Recommended Books for Kids: When You Reach Me

books for kids

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is one of the books for kids we recommend.  Melissa Gaynor from Sweet on Books explains why:

What You Need to Know:
• I love, love, love this book.
• This was recommended to me by our local children’s bookseller through a friend (thank you Francine and Leah), who both said you will not be able to put it down, and they were right!
• Many times I forgot I was reading a “children’s book”, I was so engrossed. Listen up parents, as this would be a great one to read with or read while your child is reading for a shared reading experience that will benefit you both.
• It was just announced as the 2010 Newbery Medal winner!
• It is closely aligned and refers a lot to Madeleine L’Engle’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time. It would make a great companion read to that classic.

Summary:
Miranda is our twelve year old narrator who resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As a child of the seventies myself, the time period this novel is set, I found myself with many wonderful moments of reminiscence and familiarity. Stead has captured that time and place so impeccably. Miranda lives with her mom and is a latch-key kid (do we have any of those anymore??). Miranda and Sal are best friends and watch out for each other, both being only children of single parents, until the day he gets punched and pulls away from Miranda, much to her disappointment.

At the same time Sal is gaining independence from Miranda, she is left to deal with the crazy Laughing Man (as her mom calls the homeless guy on her corner) and find alternate friendships. Stead has made Miranda so authentic, her pre-adolescent struggles ring with truth. You will undoubtedly see your young self in Miranda and so will your middle grade readers.

During the story, Miranda also finds mysterious letters written to her by someone who seems to know her future. This is where the mystery and time-travel piece come into the story. The plot is a well drawn puzzle, but what is so special about this story is the characters are also magnificently drawn. This is just a wonderful read that is truly destined to be a classic. Hence the five star Sweet rating, we don’t give those out so easily! And it bears repeating, read this book yourself or with your child! You will not be disappointed.

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