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Readers Reference: Realistic Fiction Elementary

By January 4, 2019May 13th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

Part Three

Awhile Back

I was asked for series books for ten-year-olds. 
So I recommended a short list of historic fiction series here  
And then a short list of speculative fiction series here
And I knew that the next genre would be contemporary realistic series.
I’ve expanded the age groupings because yesterday I was chatting with a mom of an 8 -year-old who was aging out of June B. Jones, so I thought I would start a bit younger.

What are we looking for in realistic fiction

Girl on a swing

Contemporary cover of Ramona the Brave

 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.  

Cover Mitch and Amy

Mitch and Amy

For a complete list of Cleary’s books, educational materials, chapter books, and games go here 

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

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.

First page of the first chapter of Clementine

And Marla Frazee’s pen and ink illustrations are pitch-perfect

Clementine in the Principal’s Office

 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.

Covers of Danitra Brown titles

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

Amelia’s Notebook page originally published in American Girl Magazine. from Marissa Moss’ website

Baby Mouse

Baby Mouse proof sheets from the Kerlan Collection

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.

 Strange Case of Origami Yoda- Tom Angelberger

Lisa Yee

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

 And Speaking of Court

Don’t miss Kwame Alexander’s Crossover

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Hi Lisa,

    Blue Balliett here… I’m wondering whether my mysteries, which are all packed with real-world places, art and ideas, fit into one of these categories. I think they may… all are for ages 8 and up, and my papers are now a part of your library. Just tweaking your sleeve!

    All the best and all good wishes for 2019,


    • Lisa Von Drasek says:

      Your Books ARE grand adventures. My list was longer than my stamina for writing. Of course they fit in these categories. I remember Chasing Vermeer just blowing my socks off and the perfect book for the kids who had read The Mixed Up Files. I guess I should get cracking on a mystery list.
      Thanks for the papers. Lisa

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