Are you curling up with a good book on these cold wintry days? As a children’s librarian I try to make individualized recommendations to my students based on their interests. I was an avid reader as a child, curling up with a good book before I went to bed at night that was often part of a series like the Little House on the Prairie books or a good author for girls like Judy Blume. Who knew I would become a writer and librarian later on in life? (Actually my parents were very encouraging as they nurtured that interest,; my first paying job was actually working for one of the NYPL branches in Queens, NY.)
My younger students love nonfiction titles about animals and dinosaurs, pets, even cookbooks! By third grade, students only want to read graphic novels with illustrations such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Dork Diaries series. I encourage the reading of graphic books as a starting point, but kids are not really reading full novels anymore. There is a big gap between those grades and the middle school world of dystopia found in bestsellers Divergent and The Hunger Games. We need to prepare students for college by them being able to read lengthier texts.
As I often find myself in a quandary of what to recommend for readers from 8 to 12, I have turned to some of the vintage books of my youth. Kids still love reading mysteries, whether male or female. The modern A to Z Mysteries series are good for this age, but why not recommend some good old Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys too? Kids today still love reading Classic authors with a sense of humor such as Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and Shel Silverstein. Read the introduction to a vintage classic, Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren out loud and see if the kids don’t want to find out more about the main character who lives by herself with a pet monkey and a pirate for a father.