The Children’s Book Review | December 14, 2018
Ally Condie Shares 3 Family Favorite Books
I have four kids, who range in age from seven to fifteen, and one of my favorite things is reading aloud to them. Now that my oldest is in high school, he doesn’t always hang out for that before-bed story time, but every now and then, he’ll get caught up in what I’m reading to the younger ones and join us. And, of course, if we’re on a long road trip, I can cue up an audio book and then we’re all sharing the same story. It’s one of the best parts of being a parent, this chance to share and discover favorite books with your kids. A few titles we’ve loved recently are:
Written by Grace Lin
We’ve read Mountain several times over the years, and it is a gorgeous little gem of a book. Every word is chosen so carefully, each sentence reads like poetry, and the illustrations (by the author) are gorgeous. There is one particular line (which I won’t spoil for you) that gets me every time.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | 2009 | ISBN-13: 9780316114271
Written by Gita Varadarajan and Sarah Weeks
We listened to the (fantastic) audiobook of this title on a looong road trip to Idaho to see the total solar eclipse in the summer of 2017. The readers are wonderful, and the shifts between Joe and Ravi’s points of view completely intrigued and interested my kids. The story beautifully addresses bullying, belonging, and friendship.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Scholastic | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0545846608
Written by Roshani Chokshi
Aru is hilarious, and several times my second and fifth graders belly-laughed as I read this to them. Not one single night went by that they didn’t beg for another chapter—the plot is rich and interesting, and the action is nonstop. This is one of the stories that my older kids would find their way in to listen to as well. They’re already asking to read it again, and we can’t wait for the sequel.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents | March 27, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1368012355
Brendan Reichs Shares 3 Family Favorite Books
Reading is very important in my family, for obvious reasons. But neither I nor my kids started out as motivated readers right from the jump. We each had hiccups and false starts on our paths to finding that one special story that could unlock the reading frenzy hidden inside everyone. So here are three books that were crucial to igniting the imaginations of me and my kids.
Created by Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes is the first thing I ever tore through like I couldn’t possibly get enough of it, so that’s what I turned to when my own son was balking at the idea of reading. We started with the first book in the collection, but it wasn’t until we got deep into the second title that he began to hunger for more. I think he realized that reading could be funny, something that perhaps hadn’t occurred to his eight-year-old mind yet. Calvin’s imaginary character “Spaceman Spiff” has been fundamental to two generations of my family in engaging with the written word. Never let anyone tell you that comics are cheap, or somehow lesser or unimportant. They can be the most thoughtful reads around, and I’m thankful for Bill Watterson’s series every single day. My son and I are plowing through the whole collection this year, with no stopping in sight. Achievement unlocked!
Ages 6+ | Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing | 1988 | ISBN-13: 978-0836218251
Written by Tad Williams
This one’s for me. In 1990, I was an uncool, unsure twelve-year-old with gangly arms and low self-confidence. I wasn’t a social outcast or anything dramatic, but I was far from what anyone would call “popular.” During that summer I read this book, and it changed things for me somehow. The story is about a boy named Simon, near my age at the time, who gets caught up in a rivalry between two princes and must face an evil that threatens his entire world. The book blew me away me with its size and scale. It was a fantasy Iwanted to inhabit. Characters I wanted to be real. I read this book a dozen times as a teenager, and did so again last year. It changed how I thought about entertainment. I’ve been a hooked reader ever since.
Ages 9+ | Publisher: DAW | 1989 | ISBN-13: 978-0886773847
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
This book gets a lot of love, and honestly, it’s deserved. My daughter has asked me to read it to her over thirty times, and we seem to find something new to laugh about each session. I’m appreciative that my daughter gets to grow up in a time where female heroism in kid-lit is not anomalous, but rather expected and widely available. Her eyes shine when the Princess in Black battles monsters and saves goats. I want her to see herself in these books. I want her to shine like these pages do. And oh-by-the-way, my son adores this series, too. There is no such thing as a “boy” or “girl” book!
Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Candlewick | 2015| ISBN-13: 978-0763678883
Written by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs
Publisher’s Synopsis: New York Times bestselling authors Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs team up to co-author this thrilling first book in a darkly suspenseful middle grade series.
Everyone in Timbers knows Still Cove is off-limits, with its creepy Beast sightings and equally terrifying legends. But when a bullying incident sends twelve-year-old Nico Holland over a cliff and into Still Cove’s icy waters, friends Tyler and Emma–and even Opal Walsh, who usually runs with the popular kids–rush to his rescue . . . and discover a mysterious island hiding in the murky, swirling mists below.
Though the island appears uninhabited, the kids can’t shake a feeling that something about it is definitely not right. Their suspicions grow when they stumble upon an abandoned houseboat filled with all sorts of curiosities: odd-looking weapons, unnerving portraits, maps to unknown places, and a glass jar containing something completely unidentifiable. And in its lowest depths churns a dark, deep secret.
As the group delves deeper into this mysterious new clubhouse, their lives begin to intertwine in weird and dangerous ways. For something ancient has awakened . . . and it can detect not only their wishes and dreams, but also their darkest, most terrible imaginings. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy secrets lurking within their own hearts?
Told from alternating points of view, this pulse-racing tale from bestselling duo Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs is the start of a high-stakes, thrilling series about friendship and believing in yourself–and each other.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books | October 2, 2018 |ISBN-13: 978-1547600465
About the Authors
Ally Condie is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy and of the middle-grade novel Summerlost, a 2016 Edgar Award Finalist for Best Juvenile Mystery. A former English teacher, she lives with her husband and four children outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, and is the founder of the non-profit WriteOut Foundation.
Brendan Reichs is the author of the instant New York Times bestseller Nemesis and its sequel Genesis, and co-author of the six-volume Virals series. Brendan is also a member of the Executive Board for both YALLFEST and YALLWEST literary festivals and has received a MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife, son, daughter, and a herd of animals that tear up everything.
Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs, co-authors of The Darkdeep, selected these six family favorite books. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites.