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Book Recommendations

Book on a sandy beach

Mrs. Upton's book recommendations list includes books that were recommended by teachers, and Tower School students. Just like adults, other children are often the best source for book recommendations.

Keep in mind, however, that every child is unique in terms of their reading level, interests, and maturity. And, that these books are recommendations but that there are many, many more books to choose from at your local library.

Don’t forget to check out biographies, magazines, non fiction and poetry, too! Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and Mary Ann Hoberman are just a few of our favorite poets.

Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 2

Book Cover: Saturday, A highlight for Pre-K-2 Suggested Reading List

Picture Books

After the Fall, How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
Berry Song by Michaela Goade
Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy
A Chair for my Mother by Vera B. Williams
Camp Tiger by Susan Choi
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Creepy Crayon by Aaron Reynolds
Do Not Open This Book by Andy Lee
Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away by Meg Medina
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall
Hot Dog by Doug Salati
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor
Milo Imagines the World by Matt De La Pena
My Papi has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero
The Pigeon Will Ride the Rollercoaster by Mo Willems
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad, S.K. Al
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld
Saturday by Oge Mora
The Ramble Shamble Children by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Uncle John's City Garden by Bernette G. Ford
You Matter by Christian Robinson
Watercress by Andrea Wang & Jason Chin
We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom
Where Wonder Grows by Xelena González. Illus. by Adriana M. Garcia.
The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illlustrated by Leo Espinosa

Early Readers

Biscuit by Alyssa Capucilli
Cornbread and Poppy by Matthew Cordell
Duck, Duck Porcupine by Salina Yoon
Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems
Elephant & Piggie Like Reading by various authors
Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
Hi Jack! (A Jack Book) by Mac Barnett & Greg

Pizzoli King & Kayla by Dori Hillstead Butler Ling & Ting by Grace Lin
Penny by Kevin Henkes
Puppy Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
Mr. Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant
Rabbit & Robot by Cece Bell
Unicorn & Yeti by Heather Ayris Burnell


Beginning Chapter Books

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
Dragon Masters by Tracy WestThe Questioneers (series) by Andrea Beaty
Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows
Lighthouse Family by Cynthia Rylant 
Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
Meet Yasmin!  by Saadia Faruqi
Mia Mayhem is a Superhero by Kara West
Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliott
Pets Rule by Susan Tan
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
Rainbow Magic Fairies by Daisy Meadows
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey
Roscoe Riley Rules by Katherine Applegate
Sadiq and the Explorers by Siman Nuurali
The Secret Explorers by SJ King
The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron
Super Rabbit Boy series by Thomas Flintham
Who Would Win? (series) by Jerry Pallotta
Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citr


Chapter Books

Babysitters Club Little Sisters by Katy Farina
Clementine  by Sara Pennypacker
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
Dragon Slayers’ Academy by Kate McMullan
Eerie Elementary series by Max Brailler
Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton 
Geeger the Robot by Jarrett Lerner and Serge Seidlitz
Jasmine Toguchi by Debbie Michiko Florence
Judy Moody by Megan McDonald 
My Weird School by Dan Gutman
Ramona by Beverly Cleary
Heidi Heckelbeck series by Wanda Coven 
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
Zach & Zoey Mysteries by Mike Lupica


Grade 3

Book Cover: Honeybee

Angus and Sadie by Cynthia Voight
Angus and Sadie, two siblings that are of mostly border collie heritage, are adopted by a young couple and start living on a Maine farm, where they begin to learn sheep herding and come to appreciate how they are different from each other.

Baseball Card Adventures: Babe and Me
(series) by Dan Gutman
Joe Stoshack is at it again, this time going back in time through baseball cards to see if Babe Ruth really predicted his legendary home run in the 1932 World Series.

Blubber by Judy Blume
Jill goes along with the rest of the fifth-grade class in tormenting a classmate and then finds out what it is like when she, too, becomes a target.

A Bear Named Trouble by Joan Bauer
In Anchorage, Alaska, two lonely boys make a connection--a brown bear injured just after his mother sends him out on his own, and a human whose father is a new keeper at the Alaska Zoo and whose mother and sister are still in Minnesota.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley tells about his summer vacation and his attempts to steer clear of trouble when he returns to middle school and tries to keep his older brother Rodrick from telling everyone about Greg's most humiliating experience of the summer.

