going. When the box finally opens, he crawls out and comes face to face with a society of boys exactly like him, living together in the "glade" and trying to find a way out through the labyrinth they call "the maze" that surrounds them. So begins his new life; trying to find a way for him and the others out of "the maze," but what lurks within its walls is much scarier than just getting lost, and what he has to lose may be his life.
For those looking for a fun, page-turning story that will keep you reading and make you feel nostalgic for the past all at once, pick up Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Set in the future in which everyone lives their lives entirely online in a virtual world known as OASIS, protagonist Wade Watts spends every waking moment trying to win a contest created by the OASIS's creator, a genius man who never wanted to leave the 1980s and so built his virtual world to reflect everything he loved most about his favorite decade. If Wade wins the contest, he wins control over OASIS, and the billion dollar company behind it. But he isn't the only person online vying for the prize, and the others will stop at nothing to win it.
If touching, memorable stories are more your cup of tea, try Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brundt. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is the achingly beautiful story of June Elbus, a 14-year-old who is grieving the loss of her best friend, her uncle Finn, from a mysterious illness no one wants to talk about. Alone and hurting, she begins receiving gifts from a friend of her uncle's, Toby, someone her parents have warned her to stay away from. But each gift that arrives comes with a plea to talk, and each gift is something that once belonged to her uncle. Desperate to hold on to Finn, she agrees to meet Toby and so begins a friendship that will force June to see the truth behind Finn's illness and lead her to forge new relationships from old ones that will mean more than they once did.