Monday, December 19, 2011

Books for Nine-to-Twelve-Year-Olds

Books for Nine-to-Twelve-Year-Olds

Recommended Books from Young Years Library: Mother's Guide to Children's Reading by Rachele Thomas, Parents' Magazine's Press, 1963. {LOC 63-15865}

Young Years Library was a five or 10-volume anthology of reading material for children. The product evolved over the years, but generally it was sold direct to parents who wanted to provide an educational or literary advantage to their children. Many of the great children's librarians of the day were involved, including the pioneering Augusta Braxton Baxter. My copy, published in 1963, includes a 72-page list of recommended books for various ages and stages. To my eye, many of these books have long since been forgotten, not least because of the revolution in children's literature that took place following the publication that year of Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. I'll be transcribing the sections of the Mother's Guide to Children's Reading reading list, one by one, in hopes of providing a starting point for modern mamas looking to explore more unusual, likely out-of-print book suggestions, beyond those usually included in generally available contemporary reading prescriptions. Copyright, of course, remains with Home Library Press.

All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sidney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John and Mary Stevens. Follett.
The poignant tale of a Jewish family with five daughters in New York's Lower East Side. Sequels are:
     More All-of-a-Kind Family
     All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown

Amahl and the Night Visitors, by Gian-Carlo Menotti, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin. Whittlesey.
Enchanting tale of a crippled boy and his mother whose guests one memorable night were the Three Magi on their way to Bethlehem. The book is an adaptation by Frances Frost of Menotti's memorable opera.

And Now Miguel..., by Joseph Krumgold, illustrated by Jean Charlot. Crowell.
Twelve-year-old Miguel lives on a sheep ranch in New Mexico. A Newbery Award winner.

The Arabian Nights: Their Best-Known Tales, edited by Kate D. Wiggins and Nora A. Smith, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish. Scribner.
A very fine collection designed to introduce the young reader to a literary gem.

Away Goes Sally, by Elizabeth Coatsworth, illustrated by Helen Sewell. Macmillan.
Excellent period story of New England in the 1800s and of a mobile, ox-driven house. Sequels are:
     Five Bushel Farm
     The Fair American
     The Wonderful Day

Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfield, illustrated by Richard Floethe. Random.
The lively adventure of three little girls studying ballet in London.

The Bells of Bleeker Street, by Valenti Angelo, illustrated by the author. Viking.
Old World family loyalties play a big role in an Italian neighborhood in New York's Greenwich Village. Another story about New York by the same author:
     Big Little Island

Ben and Me, by Robert Lawson, illustrated by the author. Little Brown.
Amos is the mouse that lived in Benjamin Franklin's old fur cap, and here he recounts his master's biography.

Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin, by Marguerite Henry, illustrated by Wesley Dennis. Bobbs.
In the colonial days of Pennsylvania, a cat shows a Quaker boy how to become a great painter.

Betsy-Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace, illustrated by Lois Lenski. Crowell.
The everyday doings of five-year-old Betsy and her friend. The setting is a small town in Minnesota during the 1890s. The book began a series which carried Betsy and her friends through school to eventual marriage:
     Betsy-Tacy and Tib
     Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
     Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
     Heavens to Betsy!
     Betsy's Wedding
     Betsy in Spite of Herself
     Betsy Was a Junior
     Betsy and Joe
     Carney's House Party
     The Great World

The Bible Story for Boys and Girls: Old Testament. Retold by Walter R. Bowie, illustrated by Stephani and Edward Godwin. Abingdon.
Bible stories told in modern language with dignity, taste and simplicity. Sequel is:
     The Bible Story for Boys and Girls: New Testament

The thrilling story of a courageous Japanese boy in a fishing village and a great tidal wave.

“B” is for Betsy, by Carolyn Haywood, illustrated by the author. Harcourt.
The adventures of little Betsy at home and in school. Sequels to the Betsy series are:
     Betsy and Billy
     Back to School with Betsy
     Betsy's Winterhouse
     Betsy and the Boys
     Betsy's Busy Summer

The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley, illustrated by Keith Ward. Random.
Thrilling story of a wild horse and his boy trainer. Others in this favorite series among boys and girls are:
     Black Stallion and Satan
     Black Stallion Returns
     Black Stallion Revolts
     Black Stallion's Filly
     Blood Bay Colt
     Island Stallion
     Island Stallion's Fury
     Son of the Black Stallion

The Blind Colt, by Glen Rounds, illustrated by the author. Holiday.
A little boy trains a blind colt to become a fine saddle horse. Others in this excellent series about horses:
     Stolen Pony
     Whitney Takes a Trip
     Whitney Ropes and Rides
     Whitney and the Blind Horse

Bluebonnets for Lucinda, by Frances C. Sayers, illustrated by Helen Sewell. Viking.
Story of a loveable little girl in a Southwest setting.

