Madame Esme's
Read-Aloud Resuscitation!

Big kids need love...and literature...too! This is a list of books that I have had positive experience with when sharing reading with intermediate aged children (grades 4 through 8). For helpful hints about reading out loud, click here.

Aardema, Verna. What's So Funny, Ketu?
African folktale about a man who believes he must keep a secret in order to stay alive. Picture book.

Aiken, Joan. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
Two children cooperate to overcome the trickery of an avaricious governess in this chilling, thrilling nod to Dickens. Chapter book fiction.

Ardizzone, Edward. Tim All Alone.
Tim, separated from his parents at sea, must be braveuntil he can find them again. Picture book.

Banks, Lynne Reid. The Indian in the Cupboard.
Omri gets more responsibility than he bargains for when his plastic toy comes to life. Chapter book fantasy.

Bellairs, John. The House With a Clock in Its Walls.
A mystery waits to be solved within the walls and corridors of the mansion of an eccentric uncle, but the clock is ticking. Chapter book fiction, mystery.

Brittain, Bill. The Wish Giver.
Four wishes are granted to four small-town folk, no trade-backs, no-nothing-backs. Chapter book fantasy.

Brown, Jeff. Flat Stanley.
Crushed by a bulletin board, Stanley makes use of his new shape. Short story.

Brumbeau, Jeff. The Quiltmaker's Gift.
A quiltmaker designs a beautiful blanky to cover a greedy king's behind. Picture book.

Burch, Robert. Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain.
Like an Appalachian Mary Poppins, this energetic young woman comes to help run a home in Depression-era Georgia. Chapter book fiction.

Cameron, Ann. The Stories Julian Tells.
Three vignettes about life in a lively African-American family. Short Stories.

Carey, Valerie Scho. The Devil and Mother Crump.
Folktale about a woman "mean as the devil" who almost meets her match. Picture book folktale.

Cleary, Beverly. Beezus and Ramona.
An older sister seeks to find redeeming qualities in her bratty little sister, and in herself. One of the very first in the "Ramona" series. Chapter book fiction.

Clements, Andrew. Frindle.
A boy invents a new word and makes an adversary of his dictionary-devout teacher. Chapter book fiction.

Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog.
Jack's opinion of poetry changes after connecting with an author. Fiction told in verse.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963.
A turbulent time told through the cross-eyes of little brother Kenny. Chapter book, historical fiction.

Dahl, Roald. The Twits.
A monkey family makes a creative escape from the clutches of the world's most repulsive couple. Chapter book fantasy.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Willy Wonka opens his door and reveals his candy making secrets to five children, of which four are near-fatally flawed. Chapter book fantasy.

D'Aulaire Ingri and Edgar. The D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths.
The definitive guide to Greek mythology for children. Mythology/ short stories.

DeJong, Meindert. The House of Sixty Fathers.
Tien Pao is caught in the crossfire of war when his sampan is swept into Japanese territory, separating him from his family. Chapter book, historical fiction.

The Wheel on the School.
Students try to bring storks to nest in a small Dutch village. Chapter book fiction.

Demi. The Empty Pot.
An emperor announces a gardening contest to find his successor. Picture book folktale.

DiCamillo, Kate. Because of Winn Dixie.
With the help of a stray dog, a lonely girl makes unconventional friends in her southern town. Chapter book fiction.

The Tale of Desperaux.
A romantic mouse and a ruined rat search for love and light in a castle where anything can happen. Chapter book wonder tale.

Edwards, Julie Andrews. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.
A professor takes children on a magical hunt for an endangered species. Chapter book fantasy.

Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House.
Adventures on the frontier from the perspective of an Ojibwa girl. Chapter book, historical fiction.

Estes, Eleanor. The Hundred Dresses.
Teasing takes an especially unfashionable turn when a poor girl is targeted. Chapter book fiction.

Farber, Norma. How Does It Feel to Be Old?
A grandma gives the straight dope, in free verse. Poetry.

Farjeon, Eleanor. A Little Bookroom.
A wide variety of both realistic and wonder tales that speak straight to the heart of a child. Short stories.

Fisher, Dorothy Canfield. Understood Betsy.
A timid city girl learns to take life by the reins in the countryside. Chapter book fiction.

Fitzgerald, John. The Great Brain.
A young schemer turns a buck in turn-of-the-century Utah. Chapter book fiction/memoir.

Fleischman, Paul. Half-A-Moon Inn.
A chiller about a mute boy who is held captive in a hellatious bed-and-breakfast. Chapter book fiction.

Gardiner, John Reynolds. Stone Fox.
A boy needs to win a bobsled race to save his grandfather's farm. Chapter book fiction.

