This post contains affiliate links.  In May, we read five books and thoroughly enjoyed all of them.  As I wrote up these reviews, I realized that three of them had the same theme–racial injustice in the Deep South during the 1930s through 1960s.  It was interesting to see how that played out in different eras.  Here are the best (and worst) books for ages 8 to 12 {May 2021}.

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {May 2021}

The Best Book(s)

We had two books that everyone picked as their favorite in May:

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {May 2021}

How is it that I was an English major, but I never previously had the joy to read Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry?  What an amazing book.  If you’re looking for a fabulous book to read aloud to your kids, I highly recommend this one.  (Just be forewarned that there are difficult scenes and the n-word is used throughout.)  Cassie Logan is growing up in the deep South with her three brothers.  Her mother teaches at the local school, and her father works out of town for the railroad so he can make enough money to pay the taxes on the land that they own.  When her family and a few others around the area dare to stand up and try to make a change, the whites in the town are all to eager to try to put them in their place. . .through whatever means necessary.

This book is loosely based on the author’s relatives.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry has 276 pages.

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {May 2021}

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones echoes Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.  While Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry is set in the 1930s, The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones happens right before the Civil Rights Movement.  Ethan Harper has a black mother and a white father.  He lived in the Pacific Northwest, but after a fight with a schoolmate, his white father decides to send him back to the Deep South to live with his father’s sister and her husband.  Of course, being white, he underestimates the difficulty Ethan will face in the town.  (His mother had left the family a few years earlier, and his father didn’t tell his mother Ethan was being shipped south.)  As one would expect, racial tensions boil over, and Ethan is often threatened.  This is also an amazing book, though again, it does have the n-word a few times.  (This book is recommended for kids ages 12 and older, so it is more mature than the other books on this list.)

The Invincible Summer of Juniper has 292 pages.

Other Books We Read

King of the Mound by Wes Tooke

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {May 2021}

In King of the Mound, Nick, a rising baseball star, was struck by polio and left with a damaged leg.  His father is an aging semi-pro baseball player who is gruff and distant.  (Nick’s mother died years ago).  They live in North Dakota, and Nick spends the summer helping the team.  There, he meets the famous black ball player, Stachel Paige.  Paige takes Nick under his wing and helps him.  Along the way, Nick learns about racism in the United States in the 1930s.

King of the Mound has 155 pages.

Matilda by Road Dahl

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {May 2021}

I have never read Roald Dahl before, but I was introduced through Matilda.  This was a bizarre book about a little girl, Matilda, who is a genius.  Unfortunately, she’s born to cruel and indifferent parents who find her a burden.  The story reads like a tall tale.  I can see what Dahl is so popular with kids, but as an adult, I find the book just okay.

Matilda has 240 pages.

Isobel Kuhn: On the Roof of the World by Janet & Geoff Benge

Isobel Kuhn by Janet & Geoff Benge

See my review of Isobel Kuhn posted separately earlier.

Isobel Kuhn: On the Roof of the World has 217 pages.

 

MAY STATS:

Books read: 5

# of pages read: 1,180

Audios listened to: 0

# of hours listened: 0 hours

2021 STATS:

Books read in 2021: 20

Audios listened to in 2021: 0

Total books read or listened to in 2021: 20

Total pages read:  4,338

Read More

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {January 2021}

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {February 2021}

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {March 2021}

The Best (and Worst) Books for Ages 8 to 12 {April 2021}

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