Maeve Visser Knoth: Fiction for Gifted or Advanced Middle School Readers

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fiction for Gifted or Advanced Middle School Readers

What to do with all those voracious readers out there? Teachers and parents are often stumped when they are making recommendations to fifth, sixth, and seventh graders who already read all the time. They have often read all the most current fiction. They know the Newbery Award books and the titles offered by Scholastic Book Club fliers. They listen to the suggestions of classmates and happily delve into 500 page fantasy novels as fast as they are published.

Teachers and parents find themselves in a hard spot and might make what I consider to be just the wrong decision. I don't suggest that you move a child into the young adult collections unless you really know how your library decides if a book belongs in the young adult collection. In many libraries, the "young adult" sticker is put on books because the content is sophisticated, not because the writing is more complex. When I ma looking for something challenging for fifth, sixth and seventh graders, I tend to look for books that were published more than ten years ago. Your enthusiastic reader may know all the current books, but is likely unfamiliar with some of the older titles. British children's books are often (note that this is a gross generalization) written in a more complex style than books written by American writers. Generally, the older the book, the more complex the writing style.

Below are some of my suggestions for kids who are looking for something to sink their teeth into:

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (How many kids think they know this story since they have seen a movie version? They will be delighted by the real novel.)
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
Grace by Jill Paton Walsh
The Five Children and it by E. Nesbit
The Pirate's Son by Geraldine McCaughrean
Little Men by Louise May Alcott
The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Number Devil by Hans Enzenberger
The Goats by Brock Cole
Bat 6 by Virginia Euwer Wolff (This is a fairly recent title but is best enjoyed by a strong reader who can keep track of the many points of view.)
Child of the Owl by Laurence Yep
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Cheaper by the Dozen by Ernestine and Frank Gilbreth
The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston
Freddy Goes Camping by Walter Brooks
The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond

Have fun with these selections and look for other titles by these authors for your voracious readers.


Blogger Kemma said...

Most excellent thanks. This is exactly what I was looking for.

11/08/2006 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Maeve! Thanks to your list, we've just added several of these books to our middle school library--they arrived today! Now I get to fight the kids to check some out and start reading.


12/11/2006 5:24 PM  

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