Good clean reads

A friend asked me about good clean books (obviously, other than those from reliable Jewish publishers) to share with her preteen and teenage kids during the summer. Here are just a few great books for the (Jewish) kid, all pre-approved by moi. However, you should ALWAYS skim books before letting your kid read them. Even if they are “kosher,” they might not be at the right reading level, for example.

(And you do have to take the following into account:
I allow my kids to read books by non-Jews and about non-Jewish subjects–which some frum moms might disapprove of–and I do allow my kids to read about somewhat controversial topics, as long as they are developmentally appropriate. I’m also a big fan of all those treife animals some people shun–I just don’t eat them.
However, I ditch books with strong language, completely “un-tznua” romantic situations, excessive violence, flagrant racism or xenophobia, or that promote avodah zara, movies or television.
…And, yes, that includes Disney!)

These books are for kids 8 and up:
The Hobbit (Tolkein)
The Courage of Sarah Noble (Dalgliesh)
The Stories Julian Tells (Cameron)
Binky series of graphic books (Ashley Spires)
Hereville: How Mirka Gets her Sword (Deutsch)
The Rabbi’s Girls (Hurwitz)
Baseball Fever (Hurwitz)
The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela (Shulevitz)
Fat Men from Space (Pinkwater)
Fat Men from Space
Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) (Lisa Yee)
all Henry Huggins books (Cleary)
Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Brave, Ramona and her Mother, Ramona and her Father (Cleary)
Sarah, Plain and Tall (MacLachlan)
Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy (Wilder)
There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom (Sachar)
Sadako and the Paper Cranes (Coerr)
The Princess Tales, Volume I (Levine)
A Single Shard (Park)
The Thief Lord (Funke)

And these are for age 12 and up:
Dealing with Dragons (Wrede)
Searching for Dragons (Wrede)
Tripods trilogy (John Christopher)
The Pool of Fire
Homecoming (Voight)
The Eye, the Ear and the Arm (Farmer)
The Giver (Lowry)
The Cay (Taylor)
Treasure Island (Stevenson)
all the Little House books not listed above
Island of the Blue Dolphins (O’Dell)
Tuck Everlasting (Babbitt)
Un-Lun-Dun (Mieville)
Bud, Not Buddy (Curtis)

For age 15 and up:
Sorcery and Cecilia (Wrede and Stevemer)
Rabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid (Scheinkin)
Rabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid: A Graphic Novel of Dueling Jewish Folktales in the Wild West
The Blue Sword (McKinley)
The Graveyard Book (Gaiman)
Dealing with Dragons (Wrede)
Catherine, Called Birdy (Cushman)
The Folk Keeper (Billingsley)
The Martian Chronicles (Bradbury)
I Robot (Asimov)
1001 Arabian Nights
When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection (Norman R. Yetman, ed.)
A Wizard of Earthsea (Le Guin)
Things Not Seen (Clements)

P.S. There are many other wonderful books out there…please share your “kosher” reading recommendations for the 8+ crowd in a comment below! Also, don’t assume other books by the same authors as the above are okay. In many cases, they are most definitely NOT.

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