I love the challenge of being asked for book recommendations. You may think kids are open to book suggestions from librarians because (a) they are the ones asking me for book suggestions (b) I am a grown-up who spent two years getting my graduate degree in library science (c) these are the people who often refer to me as “the book lady.” If you think any of these things matter to a kid, you are wrong. Most of these little people are a hard sell. Sometimes they seem to want to reject everything I throw out there, but that doesn’t stop me. I am a book machine. And if their parents are the ones asking for suggestions, the challenge just intensifies. Bring it!
I always ask which books the child has enjoyed previously so I can get a feel for their taste. It’s also helpful to know what they didn’t like so I don’t suggest something they previously rejected. Nothing kills my credibility like offering a book that they think is a loser.
Today, a mom at school asked me for some summer reading suggestions for her son who is a rising third grader. This kid is way cooler than I am so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Here are the stats:
Book series he loved:
- Geronimo Stilton
- Magic Treehouse
Book series he rejected:
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid (said it was “too easy,” which I didn’t really understand, but I went with it because it made sense to him)
- 29 Clues (he just made a face at the mention of this one — see, I dodged that bullet because I mentioned it, but did not recommend it. I’m a librarian ninja!)
Parent request: something more challenging than early faves like Magic Treehouse
Child request: some humor, possibly illustration
I like to think of myself as crunching data like Google, but let’s be honest, my brain is much more random. Here is what I came up with for him:
1. Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger — I think he should try this series first. The humor will appeal to him, and it feels like a good fit for his personality.
2. The My Life series by Janet Tashjian — This series has the illustration component to it, some humor and a relatable main character. Strong contender.
3. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume — This is a classic good stuff. It doesn’t have much illustration, but I think the characters and humor will appeal to him.
4. Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver — Disclosure: I have not read this series. I still think it might appeal to him from the description. Maybe it’s a back-up possibility.
5. The Lemonade War — I’m not sure if his teacher read this to the class already. If not, I think the conflict would appeal to him.
What would you recommend for this little dude?