I’m late this week… so sorry! Traveling. Christmas gathering. Momming. You know…
But we’re back! And we’ve gathered our thoughts, prepared our selections. This time, we decided to focus on those tough middle years… I’m going to define that as 10-12 years old. I know others define it more broadly, but for our purposes here, we were thinking specifically of books that we felt like hit the sweet spot in that awkward, hard to pin down age group.
So, without more wordiness from me, here we go… this week’s list of Great Christian Fiction for Teens, the middle grade edition (and bonus! Every book on this week’s list is part of a series… which means more options):
My Pick of the Week:
The Mandie Series
by Lois Gladys Leppard
In 1899, Mandie’s life changes when her Cherokee friends help her escape to a mansion that holds the hidden secrets of her past and the key to her future (book one description, Mandie and the Secret Tunnel).
I LOVED these books as a girl. So. Much. I tore through every new title my grandmother gave me. They were mystery and adventure and friendship and fun. And, as a bonus, book one has been made into a movie (I haven’t seen it), and I believe that there has been a Christmas movie made from this series as well.
The Sixteen-year-old’s Pick of the Week:
The Keystone Stables Series
by Marsha Hubler
Thirteen-year-old foster kid Skye Nicholson has become an expert at being an angry, cold, and defensive teenager. After breaking more foster home placements than she cares to count, and committing numerous offenses, she’s headed to her final resort — juvenile detention. But after a court compromise, hope finds her through a beautiful sorrel quarter horse named Champ and the tough love of Tom and Eileen Chamber, who offer her another chance at their home at Keystone Stables. There she’s introduced to a God who has the power to truly save her, no matter how much she thinks she’s not worth saving.
Her thoughts: Once again, horses. This one LOVES her horses, and I found her reading, and rereading these books quite often when she was younger. If you’re familiar with the Heartland Series by Lauren Brooke, this series is similar. Also, by the way, that Heartland Series has been adapted for TV, and is a family favorite at our house… so if you need a family friendly show to binge on over the holidays, check it out. 😉
The Fourteen-year-old’s Pick:
Shades of Truth (Sadie’s Sketchbook series)
by Naomi Kinsman
Sadie thought she’d have a perfect fresh start when she moved to Owl Creek, Michigan, but finding her place in her new school proves harder than she expected. In this divided town, Sadie’s father’s job mediating between bear hunters and researchers doesn’t help her social life. Sadie’s art instructor encourages her to explore her beliefs and express herself through her sketchbook, and things improve after Sadie befriends a kind girl from school and a researcher’s son―but she can’t stop worrying about the bears. As everything swirls around her, Sadie must learn what it means to have faith when you don’t have all the answers.
Facing change is pretty much the way life is when you’re a teenager/preteen, which is pretty much what this book is dealing with. She (my daughter) related with Sadie, and liked how faith helped her figure some stuff out, even when she felt like she couldn’t fit in.
The Twelve-year-old’s Pick:
By Sandra Byrd
Is she making her mom happy, or giving her permission to die?
Quinn Miller and her family are heading to Seattle for a six-week stay at Anderson House—a home away from home for cancer patients and their families—while her mother undergoes treatment. Once there, Quinn meets Annie, whose mom is also going through treatment. Each girl discovers that she has something special to share with the other, including Starbucks, shopping, and secrets about boys.
When Quinn reads her mother’s teen-years diary, she comes across a list of things her mom has wanted to do before she dies. Quinn wants to help her mom accomplish all these things, but will doing so be giving her mom permission to die?
This was emotional–a heavy read when she read it (she was ten), but it felt honest to her, and it was compelling. This one might not be right for the younger end of this group, but she wanted to include it because she read it as a ten-year-old and liked it, even if it made her cry.
For the Guys:
The Ladd Family Adventures (book 1 Shark Pit)
by Lee Roddy
Josh Ladd is excited about his father’s secret assignment in Hawaii. The family trip takes an unexpected twist when their family’s hotel room is burglarized and an Hawaiian treasure map is stolen. In a well-meaning effort to help recover it, Josh disobeys his father and ends up trapped with two friends in a pit filled with sharks and no way out.
My aunt had three boys. No girls, so sad for her! (not really. she loved it.) She had this series in the full collection, and I loved going to her house to read them. 🙂 These books are thus old, but my kids have read them and loved them too. They are adventures, with family and friends mixed in. Sometimes they’re hard to find, so if it’s available, I suggest snagging a copy. And keeping it for those kids who come to visit. 😉
by Jeanne Birdsall
This series of modern classics about the charming Penderwick family from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestseller Jeanne Birdsall is perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild and Edward Eager. Over one million copies sold, now with a bright new look!
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.
Oh! How I LOVE this book. We all love this book in the Rodewald house. It is beautiful–family and friends and children and life. The pain and the joys the remembering and letting go. We have it on audio, and have listened to it as a family on no fewer than three road trips. If you haven’t read/listened to this book, and the others in the series, you simply MUST. I insist. 😉
by Jerry Jenkins and Chris Fabry
Watch out! The Timberline twins are on the loose. Bryce and Ashley are ATV-riding tweens from Colorado who unearth action-packed mystery and adventure wherever they go. From clearing the name of a local miscreant to thwarting a gold-stealing heist, the twins’ growing faith and the strong example of their parents guide them through even the most life-threatening situations. With the trademark page-turner style used by Jerry Jenkins and Chris Fabry in the Left Behind: The Kids series, these fast-paced books will keep even reluctant readers on the edge of their seats. Readers will definitely get hooked by the unbelievable cliff-hanger at the end of book one, Haunted Waters. Perfect for ages 8-12.
First off, they’re by Jenkins and Fabry. If you’re familiar with their books, you know you’re in for a good read. Second, they are fast paced page turners that kept my (then) ten-year-old completely engaged.
And there you go. What else can you think of for this unique middle-grade group? I’d love to hear your ideas!