It has been a good long while since I published a Books My Kids Are Reading post.
My kids are 11 and 14, so they don’t want to sit on my lap reading stories like they did when they were younger. Also, they are a little too big to sit on my lap now.
I’m not crying. I just have a speck of dust in my eye.
Because of our current life stage and the fact that I had a speck of dust in my eye, I almost clicked delete on an email from a book publicist before I fully read it.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I don’t do sponsored posts around here even though it would be to my financial benefit. I don’t partner with companies to pitch their stuff. I don’t regularly accept “free” stuff. It’s not because I haven’t had opportunities. It’s just never felt right. But if Home Depot or a company like that comes knocking, all bets are off.
I do use affiliate links and Google ads because server space and security to keep hackers off my site does not pay for itself, unfortunately.
Back to the book publicist. She was asking if I would review a new children’s book because I had previously recommended another book by this particular author. Again, I don’t personally know this author or this publicist. I just write about books, usually library books, my kids actually enjoyed at the time.
I had to stop and ask my kids if they even remembered reading this author’s first book. That’s when my kids said, “THEY want US to read THEIR book?”
I could physically see their chests swelling with astonished pride and pleasure. A published author wanted their opinion! This was a big darn deal to them.
My kids, who are growing up with a healthy amount of skepticism about the online world, felt so darn special that I didn’t want to mention that this publicist was probably handing out free books like confetti to anyone who would post a review.
I emailed the publicist back and told her she could send us a book, but I would only write about it if my kids liked the book. I’m not in the business of mean, so if my kids didn’t like it, it would just be forgotten forever.
Here is that book and other books my kids are reading that we would recommend:
Books My Kids Are Reading: The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy
The book we were gifted by the publicist was The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy by Mary Winn Heider.
My 14-year-old did not want to read the book, which is okay because she is a little out of the age range for this book. I’m also a little out of the age range for this book, but thanks for not mentioning it.
My 11-year-old son and I read the book aloud together. I might have another speck of dust in my eye because I enjoyed spending this time with him.
The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy is about the interconnected, close-to-home adventure two siblings take after their dad, who has suffered traumatic brain injuries while being a professional quarterback, disappears. It is through their adventure that they come to terms with their grief and how to move forward with their new normal.
The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy has one of those wild movie settings where, as a parent, you can’t imagine anything like this (unattended kids, breaking and entering, vandalism, a gang of dancing teachers, a bear encounter, friendship with a pop star, etc.) actually happening. I am happy to keep these things within the confines of a book!
My 11-year-old and I read The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy over the course of about a week. At the end, I asked him if he liked it. He had a deeper response than I expected.
“Yeah. The depressing books have the best message. Kids should read it.”
I don’t know if the Mary Winn Heider intended for The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy to be depressing because there are plenty of laugh out loud moments that will make even the most jaded parent chuckle! However, the kids in this book are dealing with grief. They miss their dad. They don’t know where he went, if he’s okay, or if he’s coming back.
At the very end of the book there is a beautiful exchange about grief.
Louise thought for a second. “Mom, do you know anything about magnets?”
Her mom looked sideways at her. “Is this going to be another dig at how bad I am at selling houses?” she said with a smile.
Louise shook her head. “When a magnet gets weak, it’s not like it’s permanently broken. You can fix it. You just have to put it next to a stronger magnet, and then it gets stronger, too.”
Here mom took a raggedy breath. “You are very wise, kiddo.”
If there’s anything I’ve learned during a pandemic it is that kids are not spared from the hard things in life. The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy has a very poignant message sandwiched in between the mystery and wild tales of this book that I think middle graders will relate to either personally or because a friend is going through hard times.
Mary Winn Heider also wrote The Mortification of Fovea Munson, which was the book my kids remembered reading three years ago and my favorite of her two middle grade books.
Books My Kids are Reading: Warrior Cats: Broken Code series by Erin Hunter
The Warrior Cats series is designated for 8 – 12-year-olds, but my 14-year-old daughter has been reading the Warrior Cats books (there are multiple series) for YEARS and still loves them. Many of the Amazon reviews are from high schoolers who, like my daughter, have immersed themselves in the Warrior Cats world.
Yes, the series is about a mythological world of cats. The cats belong to clans and together face adventure and threats.
I was never into animal books as a kid, so I do not understand this genre. However, the books are best sellers and get 5-star reviews. I’m afraid to add up all the money we’ve spent on this series over the years!
If you want the very first book in the series, it dates back to 2003 and is called Warriors: Into the Wild.
Books My Kids Are Reading: The 130-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
My 11-year-old spent HIS OWN money on The 130-Story Treehouse. Actually, he’s spent his own money on all the books in this series that we own.
This book series features two friends, Andy and Terry, who write books from their epic treehouse that grows by 13 stories every book. The treehouse has, among other things, a soap bubble blaster, a time wasting level, and a toilet paper factory.
Each book centers around a wild adventure that makes it difficult for Andy and Terry to finish their book on time. In the The 130-Story Treehouse, the duo and their friend Jill have to escape from Planet Eyeballia.
Each book in this series is chock full of the silly humor that boys love with a strong theme of adventure, friendship, and responsibility.
If you have an older elementary kid that is a reluctant reader, this might be the book series to hook them. There are a ton of pictures, so it doesn’t feel like a chapter book. The series bridges that gap between chapter book and graphic novel.
If you are new to this series, definitely start with The 13-Story Treehouse, so your kiddo gets the full effect of the treehouse setting.
Books My Kids Are Reading: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
First, Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series IS NOT FOR LITTLE KIDS. It is classified as a young adult series.
That said, my 14-year-old has read four of the books, which are super highly rated and reviewed. I watched the movie that was made out of the first book.
The series is about a teen who travels to England where he finds the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Throw in a time loop, children who have strange abilities, and folks who want those children and you have the makings of a dark, thrilling, and creepy book series.
Books My Kids Are Reading: My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi
The books my 11-year-old spent the most time reading this past year are all manga. Manga books are tricky because they can get very explicit, very fast. Just because manga books have cartoon characters on them does not mean they are for kids.
I found this New York Public Library blog post about manga books helpful in explaining the different types of manga and recommending titles by age.
My 11-year-old has enjoyed the My Hero Academia series. The series is about a kid who is born without superpowers (quirks in the books) who really wants to have a superpower. The series does have some violence as heroes and villains battle it out.
Books My Kids Are Reading: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
My 14-year-old wanted to watch The Hunger Games movies earlier this year and I said, “Read the books first. They are SO good!”
She agreed Mom was right! It might be the first and last time she admits that.
The Hunger Games books are definitely worth a read. I read them as an adult and it is so much fun (and a little weird because it means my kid is growing up) to be able to share this series with my teenager.
Books My Kids Are Reading: National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020
Perhaps you should just skip over 2020 and go straight to the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2021. That’s what I would do!
The National Geographic Almanacs are the type of books we keep in the car or by the nightstand. My kids have never read these books from cover to cover. They treat them more like a magazine where you thumb through until you find something that catches your eye.
The National Geographic Kids Almanacs are good when you have only a few minutes of time and want to read something interesting because each page is a new topic.
If you’d rather your kids learn their random trivia from a trusted source rather than from a questionable YouTube video, get them one of these Almanacs.
That’s it for this round of Books My Kids are Reading.
It makes me happy to see my kids spending time with a book. If there are books you’d like to recommend my kids read, please let me know!
If you’d like to read past posts about Books My Kids are Reading, I will link them here. Keep in mind that when I started writing these, my kids were probably 7 and 10.
*affiliate links in this blog post*