Quality literary fiction for 9-10 yo, that is not overwhelmingly depressing? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-09-2011, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What's wrong with quality literature for children these days? I'm looking for novels that are well written, not a part of a series, not science fiction or mystery. Books that I could read out loud to DD without breaking my tongue over one awkward sentence after another.

 

Today I found 'Underneath' in the book store. I read the first chapter--loved it. Beautiful, lyrical, evocative language; sentences flow; a pleasure to read. The first sentence is something like "There's no one sadder than cat who was once loved, and is now abandoned..." But I read the first chapter in the store, and it seemed like it was getting less sad. I'm not against SAD. I think it is wonderful to explore strong emotions. But I don't want the book to be depressing! DD is just too sensitive for books like this. And I remember how much I hated Chekhov, when my grandma read it to me (she loved Chekhov, and I guess was trying to kill two birds at the same time). It was all gut wrenching depressing.

 

Okay, back to 'Underneath'. I read the last chapter in the book store too--it was gentle, and a bit melancholy, but seemed like an affirming, positive ending.

 

I bought it for DD, and came home all excited to read it to her. Chapter one--abandoned pregnant cat. Chapter 2--an old severely abused dog. Chapter 3:--a dying tree. Chapter 4--a severely abused child. Graphic details. Chapter 5--the abused child grows up to be an exceptionally cruel adult, the owner and the abuser of the said dog.

 

By that time DD becomes quite upset, and I get quite upset as well. Everything is just so so depressing. She tells me that she will read it when she is 11 or 12, not before. She does know her limits.

 

Then I tell her that it all ends well, and maybe I could read the last chapter to her. I read it, and she says, 'So the mom cat died?' And well, doh, it is obvious that the dog, now free, goes on to live in the woods with the twin young cats. So it is obvious that the mom cat, and possibly her other kittens are dead, and I would bet it wasn't a pretty death.

 

And after rereading the ending, it seems that the alternate reading of it means that they all possibly died, and are in some kind of an alternate reality, living forever in the woods.

 

*I* find this book to be too depressing for me. I never return books, but I think I will return that one.

 

I don't want fluff, I'd like to find more books like The Night Faery, which has serious themes and some darkness and sadness, but is more positive overall. I wouldn't mind if it was even less dark.

 

So are there not so terribly depressing literary novels for ages 9-10? I would like my DD to be exposed to beautiful language and meaninful themes, without her being all anxious about animals being tortured, parents dying, graphic child abuse and so on.

 

 


My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 08-09-2011, 09:02 PM
 
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Are you mainly looking for recently-published books?  I don't have any good recommendations there, but I'll recommend some older books in case you don't already know about them. 

 

Ronia the Robber's Daughter

books by George MacDonald - The Golden Key, The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind

Coraline or The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (dark/scary in places, but not depressing)

The Animal Family - Randall Jarrell

The Jungle Book (sad in places, full of killing, but overall not depressing - and the writing is wonderful)

 

Tove Jansson's Moomin books are sort of a series, but each one can be read separately.  Maybe a 9-10 year old would think moomintrolls seemed too babyish, but the books aren't babyish at all.  The later ones especially are almost more for adults than for children.

 

Oh, and how about The Hobbit?

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Old 08-09-2011, 10:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! No, not necessarily recently published. We've read and reread the Jungle Book and the Moomin books in Russian, definitely our favorites. The last one of the Moomins, The Father and the Sea--one of my favorites ever! (Though I do find them a little haunting at times, but not even close to Underneath).
 

I remembered now that we do have Ronia in Russia as well, gotta go and find it! Or what the heck, we can read it in English.

 

I will check out the others. She is not into fantasy or scary things either, and doesn't generally like mystery. I would like to focus more on the beauty of the language, when I read to her. Both because it is easier to read out loud, and because, well, I would like her to be exposed to it.

 

Are the more recent books, the ones that win awards, predominantly dark and depressing?

 

 

 

 

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Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post

Are you mainly looking for recently-published books?  I don't have any good recommendations there, but I'll recommend some older books in case you don't already know about them. 

 

Ronia the Robber's Daughter

books by George MacDonald - The Golden Key, The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind

Coraline or The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (dark/scary in places, but not depressing)

The Animal Family - Randall Jarrell

The Jungle Book (sad in places, full of killing, but overall not depressing - and the writing is wonderful)

 

Tove Jansson's Moomin books are sort of a series, but each one can be read separately.  Maybe a 9-10 year old would think moomintrolls seemed too babyish, but the books aren't babyish at all.  The later ones especially are almost more for adults than for children.

