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FRC Recommendations 1


Okay this was hard. There are too many books to choose from. So I decided to go back to what made a book a good read aloud for me and my family. My girls hit elementary school in the middle of the Harry Potter craze as well as the start of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. For the reader, both series present a staggering array of quirky characters to inspire a wide range of voices. For the listener, there’s a steady stream of adventures and delicious disappointments. Those are the qualities that I respond to and characterize the books I recommend here. 

I recommend that parents spend time remembering books that they enjoyed reading or hearing when they were young. The Michigan Electronic Library offers an excellent tool called NoveList where you can search old favorites and find newer read alikes. (Click here for tips using NoveList:

Here are just a few recommendations to get you started. Don’t hesitate to ask for more. Wacky characters and intriguing challenges abound in these fun family read alouds.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart earns its comparison to Lemony Snicket with four uniquely brainy main characters and a series of challenging puzzles and mysteries. The very old-fashioned, sometimes snarky narration just begs to be read aloud. The target of their first mission–The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened–could easily come from a lost manuscript by Roald Dahl. At 483 pages (and equally long sequels), Benedict Society might be a daunting read for many third and fourth graders, but with a parent or older sib reading aloud, they’ll be begging for more at the end of each chapter.

You know we take board games seriously here at the library, but none of us can compete with Kyle Keeley, the hero of Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Once again we have great characters, starting with the library’s wealthy benefactor, Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, a fabulously wealthy and brilliant game designer who has designed the new library for the town of Alexandriaville, Ohio (in the shell of an old bank, by the way). The grand opening will be an elaborate escape room, challenging 12 smart and lucky children to figure out the library’s secrets. Again, the inspiration of Roald Dahl is all over the place and the sequels were inevitable, but also satisfying in their own right.

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