We Recommend, Part 1!

Our new feature, in which we recommend books based on what you tell us in an email, begins now. If you have specific questions, needs, or desires (my child is a reluctant reader who loves carnage but hates cats) send it to us here, and we will do our best to recommend the right book for you.

So many of you wrote, with such excellent questions. Here's our first case. An 8-year-old girl who loves Roald Dahl and Louis Sachar, but hasn't gone for parent-recommended classics like the Chronicles of Narnia or Madleine L'Engle. She's a strong reader, a bit of a loner, and has an old-fashioned sense to her.

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Diana and I think she might go for The Immortals, the Tamora Pierce series about a girl who has animal magic—she can communicate with animals, and she has great power. It can be a bit intense, with bad guys etc, but it was much loved here at the same age. It's smart and strange and interesting.
What would you guys recommend to her?

19 thoughts on “We Recommend, Part 1!

  1. At 8 I could not get enough of Anne of Green Gables and her endless sequels.
    For this little girl, as a strong reader and a lover of Roald Dahl, she might be ready to try the Lemony Snicket books?

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  2. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. It’s like an updated Little Women, a favorite in our home. Definitely a 4-6th grade reading level, but you said the girl was a strong reader.

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  3. Wow, all interesting calls. I figured the Immortals because of the animal magic, for some reason. And Diana wanted me to put The Sisters Grimm, but I haven’t read it, so I didn’t think I could recommend it. I think Lemony Snicket is a good call; lots of sinister humor.

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  4. Oh, I loved E Nesbit and the Oz books too. They’re less dark than Roald Dahl, but I was always a sucker for anything with magic in it. There’s a distinctly British feel to E Nesbit that might appeal to a reader who’s “old fashioned” in her sensibilities.
    And, I don’t know, it’s a completely different kind of a book, but at that age I was also completely enraptured by “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” Solitary girl makes her way, survives and thrives alone, all that. Just a thought!

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  5. As the mother to this 8 year old girl, I am so delighted with and grateful for all these recommendations! Several of these books are new to me, and we will be visiting our library to explore brave new wolds all summer long. Thanks, Diamond, Diana and everyone!

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  6. I am marking so many of these blog posts it’s ridiculous, and yet my kid is not even 2 yet. I’m wondering what was the first chapter book you read to your girls, and how old were they?

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  7. First chapter book, if you count a sort of Step Into Reading, this is divided into chapters to make you feel like it’s a chapter book, was The Big Balloon Race, which they loved irrationally. Real book? E.B. White, baby, all the way. The weird non-narrative drive of Stuart Little made it perfect when they were 3 and 4. Also, Winnie the Pooh, so old but so crazy and excellent. And his poetry, too.

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  8. I got The Blue Sword out when a blog-friend recommended it. My daughter (7 or newly 8 at the time) read a few pages and said “no thanks.” I read it and loved it, but it did have some mature themes. I think she’d like it better now after she’s read all of Tamora Pierce 3 or 4 times.

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  9. The Alanna books rather than the Imortals I think. Also, “Island of the Aunts” or the “Beasts of Clawstone Castle”- Eva Ibbotson (she was a huge favorite but not her historical titles)
    “Baby Island”- Carol Ryrie Brink

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  10. My daughter is also 8 and would recommend the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. She’s also raced through The Sisters Grimm series, and the Anastasia books by Lois Lowry. The Deltora Quest series by Emily Rodda (an Australian author) are also excellent, and we’re currently reading together The Little white horse by Elizabeth Goudge.
    Love your blog
    Loretta

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  11. I can’t believe no one here has mentioned Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain quintet. I first read them when I was around 8- 20 years later they still remain some of the most-read books on my bookshelf.
    This is a great blog. I’m going to recommend it to my sister-in-law who is always looking for good reading material for my ridiculously bookwormish 7 year old niece.

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  12. Oh, The Little White Horse! I haven’t thought of that book for years and years, but I loved it, loved it, loved it when I was a strong reader of eight or nine with a taste for bookish British nineteenth century fantasy…..
    Another mother of a not-yet-two-year-old planning for the future.

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  13. My friend Meghan is 9 years old and she suggests The Fire Within series: The Fire Within, Icefire, Firestar, The Fire Eternal. She says they’re about clay dragons that come to life, and the history of dragons.
    Thanks for this blog!

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  14. I’m possibly too late to be a useful contributor, but when I have this sort of case at the bookstore where I work, I always recommend Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men. Funny, smart, a little bit of a loner heroine, and she’s doesn’t buy all that twee fairy stuff. It’s a book with magic in, but it’s oddly pragmatic and marvelously absorbing and thoughtful, too. (Nation is a great one of his, too, but I’d wait to read that til older–maybe 12 or 13?–because the opening scenes are pretty heartbreaking. )

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