Blue Willow, by Doris Gates, illustrated by Paul Lantz. Viking.
A migrant worker's daughter wants more than anything in the world a home than a home that stays in one place.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush. Harcourt.
Borrowers are funny little people, and whenever a human being misses something he always knows it is one of the little people who borrowed it. Sequels are:
     The Borrowers Afield
     The Borrowers Afloat
     The Borrowers Aloft

Bright April, by Marguerite de Angeli, illustrated by the author. Doubleady.
Sensitively-written story of a ten-year-old Negro girl in Pennsylvania.

Burma Boy, by Willis Lindquist, illustrated by Nicholas Mordvinoff. Whittlesey.
The thrilling tale of a boy's search for a jungle elephant.

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink, illustrated by Kate Seredy. Macmillan.
The adventures of a spirited tomboy and her brothers in the Wisconsin of the 1860s. A Newbery Award winner. A Caddie sequel:
     Magical Melons

Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry, illustrated by the author. Macmillan. A Newbery Award winner.
A beautifully written Polynesian legend about a chieftan's son who shows indomitable courage in the face of peril.

Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina, illustrated by the author. Scott.
Mischevious monkeys steal all the caps out of a sleeping peddler's pack and enjoy themselves immensely as the peddler tries to get the caps back.

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams. Harper.
A modern classic about how Charlotte's ability to write messages in her spider web brought happiness to a little girl and saved the life of a small pig.

The Children of Green Knowe, by L.M. Boston, illustrated by Peter Boston. Harcourt.
A little boy spends Easter vacation in an old English country house and meets children who had played there many years before. Other titles in the Green Knowe series are:
     The Children of Green Knowe
     The River of Green Knowe
     A Stranger at Green Knowe

The Circus Baby, by Maud and Miska Petersham, illustrated by the authors. Macmillan.
A mother elephant, intrigued by the good manners of the clown family, who appear in a circus with her, decides that her baby elephant should grow up with good manners, too, and the first thing she tries to do is put the baby elephant in a high chair.

A classic collection of stories written in the late nineteenth century about a wonderfully impractical family.

The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard.
Inspiring American tale of eight-year-old Sarah who helps her pioneer family to build their home in the Connecticut wilderness in the early eighteenth century.

The grim life behind an Iron Curtain country and the exciting escape of a young boy out of Hungary.

Daughter of the Mountains, by Louise Rankin, illustrated by Kurt Wiese. Viking.
A fascinating story of a little girl who travels all the way from Tibet to Calcutta to find her stolen dog.

The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli, illustrated by the author. Doubleday.
The Great Plague in England of the 13th century cripples little Robin, but he shows amazing pluck. A Newbery Award winner.

Twelve popular folk tales from Norway, including “The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body” and “Princess on the Glass Hill.”

Emily's Runway Imagination, by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush. Morrow.
A town achieves its library through the imaginative efforts of a young girl named Emily.

The Enormous Egg, by Oliver Butterworth, illustrated by Louis Darling. Atlantic Little.
A New Hampshire boy finds an egg that hatches out, of all things, a dinosaur.

A hound dog beats the local, the freight and the Cannon Ball Express.

Freddy the Detective, by Walter R. Brooks, illustrated by Kurt Wiese. Knopf.
Freddy is a poor little pig who has no tail to wag, but despite this handicap, he becomes a hero. In this tale he reads “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and becomes a dandy detective. Other books in this series are:
     Freddy, the Cowboy
     Freddy and Mr. Camphor
     Freddy and the Perilous Adventure
     Freddy Goes to Florida
     Freddy and the Popinjay
     Freddy and the Space Ship

Gift of the Forest, by R. Lal Singh and Eloise Lownsbery, illustrated by Anne Vaughan. McKay.
Tale of a tame Indian tiger and his young master.

The Girl from Johnnycake Hill, by Virginia F. Voight, illustrated by Willian A. McCaffery. Prentice-Hall.
A remote farm in eighteenth-century Connecticut is the setting for this exciting story about a fourteen-year-old girl and her mother.

A family's hardships when they move from rural Puerto Rico to cold and crowded New York.

The Golden Lynx and Other Tales, edited by Augusta Baker, illustrated by Johannes Troyer. Lippincott.
Fascinating European and Asian folk tales.

The Golden Name Day, by Jennie D. Linquist, illustrated by Garth Williams. Harper.
Nine-year-old Nancy spends her summer vacation with her Swedish grandparents in New England and is given her own name day.

