Books for older children to read: The Center of Everything


As children learn to read, books become more complex and require a higher level of reading and comprehension skills.  That’s why The Center of Everything by Linda Urban is one of Reading Kingdom’s recommended books for older children to read.  Melissa Gaynor from Sweet on Books explains why:

“What You Need to Know:

• A young girl reflects on friendship, her relationship with her grandmother, and how to right a wrong.

• Coping with the loss of a loved one is explored in a delicate and sensitive manner.

• One of the characters refers to her “two dads” although no additional details are provided.

• The whole story takes place on one day, with flashbacks to various events over the previous year.

• Short chapters keep the story moving quickly.

• Reading this book may lead to a craving for donuts!


The Center of Everything is one of those books that makes you step outside the world you know and see it from a different angle. It may be a slight shift in perspective, but it’s enough to leave its mark. It’s not action-packed or adventure-filled, but it’s brimming with ideas and interesting characters. It raises questions about destiny, signs, wishes, fate, and regrets, and how these things relate to family, friendship and community.

The story centers around 12-year-old Ruby Pepperdine as she celebrates Bunning Day in her small New Hampshire town. In fact, the whole story takes place on this day, but the chapters alternate between the present and events that took place over the previous year. All around her, people are celebrating Captain Bunning and his role in the creation of the donut, while Ruby reflects on the loss of her grandmother, Gigi, and how it has impacted her life. Not only does Ruby mourn for her, but she also regrets the way she handled things the last time they were together. Since that moment, she has been going about life like it’s business as usual, but inside she’s been feeling like she’s “underwater”.

Things might have continued that way indefinitely, but slowly, beginning with a boy in her class named Nero, little incidents begin to penetrate the safe place that Ruby has made for herself, and she begins to deal with her grief. The realities of life, including her busy family, her sometimes thoughtless friend, Lucy, her unexpected connection to Nero, and her surprising selection as the “Essay Girl” for the Bunning Day parade, both help and hinder her progress, making Ruby’s story all the more relatable and realistic.

As the story includes the point of view of people other than Ruby, there are a number of different characters to remember. That’s a good thing in this case, because they’re all relevant and their relationships are interesting. Ruby’s friendship with Lucy is complicated, her relationship with Nero is intriguing, and her memories of her grandmother are warm and tender. Although The Center of Everything deals with a sad topic, it’s actually more uplifting than it is sad.”

Books for older children require developed reading comprehension and word recognition skills. Help your students and children further their reading and writing education with Reading Kingdom Stage 2, an incredibly effective reading and writing program for students in grades 3 to 5 as well as older students who are experiencing difficulties.