What are we looking for in realistic fiction
In realistic fiction, I want a truth in the social/emotional. The drama, the conflict are often in the school and home life of the characters. Friendship, sibling relationships, neighbors, street life, and community are all themes that come to mind. We can think back to the stories of Beverly Cleary set in the fictional neighborhood of Klickitat Street. Ramona and Beezus and Henry were as real to me as my own three brothers. In Mitch and Amy, Cleary reflected the relationship of boy/girl twins. I recognized my 9-year-old interior life immediately.
For a complete list of Cleary’s books, educational materials, chapter books, and games go here
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
I fell in love with eponymous Clementine at first read. I read it aloud to four classes of third and fourth graders. The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street gave it their Josette Frank Award. This award for fiction honors a book or books of outstanding literary merit in which children or young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally.
Here is a snippet of the language.
And Marla Frazee’s pen and ink illustrations are pitch-perfect
Poet, Nikki Grimes
The genre is realistic fiction. I declare that poetry is not a genre. Graphic novel is not not a genre. These are the containers of the genre. So please do not miss reading aloud Meet Danitra Brown to your 8 and 9 year-olds.
And while you are there refresh your copies of
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Diamond is strong and confident. Just the opposite of me at her age and who I still aspire to be like. Here is a comp title for the readers of Beverly Cleary set in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.
For more about Nikki Grimes and her books go to her website.
Speaking for Format
Before there was Diary of a Wimpy Kid there was Marissa Moss and Amelia’s Notebook
If you are looking for drama of friendship, read Baby Mouse by Jennifer Holm and illustrated by her brother Matt.
Casson Family Series, Hilary McCay
And for the 10 and up crowd, lets travel to England and visit with the eccentric but perfectly believably odd Casson Family. Start withe Saffy’s Angel. The children are all named after colors as their mother is an artist. Saffy is Saffron, Caddy for Cadmium Gold, the brother is Indigo, and the baby Permanent Rose.
Brings us Millicent Min, Girl Genius
read the first chapter here
and Stanford Wong Flunks Big-time
“Young sports fans, particularly boys, will appreciate a portrait of a wholly likable underachiever in the classroom who shines on the court.” — Booklist