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Insight | Book recommendations for the holidays

24 Jan 2019
Winter break is a great chance to catch up on some reading.  Here are some high interest titles for children at every grade level.
For Grade 6

Bridge of Clay 

: Marcus Zusak Clay is a teenage boy living with his four brothers outside of Sydney.  Their mother died three years ago, and their distraught father took off to the Outback.  Matthew, the oldest brother; barely old enough to care for himself, is left alone to care for his four younger brothers.  Clay, always a quiet boy, deals with the grief of losing his parents by compulsively committing to his running training.  When the boys’ father turns up, Clay surprises everyone by agreeing to joining his father in the wilderness to help him build a bridge.

No Better Friend (Young Readers Edition)

Author: Robert Weintraub

Judy was a German Pointer born in Shanghai and adopted by English sailors at the brink of WWII.  These sailors took her to Singapore where she met Frank Williams, a Radarman for the Royal Airforce.  Williams and Judy became inseparable.  Judy's story of death defying escapes- sunk ships, torpedoes, POW camps and rescues of her human counterparts would be unbelievable if they weren’t so well documented.  The book includes sidebars of detailed information and primary sources from World War II.  This true story is a great choice for young adults who like adventure, history and animal stories.
For Grade 5

Code 7 

Author: Bryan R. Johnson

This is the story of 7 children at Flint Elementary School who are trying to “crack the code for the perfect life”.  Each of these 5th graders have a project planned for the school's 50th anniversary celebrations that don't go as planned.  But their hard work, determination and teamwork help them to find success in their mishaps. 

The Finest Hours Young Readers Edition)

AuthorMichael J. Tougias

  On February 18, 1952 a storm raged off the coast of Massachusetts.  Two oil tankers were ripped in half by the rough seas.  This the story of the US Coast Guard who defied the odds and rescued 30 stranded sailors. 
For Grade 4


Author: Katherine Applegate

Red, an enormous 200+ year old oak tree narrates this tale of diversity, prejudice and tolerance.  Red lives near an elementary school and every year residents leave wishes in her branches.  She has lived in the community for over 200 years, yet laments she still doesn't understand humans.  When a child carves "Leave" into her trunk after a Muslim family moves, Red finds herself in the middle of controversy.  Can Red break the human-nature boundary and help the family find acceptance?
Case Closed 

AuthorSusan Hughes

Each chapter covers a historical mystery and uses modern technology to solve it.  Egypt's first female Pharaoh disappears in 1457 BCE, the ancient Arabian city of Ubar vanishes, John Franklin's 1845 expedition for find the Northwest passage disappears without a trace- can modern science and technology solve these centuries old mysteries?       
For Grade 3

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy

Author: Nathan Hale

Author Nathan Hale explores the life of spy and traitor during the American Revolution also named Nathan Hale in graphic novel format.  Nathan Hale, agreed to gather intelligence for George Washington during the Battle of Long Island but is unsuccessful in preventing the British from capturing New York City.  One Dead Spy is the first in a series of books that introduces children to history through this engaging comic book format.

An Anthology of Intriguing Animal

AuthorBen Hoare

Perfect for browsing, a table of contents with thumbnail pictures of each animal of the over 100 animals in the book, children can select an animal and learn interesting details.  What animal has the body of a beaver, beak of a duck and one venomous rear claw?  What animal's name means "no drink", because it gets all the liquid it needs from the leaves it eats?  What animal can eat as much as 45kg in one meal, but go for 6 months without eating? 
For Grade 2

A Different Pond  

Author: Boa Phi

Phi and his father wake hours before dawn to catch fish for their evening meal.  Phi's father is not like other fisherman in Minneapolis, who fish primarily for recreation.  Phi's father shares with him memories of his homeland, Vietnam and fishing as he was growing up.

Burn! Michael Faraday's Candle

AuthorDarcy Pattison

December 28, 1848 Michael Faraday gave a lecture "The Chemical History of a Candle" at the Royal Institute in London.  Faraday encouraged his young audience to look at the candle and try to think of how it burned.  Faraday's explanation of capillary action (the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of and in opposition to gravity) is still used in science classes around the globe.  Faraday's lecture, given as part of a still ongoing Christmas lecture series has never been out of print, yet has never been shared in the child-friendly format.
For Grade 1

Ocean Meets Sky 

Author: Terry Fan

Finn misses his grandfather and builds a boat from flotsam that washes up on the beach by his home to remind him of their time together.  In a dreamlike world, Finn follows a fish through the ocean and sky.  He finds whales swimming through the stars.  He comes upon a moon with the memory of his grandfather's face but returns home as he hears his mother calling him for dinner.  Finn's magical journey is part fantasy and part adventure.  This beautiful book can be shared by the whole family. 

Fiona the Hippo  

AuthorRichard Cowdrey

Fiona was the first Nile hippo to be born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 75 years.  Her early days were challenging, she was born 6 weeks premature and half the weight of a normal hippo calf, just 13kg.  Fiona had to be bottle fed and required medical intervention with assistance from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  With consistent care from zoo and hospital staff,  within 6 months she had reached normal weight, could walk on and feed on her own.  Fiona's inspiring tale has made her a social media star with a hippo-sized following.