We've been doing a lot of reading lately, both for homeschool and for fun. Here are some of our recent reads.
1) The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming - This was a history read. It's a recount of the life of Nicholas Romanov, his family, and the end of tsarist Russia. Ms Fleming has done an amazing amount of research for this book. There is an extensive bibliography and notes section at the back of the book, and she even visited many of the sites in Russia that she writes about. It's about 250 pages long, so a nice chapter book for middle and high school students. The ending is, of course, depressing. There is a somewhat vivid description of the family's execution. So watch out for that if you have sensitive kids. But, if you'd like to know more about the Romanovs and Rasputin, this is an excellent and well-written book. Jack didn't want to stop reading a number of times. I had to track him down in his room one morning and remind him that he had other assignments he needed to complete. He said the war had just started and couldn't he finish that chapter at least? How do you say no to a kid who wants to read? Ginny said the book was "alright." I liked it quite a lot, but this was an area of history I've been wanting to read more about for a while.
2) Sky Raider by Brandon Mull - This is book one in the Five Kingdoms series. Book 2 "The Rogue Knight" just came out. Ginny LOVES this series! She is eagerly awaiting March when book 3 comes out. I also read book 1 and it was quite good. This is definitely a chapter book that you can give to your middle graders to read without worry. It's a magical world where some people have "shaping" powers. The main character, Cole, enters the world to try to save his friends who have been kidnapped. This first book does not reunite him with his friends, but he meets some interesting young people and helps them out too. Brandon Mull also wrote the Fablehaven series, which is also very good and worth a read.
3) Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne - Or as Jack calls it "80 Days Around the World". He and I are reading this for his literature course. This book is awesome! The language might be a little tough for younger readers, not so much the vocabulary as the style, but it's packed with adventure and silly mishaps. The only problem I have is with this specific edition of the book. It's translated by William Butcher who also wrote the intro and notes. Most of the notes I read were not informative and sometimes inappropriate for younger readers. And the intro, on the first page, talks about "deflowering heroes" which is really not for middle school kids. At least, I don't want to explain to them what that means. So, if you decide to read Around the World, definitely just read the story and don't bother with someone else's interpretation of it.
4) The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw - Ginny and I read this for her reading class. Ginny said it's the best book we've read for reading class so far this year. I wouldn't go quite that far myself. I thought it was quite good and an engaging read, but I also enjoyed The Secret Garden and some of the others just as well. The Moorchild is based on Irish folklore. The main character, Sasski, is a changling, half-human and half-fairy. It's about her life growing up in the human village, not realizing she's half-fairy. She looks and acts different from the others, so she is teased and bullied. The story is very well written and the ending is quite good...but I won't spoil it for you. Definitely a lovely chapter book for middle schoolers.
5) Knight-Napped! by Ursula Vernon - This is book 10 in the Danny Dragonbreath series. Both Jack and Ginny enjoy reading these books. They are heavily illustrated short chapter books, so appropriate for younger readers (maybe late elementary). Even though they are for younger kids, mine still love them. Apparently, they are quite funny. I haven't read them myself, but Ginny and Jack often share silly parts with me. The illustrations are amusing too.
I have barely been able to keep up with all this reading with the kids, but it is worth it. It's always fun to talk about the books you've been reading with someone who has read them too.