By Sarah Hunt, AZFB Communications Intern
Reading is an excellent way to keep you and your kids busy and entertained. It keeps your minds sharp and helps you learn new vocabulary words, no matter your age. From children’s books to young adult novels, here you’ll find a book for every family member to enjoy.
- The Secret Garden follows Mary Lennox, a rude and sickly young girl who is living in India with her parents. When her parents die of cholera, she is sent by English soldiers back to England and lives with her uncle, Archibald Craven. Her maid Martha Sowerby informs her of a secret garden that once belonged to the late Mrs. Craven. It was locked up and abandoned after her death 10 years ago, due to Mr. Craven’s intense grief. She revives the garden with help from the Sowerby family and other staff. She finds her cousin Colin hidden in the manor and helps him overcome his sickness through the fresh air and friendship she has found through the garden. For readers ages 9 and up.
- The Candy Shop Wars is a book about 5th grader Nate Sutter, who moves to Colson, California and befriends Trevor, Summer and Pigeon (nickname for Paul). They meet candy shop owner and secret magician, Belinda White, and help her with tasks around the shop in exchange for candy with different magical properties. The tasks become more intense, and she eventually asks the kids to poison another wizard, Sebastian Stott, who is seeking the same ancient treasure as her. Sebastian turns out to be John Dart, a good guy who is also after the treasure, which is a vial of water from the Fountain of Youth. The kids work with John to find the treasure first and thwart Belinda’s plans. This book has one sequel called Arcade Catastrophe. For ages 8 and up.
- Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908, is the first book in a series following orphan Anne, who is adopted by Martha and Matthew Cuthbert, an elderly set of siblings. They live together on the Cuthbert’s farm, named Green Gables. It details her imaginative adventures she goes on with her new friends, her experiences in school, and the development of her relationships with her adopted parents. There are 8 sequels to this book: “Anne of Avonlea (1909), Anne of the Island (1915), Anne of Windy Poplars (1936), Anne’s House of Dreams (1917), Anne of Ingleside (1939), Rainbow Valley (1919), Rilla of Ingleside (1921), The Blythes Are Quoted (2009) – was submitted to publisher the day of her death but not published in its entirety until sixty-seven years later” (The Book Stall). For ages 9 and up.
- The Outsiders is a book about three brothers: Darrel (20), Sodapop (16) and Ponyboy (14), as well as Pony’s friend Jonny. It details to strife between two teenage gangs, the Socs, or the kids from the rich side of town, and the Greasers, who come from the poor side of town where Pony’s family is from. Pony’s parents died in a car accident and Darrel is now their guardian. The book details run-ins between the gangs, one ending in a self-defense murder, leading Ponyboy and Johnny to hide out until Darrel comes and gets them. They save some children from a fire, and they are now seen as heroes instead of criminals. But Darrel, Ponyboy, and Johnny all suffer different fates from the aftermath of the fire. For ages 12 and up.
- Wonder is a book about a boy named Auggie who was born with a facial deformity. He had 27 operations to fix it but still he does not appear “normal” by society’s standards. His is homeschooled his whole life, but his parents decide he needs to go to a private school starting in fifth grade. The story details his experiences with bullying and making friends, as his classmates struggle between accepting and befriending Auggie or hanging out with the popular crowd. For ages 6 and up.
- The Princess Bride has become a very popular movie, but the book is even more detailed and full of adventure. This story begins with the author explaining that these stories were read to him as kid when he was sick, and proceeds to tell the best, most action-packed parts of the story. The tale follows Buttercup, a girl who falls in love with her family’s farm-boy, Westley. They are separated when Westley goes to America for new opportunities, but news travels back to Buttercup that he has been killed by a pirate. When the local prince hears of buttercup’s beauty, he aspires to marry her. But before she can do so (begrudgingly), she is kidnapped by a band of criminals. A man in black follows them and defeats the criminals, and reveals himself to Buttercup as Westley. But Westley is later captured and tortured, until he is set free by the band of criminals and reunited with Buttercup. For ages 12 and up.
- Across Five Aprils is one of my favorite books I read in high school. I got it originally as part of our list of readings for the year but we ended up not reading it in class, so I read it on my own and ended up loving it. It follows main character Jethro, an early teen who lives on a farm during the Civil War. His older brothers and teacher go off to fight in the war, leaving Jethro and his sister to care for the farm with their parents. His brother Bill chooses to fight for the South, which bothers his family, who’s other sons are fighting for the North. Because of this, people in their town start damaging the Creighton’s property, but stop when news comes of Jethro’s older brother Tom’s death in the war. His cousin and teacher also find themselves out of the war through different circumstances, and the book ends with the conclusion of the war. For ages 9 and up.
- Fahrenheit 451 is set in a dystopian society, where books are banned and firemen start fires in households storing prohibited books. The people in this era are reckless and do not think or reflect on what the deeper meaning of life might be. The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman in this same situation, until he meets his neighbor, a teenage girl who spends time in nature and enjoys talking to people, both things that are unusual in this society. He becomes interesting in finding a deeper meaning in life through books, and through a series of tragedies, changes his lifestyle and escapes from the society to join a community of book supporters. For ages 13 and up.
- Charlotte’s Web is a story about a piglet named Wilbur, who is raised in a barn on a farm. As he becomes older he befriends a spider in the barn named Charlotte. When they overhear that Wilbur is up for the slaughterhouse, Charlotte writes encouraging messages in the corner of the entrance to the barn about Wilbur for all to see, attracting attention and praise for him and leading him to enter the state fair. For ages 7 and up.
- Fablehaven is the first in a series of books about siblings Kendra and Seth, who are sent to live with their grandpa Sorensen while their parents are on a cruise. They find out that their grandpa is a caretaker for a magical world hidden in the forest by his home, which contain fairies, imps, witches, satyrs, and trolls. A set of rules keeps harmony between the creatures, but when the kids break them, chaos ensues. They then embark on a journey to restore the peace. There are four more books in this series. For ages 8 and up.
If you’re looking for something shorter to read, remember our Fill Your Plate blog! These articles are quick and teach a lot. At a minimum, you can read about a new recipe that can inspire the home cook in you.