My Kids’ Favorite Books: a book list for later elementary to middle school


Book list

A Book List for Later Elementary to Middle School Age

One of my favorite things to see, as a parent, is my children curled up on the sofa, or sitting outside on the porch swing, or numerous other places reading from our book list! And let me add to that- reading without me telling them to go read….reading because they want to! These wholesome books for middle school and elementary are tried and true books.

So, as I’m thinking about Christmas gifts (or birthday gifts, etc.) for my kids or nieces and nephews, I love to include BOOKS as part of their present.

Reading is one of those wonderful pastimes that is the same as it was 100 years ago. You find a book and you read it. (granted, I suppose you could be reading it on a kindle or ipad or something, now) 🙂 And, it is just as beneficial as it ever was. It stimulates the imagination, it feeds you with knowledge, it broadens your scope of life and history by learning of others’ experiences, it inspires through achievements and endeavors of people before us, it sharpens your spelling skills and builds your vocabulary without ever having to pull out a textbook to do so. What a great gift!

So, with Christmas shopping underway, perhaps you will enjoy this little list of some of my kids’ favorite books to read. I love book lists because they help me narrow down my options instead of having to search through the thousands of children’s books out there and not knowing where to start. There’s a lot of trashy books out there too, so I appreciate lists that give me good, wholesome choices.

We actually used several of these titles for school reading. I buy several books at the beginning of the year and then let the kids choose which ones they will read. When they’ve finished that book, they go back to those options and choose again. They really like handling it this way, as it allows them to have some say in what they read for school.

So, here you go:

Book List for approximately grades 4-8 or ages 9-13

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Peanut Butter Christmas Kiss Cookies


Peanut Butter Christmas Kiss Cookies have been a long-time Christmas cookie tradition in our home for many, many years. Everyone looks forward to these special sweet treats! This version of the recipe includes colored sprinkles and peppermint kisses!

This is a great cookie recipe for kids to make with you, too, because they can easily help with many of the steps…such as rolling the dough into balls, coating the balls with sugar or sprinkles, unwrapping the chocolate kisses, and also adding the kisses to the cookies.

So, gather your little ones in the kitchen and make some Christmas memories!

Here’s the recipe.

  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Christmas sprinkles
  • Peppermint Hershey’s kisses (any kind work, if you don’t care for peppermint)

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Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods


‘Tis the season for so many wonderful things. Every day in December seems to bring about some sort of special activity, festive sounds, nostalgic feelings, or sweet treats to eat! It really is a special time of the year.

Some of my grandkids were with me last week, so we decided to make these yummy chocolate-dipped pretzels.

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Christmas Memories


This past Christmas, our son Nate posted a lovely tribute to us on Facebook. He shared some of his Christmas memories as a child growing up in a very large family with not much money.

I wanted to share it with you to offer encouragement to the parent who feels like they can’t possibly be doing anything right; to the parent who is struggling financially; to the parent who wonders if their kids will ever realize how much you love them.

Keep doing right. Stay the course. Your kids are watching and observing, even when you don’t realize it!

From Nate: (Age: 39)

Christmas memories: “I’ve been reflecting the past few days on how my parents made Christmas special for us. Our grandparents lived hundreds of miles away and times were very tight when I was little, much tighter than I knew at the time, so Mom and Dad had to make Christmas special for us on their own for the most part.

I was so excited by Christmas as a kid I had very little idea that it was a time of extra financial pressure for them. Or how much Dad felt it and covered it up for our sake. I remember times when he gave us used toys or tools, at least for some of our gifts. I just thought he gave us those things because they were really cool. I had no idea that it was difficult for him to get into the spirit because he was struggling so hard, doing a humble business in the construction trades, doing work that didn’t excite him as a people person, all the while the pressure to feed a growing family weighing upon him.

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“Thank You” Christmas Cookies


Last week I had several of the grand kids over and we made 4 batches of cookies to bring to two of our local sheriff’s departments and to several of our neighbors as well. This is something we try to do every year at Christmas. The holidays are a great time to say “thank you” to those who serve us in our community. A simple gesture of appreciation is a blessing to them and also teaches our children about thinking of others.

Here’s what we made this year:

  • Our traditional sugar cookies (find the recipe, below, and in Homemade with Love) using our nativity cookie cutters.  (The kids had fun decorating them with colored sugars and sprinkles. This year Anne had the idea of using powdered sugar to roll them out on instead of flour. Great idea! It worked really well.)
  • Three chip chocolate chip cookies
  • Peanut Butter Blossom (from Homemade with Love)
  • Oatmeal M &M Cookies

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My Favorite Read-Aloud Book at Christmastime


I just love the Christmas season. And, I’m one of those people who really loves traditions- especially Christmas tradition. So, I really wanted to share a book with you that is a favorite tradition for my little family. We read it together every year throughout the Christmas season.

