The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi is a great read for a bunch of 5th graders! Charlotte is a spoiled rich girl who ends up on a ship intent on revenge. Who’s right, who’s wrong. Charlotte, using the wisdom that she’s been taught, clearly understands that the dirty sailors are bad and the beautiful sea captain is good and lands herself on the wrong side of an argument.

Charlotte grows up and learns more of the world and humanity that her parents expected from the trip and her return to her world is almost as dramatic as the voyage over.

Read March 2020

Esperanza Rising

Pam Munoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising was an Oregon Battle of the Books in 2019 and I read it with my son’s fifth grade classmates. It tells the story of a rich, property owner’s daughter who must leave Mexico and her lifestyle behind after her father dies and her unscrupulous uncle attempt to marry her mother and ship her off to boarding school. Once in southern California, she must work as all the other migrants on the farms. She must learn to be a servant after being the master her whole life.

There’s talk of uprisings against the farmers for more farmers rights, but others just need the money to survive. This led to many good discussions of racism – subtle and overt and workers rights.

Great read for an adult or kid.

Read February 2020


R.J. Palacio’s Wonder tells the story of 10-year old August Pullman. A boy who’s undergone countless surgeries to correct crania-fascial disfigurements due to a genetic anomaly. He’s been homeschooled his whole life but will now enter Beecher Prep as a 5th grader.

Kids can be cruel and this novel doesn’t hold back and we see it from the victim’s perspective. But kids can be amazing too. Growing up is hard. Growing up with a physical difference makes it harder. Palacio does an inspiring job telling his story of growing up from so many different sides. Each trying to do their best, pushing away friends in the process, and learning about who they want to be.

I started reading this with my 10 y/o and 8 y/o but they both finished it on their own before we could read it together. This is a great book to read with your kids and to talk about the hardships of life and how its easy to be cruel but its always better to be kind.

Read January 2020

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry, tells the story of a Victorian aged boarding school where the headmistress and her brother die mysteriously die. Craving their independence, the girls decide to hide the bodies and run the school themselves.

Fun story, listened to audiobook while on long car trip.

Broken arm.

Last Man’s Reward

David Patneaude’s Last Man’s Reward tells the story of a group of friends that makes a valuable discovery. Realizing it cannot be split equally, the group of boys decides to make  a pact that the last one still living in the temporary company housing wins the prize but will need to cross a ravine to get their reward.

What started as a group that was stuck together due to proximity, small friendships evolve and they end up depending on each other more than they could expect.

I read this with my son’s 4th grade book group and they devoured this story! It was a fun and unexpectedly emotional book.

Read June 2019

Bridge to Terabithia

Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia was an amazing coming of age story about a young boy Jesse and his friendship with the newcomer to school Leslie. Jesse’s family is big, loud, and poor. Leslie’s family is smaller, smarter, and quieter. But Leslie is able to open up Jesse’s imagination to the world beyond his small world.

There’s alot of about family dynamics and friendship with in this book. I read this with my son’s 4th grade reading group and everyone agreed about how emotional and great this book was. This is a tearjerker, fyi.

Read March 2019


Gordon Korman’s Restart was a great book to read with the 4th graders. Its about a middle-schooler who falls off his roof and gets amnesia. The kid he becomes is vastly different than the kid he was before. This prompted great discussions about bullying, social structures within schools, being cool, and following your own interests.

Read October 2018