 

Oh, and how about The Hobbit?



 


My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:05 PM
 
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I'm trying to think of more "fun" types of books or classics with appealing language:

 

Pushcart War

 

Pippi Longstocking

 

Wind in the Willows (fantastical, but not of the Harry Potter type of Sci Fi/Fantasy)

 

Phantom Tollbooth (also fantastical, but not Harry Potter style)

 

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

 

Thimble Summer

 

All of a Kind Family (though this is part of a series)

 

Betsy-Tacy (also one of a series but highly recommended fun for girls)

 

Misty of Chincoteague

 

Treasure Island

 

National Velvet

 

Samantha on Stage (by Farrar)

 

Ballet Shoes (also one of a series but very fun)

 

All the L.M. Montgomery books ("Anne" series and "Emily" series)

 

Heidi

 

"The Borrowers" series and "The Littles" series -- (also fantastical but not in that Harry Potter way)

 

 

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Old 08-09-2011, 11:07 PM
 
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Oh and Tuck Everlasting might be good.

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Old 08-10-2011, 05:28 AM
 
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If you also like books in a medieval / fantasy setting (like Ronja the Robber's daughter) then you might want to give author Tamora Pierce a shot:

 

As a kid (at about 10 years of age) I LOVED her book "Alanna: Song of the Lioness" (first adventure and also the following books in the series).

 

It's in a medieval setting and it's about a young girl of noble birth that her (slightly absentminded) father wants to send off to become a lady. Problem is, she's quite a tomboy and doesn't WANT to become nothing more than marriage fodder. So she switches places with her twin brother (who would much rather become a magician than a Knight of the Realm) and goes off to court, disguising herself to be a boy, to become a Knight.

 

In the course of her adventures, she befriends the local King of Thieves, deals effectively with a bully, becomes the page of the prince (who is also training to be a knight), helps fight off a plague and defeats some evil spirits. Life does not make things easy for her and she has to face and overcome some serious challenges and almost gives up a time or two, but in the end, she succeeds.

 

I liked this book because it shows someone who works hard, is determined and courageous and will go to great lenghts to help and protect other people.

 

Other good books by Tamora Pierce:

 

The Dhana series (same world, story of a girl that speaks to animals at a time where creatures of myth and magic return to the world)

 

Terrier (book, written as a diary, of a girl who want to become the medieval equivalent of a policeman. Archaic language for a bit, but good story)

 


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Old 08-10-2011, 07:20 AM
 
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Are the more recent books, the ones that win awards, predominantly dark and depressing?

 


I'm not sure; I don't make an effort to keep up with the latest books that come out, since almost everything ever written is just as new to my kids.  We've listened to The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Penderwicks as audio books.  Edward Tulane had a sad part that made me cry, but wasn't too depressing overall.  The Penderwicks wasn't a bit depressing; that might be a good one for you.  (There's a whole series now, but you can read the first book without reading the others.)

 

Maybe books by Eleanor Estes would be good.  Ginger Pye was a big hit here.  Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield is good, too.  I recently read 8 1/2 year old DD The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton, and she liked it, but I thought she might have liked it even more if she had been a bit older, so it might be about right for a 9-10 year old.  There are other books by Jane Langton about the same family, which makes it a series, I guess, but I think each one can stand alone.  We haven't read the others yet.  I'd say all of the above qualify as "literary," though not quite in the same class as The Jungle Book or the Moomin books.

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Old 08-10-2011, 09:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by midnightwriter View Post

What's wrong with quality literature for children these days? 

 

..............

 

So are there not so terribly depressing literary novels for ages 9-10? I would like my DD to be exposed to beautiful language and meaninful themes, without her being all anxious about animals being tortured, parents dying, graphic child abuse and so on.

 

 


 

 

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Originally Posted by midnightwriter View Post

 

Are the more recent books, the ones that win awards, predominantly dark and depressing?

 

 


 

It's a much discussed issue in the juvenile publishing industry. You may be interested in this piece from Salon.com, about the depressing nature of Newbery award winners. Even though it's 10 years old, I don't think things have changed much in the past decade. 