A Little House Christmas TreasuryFestive Holiday Stories is a compilation of Christmas stories taken from some of the original 9 Little House Books. I’ve always loved the Little House books anyway, so this book caught my attention when I saw it in a bookstore years ago when my oldest child was only a very little girl. I bought it and fell in love with the sweet Christmas stories, the pretty little illustrations and colorful and cheery embellishments throughout, and the well-made sturdy pages.


I find the book itself to be really pretty, christmas-ey, and well-made; it would make a beautiful gift for a family or a child.

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Homemade Bread – All Year Long!


Mom, wondering what to ask for, for Christmas?  Here are a couple of things I got years ago and have been SO glad I did. These would also be a wonderful gift for a newly-wed couple, or a grown daughter who is interested in baking.

Have you ever considered baking your own bread with your own freshly-ground wheat? It’s one of the best decisions I ever made for my family. I hardly ever buy store bread anymore. The taste of whole wheat bread with freshly ground flour is not even comparable to store bread. I just make a couple big batches every month or so and freeze it. It’s really not time consuming.

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly- baked bread, and it’s such a good feeling knowing that you are feeding your family something that is super nutritious for them too.

We grind our own wheat berries in our WonderMill Grain Mill,  and the result is amazing.

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More Gift Ideas: Toys & Games


I’ve been enjoying sharing with you some of my favorite gifts that I have given my kids and grandkids through the years- such as the types of toys I like to buy for my kids, our family’s favorite books to read together, and lots of dress-up costume ideas, too! I hope it’s helped you to get some ideas as you shop for those special people in your life!

But I’m having such fun I wanted to suggest a few more!

So, here are some of our top toy picks, based on gifts we bought for our own kids- trusted and true toys that last and encourage healthy-role play.

These toys and games have been (or still are!!) well-loved (and well-worn!) in the Boyer household and that we highly recommend! 🙂

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. That means that if you buy something, I may earn a small commission.

Fisher-Price Noah’s Ark– ours is no longer with us, but it served many kids for many years. Super great for toddlers. The animals are just the right size for little hands to grasp.

Toys Girls Love: 

Lee Middleton Dolls: This is a gift we gave to most of our girls at some point. They called them the “heavy baby” because they are life-sized and do get heavy to tote around. We gave each girl some of the clothes they wore as a baby for the doll to wear because they fit into 0-3 month size baby clothes. The family went together and gave one to Melody for her December birthday last year. This a especially a perfect gift idea if mommy is expecting a baby and your little one can have her baby to care for too. Baby sucks it’s thumb or a pacifier too.  (you can follow the link to this doll at Amazon, but be aware they have others as well if you want a different color hair, etc.)

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Gift Idea: Dress-Up!




Now here is an idea for Christmas gifts that will give MANY hours of creative play all year long!

Dress-up has been one of our kids’ very favorite pastimes. We always rewarded our kids for Scripture memory, and a couple of them chose costumes for Bible memory rewards. It’s a great way to role play being useful adults. Melissa and Doug offers a wide assortment to choose from, and we used many of these.

We also like historical costumes. It was not uncommon to hear our kids playing “Washington Crossing the Delaware” or “Sgt. York at the Battle of the Argonne”.


On Thanksgiving, the kids would always dress up, some as Indians and some as Pilgrims. They’d act out the first Thanksgiving.


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What Do I Buy My Kids for Christmas?



We were careful through the years not to buy trendy toys for our kids. We wanted toys that would allow them to simulate real life situations. We often made suggested lists for relatives to buy from so that they wouldn’t get things we really weren’t wild about them having. Our goal for our kids is to prepare them for real life, to be responsible people who serve God and care for others- so generally that was our guideline in choosing purchases for Christmas or birthday giving.

Below are some of our recommended toys. (I’ll recommend some of our favorite books real soon.)


My kids spent many happy hours playing Legos. It encourages their creativity and dexterity. This is one activity I let my older kids participate in during “naptime” hours for little ones. The older kids would stay in their rooms for an hour and half each day. They would do their Bible reading and then quiet play. During this time, we played audiobooks in their rooms, and much learning was done. (although it was so fun listening, that they sometimes would stay after the required “quiet time” was over!) The Christmas Audio Bundle Special is on sale now.

Here are some of the Lego sets I recommend. We tried to get things that encouraged “real” kind of play and creativity rather than fantasy.

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