Reading List for School Aged Children (via Judith Saltman)

A little while ago we received a request for a booklist of recommended books for school aged children. In the course of our Master’s program we were handed many a list and also had the opportunity to read many a book all from the library of Professor Judith Saltman.

Here is a book list that she gave to us – I’ve thrown in some images of exceptional books (in my opinion) and the odd note. Enjoy! And feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments, the more the merrier!

Oral Tradition

  •  Alderson, Brian. The Arabian Nights, or, Tales Told by Sheherezade during a Thousand Nights and One Night.
  • Bedard, Michael.  The Painted Wall and Other Strange Tales.
  • Bryan, Ashley.  Beat the Story Drum, Pum Pum.
  • Dickinson, Peter.  The City of Gold.
    These are stories taken from the old testament and made more narrative, quite an interesting read.
  • Foreman, Michael. World of Fairy Tales.
  • Garfield, Leon and Edward Blishen.  The God Beneath the Sea. For older readers, considered YA.


  • Garner, Alan. Bag of Moonshine.
    These are a collection of 20 folk tales (which are really unknown but contain elements from familiar tales) and two nonsense rhymes. Imaginative and wonderful use of language.
  • Garner, Alan. Fairy Tales of Gold.
  • Geras, Adele. Troy. Recommended for older readers, YA.
  • Hamilton, Virginia.  In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World.
  • Harris, Christie.  Mouse Women and the Mischief Makers.
  • Hodge, Margaret. The Kitchen Knight.
  • Lurie, Alison. Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales.
  • Kipling, Rudyard. Just So Stories. Volumes I and II. Illustrated by Ian Wallace.
  • McKinley, Robin. Beauty. For older readers, YA. We have some Robin McKinley fans, and so I’d say this is probably a good read.
  • McKissack, Patricia. The Dark-thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural.
  • Morpurgo, Michael.  Arthur, High King of Britain.
  • Parks, Van Dyke and Malcolm Jones, adapt.  Jump:  The Adventurers of Brer Rabbit.
  • Sciezka, Jon and Lane Smith. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.
    This is brilliant and hilarious, adults and children alike will love it.
  • Sciezka, Jon and Lane Smith. TheTrue Story of the Three Little Pigs. (same as above! Read it!)
  • Segal, Lore and Maurice Sendak, sel.  The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm.
  • Singer, Isaac Bashevis.  Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories.
  • Sutcliff, Rosemary.  Black Ships Before Troy. I believe that Janet has posted about Sutcliff’s works in the past and is quite fond of them. ^_^
  • Yolen, Jane.  Sleeping Ugly.


 Fantasy and Science Fiction


  • Adams, Richard.  Watership Down.
    I’d say this is for older sophisticated readers. It is wonderful in it’s own way, but, despite the talking rabbits, it is brutally realistic (yet still wonderful!)

Book of Three Hardcover

  • Alexander, Lloyd. The Book of Three (and other titles in the Prydain series).
    Anniversary editions are out! Go out and grab a copy, these are wonderful stories, quick reads, hilarious and full of adventure and mischief.
  • Almond, David.  Skellig.
    This is a must read.
  • M.T. Anderson's "Feed"
    M.T. Anderson’s “Feed”
  • Anderson, M.T. Feed.
    Now, I’m biased, but I really think this is a great book. It is for older readers, certainly, but it really opens up critical discussions and interesting ideas.
  • Appelgate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan.
    Winner of the Newbery Award, I haven’t read it, but those who have can attest to it’s touching narrative and heart.
  • Babbitt, Natalie.  Tuck Everlasting.
  • Black, Holly.  Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. For older readers, YA.
  • ___. The Coldest Girl in ColdTown.
    Same, Holly Black writes for older readers – generally! Unless partnered with someone.

