Are the kids in your life looking for some fresh, new reading material? Here are some book recommendations from CRICKET Magazine readers themselves, ranging in age from 9 to 14! There’s something for everyone on this list. You’ll find old classics, award-winning contemporary books, fun book series, graphic novels, and every genre under the sun. Some of these submissions were sent in via Chatterbox, a forum on our kids’ website, CricketMagKids.com, so you may see a few mysterious names on the list like ‘Crookshanks’ and ‘HorseGirl!’ Have you read any of these books with your family?
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
This is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s about a boy who finds a mysterious watch on a ledge of a building with no windows, about twenty feet up. He then goes on an adventure to find out where it came from.
— Crookshanks, Chatterbox
Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Sugar works cutting sugarcane. Slavery has just ended. Her parents have died, and almost all her friends have gone North. Luckily, she knows how to find her own fun, especially when she has time to play with her forbidden friend, Billy (the white plantation owner’s son). One day some Chinese men come to help cut the sugarcane. Slavery is over, but white people are still struggling to accept others, including Sugar and the Chinese men.
— Maggie X., New York
The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson
If you are a Dodgers fan like me (Go, Dodgers!) you will love this book. It’s about an eight-year-old who lives for the Dodgers. The year is 1948, and Stephen Satlow’s favorite baseball player is Jackie Robinson. When Stephen learns that Jackie is moving in two doors down from him, he is very excited. Now Stephen’s whole life depends on a handshake. This is an excellent book, written by Jackie Robinson’s daughter.
— Joel, Cricketmagkids.com
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
A boy named Leigh Botts writes letters to Mr. Henshaw, a famous children’s author, and eventually tells him about his problems. Mr. Henshaw encourages Leigh to write in a diary. Leigh takes his advice and writes to “Dear Mr. Pretend Henshaw,” using writing as a tool to work through some of his problems. Dear Mr. Henshaw will make you laugh. It also teaches the wonderful life lesson on the importance of writing.
— Owen S., Alabama
Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri
I recommend this book wholeheartedly. It’s one of the books you feel like you can’t put down, especially because it doesn’t have chapters or clear stopping points. Daniel Nayeri weaves together the stories of his family and the memories of being a Persian refugee in Oklahoma into one intricate tapestry. It’s not a patchwork of random stories; everything is connected, even if you don’t see it at first.
— Luminescence, California
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
I really enjoyed The Rithmatist. I loved how detailed the world was, that the system of magic, rithmatics, was very well thought out and had clearly defined rules. I loved Melody—she’s dramatic like me—and the cliff hanger ending. There’s supposed to be a sequel, but I’d be content without it. Sanderson’s characters are so detailed that I love predicting what they’re going to do, and I want to theorize about what the Forgotten are.
— Hummingbird, Chatterbox
The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, Book 1) by Carolyn Keene
In this mystery, Nancy Drew is looking for an old clock to find a new will. Nancy’s father, Carson Drew, is a lawyer. As Nancy looks for the new will, she meets two young girls and quickly becomes friends with them. If she finds the new will, she will be able to help many people. This book is a breathtaking mystery!
— Caitlin W., New York
Spy Penguins (Spy Penguins, Book 1) by Sam Hay
This book is about two anthropomorphic penguins, Jackson and Quigley, who live in a town of anthropomorphic penguins. They want to join the Frosty Bureau of Investigation and get their big break when a thief starts stealing rare fish from the aquarium! (The Frosty Bureau of Investigation is also called the FBI. Get it?)
— Arjun M, California
Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis
Queen of the Sea is about an orphan girl named Margaret who lives with a convent of nuns on an island. One day a boy comes to the island and changes everything forever. I highly recommend this book.
— Ursa G., California
El Deafo by Cece Bell
El Deafo is an amazing book about a girl who goes through a hard time in her life. Cece lost her hearing when she was four. She moved away from her best friend and started a new school. She learns to read people’s lips and to make new friends. I think this book is wonderful, because it is about a girl learning to make friends and fit in, even though she knows she is different.
— Eleanor S., Alabama
The Last Dragon Chronicles (Series) by Chris D’Lacey
The Last Dragon Chronicles are some of my favorite books. The story is so well thought out, and the series starts all light-hearted and turns, quite suddenly, dark and deep and extremely thought pro-voking. I recommend it to all fantasy lovers and climate change activists.
— Wreeboo, Chatterbox
Camp by Kayla Miller
Olive and Willow, two BFFs, are going to a two-week sleepaway camp in the summer. Olive is excited to meet new people, while Willow is the opposite. When Olive quickly bonds with the other campers, Willow is left jealous and alone. A fight soon jeopardizes their friendship. Will they still be friends by the end of camp? This graphic novel teaches readers that making new friends doesn’t come easy for everybody.
— HorseGirl, Chatterbox.
Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
Stella lives with her great-aunt Louise and a foster kid named Angel. Suddenly, Louise dies, and they are left to fend for themselves. A man named George expects Louise to take care of four summer cottages nearby, but she is dead, so Stella and Angel have to take care of the cottages themselves without anyone finding out about Louise. Will their secret be uncovered? Find out in Summer of the Gypsy Moths.
— Sylvia B., Oregon
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Where the Red Fern Grows is a story of sweetness, kindness, loyalty, joy, and sadness. It is about Billy and his two coon hounds. They make an excellent team hunting racoons until tragedy strikes on their final hunt. This broke Billy’s heart. This book made me laugh and cry. And I always wanted to turn to the next page. You would love this book if you love dogs.
— Kal E., Alabama
The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond
It has been a brutal eighty years for the world. The Axis forces have won World War II by producing genetically engineered soldiers who had special powers. For Zara St. James, life couldn’t get worse as a subhuman who can control wind and possibly control electricity, unless there was some way for the Nazi Empire to be removed. She joins the resistance on a risky first mission to kill the Führer on television. Can she do it?
–Shivaji S., Illinois
The Wonderling by Mira Bartók
In a world divided by humans, animals, and groundlings, human-animal or animal-animal hybrids, there lived a fox groundling who has no name except 13, the number assigned to him by the warden of the orphanage where he lives. With the help of a newly made friend, he must find a way to escape and keep himself safe.
— Rhonie F., California
Have your own favorite book you’d like to recommend? Send your own short review to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit through Chatterbox!