 

I also think this Australian blogger makes some good points about Whither the Children's Book? She notes that "children's books" are often co-opted as "young adult".  

 

Authors and publishers want to capture as wide an audience as possible, bridging the children and young adult markets.  Couple this with an attitude that to be "literary" and make the awards lists (and thus obtain valuable cred for marketing purposes), the book must have dark, mature, overwrought themes. End result - the shelf space at the bookstores and the libraries is filled with dark and depressing material. A lot of it is "beautifully written" (isn't that phrase a tip-off that you are going to want to launch yourself off a building in despair by the time you turn the last page?). I think these books have their place and my kids (and I) have read a lot of them and appreciated them. However, I'm always looking out for beautifully written, funny, uplifting books. I wish it was as easy to find them. 

 

Upthread, the suggestions for The Phantom Tollbooth etc. are great. Elizabeth Enright's Gone Away Lake and it's sequel are lovely. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Old 08-10-2011, 09:28 AM
 
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Oh and Tuck Everlasting might be good.


That is a wonderful book, but YMMV. DD finds it's depressing because the two young lovers must be separated and she eventually dies, while he is immortal and must live without her forever. She just re-read it, she reads it every summer, and loves it, but she was a little weepy as she finished it.  

 

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Old 08-10-2011, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 As a kid (at about 10 years of age) I LOVED her book "Alanna: Song of the Lioness" (first adventure and also the following books in the series).

 

It's in a medieval setting and it's about a young girl of noble birth that her (slightly absentminded) father wants to send off to become a lady. Problem is, she's quite a tomboy and doesn't WANT to become nothing more than marriage fodder. So she switches places with her twin brother (who would much rather become a magician than a Knight of the Realm) and goes off to court, disguising herself to be a boy, to become a Knight.

 

In the course of her adventures, she befriends the local King of Thieves, deals effectively with a bully, becomes the page of the prince (who is also training to be a knight), helps fight off a plague and defeats some evil spirits. Life does not make things easy for her and she has to face and overcome some serious challenges and almost gives up a time or two, but in the end, she succeeds.

 

 

 



O.M.G. I think a book just like this it as a child in Russian, and love it! I didn't even remember it until now, and I don't remember the details that you are mentioning per se, but I read this or a very similar book as a child and loved it! I only remeber the ending--as just images. Her climbing up an (apple?) tree in her yard, when she returns home, still dressed in boy's clothing? And does she find a boy she wants to marry, after all? Someone who was her friend and thought she was a boy too? I have to get the book now and check it out! I just googled, and it seems unlikely that it would be the same book, but I am excited to find this one to read with DD.

 


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Old 08-10-2011, 11:59 AM
 
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O.M.G. I think a book just like this it as a child in Russian, and love it! I didn't even remember it until now, and I don't remember the details that you are mentioning per se, but I read this or a very similar book as a child and loved it! I only remeber the ending--as just images. Her climbing up an (apple?) tree in her yard, when she returns home, still dressed in boy's clothing? And does she find a boy she wants to marry, after all? Someone who was her friend and thought she was a boy too? I have to get the book now and check it out! I just googled, and it seems unlikely that it would be the same book, but I am excited to find this one to read with DD.

 


LOL. No, song of the Lioness goes into a different direction. She goes on to be the first female knight in the realm, has lots of adventures....and does fall in love and marry in the end. In fact, Tamora Pierce has written a book about Alanna's daughter who is abducted, made a slave and becomes the spymaster for a revolution in a far off country (Trickster's choice)

 

If you find out though what the book is called that you read and thought of, then I'd LOVE to know the title and author, because it sounds like something I'd enjoy reading immensely  ^_^

 


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Old 08-10-2011, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. Great points about markets.

 

 

 



 

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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post


 


 

 


 

It's a much discussed issue in the juvenile publishing industry. You may be interested in this piece from Salon.com, about the depressing nature of Newbery award winners. Even though it's 10 years old, I don't think things have changed much in the past decade. 

 

I also think this Australian blogger makes some good points about Whither the Children's Book? She notes that "children's books" are often co-opted as "young adult".  

