Reading has the power to improve brain development in children, increase anyone’s vocabulary, boost your memory, enhance your focus, and relax your mind and body. Here are Train The Brains top recommended books to read for every age.
Books For Elementary Students
When your children are young, reading with them strengthens your bond. Whether it’s right before bedtime or while sharing a meal, reading together sets up good habits for you as a family and for your child as an individual. Everyone’s child is different, so we’ve included a variety reading levels in our recommendations below.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
- The main character does tell this story from prison, being the wolf in the story, but he presents his side of the story in such a silly way that children find it very funny. Parents have a chance to bring up a lot of important topics about point of view and perspective, too, but mostly, your kids will have a good giggle and enjoy the action-packed and beautiful pictures.
Little Cliff’s First Day of School by Clifton L. Taulbert
- This story is great for any children hesitant to go to school; it can help your child work through their first day of school jitters. The main lesson is that something that seems scary at first can end up being really fun in the end.
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
- Beautifully illustrated and full of just enough humor and excitement, your child will want to re-read this with you. The cadence of the words are perfect for reading out loud, and you might find your child memorizing bits of this book to take with them forever.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
- This classic tale of adventure still attracts children because of the excitement, the rhythm of the words, and the beautiful illustrations. The attraction lies in the possibility that maybe the reader can become king or queen of the wild things just like Max does!
Geronimo Stilton by Elisabetta Dami
- This book is a wonderful one for either advanced readers who want to read a chapter book independently or for reading together. The story includes illustrations of the adventurous and accident prone Geronimo Stilton, using the words as part of the illustrations throughout the story. The series offers plenty of adventures, too, so there are plenty of mysteries to share.
The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
- This book is the first in a series of wizardry and adventure. The main character, Conn, is taken on as an apprentice to a wizard and has to work on his skills and solve major mysteries along the way.
Big Nate by Lincoln Pierce
- You can’t go wrong with the Big Nate series if you’re looking for something silly to read. Nate is always in some sort of trouble – accidental or not. This book is full of accidental mischief and will spark the imagination of your favorite mischief maker.
Wayside School by Louis Sachar
- From the author of Holes, this story takes the reader along on a wild ride in a school built 30 stories high, with one classroom stacked on top of another. The 13th floor is where the truly odd things happen. The stories in this book are outrageous and are perfect for a child with a good sense of the ridiculous.
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
- This story is a great one to start a conversation about the history of slavery and the impact it had on people. The main character, Henry, is enslaved, but he’s determined to mail himself in a crate to the north to be free. This book is only about 40 pages long and is a picture book, but the conversation is ideal for this age group.
The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer
- This is the story of two boys stuck in the library for the summer. Author Eoin Colfer’s wit and humor is clear as the boys’ conflict with the librarian Mrs. Murphy and her “gas-powered spud gun” ensues.
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
- This series offers plenty for the imaginative child in your life. The Borrows, a family of tiny, not-mice people who collect useful items and live in communities out of sight, find themselves in some dangerous situations, especially when young Arrietty decides it’s time to make friends with the boy above the floor boards.
Wonder by RJ Palacio
- August Pullman doesn’t go to school with other children because he looks so much different than his peers. His family is worried that he’ll be treated badly, so when he decides to attend school in 5th grade, the story opens up to good conversations about different perspectives, how we treat others, and the challenges that brings up.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
- Based on a true story, this book covers the courageous trips made by both a girl and a boy from Sudan in 1985. The girl’s story centers around the work it takes for her to bring water to her family every day, while the boy is one of the “lost boys,” refugees who walked across the continent to try to find freedom and security. The book is a great starting place for important conversations about immigration, human rights, and freedom.
Treasure Hunters by James Patterson
- The Kidd siblings’ parents have disappeared, but since the family has worked together as treasure hunters, the kids are ready to jump into action. They fight pirates and fend off their rival in this action-packed adventure.
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry
- If you’re looking for a coming of age story, this book has it all: action, adventure, friendship, and plenty of lessons learned. Mafatu overcomes his fear of the sea, but he finds himself stranded on a desert island. He’s challenged to survive and find his way back home.
Books for Middle School Students
The Giver by Lois Lowry
- If you’re looking for an award winning dystopian novel, this one centers around Jonas and his questions about how things work in his community. He is to become the Receiver of Memory, and that role gives him insight into the fact that not all is as it seems in his world.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- If you don’t have a full box of tissues ready for this book, then you’d better set it aside. Liesel is living in Nazi Germany, and she finds herself constantly attracted to stealing new books from the burning book piles in town. On top of that, her foster family is hiding a Jew in the basement. The story is intensely beautiful, but it might not suit all middle school children. It would be a good one to read on your own first before deciding if it’s appropriate for your young person.
Hatchet (Brian’s Saga series) by Gary Paulsen
- Brian is headed by plane to see his father in Canada when the plane crashes in a lake in the middle of nowhere. He is challenged to survive with just the clothes on his back and the small hatchet his mother gave him for his trip.
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
- This book is another that you’ll want to read first before you pass it to your middle school student. It might end up being a great book to save for them in high school, but some more mature middle school students will find this story of identity and human rights riveting. Starr is with her friend when he is shot by police. The story blows up around the nation and the globe, and Starr has to find her place in her community as she processes this trauma.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Ender is a top computer simulated war game player, or so he thinks. When he finds out that he’s the result of genetic experimentation and is the military genius behind an actual war, his entire world spins out of control.
Books For High School Students & Adults
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
- This nonfiction book will give you a lot to think about regarding human rights around the globe. The Taliban shot Malala in the head when she was 15, and that single action uprooted her family and led her to the fight for freedom of education for girls.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
- Anyone who is a fan of John Green’s other books will enjoy his voice in this story as well. Colin has dated a bunch of girls named Katherine, but none of the relationships every work out. He gets dumped time and time again. He ends up going on a road trip with his best friend to figure out who he is and what he wants from his life.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
- This play, written in 1959, is a timeless social commentary on socioeconomic status, the bonds of family, and racial tension. Set in Chicago, the play is about the Younger family and their struggle to move out of their current circumstances to provide a better future for their children.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
- If you’re interested in reading about a search for meaning in life, then this book will get your mind on the right track. You’ll get a taste of Eastern religious thought, Jungian archetypes, and Western individuality as the wealthy Indian Brahmin leaves his wealth behind. He works through his questions to become more aware of himself. As you’re reading it, the message seems simple, but as the story sits with you for a while, the depth really sets in and has a long-lasting impact on your view of what is important in life.
Night by Elie Wiesel
- Night is the story of Elie Wiesel’s experiences as a teenager in Auschwitz during World War II. He questions his faith, loses his innocence, and is confronted by the absolute evil of Nazi Germany. Through the experience, Wiesel learns how to maintain his strength and expresses his goal of making sure this horror never happens again.
About Train The Brain
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