Some of my favorite parenting moments have come
while reading books with my child. I loved the rhythm of Sandra
Boynton books as much as she did (okay, probably even more) and
believed that "Good Night, Moon" was a delightful way to end the
Dr. Seuss was a big hit in our house, and, as Sarah
Parisi recently pointed out in her blog
post, his books are for everyone, which made me
think that book selection is easier when kids are younger compared
to when they are tweens.
There are a lot of fun options that appeal to
little people regardless of gender or favorite activity. As kids
become tweens though, finding great books can be
The Rebecca Caudill Award nominee list is a great
source of new book ideas for tweens. The award is named for a
writer who lived in Urbana, Illinois. Students in grades four
through eight in participating Illinois schools vote for their
favorite book on the list.
Caudill once said, "The first essential in any book
is that it have something significant to say - a book that leaves
the reader with bigger ideas than when he began reading - that
stimulates his thinking, stretches his mind, deepens his feelings.
A good book sticks to your ribs."
Staying true this belief, Caudill nominee books
deal with a variety of heavy issues. I have to say that I worried
that they were too much for my tween. I was apparently judging a
book by it's cover and underestimating my tween. She has read
several of these books in class and enjoyed them more than I ever
The 2013 winner was "Smile" by Raina Telgemeier
which tells the story of how a sixth grade girl deals with a dental
disaster and other social and physical challenges that come with
puberty, with healthy doses of compassion and reassurance. The
graphic elements of the book definitely appeal to tween
Some of my tween's favorite fiction books on the
2014 nominee list are:
* "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio is the powerful story of
Auggie, a 10-year-old boy with a craniofacial difference has had a
huge impact on both adolescent and adult readers. My child read
this book with her class last year and she said every single kid
loved it. Not only that, the book's message addresses bullying and
just unkindness that can be found in tweens and focuses on the idea
of "choose kind."
* "The Running Dream" by Wendelin Van Draaner,
which tells the tale of 16-year-old runner Jessica who loses a leg
in an accident. When she returns to school, she is seated next to
Rosa, who has cerebral palsy. The book follows the development of
their friendship and Jessica's recovery and return to
* "The Lions of Little Rock" by Kristin Levine
follows Marlee and Liz, two middle school girls in Little Rock in
1958. The New York Times Book Review said, "Readers will root for a
painfully shy girl to discover the depths of her own courage and
find hope in the notion that even in tumultuous times, standing up
for the people you love can't be wrong. Satisfying, gratifying,
touching, weighty - this authentic piece of work has got
There are several nonfiction Caudill nominees as
well, including "The Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of
1917" and "Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's
You can find the full list of nominees
Although she’d like to be taller and have more time to dive into good books, Shannan is awfully happy with her life in the western suburbs, where she moved after a decade of living on the north side of the city. She blogs about parenting a tween at Tween Us on ChicagoNow and at Families in the Loop.
See more of Shannan 's stories here.
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