I love sharing the books our family is reading for fun as part of our homeschooling lifestyle.
My children are in the 11th, 9th, and 7th grades. In addition to our personal book choices, you’ll also find the names of the books we are listening to on audio or I am reading aloud to the kids.
As always, let me know what you and your kids are reading. I love adding more titles to my reading list!
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Our February 2022 Reading List
This collection of books represents the ones read in our home this month. This includes books read by individual kids, myself, or books read as a group.
7th Grade Book Choices
Bodyguard: Books 1-8
From Amazon: “Teenage kickboxing champion Connor Reeves is determined to do his father, a former special forces soldier, proud. Recruited into the ranks of a top-secret young bodyguard squad known as Guardian, Connor trains in surveillance, anti-ambush exercises, hostage survival and unarmed combat. Whatever it takes to prepare him for the dangerous missions ahead.
But nothing can prepare Connor for his first assignment when the US president summons him to protect the First Daughter. For not even the Secret Service knows that a terrorist sleeper cell has been activated in America. Its mission: to take the president’s daughter hostage.
Combining pulse-pounding action, diabolical enemies, and an insider’s knowledge of the tricks of the trade, the BODYGUARD series is the perfect target for fans of Alex Rider, James Bond, 24, and Jason Bourne.”
My Thoughts: My son doesn’t love to read anything that isn’t assigned to him, but this was one series that he read on his own and couldn’t put down!
J. R. R. Tolkien
From Amazon: “Bilbo Baggins enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling farther than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep to whisk him away on a journey to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. . . “
My Thoughts: I have to admit. I have read this one three times now and it just isn’t my thing. I appreciate it for the themes, the timelessness of the story, and the incredible journey, but overall, I am not a fan of this classic. Clearly, I assign it to all of my children as part of their education, but I am grateful this is my last time reading it.
**Be sure to watch the movie version!
>>> More Teen Books Made into Movies <<<
9th Grade Book Choices
The Red Umbrella
Christina Diaz Gonzalez
From Amazon: “The Red Umbrella is a moving tale of a 14-year-old girl’s journey from Cuba to America as part of Operation Pedro Pan—an organized exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, whose parents sent them away to escape Fidel Castro’s revolution.
In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. And soon, Lucía’s parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States—on their own.
Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? And if she does, will she still be the same girl?”
The Princess Bride
by W. Goldman
From the Publisher: “What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?”
**Be sure to watch the movie version!
>>> More Teen Books Made into Movies <<<
This month, my daughter joined us for our family read-aloud, but didn’t read a book on her own.
Family Read Alouds
Code Name Verity
Elizabeth E. Wein
Publisher’s Description: “October 11th, 1943–A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?”
My Thoughts: We all listened to the audiobook together and enjoyed this one. The twist and then the ending was so good, but also hard. I don’t want to say too much but this one is a great option for your teens!
From the Publisher: “A windowless shack in the woods. A dash to safety. But when a woman finally escapes her captor, the end of the story is only the beginning of her nightmare.
She says her name is Lena. Lena, who disappeared without a trace 14 years prior. She fits the profile. She has a distinctive scar. But her family swears that she isn’t their Lena.
The little girl who escaped the woods with her knows things she isn’t sharing, and Lena’s devastated father is trying to piece together details that don’t quite fit. Lena is desperate to begin again, but something tells her that her tormentor still wants to get back what belongs to him…and that she may not be able to truly escape until the whole truth about what happened in the woods finally emerges.
My Thoughts: Definitely a twisty tale. Loved the revolving point of view that kept me guessing. You should know that Abuse – physical and psychological – is involved.
My Review: “After a whirlwind romance, Sam Statler and Annie Potter move away from the hustle and bustle of the city to Sam’s hometown in upstate New York. Sam quickly finds a rental office to set up his practice as a therapist while Annie struggles to occupy her time. When Sam goes missing, the twisted adventure begins and Annie must unpack the mystery of her husband while trying to discover the truth.
The first huge twist in this book threw me for such a loop that I went back to reread a few sections. I was certain that I missed something along the way. Let’s just say that I didn’t see that first twist coming. (well played) From there, the book parallels the plot of a similar and well-known story, but one that I had forgotten enough to enjoy this version.”
From Amazon: “Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night her family was forever altered.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents could devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue loving her.”
My Review: Honestly, I didn’t want to put it down. I was completely caught up in the unfolding mystery of these characters and the truth of what happened. That said, I only gave it three stars because the graphic descriptions of sex were a bit much for me – just not my thing. And I also just didn’t buy the ending. Something about it didn’t add up for me and it left me feeling unsatisfied. But it was well worth the read until those last pages.
Animal Farm: The Graphic Novel
George Orwell and Odyr
From Amazon: “In 1945, George Orwell, called “the conscience of his generation,” created an enduring, devastating story of new tyranny replacing old, and power corrupting even the noblest of causes. Today it is all too clear that Orwell’s masterpiece is still fiercely relevant wherever cults of personality thrive, truths are twisted by those in power, and freedom is under attack. In this fully authorized edition, the artist Odyr translates the world and message of Animal Farm into a gorgeously imagined graphic novel.
Old Major, Napoleon, Squealer, Snowball, Boxer, and all the creatures of Animal Farm come to life in this newly envisaged classic. From his individual brushstrokes to the freedom of his page design, Odyr’s adaptation seamlessly moves between satire and fable and will appeal to all ages, just as Orwell intended.”
My Review: The graphic version of this classic tale was a great read. While some events were eliminated from this adaptation, the overall theme is very clear. And it still gets me every time Boxer dies.
