Grade 1-5 recommendations:
1. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
This is a story about Brian, a boy who was on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small plane experiences a heart attack. Brian is then forced to crash-land the plane in a lake and finds himself stranded in the isolated Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave to him as a present before he left.
2. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Jess Aarons has been training all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, beats him. The two become friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie's house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. Then a horrific tragedy occurs, and Jess will have to take all the strength that Leslie has given him to deal with his grief.
3. Holes by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been wrongly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. But then Stanley starts to realize that there's something weird going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried at their camp? It's up to Stanley to find out the truth.
4. The Land of Stories By Chris Colfer
Alex and Connor Bailey's world suddenly changes when they find a magic book called the Land of Stories. Through its mysterious powers, they leave behind their world and find themselves in a strange land full of wonder and magic where they come face to face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.
5. Frindle By Andrew Clements
Nick Allen likes to liven things up at school, and he's often called a troublemaker. When Nick learns interesting information about how words are created, he's suddenly got the inspiration for his best plan ever... the frindle. Because who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it frindle? Things begin innocently as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle, and soon everyone is using the word. Nick becomes a local hero even as his teachers want him to put a stop to his nonsense. But the new world is spreading across the country, and there's nothing Nick can do to stop it.
Grade 6-8 recommendations:
1. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Annie Shirley is an eleven-year-old orphan who arrives on an old-fashioned farm outside a town called Avonlea only to discover that the Cuthberts - elderly Matthew and his stern sister, Marilla - want to adopt a boy, not a feisty redheaded girl. But before they can send her back, Anne wins them over completely. This is a beautiful classic about time, family, and the dreams of a child growing up.
2. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
On Cadence's 17th summer, she returns to Beechwood Island after a summer away. The last time she was there was on her 15th summer, when she and Gat fell in love - and when something happened that left Cadence fighting chronic migraines, unable to remember what caused the traumatic brain injury. Slowly, Cadence begins to remember the events of her 15th summer, and she realizes that all is not what it seems at Beechwood Island.
3. Pretend She's Here by Luanne Rice
Emily Lonergan's best friend died last year, and Emily hasn't stopped grieving. Lizzie Porter was cheerful, loud, and fun. When Lizzie's family comes back to town to visit, Emily feels relieved as she finally feels like there's someone that can relate to her pain. The Porters desperately miss Lizzie. Desperately enough to do something crazy. Something unthinkable. Suddenly Emily's life is disappearing down a very dark road, and she's not sure she'll be able to return to what she thought was real.
4. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is a trouble-prone teenager, and just when he thinks he's got it bad, his life gets a lot more complicated when he gets attacked by his middle school teacher who he could've sworn was a monster with wings. After realizing that she can no longer protect Percy from the truth, Percy's mom sends him to Camp Half-Blood, where he learns that's he actually the son of the Greek god Poseidon. There he must harness his powers to prevent a devastating war between the Olympians on Earth from happening.
5. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Melody Brooks is an eleven-year-old girl who was born with cerebral palsy. Her parents have done everything they can to help her live a normal life, but it's often frustrating for Melody since she can't speak, move, or talk. But she's the smartest kid at her school - except no one knows that. She's full of words all the time, except she can never say them. That is until Melody discovers something that will allow her to speak. For the first time, Melody has a voice. But not everyone is ready to hear it.