Glass, Tom. Even A Little is Something.
Vignettes from a little girl's life in modern Thailand. Short stories.

Hughes, Ted. The Iron Giant.
A post-modern monster comes to earth in an ecological parable. Chapter book fantasy.

Jarrell, Randall. The Bat Poet.
A bat who stays awake during the day gains the insight he needs to make him an artist. Chapter book wonder tale.

Kipling, Rudyard. Mowgli's Brothers. (illustrated by Christopher Wormell)
Coming of age story about a boy raised by jungle animals. Wonder tale, legend.

Koch, Kenneth and Farrell, Kate. Talking to the Sun: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems for Young People.
An introductory collection spanning time, culture and style, illustrated with fine art. Poetry.

Konisburg, E.L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
A brother and sister run away from home and hide out in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Chapter book fiction/mystery.

Korczak, Janusz. King Matt the First.
Masterpiece about a country run by a child. Chapter book fiction.

Kotzwinkle, William. Trouble in Bugland.
It's entomological, my dear Watson! Sherlock-style mysteries solved by a mantis sleuth. Mystery/short stories.

Levine, Gail Carson. Ella Enchanted.
The gift of obedience feels like a curse in this compelling Cinderella take-off. Chapter book fantasy.

Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Siblings go into a closet and discover Narnia, where good and evil clash. Chapter book fantasy.

Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstocking.
An impish girl makes life very interesting for her neighbors. Chapter book fiction.

Lisle, Janet Taylor. Afternoon of the Elves.
A popular girl is drawn into the imaginative world of an outcast, learning her family secrets
and struggling to understand the pain that is happening right next door. Chapter book fiction.

Lord, Bette Bao. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.
A Chinese immigrant girl finds her place in the states through baseball. Chapter book fiction.

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars.
The Danish resistance helps a family escape capture by the Nazis. Chapter book, historical fiction.

Maguire, Gregory. The Dream Stealer.
Two intrepid children enlist the services of the fearsome witch Baba Yaga to stop a wolf that terrorizes their village in this heart-pounding nod to Russian folklore. Chapter book, legend.

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley.
One man uses his dream of photographing snowflakes to create a gift for the world. Picture book biography.

McCaughrean, Geraldine, translator. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
If Queen Shahrazad wants to keep her head, she has to tell the king a cliffhanger every night. Short Stories, legend.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Shiloh.
Marty is faced with huge ethical dilemmas when he tries to shelter a mistreated dog. Chapter book fiction.

Nhuong, Huynh Quang. The Land I Lost.
Memories of a boyhood in Vietnam. Memoir.

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet.
Left for dead in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash, Brian must become self-reliant to survive. Chapter book fiction.

Peck, Richard. A Long Way from Chicago.
Grandma Dowdel is kicking behind and taking names for each of the seven summers Joey and Mary Alice come up for a visit. Chapter book fiction.

Peck, Robert Newton. Soup and Me.
Two mischievous boys frolic in the Vermont countryside. Chapter book fiction.

Pene du Bois, William. The Twenty-One Balloons.
Professor William Waterman Sherman plans to spend his retirement crossing the Pacific in his hot-air balloon,
but instead comes down on a volcanic island inhabited by inventors and gourmets. Chapter book fantasy.

Pinkwater, Daniel. The Big Orange Splot.
Mr. Plumbean's house is where he wants to be, and it looks like all his dreams in this tribute to non-conformity. Picture book.

Polacco, Patricia. Pink and Say.
Two Union soldiers, one black, one white, meet against the backdrop of the Civil War. Picture book, historical fiction.

Richler, Mordecai. Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang.
Imprisoned for insulting a grown-up, Jacob Two-Two (who says everything twice to be heard over his brothers and sisters)
must depend on Kid Power to free him from the clutches of his pro-wrestling jailer. Chapter book fantasy.

Robinson, Barbara. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
The Herdmans, a.k.a "the worst kids in the entire history of the world," are cast in some unlikely roles. Chapter book fiction.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Hogwarts School will never be the same after the arrival of this wizard-in-training. Chapter book fantasy.

Sachar, Louis. Holes.
Unlucky underdog Stanley Yelnats has to do hard time in a Texas juvenile detention facility. Chapter book fiction.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School.
A Zen guide to elementary education in the schoolhouse that was built thirty stories high. Short stories.

Saint-Exupery, Antoine de. The Little Prince.
Lost in the desert, a pilot finds an oasis in the insights of an intergalactic boy. Chapter book fiction.