plain kate

  • **Bow, Erin.  Plain Kate.
    I think all of us here at The Book Wars have read and loved this book. It is great, not necessarily for a very young audience, but it isn’t distinctly teen either. It’s a great story.
  • Bray, Libba. Going Bovine.
    Certainly YA. I loved it, many don’t. It has a cynicism within it that can be hard to overcome and see through. Wonderfully written.
  • Cassedy, Sylvia.  Behind the Attic Wall.
  • Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. (and sequels in The Hunger Games series).
    I’d say it’s a YA read, and I’ve said enough on this series :).
  • Cooper, Susan.  The Dark is Rising.
    A classic, great read though (as a classic) it can be a little slow and didactic at times, but still has a great core.
  • Crew, Gary.   Strange Objects.
  • Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
    OK AND EVERYTHING ELSE DAHL HAS WRITTEN! ^_^ MatildaThe Fantastic Mr. FoxThe WitchesThe BFG and the list goes on…
  • DiCamillo, Kate. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventure.
    I haven’t read this, it has won awards and looks beautiful so I think it is a safe bet.
  • ___. The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread.
    I love the title!
  • Dickinson, Peter.  Eva.
  • Farmer, Nancy.  The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm.
  • Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron (and sequels).
  • Funke, Cornelia.  Inkheart (and sequels)


  • Gaiman, Neil.  Coraline.
    And everything else Gaiman has ever written, of course.
  • _____. The Graveyard Book.
  • _____. The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
    This might be my favourite Gaiman work.
  • Gardner, Sally.  Maggot Moon.
    A YA read, but a delightful one.
  • Garner, Alan.  The Owl Service.
  • Hartnett, Sonya. The Ghost’s Child.
    I really don’t know who the audience is on this one, but I think that’s what makes it interesting…
  • Hoban, Russell.  The Mouse and His Child.
  • Hughes, Monica.  The Keeper of the Isis Light.
    Canadian science fiction series – just wonderful and so interesting!


  • Jacques, Brian.  Redwall (and sequels).
    The above Mossflower is my favourite of the Redwall series. I loved this stuff as a kid, I just devoured book after book. What I think I especially love is that the place stays very much grounded so the working of Redwall are always familiar, and generally the children from the previous books are featured as adults or elder in the next, so there is always a familiarity as a new adventure starts. As a child I never saw that the books followed a similar pattern, Jacques does a great job with variation in story throughout the series – focussing on different animals, changing locations, always the bad guy has a POV, which is really fun (and scary) as a kid. Really great reads.
  • Jones, Diana Wynne.  Fire and Hemlock.
    Probably not my favourite of her works, but it really is laden with symbolism and intertextuality in a way that is so interesting!
  • _____.  Howl’s Moving Castle (and sequels!).
    Wonderful and imaginative stories – read anything by Wynne Jones and even if it isn’t your favourite, it will be so full of imagination that you’ll finish it for sure.
  • King-Smith, Dick.  Babe the Gallant Pig.  (The Sheep-Pig)
  • Le Guin, Ursula K.  A Wizard of Earthsea.
    Classic, wonderful, chalk full of magic and mystery.
  • L’Engle, Madeline.  A Wrinkle in Time.
    Another classic and one that has aged nicely I think.
  • Levine, Gail Carson.  Ella Enchanted.
    Of course!
  • Lively, Penelope.  The Ghost of Thomas Kempe.
  • Lowry, Lois.  The Giver.
    I shall refrain from adding the picture and my gushing here. Just check out my many reviews. ^_^
  • Mahy, Margaret.  The Changeover. A YA read.
  • McGraw, Eloise.  Moorchild.
    I read this and I actually really liked it as a kid, it was really something new and fresh that I hadn’t read before, and the moors… what a wonderful setting.
  • McKinley, Robin.  Beauty, The Blue Sword, Rose Daughter, Spindle’s End.
    Ok so, ALL of McKinley’s works are also recommended ^_^
  • Ness, Patrick. The Knife of Never Letting Go. (and sequels in Chaos Walking series).
    Excellent. For older readers, but it is an excellent and troubling series. A must read.
  • Oppel, Kenneth.  Airborn. (and sequels).
    Janet can attest to how wonderful this series it!
  • _____. Silverwing. (and sequels)
    The books about the bats! They really are great reads – and hey! For sure a male audience!
Boundless by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jim Tierney
Boundless by Kenneth Oppel, illustrated by Jim Tierney
  • _____. This Dark Endeavour (and sequels).
    Oppel’s Frankenstein retellings which I have to say are only ok  in my books. Boundless was much better and I think simply much more in keeping with Oppel’s style and readership.
  • Paolini, Christopher. Eragon. (and sequels)
  • Park, Ruth.  Playing Beattie Bow.
  • Pearce, Philippa.  Tom’s Midnight Garden.
    I really like this one, it is sweet, simple and a quick. I very much recommend it.
  • Pearson, Kit.  Awake and Dreaming.
    I’m surprised this is the only Kit Pearson we’ve encountered on this list, knowing Judi I’d have thought we’d be inundated with Pearson titles. She is a brilliant Canadian author who has this magical way of getting right into the child’s mind.
  • Poznanski, Ursula. Erebos.
  • Pratchett, Terry.  The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.
    Hilarious, need I say more? Just wonderful to read as both an adult and a child.
  • ___  The Wee Free Men.  (and sequels)