 

Authors and publishers want to capture as wide an audience as possible, bridging the children and young adult markets.  Couple this with an attitude that to be "literary" and make the awards lists (and thus obtain valuable cred for marketing purposes), the book must have dark, mature, overwrought themes. End result - the shelf space at the bookstores and the libraries is filled with dark and depressing material. A lot of it is "beautifully written" (isn't that phrase a tip-off that you are going to want to launch yourself off a building in despair by the time you turn the last page?). I think these books have their place and my kids (and I) have read a lot of them and appreciated them. However, I'm always looking out for beautifully written, funny, uplifting books. I wish it was as easy to find them. 

 

Upthread, the suggestions for The Phantom Tollbooth etc. are great. Elizabeth Enright's Gone Away Lake and it's sequel are lovely. 

 

 

 

 

 



 


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Old 08-10-2011, 12:39 PM
 
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Aahhh, you need the Penderwicks! Perfect for a read aloud for a 9-10 yr old girl. Very well written. Not fantasy or sci-fi. Not depressing, but enough action to keep you enthralled. It's about 4 sisters and their dad. Their mom has died about 3-4 yrs before the action of the book starts, so there's that in the background, but that's not at all the major tone of the book. It's really great. It's got an old-fashioned feel, but it's contemporarily set. There are two others in the series, but they are fine to be read alone. I would start with "The Penderwicks" which is the first and then go on to "The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, and then "The Penderwicks on Mouette Point", but you could read them out of order if you wanted. 

 

Very well done!


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Old 08-10-2011, 12:56 PM
 
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Ooohhhhh.....that reminds me!

 

Hou about these books by Frances Hodgson Burnette:

The Secret Garden

Girl is sent off to live with relatives in a huge english manor, befriends servant boy and little rich boy and the three of them secretly plant / tend to a garden hidden on the grounds of the manor.

 

A Little Princess

Little rich girl who lived in India with her dad is sent off to boarding school in England. Dad dies. Little girl is left destitute and has to work at the school as a maid to earn her keep. Mysterious benefactor from India appears and rescues her.

 

Little Lord Fauntleroy

Little boy from America is sent to live with his grandfather, who is an english Lord, and rather grumpy. Little boy charms everybody, including his grandfather, who discovers his philantrophic side.

 


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Old 08-10-2011, 12:58 PM
 
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Some other books that especially appeal to girls are The Sisters Club (a series, but the first stands alone fine) by Megan McDonald, author of the Judy Moody series (which also might be worth a look, but more in the 7-8yr old range IMO), "Ten" and "Eleven" by Lauren Myracle (a series that follows a year in the life of a girl named Winnie — some of the teen ones deal more with teen issues, kisses, etc, so YMMV there), maybe Clementine (I would say 7-9 yr old range) — these are very funny!

 

For fantasy books, my kids love Harry Potter (they've read the first 3 and dd1 is working on #4), The Sisters Grimm series (funny, rollicking, action-packed stories about Fairy Tale Detectives—not sad, but there is some fighting), The Frog Princess series by E.D. Baker (funny, but a bit annoying for me—kids love it), and the Gaia Girls series by Lee Welles (earth super power series).

 

Good luck!!

 

Oh, I recommend "Pinky Pye" by Eleanor Estes over "Ginger Pye" if your dd is especially sensitive. Ginger the dog is lost in "Ginger Pye" and in "Pinky Pye" they adopt a new kitten, Pinky.


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Old 08-10-2011, 01:27 PM
 
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Oh, I recommend "Pinky Pye" by Eleanor Estes over "Ginger Pye" if your dd is especially sensitive. Ginger the dog is lost in "Ginger Pye"


But eventually found again, so there is a happy ending.

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Old 08-10-2011, 02:44 PM
 
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For the youngish set - Frindle.  Imparts a love of words to (watch Akeelah and the Bee for more on this topic)

 

My DD enjoyed City of Ember (alternate society - but not depressing - is part of a mini (4 book) series)

 

From the Mixed up files of Basil E. Frankweiler (mystery, family - great book!)

 

The Mysterious Benedict Society (fun - is part of a series - good for bright kids)

 

A Wrinkle in time  (good for smart girls, does grapple with some big issues -but is overall well written)

 

 

 

 

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Old 08-11-2011, 08:25 AM
 
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Also, since no one has mentioned it yet -- if you and your daughter have a love of language, I think poetry would be wonderful.

 

I, personally, have always hated every word written by Shel Silverstein, but there are tons of options for kids beyond his work.

