With the publishing industry putting out new books faster than anyone can read them, and 2008 being no exception, it’s hard to decide which are the best books for preteens to pick up and read. Here to help you and your preteen in that decision is my list of best books of 2008. As an English teacher, I love to see what books my students check out of the library or which books they share back and forth. What follows here is my list of best books of 2008 for preteens, compiled from books I’ve read and books that have been recommended to me. In my opinion, these are the best books of 2008 for preteens. Enjoy the read!
1. A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. In his usual fun to read style, Bryson takes scientific discoveries and writes them in a fashion anyone can understand – from the Big Bang theory to the theory of relativity, to giving the facts behind the facts, the how’s of how we know what we know. As my first choice for best book of 2008, this is a fun read for students who find their science texts difficult and boring as well as for those of us adults that never really got it when we were their age and would like to now.
2. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Special Edition 2009, Scholastic. As Ripley himself said, “There’s nothing stranger than the truth.” Best book number 2 is the 8th in the annual series of the collection of some of the oddest and strangest people, animals and feats you’ll ever see. Perfect fodder for the young reader. Add all the truly weird stuff to a glow-in-dark cover and you’ll have your kids fascinated in the dark, too.
3. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Written to captivate the younger set, Patterson gives us a science fiction story of an almost typical 15 year-old seeking revenge for his parents’ deaths. The not-so-typical part is that Daniel is an Alien Hunter, and his prey is a six-foot insect-like alien. Oh, did I mention he has powers to help him in his quest? Best book of 2008 number 3 is simply a fun read for 9-12 year-olds. Look for a sequel in no time.
4. Chains by Laura Halse Anderson. In this novel, Anderson weaves the story of an 11-year-old slave girl whose hopes of freedom are dashed when she and her sister are sold to a ruthless couple in New York instead of being manumitted at the death of their mistress. Set during the American Revolutionary War, Anderson sets the country’s fight for freedom in sync with her protagonist’s quest for her own freedom. As she did in her best selling novel Speak, Anderson realistically writes the emotions of this young girl’s plight. Enjoy this well-researched story of a teen’s search for her role in life and a country’s search for independence.
5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Following the storyline of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, Gaiman tells the tale of a young boy who loses his family and is raised by an unlikely group of guardians. Only this time, the child loses his family to an assassin, inadvertently escapes their fate by wandering out the door as the rest of his family succumbs to the deed, and into the neighboring graveyard where he is protected and cared for by the spirits that dwell there. And like Mowgli of the jungle, this hero, Bod, learns everything he needs to survive in his surroundings, but eventually has to learn to go beyond his safe haven and grow up. Best book of 2008 number 5 is another fun read from an award winning author.
Although these may not be the most popular books on the market yet, they are definitely the best books of 2008 for the 9 to 12 year old range. Give them a book they’ll consider a good book, and let them discover what fun reading can be.