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09/03/2015 11:33AM ● Published by Nancy Babin

School is in full swing, and I am sure your tweens and teens are up to their ears in activities and homework.  Even though many kids look at reading as an additional school chore, I encourage you to model reading as a leisure activity.  By watching you, kids can learn that reading is a great way to relax and wind down.  Personally, I cannot go to sleep at night if I haven’t read a few chapters.  There are several books that popped up on my radar for this issue that I am sure your kids will love to read in their down time – and you may also find you enjoy them too.

First I have a book geared toward boys, even though girls would enjoy it as well.  I hope you do not think I am being sexist when I state in each article which gender a book is geared toward, I am merely hoping to guide you in making selections for your child.  Many times both girls and boys enjoy all of these books, so don’t limit your child to certain books because you think a book is a “boy’s book” or a “girl’s book.”  That being said, this first book is “Airman” by Eoin Colfer.  The story takes place at the end of the 19th century and the main character is Conor Broekhart.  Flying is in Conor’s blood – he was born in the basket of a hot air balloon and this unusual entry into life leads on to a life of adventure until he witnesses a murder.  He is falsely accused and thrown in prison and begins to plan his escape by means of a flying machine.  This book is full of adventure and humor  and I recommend it for anyone age 12 and up.

Next is  “Chasing Secrets” by Gennifer Choldenko.  Once again we go back in time, this time to San Francisco in the 1900s.  Thirteen year old Lizzie is stuck in a snobby finishing school for girls when her real passion is science.  What keeps her going is that her physician father sometimes lets her go on house calls with him.  Those visits open Lizzie’s eyes to the reality of city life when she sees sickness and poverty.  Lizzie knows that the government is denying there are any epidemics, but she is learning the truth – there is a plague in San Francisco.   How can Lizzie help save the people she loves?  Read and find out. This book would be enjoyed by both boys and girls ages 11 and up.

Another mystery/thriller that your child may enjoy is “Serafina and the Black Cloak” by Robert Beatty.  Twelve year old Serafina lives with her father in the basement of the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC.  Serafina’s father had been one of the construction workers to build the estate and then stayed on as a general handyman.  For reasons unknown to Serafina, their presence in the basement has to remain a secret.  As a result, Serafina has become a master at maneuvering about the estate unseen and unheard.  One night she sees a strange man in a dark cloak pulling a child down the corridor.  The next day she learns that a child disappeared that night.  More children disappear, and only Serafina has seen the man in the black cloak.  The story unfolds and drips with suspense.  If your child likes mysteries, this is a book he or she will love.  I recommend it for both boys and girls ages 11 and up.

The last book I am including in this article is a book for older teens that strikes the heart of the social issues in so many of our schools today.  Newbury Medal award winner Rebecca Stead’s new release “Goodbye Stranger” is a realistic glimpse into the struggles of middle and high school kids.  It wasn’t easy to be in middle and high school when I was there and it certainly isn’t easy today.  In this book Rebecca Stead tackles the very rough waters of 7th grade through her main characters,  three best friends, Emily, Tab and Bridge.  The girls determine to navigate 7th grade together with one rule – no fights.   But it isn’t that easy – suddenly Emily has new curves, and the boys are noticing.  Things quickly get complicated when Emily accidentally sends of photo of herself partially dressed to a boy and suddenly the whole school has it.  These friends learn what it means to stick together when suddenly everyone is talking about everyone and things get messy quickly.  A lot can be learned from this book about true friendship and having respect for yourself and others.  I recommend parents read this one along with your child as there are many opportunities for real discussions about the things that go on at school and how to handle them.  I recommend this one to boys and girls ages 12 and up.

I hope you find something in this article that your child will enjoy.  If you have found a great book that I have not mentioned, I would appreciate the heads up.  All recommendations or comments can be forwarded to  Happy reading!

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Today, Today Chasing Secrets Gennifer Choldenko Airman Eoin Colfer Serafina and the Black Cloak Robert Beatty Goodby Starnger Rebecca Stead

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