Beach reads for 6th to 7th grade
The True Meaning of SmekDay
by: Adam Rex - (Hyperion, 2007) 423 pages.
A rollicking adventure told by young Gratuity Tucci, this is the story of the invasion of Earth by aliens known as the Boov. All Americans are relocated to Florida (but then to Texas, once the Boov figure out the joys of orange juice). Gratuity only wants to find her mom. She sets out on her own, joins forces with a renegade Boovian mechanic named J.Lo, has to figure out how to save the Earth, and then the Boov from the Gorg. Good grief, what a mess! But Gratuity Tucci is a heroine of the most invincible kind: a small, 12-year-old girl. And in the grand tradition of small, 12-year-old girls everywhere, she is completely underestimated by absolutely everyone!
Perfect for: Kids who like science fiction and fantasy.
Find The True Meaning of Smekday at your local library.
Listening for Lions
by: Gloria Whelan - (HarperTrophy, 2006) 194 pages.
Thirteen-year-old Rachel Sheridan is living in British East Africa in 1918 when she loses her missionary parents to influenza. She’s taken in by unscrupulous neighbors who cook up a plot to send her, because of her likeness to their deceased daughter, back to England to collect an inheritance from an ailing relative. The post-WWI setting, the animals, and the Masai people are what make Gloria Whelan’s story come to life. Readers will root for Rachel as she bonds with the grandfather she was sent to dupe and triumphs over evil. Award-winning author Whelan has penned a rich, historical coming-of-age adventure.
Perfect for: Kids who likes historical fiction.
Find Listening for Lions at your local library.
by: James Howe - (Aladdin, 2007) 208 pages.
The topic of sexual orientation seems to be reaching into ever-lower grade levels these days — this book is a perfect jumping-off point for discussion. With a deft hand, James Howe intertwines the subject of coming out into Joe’s struggles with common adolescent issues, creating a wonderful story about self-discovery. Joe’s teacher asks his seventh-grade class to write an “alpha-biography” throughout the year, presenting themselves from A to Z. Joe’s essays begin and end with friends — from Addie, a longtime pal and confidant, to Zachary, a new student who, like Joe, has a unique approach to life. It’s a hip tale of what it means to discover who you are in your community, in your family, and within yourself. Highly recommended.
Perfect for: Tweens and teens struggle with adolescent issues.
Find Totally Joe at your local library.
by: Scott Westerfeld - (Simon Pulse, 2011) 432 pages.
The hook: A clever conceit that challenges society’s obsession with physical beauty. This four-book series takes place in a future world where looks are prized above all. When Tally Youngblood turned 12, she became an Ugly. Living in an ugly dorm, she and the other uglies are educated on their despicability. But on their sweet 16, each one will be rewarded with an operation to be made Pretty, thus beginning a life of constant pleasure. But even young Tally can see the downsides to conformity.
Perfect for: Tweens who understand that beauty’s not skin-deep.
by: Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams - (Scholastic, 2009) 480 pages.
Initially called the next Harry Potter, this wonderful adventure stands well enough on its own. Fourteen-year-old Will Burrows has a passion for archeological digging with his father in the abandoned train tunnels and underground shafts around their home in Highfield, England. When his father disappears, Will suspects that he may be in danger connected to some secret excavation. Tunnels reveals a subterranean culture that is hostile to “Topsoilers.” This is a superb fantasy story with danger, intrigue, and alternate worlds that will ignite your child’s imagination.
Perfect for: Kids who like mysteries.
Find Tunnels at your local library.
by: Jerry Spinelli - (Laurel-Leaf Books, 2004) 186 pages.
When Stargirl — as she currently calls herself — arrives at Mica High, she is unlike anyone else. Homeschooled until she was 15, Stargirl wears pioneer dresses, sings “Happy Birthday” to students in the lunchroom while strumming a ukulele, and carries around a pet rat. At first the students stare and whisper, then assimilate her into their peer groups when they consider her entertaining. Eventually, however, everyone begins to shun her for her differences. Her boyfriend, Leo, experiences firsthand the perils of true nonconformity and finds he can’t endure the pressures of being different. Although Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl character may be an exaggeration, the essence of his story rings true and will encourage readers to give thought to tolerance and the price of popularity.
Perfect for: Kids who are different.
Find Stargirl at your local library.
by: Roland Smith - (Harcourt, 2007) 246 pages.
When 14-year-old Peak Marcello is caught scaling a skyscraper to place his signature graffiti tag, he is offered a choice: spend three years in juvenile detention or climb Mt. Everest with his long-absent father. Though the choice might be easy, the journey is not. Peak is physically and emotionally challenged by the grueling climb, the weather, and the politics and drama of climbing culture. And the pressure is on, because if Peak can reach the summit before his 15th birthday, he’ll break a world record and gain glory and money. Peak is gripping and surprising, and though it’s written for a middle-grade audience, readers young and old will be sucked in by the sharp writing and memorable characters.
Perfect for: Kids who like adventure stories.
Find Peak at your local library.