January 10, 2011

Books For 7 Year Old Girls

My hubby and I used to go to Barnes and Noble on pretty much every date.

Then I quit working full time and not being able to buy a book every time we went was a little depressing, so we stopped going there and started hitting the book section in DI. That is fun because you can afford to buy a book, but it led to my being unusually out-of-touch with the current YA fiction market.

I love YA and middle reader books. LOVE THEM. It is what I write, after all, and I used to pride myself on always knowing about/reading all the new books as they came out. I also used to pride myself on being the go-to girl for book recommendations. Not to mention all the people who think of my house as a library. Seriously--I make them write down what they borrow and everything. I own a lot of books.

But you all know how it is. The more kids you have the less time you have to read, the less time you have to read the more selective you are in what you read. The more selective you are the less familiar you become with the market as a whole.

And then that sad day comes (for me it was just before Christmas) when you go to Barnes and Noble for the first time in a loooonnnggg time, and you find yourself staring at your beloved YA shelves with mouth gaping open and a sense that your universe just fell apart.

Because every book on every shelf has a cover picturing a half-naked teenage male vampire.


Are they really only selling harlequin romances dressed up as YA in the YA section??

I was devastated, actually. That's my genre. My happy place.

Then, when I was still trying to get over my shock in realizing that my happy place will now have to be middle readers, I read several middle readers that had inappropriate sexual material in them. Inappropriate because it is a MIDDLE READER. What in the world?? Since this has all happened around Christmas, I decided it was time to start sharing more good books on this blog as apparently, not that much of great worth is being published these days. (Of course, when my book gets published it will be worth reading . . ..) I didn't realize I'd have to pre-read all Miriam's middle reader books. Grr.

So, without further ado, here are the books that have thrilled Miriam to pieces over the past month.

The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker. Now, I read this one first to make sure it was decent, and I really liked it. The writing isn't great but the plot is really fun and clever and everything is entirely appropriate for the age group. I have tried to read E.D. Baker before--her Wings: A Fairy Tale appears to have a very clever plot but the writing was so bad that I put it down after three chapters. Baker has improved and I can happily endorse this book for the youngish girl crowd.
Good Luck, Ivy by Lisa Yee I have not read, but Miriam liked it. I have read numerous American Girl books and liked them, so I'm hoping this was equally clean. I checked it out for Miriam for the San Francisco part of our Babies unit.
Miriam adores mysteries so it is no surprise that she is in love with the Cabin Creek Mysteries--all three that she's read. I have not read them myself, but a word of caution. Because Miriam loved the Cabin Creek Mysteries so much, I checked out a bunch of other books by Kristiana Gregory. I read Jenny of the Tetons and quite enjoyed it but did not think my 7 year old needed the sex ed that was included as part of the story (it was very mild but still). So I took it back to the library. Her books are probably all pretty clean (I haven't read any except the Jenny book), but just a small warning that you might want to glance through them first.
Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace is such a great book!!!!! It came up when I was searching for San Francisco and since Miriam loves mysteries, I checked it out. Then I read it. And loved it. Then Miriam read it. And loved it. She still hasn't stopped talking about it. Get it. Read it. Love it.

Some other books I've read lately (not Miriam) and my thoughts: The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley. I didn't think it was worth the time I spent reading it.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. LOVED IT!!!! I am not having Miriam read it because the oldest girl is twelve and has a crush on a teenager and while I think it was handled perfectly and authentically and wonderfully, I still don't think my daughter needs to read it until she is at least ten. No need to give her ideas. Still, if you have older daughters, get it for them. I really loved it.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I really enjoyed this book but don't give it a whole-hearted recommendation. It was fun. It kept you flipping the pages. The plot was excellent. But it wasn't a "must-read" by any stretch. Still, if you have nothing else on your book list and you want a fantasy that has a great plot--give this one a shot. But not until you've read the Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. Because really, you shouldn't read "good" books if you haven't bothered to read the "best" books. Also, much too old for Miriam--definitely a YA, not anywhere near middle reader.

Tangerine by Edward Bloor. LOVED IT. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Too old for my daughter but I will be purchasing this one for when she's older. Such a fabulous story. So well-written.

The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Browne Boyack. The best parenting book I've ever read. The two chapters on teaching your children finances were amazing. So many great ideas. My hubby is reading those two chapters now so that we can decide how to incorporate some of her ideas into our own family. Just loved it.

Okay--this post is ridiculously long. I've been reading more than normal because I'm getting close to delivering and I tend to read more then (something about sitting down . . .). I'm a retired English teacher who is passionate about books--if you have an age group for which you need some recommendations, let me know.

In the meantime, let us try to help each other avoid the books that are a waste of time.

Oh, and by way of warning, I used to read a lot of Tamara Pierce novels. She has a whole series aimed at the middle reader crowd (the books I let my seven year old read) with homosexual girls as the main characters. I was not impressed. In fact, I threw away all my books by her so that Miriam wouldn't find them, like them, and then go looking for more by that author. Homosexuality in books aimed at elementary kids might not be a problem for you, but it is for me. So, you've been warned.

Happy reading!

PS--If you haven't bought the Ranger series for your sons yet, shame on you.


  1. LOVE it! My 7 year old FIGHTS reading. I'm always looking for books that she'll be excited about if I read them to her or she can read herself.
    Have you checked out Gail Carson Levine's fairy tale books? Not the ones like Ella Enchanted and Two Princesses of Bamarre, but her shorter fairy tale stories. They are all twisted and quite funny. They're in the non finction section.

  2. Thanks for some detailed reviews. Any great books for a 7 almost 8 year old boy? I've never heard of the Ranger series, do you have a name of the author for me?

  3. Norah- It is the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan- and they are wonderful.

    Andrea as always love your recommendations and you. I need to call to talk about my Lecture series I am putting together. I love you.