My fabulous 9-year-old niece Stella and I spent much of Christmas snuggled up on the couch reading. I gave her a book called Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder, which she enjoyed so much she insisted I read it too. This led to a thought-provoking discussion of the book over sugar cookies and cocoa, and gave both of us a terrific idea.
What if we started a book club for middle-grade readers (ages 8-12) and made a FaceTime date once a month to discuss our selections? I’ve been wanting to expand my knowledge of this reading level now that I have a middle-grade reader in my life, and Stella, who told me that one of her life goals is to meet a real unicorn, is full to brimming with strong opinions and intriguing insights.
Every month, we’ll take turns choosing a title and then, after our discussion, I’ll post reviews from each of us so you can see both the adult/English teacher’s impressions the book and those of its target audience. We’ll use a 4-Unicorn rating scale to convey how much we enjoy each book.
Our first pick is Breadcrumbs by Anne Urso, a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, in which a young girl named Hazel has to make a perilous journey through a magical forest to save her best friend Jack (bonus: it takes place in Minneapolis). Look for our reviews of this highly-acclaimed novel during the last week in January.
If you are a young reader or have one in your life or just want to become more familiar with this genre, please read along with us! I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in comments or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).