I thought the illustrations were well done and quite beautiful.
Overall, I think this is a great version of this story to use with middle and high school students. They will remember the key moments and themes of this book using this version. This book will definitely provide a great platform for a discussion of this classic
The Monster Missions
I read this to preview a few book options for my Outschool Book Clubs. I immediately added this book to the list for my middle school book club. We will discuss this one in May!
My Review: The entire world changed when the ocean rise covered all of the lands. Now Berkeley and her best friend, Garth, live with their families on an old cruise ship. They are both scavengers for the ship, diving to the covered cities to find usable supplies. Life is predictable and routine until one day they discover that there is more beneath the ocean depths than they have been told.
If you are looking for an enjoyable dystopian sci-fi read for middle schoolers, then look no further. This book had me hooked right from the start and I absolutely loved the ride. I enjoyed the way the author used sea monsters from myths and legends and brought them to life in this story. As soon as I finished this one, I handed it to my 14-year-old and 12-year-old kids to read next.
NOTE: If you have a sensitive reader, preview the first few chapters. If they can handle reading about the first encounter with the Hydra then they are probably fine to read the whole book. The opening is one example of the tense moments with sea monsters (and sea pirates later) in this book.
Outschool Fiction Book Club Choices
I teach book clubs for kids online through Outschool. You can learn more and check for class availability on my Outschool profile.
(Elementary and Middle School Book Club Choice)
My Review: Three lives will intersect in this touching story which is told through alternating points of view.
Mavis Jeeter is fearless and bold. She has just moved AGAIN because her mother has taken a job as a housekeeper for the Tully family. Rose Tully doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood girls so her only friend is the gateman, Mr. Duffy. Henry is a runaway dog who is looking for kindness and love. When their lives intersect, they find friendship in unexpected places.
I absolutely adored this sweet story and highly recommend it for a family read-aloud or a great book for your child. This delightful story of friendship is an easy and quick read. The rotating point of view offers a variety of perspectives on the situations in the story.
In addition to having plenty of fun moments, there are also age-appropriate emotions and challenges faced by the characters. Of course, the best part is that this childhood story involves a dog that doesn’t die!
Outschool Graphic Novel Book Clubs Choices
My Review: Twelve-year-olds Astrid and Nicole have been best friends for years, but things have started to change. Astrid decides to try a roller derby camp, assuming Nicole will join her as well, but that isn’t the case. Instead, Nicole signs up for dance camp with Ashley, so Astrid is convinced she is losing her best friend. This summer, Astrid has a lot of lessons to learn about friendship, growing up, and who is going to be.
I am adding this book to my “favorites” shelf because it is now one of my favorite middle school graphic novels. I loved Astrid. She is very real and despite the roller derby sport, I think a lot of middle school students will relate to the emotions Astrid struggles with as she navigates changing friendships. Of course, roller derby is just a fun niche sport to introduce the kids to as well!
5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior (Book One)
Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel
From Amazon: The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye. . . .
• Oona Lee, the clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.
• An Tzu, a boy from the poorest slums, has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.
• Jax Amboy is the star athlete who is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?
When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!
Phoebe and Her Unicorn
From Amazon: “A boy and his dog . . . a girl and her . . . unicorn?
It all started when a girl named Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and she used it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection? Indeed they can, and that’s how Phoebe and Her Unicorn unfolds.
This beautifully drawn comic strip follows the unlikely friendship between a somewhat awkward girl and the magic unicorn who gradually shows her just how special she really is. Through hilarious adventures where Phoebe gets to bask in Marigold’s “awesomeness,” the friends also come to acknowledge that they had been lonely before they met and truly appreciate the bond they now share.”
My Review: I absolutely loved this book. I understand why this is such a popular series.
All’s Faire in Middle School
From Amazon: “Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up with two parents working at the Renaissance Faire, and she’s eager to begin her own training as a squire. First, though, she’ll need to prove her bravery. Luckily Impy has just the quest in mind–she’ll go to public school after a life of being homeschooled! But it’s not easy to act like a noble knight-in-training in middle school. Impy falls in with a group of girls who seem really nice (until they don’t) and starts to be embarrassed of her thrift shop apparel, her family’s unusual lifestyle, and their small, messy apartment. Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.”
My Review: The connection between middle school and the Renaissance Festival life was a fun lens to approach this coming-of-age story. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was well done and a solid read for this age group.
NOTE: Imogene’s friend reads from a romance book that she took from her older sister and Imogene reads another line from it when she is home. A boy is untieing the halter bikini top on a girl – no more detail or description is given. Imogene’s mom finds the book and asks her if she has questions about sex. *These scenes are very short (just a few panels) but it’s worth noting that they are in the book.
My Review: I am a huge fan of graphic novels and of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. That said, this was not my favorite book in the series.
Major Impossible is the story of John Wesley Powell, a Union soldier who lost his arm in the Civil War. Despite this setback, he found in the war until it was over and then embarked on an expedition to explore the Colorado River. Over the course of the three-month adventure, the explorers faced many challenges and trials. In the end, only six of the ten explorers made the entire journey.
This was the story of someone I knew very little about in history, and I did enjoy learning about his life. The constant flashbacks to earlier years were helpful to provide more biographical information but they interrupted the flow of the exploration adventure. It made it a bit more difficult for me to follow the story.
In the end, this title definitely brings to life a lesser know subject in American History and I enjoyed learning more about him. This is not the Nathan Hale book I would encourage readers to begin with.
I’d love to have your child join me for weekly or monthly discussions in my Outschool online book clubs. You’ll find options for 8-10 year old and 11-13-year-olds.
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