Segal, Lore, translator. The Juniper Tree and other Tales from Grimm.
A collection of classic fairy tales in all their gory glory. Short stories.

Sendak, Jack. The Happy Rain.
When the sun starts to shine, a town that has only known gray skies is thrown into a panic, leaving children to research solutions. Picture book.

Seuss, Dr. The Sneetches and Other Stories.
A collection on the theme of prejudice and tolerance. Picture book, short stories.

Silverstein, Shel. The Giving Tree.
A tree gives more than it receives and a man receives more than he gives in a resonating parable. Picture book.

Singer, Isaac Bashevis. Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories.
Sometimes zany, often poignant stories of fools and wise men translated from the Yiddish. Short stories/folktales.

Spinelli, Jerry. Maniac Magee.
A larger-than-life hero confronts racism while living on the street. Chapter book fiction.

Steig, William. Shrek!
Even putrid monsters can find romance in this unlikely love story. Picture book.

Stockton, Frank. The Griffin and the Minor Canon.
When a hungry beast invades a small town, a civic-minded church subordinate is sent to handle the problem. Short story.

Storr, Catherine. The Adventures of Polly and the Wolf.
Wolf sets out to write a memoir to prove that "Polly is the stupid one," but the facts speak for themselves. Short stories, sequel to Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf which is also hilarious. I like the version illustrated by Marjorie Ann Watts. Short stories.

Van Allsburg, Chris. The Wretched Stone.
The crew of the Rita Anne undergoes a dastardly metamorphosis upon the arrival of a strange, glowing rock. Picture book.

The Polar Express.
Modern classic of one boy's midnight trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Picture book.

Van Meter, Vicki. Taking Flight.
True account from a twelve year old girl who piloted a plane over the Atlantic. Memoir.

White, E.B. Charlotte's Web.
"Some Pig" Wilbur meets world, conquers world with the help of an A+ arachnid. Chapter book wonder tale.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House in the Big Woods.
First in a series of books depicting the hardscrabble life of a pioneer family. Memoir.

Williams, Ursula Moray. The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse.
A toy ventures out in the wide world to seek his fortune and help the man who made him. I like the version illustrated by Peggy Fortnum. Chapter book wonder tale.

Zemach, Harve and Margot. A Penny A Look.
A schemer gets a bright idea to capture a one-eyed man with the help of his less ambitious brother. Picture book.

My Favorite Childhood Books

These books were my favorites when I was an intermediate reader. A favorite reading memory I have is when my father read aloud The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, changing his voice to match the characters. Or when my mother would read from a short story from a recent copy of The New Yorker at bedtime. Or when my Uncle Dave gave me his entire collection of Dennis the Menace comic books...for keeps! What is your favorite childhood book, or childhood reading memory? If you'd like to share, please e-mail me!

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    This is not a great read-aloud, it is a more personal book. I remember when my father gave it to me, I was daunted by the "width" of the book. By the time I was finished, I was crying, wishing for a magic button I could press to make 400 more pages appear at the end of the book! Instead, I reread the book a half dozen more times, and still have not tired of Francie Nolan's look into turn- of-the-century city life.
  • A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
    This is the classic story of a little badger who almost gets duped out of a teas set. I was so jealous of the author's talent for dialogue, that when I was six years old I crossed out the name on the title page and wrote my own in. I then ran to my mother, shouting, "look what I wrote!" I named my first son Russell, after this author.
  • The Something by Natalie Babbitt
    In this story, a precocious little monster is afraid of the dark, and his mother gives him some clay to try to put a form to his fears. The outcome is oddly familiar...and ironic.
  • Suzuki Beane by Sandra Scoppettone (now out-of-print)
    "Henry and I were going on the road/andwherever we went we would get other kids who weren't allowed to be people and by the time we got to the coast we'd have enough kids to start our own village/where a square could be a square and a swinging cat could swing in peace/and kids could feel things because they do..." Started my dream of my own classroom. Also, a great book of dancing tips.
  • Rabbit and Skunk and Spooks by Carla Stevens, illustrated by Robert Kraus (now out-of-print)
    Along with Rabbit and Skunk and the Scary Rock and Rabbit and Skunk and the Big Fight, these simple, clever books were great lessons in laughter. Full of inspired sound effects ("Whump! Whump! Whump!" "Eeeeeyipyipyip!" "Whoooeeeeeee!"), I still love reading these books thirty years later.
  • Bennett Cerf's Book of Laughs by Bennett Cerf, illustrated by Carl Rose (now out-of-print)
    Marvin the Joke Boy delivers punch lines that pack a punch. I liked this book so much, when I grew up I married a man who looked like the adult version of Marvin the Joke Boy.

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