Gone-Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enright, illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush. Harcourt.
Portia and her small brother on vacation discover an abandoned summer colony near a swamp. Sequel:
Return to Gone-Away

Gone Is Gone, by Wanda Gag, illustrated by the author. Coward.
The fascinating Wanda Gag version of the folk tale about the man who thought he would prefer his wife's work to his own.

The Good Master, by Kate Seredy, illustrated by the author. Viking.
Cousin Kate comes from the city a precocious brat but emerges a nicer person after a stay on her uncle's ranch. Hungarian traditions give the story a lovely touch.

Henner's Lydia, by Marguerite de Angeli, illustrated by the author. Doubleday.
A story of the life of a little girl on a farm in Pennsylvania Dutch country.

Henry Huggins, by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Louis Darling. Morrow.
Today's typical boy gets into all sorts of scrapes—many of them excruciatingly funny—just as Henry does. Others in the series:
     Henry and Beezus
     Henry and Risby
     Beezus and Ramona
     Henry and the Paper Route

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field, illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop. Macmillan.
The adventures of a wooden doll beginning as a heathen idol and ending in the window of an antique shop. A Newbery Award winner.

Homer Price, by Robert McCloskey, illustrated by the author. Viking.
The hilarious adventures of Homer and his friends in a Midwestern town. The sequel is:
     Centerburg Tales

Honk, the Moose, by Phil Stong, illustrated by Kurt Wiese. Dodd.
Very funny story of a moose and two little boys.

The House of Sixty Fathers, by Meindert DeJong, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Harper.
A little Chinese boy, during the early period of the Japanese invasion, is separated from his family and is finally reunited with them.

The warm story of ten-year-old Jennie who, with the help of several Ukranian refugee children, learns there are many kinds of people in the world.

The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. Harcourt.
Moving story of Wanda, a little Polish girl, and her desperate attempts to make her American classmates like her.

Junket, the Dog Who Liked Everything Just So, by Anne H. White, illustrated by Robert McCloskey. Viking.
The amusing tale of a dog who instructs a family from the city on the proper enjoyment of life in the country.

A tender family story of life in Japan, and of Keiko, who brings her father lots of good luck.

King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry, illustrated by Wesley Dennis. Rand.
True story of a famous Arabian stallion, ancestor of the race horse Man O' War. Other popular horse stories by the same author:
     Misty of Chincoteague
     Sea Star

The famous collie is sold, but shows faithfulness to her young master when she travels over 400 miles to find him again.

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Garth Williams. Harper.
A splendid pioneer family story set in Wisconsin of the 1870s. Sequels are:
     Little House on the Prairie
     On the Banks of Plum Creek
     By the Shores of Silver Lake
     Little Town on the Prairie
     Long Winter
     These Happy Golden Years
     Farmer Boy

This little boy is forever getting into trouble when he leaves home. Sequels are:
     Little Pear and His Friends
     Little Pear and the Rabbits

Three boys—one white, one Malay, one Chinese—set their sights on a canoe, and forget their racial differences as they cooperate to acquire it.

Many Moons, by James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. Harcourt.
Delightfully fanciful tale about a king who orders one person after another to fetch the moon for his little princess.

The Matchlock Gun, by Walter D. Edmonds, illustrated by Paul Lantz. A Newbery Award winner.
A little boy saves his mother and sister from the Indians. The story is set in the Hudson Valley of the mid-eighteenth century.

Melindy is an eight-year-old Negro girl whose courage earns her a medal.

Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen, illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush. Harcourt.
Warm family story of Marly and her brother who move from the city to a farm in Pennsylvania, where they find a new and rewarding way of life.

Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars, by Ellen MacGregor, illustrated by Paul Galdone. Whittlesey.
Miss Pickerell, who could not stand heights and was even made dizzy by the sight of a stepladder, unexpectedly finds herself on a spaceship to Mars. Other Miss Pickerell adventures in:
     Miss Pickerell Goes Undersea
     Miss Pickerell and the Geiger Counter
     Miss Pickerell Goes to the Arctic

In a tongue-in-cheek biography, reminiscent of the author's “Ben and Me,” the horse that Paul Revere rode tells of the events leading to the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The Moffats, by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. Harcourt.
The everyday adventures of four New England children who live with their mother in a yellow house. Other titles in the Moffat series are:
     Middle Moffat
     Rufus M

The Most Wonderful Doll in the World, by Phyllis L. McGinley, illustrated by Helen Stone. Lippincott.
How a doll who lives in Dulce's imagination helps a little girl to accept how things as they really are.

Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin. Coward.
The adventures of a boy and his black lamb. Sequel:
     A Place for Peter

An old Russian folk tale about the search of a little girl for her mother.

Nobody Listens to Andrew, by Elizabeth Guilfoile, illustrated by Mary Stevens. Follet.
No one believes little Andrew when he says there's a bear in his bed.

Norwegian Folk Tales, by Peter C. Asbjornsen and Jorgen Moe, illustrated by Erik Werenskiold and Theodor Kittelsen. Viking.
The authors of these fascinating tales are the Norwegian counterparts of the Brothers Grimm.

Once the Hodja, by Alice G. Kelsey, illustrated by Frank Dobias. McKay.
Charming folk tales from Turkey.

Once Upon a Time: Twenty Cheerful Tales to Read and Tell, edited by Rose Dobbs, illustrated by Flavia Gag. Random.
Old and new folk-tale favorites, especially for the storyteller and for reading aloud. Sequel:
     More Once-Upon-a-Time Tales

The Ordeal of the Young Hunter, by Jonreed Lauritzen, illustrated by Hoke Denetsosie. Little Brown.
A Navaho lad first disappoints his father and then becomes a hero.

The adventures of a courageous Greek boy and his little sister, orphaned by an earthquake, as they lose and then find each other again.

Otis Spofford, by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Louis Darling.
The good and bad behavior of a little boy who craves attention.

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Louis S. Glanzman. Viking.
The humorous adventures of a little girl, a horse and a monkey.

Plain Girl, by Virginia Sorensen, illustrated by Charles Geer. Harcourt.
The story of a little girl in Pennsylvania and how she learns to blend modern ways with the Old World traditions of her Amish parents.

Red Horse Hill, by Stephen Meader, illustrated by Lee Townsend. Harcourt.
A colt and his young master win glory in a thrilling race.

The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. Holiday.
Kenneth Grahame's fanciful version of St. George and the dragon.

The Road to Agra, by Aimée Sommerfelt, illustrated by Ulf Aas.
A boy's trek 300 miles across India to Agra to find aid for his sister's failing eyesight. In this moving story the real hero is the World Health Organization.

A collection of more than 400 rhymes, chants, game songs, and tongue twisters.

Rootabaga Stories, by Carl Sandburg, illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham. Harcourt.
Humorous stories about modern life.

The Saturdays, by Elizabeth Enright, illustrated by the author. Rinehart.
Four motherless children, their father and a housekeeper find a way to spend their Saturdays in New York. Others in this popular chronicle of the Melendy faimly:
     The Four-Story Mistake
     Then There Were Five
     Spiderweb for Two

The Secret Language, by Ursula Nordstrom, illustrated by Mary Chalmers. Harper.
Convincing boarding-school story of how a lonely girl in her first year makes a friend.

Seven Simeons: A Russian Tale, by Boris Artzybasheff, illustrated by the author. Viking.
A witty Russian tale about a king who is outsmarted by a small group of peasant boys.

Shaken Days, by Marion Garthwaite, illustrated by Ursula Keoring. Messner.
A family's adventures during the San Francisco earthquake.

Simba of the White Mane, by Jocelyn Arundel, illustrated by Wesley Dennis. McGraw/Whittlesey.
An African's lion is saved by a little boy.

Snow Treasure, by Marie McSwigan, illustrated by Mary Reardon. Dutton.
The exciting story of sabotage by children in Nazi-occupied Norway.

Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown, illustrated by the author. Scribner.
Good retelling of the old French tale about the three soldiers who dupe the villagers.

Stories from the Bible, retold by Walter de la Mare, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. Knopf.
Excellently told stories from the King James version.

Stories of the Gods and Heroes, by Sally Benson, illustrated by Steele Savage. Dial.
Selections of classic mythology based on Bulfinch's Age of Fable and written for children.

Story of Doctor Doolittle, by Hugh Lofting, illustrated by the author. Lippincott.
The famous animal doctor who learned the language of the animals from his parrot and who journeyed to Africa to fight an epidemic among the monkeys. Others in the popular Dr. Dolittle series are:
     The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle
     Doctor Doolittle's Post Office
     Doctor Doolittle's Circus
     Doctor Doolittle's Zoo
     Doctor Doolittle's Caravan
     Doctor Doolittle's Garden
     Doctor Doolittle in the Moon
     Doctor Doolittle's Return
     Doctor Doolittle and the Secret Lake
     Doctor Doolittle and the Green Canary
     Doctor Doolittle's Puddleby Adventures

Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lenski, illustrated by the author. Lippincott.
A regional true-to-life story of a little girl in the Florida cracker country. Other titles in the series:
     Judy's Journey
     Prairie School
     Coal Camp Girl

The Superlative Horse: A Tale of Ancient China, by Jean Merrill, illustrated by Ronni Solbert. W.R. Scott.
A charming legend about a stable boy who rises to prominence.