The Doll People by Ann Martin
A family of porcelain dolls that has lived in the same house for one hundred years is taken aback when a new family of plastic dolls arrives and doesn't follow The Doll Code of Honor.

The Dragon of Lonely Island by Rebecca Rupp
Three children spend the summer with their mother on a secluded island where they discover a three-headed dragon living in a cave and learn what it means to be a Dragon Friend.

Chet Gecko (series) by Bruce Hale
Detectives Chet Gecko and his partner Natalie Attired try to solve the mysteries at Emerson Hicky Elementary School.

Heidi Heckelbeck Series by Wanda Cove
Meet Heidi Heckelbeck. Heidi seems like any other 8 year-old.  She eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. She hates all vegetables. She picks on her younger brother, Henry. She begrudgingly does her homework. But Heidi Heckelbeck has a secret: She’s a witch in disguise.

Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
During a summer spent at Rockaway Beach in 1944, Lily's friendship with a young Hungarian refugee causes her to see the war and her own world differently.

The Littles by John Peterson 
The adventures of a tiny family who live within the walls of the Bigg's house.

Magic Bone Series by Nancy Krulick The new Magic Bone series features Sparky, a half- grown puppy, as both protagonist and narrator. A good choice for newly independent readers who have a taste for fantasy.

Marley: a Dog Like No Other by John Grogan
Follows the life story of an exuberant Labrador retriever who gets into perpetual trouble and experiences a range of inspiring adventures.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien 
Having no one to help her with her problems, a widowed mouse visits the rats whose former imprisonment in a laboratory made them wise and long lived.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
A young boy relates his adventures during the year he spends living alone in the Catskill Mountains including his struggle for survival, his dependence on nature, his animal friends, and his ultimate realization that he needs human companionship.

My Weird School: Miss Daisy is Crazy (series) By Dan Gutman
Miss Daisy, who teaches second grade, doesn't know how to add or subtract. Not only that, she doesn't know how to read or write either.

Planet Omar by Zanib Mian
Imaginative Omar goes through the ups and downs of starting a new school and making new friends with the help of his wonderful (and silly) Muslim family

Riding Silver Star by Joanna Cole
Meet Abby. She and Star have lots of fun together. And you can share all the excitement as Abby's teacher shows her how to jump fences, takes her on a lively trail ride, and then races her back to the barn.

Sadiq and the Gamers by Simon Nuurali
Sadiq and his friends are starting a video game club at school. They have fun playing together and planning a tournament for the whole school to participate in. But when their club needs a service project, the club members are stumped. How can they help people with video games?

Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynold and Raul the Third Portico Reeves' secret identity as Stuntboy allows him to use his superpower keep everybody safe, but when his superhero parents start fighting a lot he feels the responsibility to save them.

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas
Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees—until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears

The Who Was (Series) by Penguin Publishers
With over 250 titles, Penguin’s Who Was? series tells the incredible stories of trailblazers, legends, innovators, and creators

Other book ideas:

Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King Smith
How to Drive Your Sister Crazy by Diane Z. Shore
Riding Silver Star by Joanna Cole
Goosed by Bill Wallace
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
Violet Mackerel series by Anna Branford


Grade 4

Book Covers: The Last Cuentista, Front Desk, The Wild Robot


39 Clues by various authors
A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
Al Capone Does my Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Alex Rider (series) by Anthony Horowitz 
The Big Game by Tim Green 
Blister by Susan Shreve
Candymakers by Wendy Mass
Dork Diaries (series) by Rachel Renee Russell
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Frizzy by Claribel Ortega
The Fun Jungle (series) by Stuart Gibbs
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Lakeman Forester  
Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings
Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Heroes of Olympus (series) by Rick Riordan
The Kane Chronicles (series) by Rick Riordan
The Last Quentista by Donna Barba Higuera
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
New Kid by Jerry Craft
New From Here by Kelly Yang

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The Penderwicks (series) by Jeanne Birdsall
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series) by Rick Riordan
The Pet War by Allan Woodrow
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
President of the Whole 5th Grade by Sherri Winston
Rangers Apprentice (series) by John Flanagan
Save me a Seat by Sarah Weeks 
A Series of Unfortunate Events (series) by Lemony Snicket
Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
Spy School (series) by Stuart Gibbs
Spellbound by Anna Dale
Spirit Animals (series) by Brandon Mull Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
Timmy Failure (series) by Stephan Pastis 
Treasure Hunters (series) by James Patterson
The Unwanteds (series) by Lisa McMann
Well Witched by Frances Hardinge 
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
When you Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed


Entering Grade 5

Book Cover: Scary Stories for Young Foxes

Abduction! by Peg Kehret
Alex Rider (series) by Anthony Horowitz 
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
Artemis Fowl (series) by Eoin Colfer 
Atherton (series) by Patrick Carman 
A Bird Will Soar by Alison Green Meyers
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo 
The Big Field by Mike Lupica
Brave as You by Jason Reynolds 
Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Dying to Meet You: 43 Cemetery Road by Kate Klise
Dragon’s Egg by Sarah L. Thomson 
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
Eragon (Inheritance series) by Christopher Paolini 
Freewater by Amina Lugman-Dawson
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

Finally by Wendy Mass
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Hoot by Carl Hiassen
Ida B. by Katherine Hannigan
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Last Quentista by Donna Barba Higuera
Maizy Chen's Last Chance by Amanda Nojadera
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Nina, the Pinta, and the Vanishing Treasure by Jill Santopolo
Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Percy Jackson & the Olympians (series) by Rick Riordan
Raymie Nightingale (series) by Kate DiCamillo
Regarding the Sink (series) by Kate Klise
Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
Septimus Heap (series) by Angie Sage
Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket 
Shadow Children (series) by Margaret Peterson Haddix 
The Sherlock Files (series) by Tracy Barrett
Small Steps by Peg Kehret
Starfish by Lisa Fipps
The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
Wonder by R.J. Palacio 


Entering Grade 6



Incoming 6th grade students were expected to read at least three books this summer. 

Book 1: Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. If you’ve already read it, please read it again! We will base our first reading unit on this book.

Book 2: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. If you've already read it, please read it again.

Book 3: a book of your choice.

Recommended Books:

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She can’t write. All because she has cerebral palsy. But she also has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it. Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. And she’s determined to let everyone know it… somehow.

The Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings
Living near the water on Maryland's Eastern Shore, thirteen-year-old Brady and his best friends J.T. and Digger become entangled in a tragedy which tests their friendship and their ideas about right and wrong.

Tangerine by Edward Bloor Twelve year old Paul, who lives in the shadow of his football hero brother Erik, fights for the right to play soccer despite his near blindness and slowly begins to remember the incident that damaged his eyesight.

Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri Twelve-year-old Iranian refugee Khosrou moves to Oklahoma where he goes by Daniel and models himself after the legendary storyteller Scheherazade as he weaves tales that reflect his perseverance and reinvention.

When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1970s television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid," a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

Track (series) by Jason Reynolds Ghost. Patina. Sunny. Lu.
A fast but fiery group of kids from wildly different backgrounds, chosen to compete on an elite track team. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, yet she can't help herself. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
Thirteen-year-old Amari, a poor African American girl from the projects, gets an invitation from her missing brother to join the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and join in the fight against an evil magician.


Entering Grade 7

Book: Other words for Home



Last summer, students were expected to read at least three books they haven’t read before. The following three books were required reading:

Book 1. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

Book 2. The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez
After dark in a Mexican border town, a father holds open a hole in a wire fence as his wife and two small boys crawl through. So begins life in the United States for many people every day. And so begins this collection of twelve autobiographical stories by Santa Clara University professor Francisco Jiménez, who at the age of four illegally crossed the border with his family in 1947.

Book 3. Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone
Twelve-year-old Samuel Collier is a lowly commoner on the streets of London. So when he becomes the page of Captain John Smith and boards the Susan Constant, bound for the New World, he can’t believe his good fortune. He’s heard that gold washes ashore with every tide. But beginning with the stormy journey and his first contact with the native people, he realizes that the New World is nothing like he imagined. The lush Virginia shore where they establish the colony of James Town is both beautiful and forbidding, and it’s hard to know who’s a friend or foe. As he learns the language of the Algonquian Indians and observes Captain Smith’s wise diplomacy, Samuel begins to see that he can be whomever he wants to be in this new land.


Additional recommendations: Our summer reading list includes books that were recommended, not only by your teachers, but also by Tower School students. Just like adults, your peers are often the best source for book recommendations. Keep in mind, however, that every one of you is unique in terms of your reading level, interests, and maturity. We’ve provided a short summary of each book to help you find the ones that are right for you.

