The Broke and the Bookish, is sort of open—the topic is Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to People Who Don't Read (fill in the blank). Instead of choosing young adult/teen books as I originally planned, I thought I'd go back to children's literature, specifically middle grade books. There are a lot of beautiful and fantastic stories told for this age group and I think it is too easily dismissed by many. Click on the links to see my full reviews.
1. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine: This book moved me so much that I wish I could give everyone a copy. Told from the perspective of a girl with Asperger's, she tells her story of how she and her father come to Closure after her brother is killed in a school shooting. Just a beautiful book.
2. The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex: I listened to this on audio, and am actually relistening to it right now. Gratuity Tucci, 11 years old and left without a guardian after her mother is abducted, has to find her way to Florida after the Boov invade Earth. Not only is this really funny, the print version has pictures and comics, and there is actually a lot of parallels to history told through this invasion. If you like Douglas Adams, I bet you'd like this. Also, the audio is without compare—Bahni Turpin is brilliant.
3. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia: A quick read, but one you'll want to let sit for a while. 11-year-old Delphine is the oldest of the three girls in her family, and one summer they all go stay with their estranged mother in California, who is involved peripherally with the Black Panthers. I love that this talks about a period in history that isn't usually in children's books.
4. Diamond Willow by Helen Frost: This novel in verse is very short but is just full of emotion and heart. This is one of my favorite books I read last year, and I had to good fortune to meet Helen Frost this summer, which I am very grateful for. I am looking forward to reading her other books.
5. A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck: Every summer, Joey and Mary Alice visit their grandmother in her small Illinois town. Episodic in nature, each chapter is a different story from each summer they visit during the Depression. Grandma Dowdel is not a sweet little old lady—she's large and in charge and takes crap from no one. Lots of humor in this one, with an air of nostalgia since Joey is telling these stories from present day.
6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle: This will always have a special place in my heart. I think adults can appreciate this just as much as children. No one writes the way L'Engle did.
7. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: This is due for a reread for me soon. A road trip mixed with a story and some romance, mixed with a mystery. Just a great book.
8. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: This would probably be more up the alley of someone who has already read A Wrinkle in Time, but you can certainly appreciate it if you haven't. Time travel is mixed into a realistic historical fiction (historical, yes, but it takes place in 1979, so not too far in the past). Hard to explain, but again, a great story.
Okay, I didn't quite make it to 10 before running out of steam, but these are among the best I've read in a long time. Pick them up if you get the chance!