 

For my girls, I already have some books tucked away for when they are your daughters age.  I have a great book called "A Child's Introduction to Poetry" by Michael Driscoll -- talks about styles and forms of poetry in a charming way, and then has a nice selection of some of the classics in the back -- can't wait until my girls are old enough to enjoy it.

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Old 08-11-2011, 08:34 AM
 
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Also -- maybe Hilaire Belloc for beautiful, non-depressing words -- The Bad Child's Book of Beasts is great.

 

 

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Old 08-11-2011, 08:43 AM
 
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Sorry for the serial posting -- can't seem to edit earlier posts!  Also, if you like Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones is great.   Jones has a number of good books out there - she might also be familiar to some as the writer of the book that was the basis for the movie "Howl's Moving Castle".

 

I do think that many of Pierce's and Jones' books are verging on YA so they might be better a little later or they may work since you are looking for read aloud stuff. 

 

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Old 08-11-2011, 09:14 AM
 
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Sorry for the serial posting -- can't seem to edit earlier posts!  Also, if you like Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones is great.   Jones has a number of good books out there - she might also be familiar to some as the writer of the book that was the basis for the movie "Howl's Moving Castle".

 

I do think that many of Pierce's and Jones' books are verging on YA so they might be better a little later or they may work since you are looking for read aloud stuff. 

 



I know you're looking for books and not movies, but I can really recommend the "Howl's Moving Castle" that was mentioned and also "My neighbor Totoro" and "Spirited Away", two other Ghibli studios movies.


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Old 08-15-2011, 10:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you! I have a good list now. Btw, we *adore* My Neighbour Totoro. Haven't watched the Kiki's delivery...as it is characterised as 'darker'. But the last time I thought about it was a year ago.


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Old 08-16-2011, 06:37 AM
 
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Oh, Kiki's Delivery Service isn't dark at all!  Watch it!

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Old 08-16-2011, 08:10 AM
 
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The OP mentioned two things that are very popular in Children’s literature these days that my son definitely is not a fan of: dark depressing books and fantasy.

With the exception of the Percy Jackson series, my son really does not go for all the fantasy books (I am the fantasy addict these days!). He likes books that take place in the real world.   He also hates books that are too depressing. He read the first page of a Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and did not want to read any more, even though I told him that it actually is supposed to get humorous later on. Same goes for the Graveyard book Neil Gaiman. The baby’s parents get stabbed to death in the first chapter!  Not his cup of tea at all!

The writer Judy Blume has written a number of both children’s and YA books that are both realistic, honest and  funny and sometimes not so funny . The problems the children   face are real ones that kids can identify with, but not super tragic like losing your parents or things like that. My son just read  Then Again Maybe I won’t and loved it. It is more for preteens but when he was younger he loved her Fudge books and Sheila books.   Blume has received numerous literary awards and her works definitely can be considered "quality literature".

 Here is her website: http://www.judyblume.com/

 

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Old 08-16-2011, 08:13 AM
 
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jalilah - Gordon Korman might work for your son.  

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Old 08-16-2011, 08:53 AM
 
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If you can get a hold of a copy I always recommend A.A. Milne's Once Upon a Time. It is a beautiful, well written book that really has as much to give to an adult reading it for the first time as a small child. It is set in a classical fairy tale setting, with a king (or two), a princess, a prince charming and all that but written with such a lot of humour, and unexpected twists and turns, that even if the underlying story is rather serious (two kings going to war with each other over something very silly) you can't help but laugh and feel good in the end. So, highly recommend that one since even if it is old, it still holds it fascination today.

 

Another favourite of mine is Roald Dahl. Again, an author you will enjoy as much as an adult as a young child because the stories have such depth. They read wonderfully aloud. A few invented words here and there, true, but not any strange ones. The underpinnings of his stories are usually rather dark (orphaned children, poor children) but usually the stories themselves have a positive note to them since they are about the children finding friendship and happiness in life. Matilde might be a good one to begin with, or Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. (Might have got the titles wrong, since I have them in Swedish).

 

Some already mentioned Neil Gaiman, and I will second that. I especially love The Graveyard Book. Which also have a bit of a dark underpinning (it is sort of, in a very roundabout way, a murder mystery) but is written with a lot of love and humour too. Though, I will say that if you have a sensitive daughter who is easily scared perhaps Neil Gaiman is better left until she is a bit older, or for daytime reading (if you do any). Because some chapters made me have very vivid dreams afterwards.