Susannah, the Pioneer Cow, by Miriam E. Mason, illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham. Macmillan.
Exciting story set in pioneer days in Indiana about the adventures of Susannah and her cow. Another fanciful pioneer story:
     Caroline and Her Kettle Named Maud

The thrill-packed island vacation of a group of English children, with pirates and buried treasure. Sequels are:
     Peter Duck
     Winter Holiday
     The Coot Club
     We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea
     Secret Water
     Missie Lee
     The Picts and Martyrs
     Great Northern

Excellent selection of favorite fairy tales from the Household Stories of the Brothers Grimm, admirably adapted for the young reader. Other titles in this series from Wanda Gag:
     More Tales from Grimm
     Three Gay Tales from Grimm
     Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Amusing French-Canadian folk tales.

The Tall Book of Christmas, edited by Dorothy Smith, illustrated by Gertrude Elliot Espencheid. Harper.
A fine collection of Christmas miscellany.

Tall Tale America, by Walter Blair, illustrated by Glen Rounds. Coward.
Tall tales about such legendary heroes as Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Johnny Appleseed, and many others.

Eight-year-old Reizel presents a charming view of a Jewish family in a village of Lithuania of two generations ago.

That Jud!, by Elspeth Bragdon, illustrated by Georges Schreiber. Viking.
A tender story of how the townspeople of a Maine village open up their hearts to an orphan boy.

Thee, Hannah!, by Marguerite de Angeli, illustrated by the author. Doubleday.
A little girl learns not to covet her neighbor's possessions.

Thirty-One Brothers and Sisters, by Reba P. Mirsky, illustrated by W.T. Mars. Follett.
The daughter of a Zulu chief in South Africa accompanies the men of her tribe on their yearly elephant hunt. Sequels are:
     Seven Grandmothers
     Nomusa and the New Magic

This Boy Cody, by Leon Wilson, illustrated by Ursula Keoring. Watts.
The very funny story of Cody Capshaw, a Tennessee mountain boy. Sequel is:
     This Boy Cody and His Friends

Told Under the Christmas Tree, Association for Childhood Education, eds., illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham. Macmillan.
A marvelous collection of Christmas stories in verse.

Tommy Carries the Ball, by James and Marion Renick, illustrated by Frederick Machetanz. Scribner.
Football for the beginning, combining an exciting story with a handbook of plays and positions. The author has another football story:
     Nicky's Football Team

Humorous, witty folk tales from Pakistan.

Twenty and Ten, by Claire Huchet Bishop, illustrated by William Pène du Bois. Viking.
A group of children save the lives of Jewish refugees in German-occupied France during World War II.

Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois, illustrated by the author. Viking.
A fantastic professor takes off in one balloon and lands on the other side of the world with twenty-one balloons. A Newbery Medal winner.

Two Is a Team, by Lorraine and Jerrold Beim, illustrated by Ernest Crichlow. Harcourt.
The story of a little Negro boy, Ted, and his white friend, Paul, shows that color is no barrier to friendship among children.

Underground Alley, by William Mayne, illustrated by Marcia L. Foster. Dutton.
The discovery by a little girl of a secret passage.

The Wheel on the School, by Meindert De Jong, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Harper.
The six children of the small Dutch village of Shora set out to realize their dream of a stork on every roof in Shora.

Who Goes There?, by Dorothy P. Lathrop, illustrated by the author. Macmillan.
On a snowy day, two children leave food for animals in the forest and then follow their tracks.

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, illustrated by Ernest Shepard. Scribner.
A modern classic tale of four of the most wonderful animals—and most human—who ever lived: Mole Water Rat, Badger, and Toad. (An edition of this classic with illustrations by Arthur Rackham is available from Heritage Press.)

A pioneer story of twelve-year-old Peter and his family, who live under imminent threat of attack by the Indians.

The Witch Family, by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. Harcourt.
Enjoyable story of some extraordinary witches and two little girls.

Wonder Clock, by Howard Pyle, illustrated by the author. Harper.
“Four and twenty marvelous tales, being one for each hour of the day.”
Available online for free at the Baldwin Project.


  1. LOVE, love love, your blog, and its name! I homeschooled both of my daughters and we are all voracious readers. So many of these books I remember from my childhood, as well. Thank you for all your hard work, I am glad to know that there are other people who appreciate good writing! =)

  2. Wow thank you so much for the positive feedback. It really means a lot!