April Morning by Howard Fast
The story of one day in the life of a young American boy in colonial Lexington, the day on which he joined the militia and saw his father shot down by the British.

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose A look at the men of E Company of World War II, this early D-Day morning, parachuted into Holland in the Arnhem campaign, and captured Hitler's Bavarian outpost. gripping book describes how they parachuted into France.

The Borning Room by Paul Fleischman
Lying at the end of her life in the room where she was born in 1851, Georgina remembers what it was like to grow up on the Ohio frontier.

The Boy Who Couldn't Die by William Sleator
When his best friend dies in a plane crash, sixteen-year-old Ken has a ritual performed that will make him invulnerable, but soon learns that he had good reason to be suspicious of the woman he paid to lock his soul away.

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers This 1989 Coretta Scott King Award winner is the story of one young man's tour of duty in Vietnam as well as a testament to the thousands of young people who lived and died during the war.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.

I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
In this complicated, chilling novel of the savagery of modern society, Adam mentally relives his past while facing the interrogation and trauma of his present life as a guest of the government.

A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata
A young blind white girl falls in love with a black man, but her domineering mother refuses to let her be with him.

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpugo When Thomas Peaceful's older brother is forced to join the British Army, Thomas decides to sign up as well, although he is only fourteen years old, to prove himself to his country, his family, his childhood love, Molly, and himself.

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
Rebecca has been dead for several months, but her sinister influence is still very much alive at Manderley, as Maxim de Winter's second wife soon comes to realize.

Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
Jeff Bussey, a Union volunteer, sees the Civil War from both sides when he is sent to spy on Stand Watie and his Confederate Cherokee raiders.

The Sacrifice by Kathleen Duble Two sisters are accused of witchcraft in Andover, Massachusetts in 1692 and await trial while their mother desperately searches for some way to obtain their freedom.

Soldier’s Heart by Gary Paulsen Battle by battle, Gary Paulsen shows readers one boy's war through one boy's eyes and one boy's heart, and gives a voice to all the anonymous young men who fought in the Civil War.

Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton Hamilton, the teenage surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack in the fall of 2003, shares her amazing story, detailing her return to surfing after this life-changing event.

Travel Team by Mike Lupica The story of a 12-year-old Danny Walker, the smallest kid on the basketball court who's cut from the very travel team his father led to national prominence as a boy.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson Bill Bryson reveals the beauty of the great American outdoors—and, during his months long walk, discovers bears, lions, the joy of noodles, and underwear the size of groundsheets.


Entering Grade 8

The Thing About Jellyfish


All students entering the eighth grade were required to read the following three books:

Book 1 The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin
Twelve-year-old Suzy Swanson wades through her intense grief over the loss of her best friend by investigating the rare jellyfish she is convinced was responsible for her friend's death.

Book 2 Somewhere There Is Still a Sun, by Michael Gruenbaum
A memoir by Michael Gruenbaum of his experiences in Prague and the Terezin concentration camp.

Book 3 Surviving the Oregon Trail 1852, by Weldon Willis Rau. You are going to be listening to Surviving the Oregon Trail, 1852: As Told by Mary Ann and Willis Boatman and Augmented With Accounts by Other Overland Travelers, By Weldon W. Rau.  I have multiple reasons for requiring you to listen to this book and not read it. I want you to be on The Oregon Trail, thus the attached map. I don't want you counting pages, I want you counting miles. As well, this book is composed of primary source materials linked together by the author which really tells the story of what life was like on The Oregon Trail. I want you to hear their words. The author/narrator is the great grandson of the journal writers...a really cool connection to history. What is cholera? You need to know about this disease when you listen (see link to definition). Beware! Sickness, murder and drama will unfold over this 2000 mile journey! I have listened to and read this book multiple times, as I prepared for my own driving adventure on The Oregon Trail and I have re-listened to it this spring. As I’ve mentioned, the narrator's voice is a little “goofy” however the story is fully on target with our studies this fall. Email me over the summer, if you have questions as you listen to the book. – Mrs. Orne

Resources: Map and General Info About The Oregon Trail (use map to follow the book)

Cholera - what is it


Books 4+ In addition to the required texts, students are to read at least one book of their choice!

Recommended Books

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Taste of Salt: a story of Modern Haiti by Frances Temple
Wonder by R.J. Palacio