the golden compass lit

  • Pullman, Philip.  Northern Lights.  (American edition: The Golden Compass) (and sequels). A must read, in my opinion, thought he sequels are not always as well reviewed, I think once you get into Pullman’s world and wrapped up in his mystery, you will continue.
  • Riordan, Rick.  The Lightning Thief.  2005. (and sequels) I quite liked these.
  • Rosoff, Meg. How I Live Now. I recently reviewed this, I really enjoyed it, I think it’s a YA read.
  • Roth, Veronica. Divergent. Admission: I deleted Cassandra Clare and Stephanie Meyer, so this is it. The only place I’ll ever say they were recommended. And Judi has a point, if these books get kids reading – then give them the books!
  • Rowling, J.K.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (and sequels) Obvies!
  • Slade, Arthur.  Dust. A brilliant and magical book – it is short, but it is breathtaking. A must read, really really exquisite.
  • _____. The Hunchback Assignments. (and sequels). Because I’ve read Dust I think I can stand by these as well.
  • Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me. Really quite a good story, and very clever.
  • Stratton, Allan. Curse of the Dream Witch.
  • Young, Moira. Blood Red Road. (and sequels) I quite liked the first but the sequel has let me down, we’ll see how the third instalment goes.


Realistic Fiction



  • Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. This is an amazing book, and important story and is suitable for all audience.
  • Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks (and sequels)
  • Block, Francesca Lia.  Dangerous Angels. A YA read
  • Brooks, Kevin. The Bunker Diary. A YA read
  • Burgess, Melvin.  Doing It. A YA read
  • _____.                         Junk. A YA read.
  • Chambers, Aidan.  Postcards from No Man’s Land. A YA read
  • Cleary, Beverly.  Ramona Quimby, Age 8.
  • Cole, Brock.  The Goats.
  • Cormier, Robert.  The Chocolate War. A YA read
  • Creech, Sharon. Walk Two Moons.
  • DiCamillo, Kate. Because of Winn-Dixie.


18053322 (1)

  • DeVries, Maggie. Rabbit Ears. Amazing writing style, probably for a YA audience. It is an important story.
  • Ellis, Deborah. The Bread Winner (and sequels) Excellent as well!
  • Ellis, Sarah.  Odd Man Out.
  • Federle, Tim. Better Nate than Ever.
  • Fine, Anne.  Madame Doubtfire.
  • _________    My War with Goggle Eyes.  (Goggle -eyes)
  • Fitzhugh, Louise.  Harriet the Spy.
  • Gantos, Jack. Joey Pigza Loses Control.
  • George, Jean.  Julie of the Wolves.
  • Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. A YA read
  • ___. Looking for Alaska. A YA read
  • Green, John and David Levithan. Will Grayson, Will Grayson. A YA read
  • Horvath, Polly.  The Trolls.
  • _______. Everything on a Waffle
  • Juby, Susan.  Alice, I Think. (and sequels). A YA read
  • Levithan, David.  Boy Meets Boy. A YA read
  • Little, Jean.  Mama’s Going to Buy You a Mockingbird.
  • Mac, Carrie. The Beckoners. A YA read.
  • McKay, Hilary.  The Exiles. (and sequels) A YA read.
  • _____.  Saffy’s Angel. (and sequels)
  • Major, Kevin.  Hold Fast.
  • Marsden, John.  Letters from the Inside. A YA read.
  • McCormick, Patricia. Never Fall Down. A YA read.
  • Myers, Walter Dean. Sunrise over Fallujah. A YA read.
  • Naidoo, Beverley. The Other Side of Truth. A YA read.
  • Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Shiloh.
The Reluctant Journal 2012
The Reluctant Journal 2012


  • Nielsen, Susin. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. A must read. .
  • Oppel, Kenneth. Half Brother I haven’t read this but I have heard great things, and I think I trust Oppel.
  • Paterson, Katherine.  Bridge to Terabithia. Excellent, sad and magical.
  • Paulsen, Gary.  Hatchet. I loved this – great for boys as well – a story of survival and the Canadian wilds.
  • Rosoff, Meg. What I Was.
  • Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor and Park. Yash says this one is great!
  • Sachar, Louis.  Holes. Wonderful, great book for both boys and girls and well, everyone in between too! Hilarious, and just so easily slipped into.
  • Spinelli, Jerry.  Maniac Magee.
  • Staples, Suzanne Fisher.  Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind.
  • Stratton, Allan.  Chanda’s Secrets (and others). For YA readers.
  • Voigt, Cynthia.  Homecoming.


