6 Books My 10-year-old Loved

The other day Benjamin was looking for something good to read. I popped over to the Cybils website and we browsed the shortlists from 2017 for some books. We put them on hold at our library and once he had read them all, I asked him to rank them for me. "Which one should I read?" He picked one and then I asked him to put the rest in order for me.

Benjamin said, "It's kind of hard to rate them, because they're all really good."

One of the books was non-fiction: Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive! by Paquette and Thompson. I love the premise of this book. Each chapter has three short articles about interesting plants/animals. The kicker is that one of them is a lie! The idea is that this gives the kids practice reading critically and checking the sources of an article that appears to be non-fiction. The boys ate it up, and Jubilee has asked to get in on the fun and had me read several chapters to her.  Of this book, Benjamin said, "I know you've read part of this, so decide."

In 5th place...
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. This one is realistic fiction, and Benjamin prefers fantasy. But he likes a good test of his wit, and The Parker Inheritance is "a puzzle book, like Under the Egg and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Something you can kind of solve along with the character, but it's still a story and has all those plot twists." He mentioned that it has themes of History and African Americans.

In 4th place...
A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander. According to the cover, this author has previously won the National Book Award. So that's a good sign. Benjamin said, "Truthfully, I couldn't decide between this one and The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. It's actually kind of about respect." (Oooh, he's picking up on themes! Because he said this, I asked him about themes in each of the other books.) "But not in a 'respect your elders' way. It's about ghosts. It has plenty of action in it; and things that can happen to the narrator and the reader is like 'What?! That can happen?!' It's written in the first person."

In 3rd place...
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis. Benjamin said, "This one is really good. It definitely includes magic, as you can tell. It ends on a very happy noteall of these books do, but this one was, like, a really nice ending. Plenty of action and you get to experience the book from the viewpoint of a dragon which isn't often explored." (And yes, when he said "which isn't often explored" I was duly impressed.) He said this one has a theme of Family. I've listened to the first chapter or so of this on audio already.

In 2nd place...
Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood. Benjamin said, "It has some magic performed in really intriguing ways. It also has a mystery inside of it." He has already checked out the Jinx trilogy by this same author, because he liked this one so much. He said this one has the theme of Problem Solving.

In 1st place...
Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh. Benjamin said, "Read this. It has the right amount of action, scariness, and . . . 'tradition' almost? And it's very good." When I asked him what the theme was, he said Tradition. That's a little more nebulous than the others, and since this one is his top recommendation, I think I'm going to have to read it.

I think I'll start right now.

[UPDATE from Alysa: I just finished Spirit Hunters. It is scary! It's really well written, and it does have a happy ending, as Benjamin promised, but it is more violent than I was expecting it to be. It reminded me of the one single Goosebumps book I read in childhood, which was enough for me. So I don't know if I would recommend it for a 10 year old? I just don't generally recommend scary books. If I were going to recommend a scary book, this one is actually really good - great interplay between tension and happier moments,  strong, well developed characters. It has a very satisfying ending, but sets up well for a series and book two, Spirit Hunters 2: The Island of Monsters is already out. And I kind of want to read it despite my trepidation when it comes to reading in the horror genre . . . so maybe that's recommendation enough? I don't know if I would even classify Spirit Hunters as horror, maybe a horror/realistic fiction/fantasy blend. Hmmm.]


  1. Thank you so much for this! I always appreciate Benjamin's recommendations since I have a voracious reader in the form of a 9 year old boy!

  2. awesome! i will recommend this to others, for sure. love the first hand opinions and explainations. <3


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