 

The three authors just mentioned have that in common that they have written their books not so much for children, as for their own enjoyment with a mind to the age appropriate. You can really feel it when you read them, in the way the language flows over the pages. In the way the stories twist and turn, making even an adult reader wonder where the story will end up. Also you said you wanted books that does not make your tongue knot itself, trying to pronounce strange sentences. These definitely will keep to that. Even if the vocabulary is rich and varied in them (none of that mind numbing "easy reading" language) I think most ten year olds will not have any problems whatsoever with them. The few new words there might be offers a nice chance to widen the vocabulary.

 

Anyhow, at the age of 10 I was still too young too really appreciate Anne of Green Gables (that I saw mentioned above). Yes, the first part of the book might work. With school, and meeting Gilbert and Diana and all that. But really, I would wait until she is a teen before introducing that, because I think it is best read in the age where you start to be aware of true romance, which I really wasn't until around 13-14.

 

 

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Old 08-25-2011, 05:32 PM
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Some that haven't been mention:

 

Susan Creech's "Bloomability"  (but skip her award winner "walk two moons"--it is a great book but very sad)

 

I liked the book "Al Capone Does My Shirts" by Choldenko

 

And how about the "Alice" books by Naylor.  If you read through them, Alice grows up.  It is very realistic and covers things that would really happen to a young girl--puberty, first loves, etc.  Alice's mother did die when she was little and sometimes Alice will mention it or try hard to remember her mom.  That aspect is done really well though and neither me, nor my dd cried about it.  (I am more likely to sob than she, though she has currently banned all "dog" books from our house)  Just read reviews and the later books aren't that great.  I stopped reading them about where Alice is in 9th grade.

 

Speaking of dog stories, there is "No More Dead Dogs" by Gordan Korman-- main character doesn't want anything to do with another book in which the dog dies.  This is humerous and fun.

 

Amy


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Old 08-25-2011, 08:55 PM
 
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I just read one to my kids that probably should be mentioned on this thread: The Garden Behind the Moon, by Howard Pyle.  I really liked it, and the kids did too, most of the way along, but at the end when I asked DD how many stars she would give it, I was a little surprised that she only said 2 or 3.  Apparently she felt the ending of it was "too mysterious."  It was a little mysterious to me, too, but I kind of like that in a book.  (It is fantasy, so maybe not quite what your DD would like best, Midnightwriter.)

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Old 08-25-2011, 09:19 PM
 
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I'm thinking back on what I liked... a lot of it was series though... the Wizard of Oz series (there's a lot of them), Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. I think for either of those, though, any one given book can stand alone. What about Louisa May Alcott? Some of her stuff may be hard for a 9-10 year old to get into, but reading it with a parent might help with that.

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Old 08-28-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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I am going to take note of many of the books we have not yet read in this thread.  Thanks.

 

My kids loved Grace Lin's Where the Mountain meets the Moon.  My ds also read The Year of the Dog by Lin at school and really liked it.  We read a mix of books for boys and girls and my dc seem to like both.  Both loved the How to Train your Dragon series, but it is more boyish with the main hero being a boy.  Both dc liked The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Di Camillo.  We also read Eduard Tulane and the one about the Tiger, but Despereaux was better to us.  This summer we read Heart of a Sumari, which was fiction, but based on the historical figure Manjiro aka John Mung.  We also read Hugo Cabret, which had amazing graphics as well as a story that made them interested the film director George Melies and automata. 

 

I read Howl's Moving Castle books (there were 3) by Diane Wynn Jones to my dc a couple years ago, and they really loved them.  We opted for the stories opposed to the movie with ds because he gets over excited by movies.  The kids did see the movie Kiki's Delivery Service and loved it too.  We do have the book, but only ever started it- never finished.  We have a Studio Ghibli book for My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away that has images from the movies with text.  Kids like to read it, but it is not a chapter book.  We also got the graphic novel that The Cat Returns was based on.  It is good, and I enjoy graphic novels.  

 

We are currently reading the 2 nd Percy Jackson book The Sea of Monsters.  Both ds (10) and dd (7) love it.  There are male and female characters- it is a lot like Harry Potter.  I read all the Harry Potters, but after reading the 1st one to the kids a couple of years ago, they did not want to hear any more.  They thought it was scary, yet they loved it and talk about it still today.  

 

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