  • Wynne-Jones, Tim.  The Maestro. A very touching book. Burl is a character that is still with me. The landscape and the story are enthralling.
  • _____. Blink and Caution. For older readers, excellent.



Historical Fiction


  • Avi.  The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Avi is a great writer and I recommend his books! 🙂
  • Bawden, Nina.  Carrie’s War.
  • Boyne, John. The Boy in Striped Pajamas. A classic, gotta read this!
  • Crossley-Holland, Kevin. The Seeing Stone. (and sequels)
  • Curtis, Christopher Paul.  Bud, Not Buddy.
  • _____. Elijah of Buxton.
  • ______.  The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963.
  • Cushman, Karen.  Catherine Called Birdy.
  • _____________    The Midwife’s Apprentice.
  • Doyle, Brian.  Angel Square.
  • __________   Boy O’Boy
  • _________  Uncle Ronald.
  • French, Jackie. Pennies for Hitler.
  • Fox, Paula.  Slave Dancer.
  • Gantos, Jack. Dead End in Norvelt.
  • Garfield, Leon.  Smith.
  • Garner, Alan.  The Stone Book  (and sequels)
  • Gavin, Jamila.  Corum Boy. A YA read.
  • Hesse, Karen.  Out of the Dust.
  • Lawrence, Iain.  The Wreckers. (and sequels)
  • ___________.  The Convicts. (and sequels)
  • Lowry, Lois.  Number the Stars.
  • Lunn, Janet.  Shadow in Hawthorn Bay.
  • MacLachlan, Patricia.  Sarah, Plain and Tall.
  • Matti, Truss. Mister Orange.
  • O’Dell, Scott.  Island of the Blue Dolphins. I had to read this in grade school and I remember loving it.
  • Pearson, Kit.  The Sky is Falling. (and sequels)


  • _____.  The Whole Truth.
  • Peacock, Shane. Eye of the Crow: The Boy Sherlock Homes. (and sequels).
  • Porter, Pamela. The Crazy Man.
  • Preus, Margi. Heart of a Samurai. I have heard wonderful things!
  • Rabinovici, Schoschana.  Thanks to My Mother.
  • Sepetys, Ruta. Between Shades of Gray. A YA read.
  • Snickett, Lemony.  [Daniel Handler, pseud.] The Bad Beginning (and others in A Series of Unfortunate Events series) – hilarious (even if the series goes on far too long).
  • Sutcliff, Rosemary.  The Eagle of the Ninth.
  • Taylor, Mildred D.  Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
  • Vanderpool, Clare.  Moon over Manifest.
  • Voorhoeve, Anne C.  My Family for the War.
  • Wein, Elizabeth.  Code Name Verity. For older readers, very good.
  • Westall, Robert.  The Machine Gunners.
  • Yee, Paul. Tales from Gold Mountain: Stories of the Chinese in the New World.


Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief"
Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief”
  • Zusak, Markus.  The Book Thief. A must read. It is so good. SO GOOD!


Graphic Novels and Illustrated Fiction – appeal to all ages at different levels of development

  • Abirachad, Zeina.  A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return.
  • Brown, Chester. Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography. The title doesn’t lie – this book is very true to the story.
  • Kinney, Jeff.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Novel in Cartoons (and sequels)
  • Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. Graphic Novel – and one worth reading. Immersing oneself in Iranian culture and learning that History is important and wonderful in this book.
  • Sis, Peter.  The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain.
  • Tamaki, Mariko.  Skim. Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.
  • ___ This One Summer. Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.
  • Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Beautiful! Our contributor Chris Owen did a whole series on these a while back, check it out.
  • Telgemeier, Raine. Smile.
  • Watts, Irene N.  Good-Bye Marianne. Illustrated by Kathryn Shoemaker. Wonderful!
  • Williams, Vera B. Scooter.
  • Yang, Gene Yuen.  American Born Chinese. Graphic Novel – I really liked this and it is certainly great for a male audience.