Our Alphabetical Middle Grades Read-Aloud Challenge

Reading By The Letter Challenge

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Reading By the Letter: Our Alphabetical Middle Grades Read-Aloud Challenge

I love books. I’ve tried to pass on my love of books to my children, and one of the ways I’ve tried to do that is by reading to my kids.

I love reading to them and even though they’ve grown up quite a bit now (and one of them is about to be 18!) I keep on reading to them. Some days they are more agreeable than others, but mostly they don’t mind. 

We’ve read so many great stories over the years. We do have a tendency to take a very long time to make it through a novel, though.

Recently I had the idea to create a read-aloud list based on the alphabet. By forcing us to choose titles that begin with a certain letter, we can read through a variety of styles, genres, and subjects. And by celebrating certain checkpoints, we can challenge ourselves to read through our read-alouds a bit faster than our usual pace.

So a couple of weeks ago I set about the task of collecting 26 book titles in alphabetical order. It was quite fun! (I’m kind of a book nerd that way.) I found all kinds of books I would love to read to my kids.

Since my kids are 12 and just-about-15 (and the nearly 18 year old may or may not be home while I’m reading,) I wanted to curate a list of books that would appeal to kids from around 5th/6th grade to 8th/9th grade, with a few lighter/easier books and a couple of more challenging books. So that means that for this go around at least–we may do this again–there were some books that didn’t make the cut this time.

I did have to cheat though! We were already reading “A Wrinkle in Time” when I made our list, so I allowed the “A” in the title to count so that we could use it for the “A” book. (I know, I know, you never count “a” when alphabetizing!) And for X… oh, X. It proved very difficult to find a book that begins with the letter x that fit our grade interest level. In the end I settled for a book with an X somewhere in the title. (You do what you gotta do!)

I’m really happy with the list — and I’m really hoping we do this again so I can make another. 😉 

Our “By the Letter” Middle Grades Reading List

(Books with an asterisk also have movies that have been made from the books and will make great Book and Movie nights. =) )

BookGenreReading LevelInterest Level
A Wrinkle in Time*Science Fiction6th+4th-8th
Bud, Not Buddy*Historical Fiction5th+3rd-8th
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory*Children's Fantasy Fiction4th+3rd-7th
Dear Mr. HenshawFiction4th+3rd-8th
Ella Enchanted*Children's Fantasy Fiction5th+3rd-5th
Farmer BoyHistorical Fiction4th+3rd-5th
The Giver*Dystopian Science Fiction6th+8th-12th
How to Eat Fried Worms*Children's Fiction4th+3rd-5th
The Invention of Hugo Cabret*Historical Fiction6th+4th-7th
James and the Giant Peach*Children's Fantasy Fiction5th+3rd-5th
Kensuke's KingdomAdventure/Fiction5th+4th-7th
The Long WinterHistorical Fiction4th+3rd-5th
My Side of the MountainAdventure/Fiction5th+4th-7th
Number the StarsHistorical Fiction6th+3rd-8th
Old Yeller*Children's Fiction6th+6th-8th
The Phantom TollboothChildren's Fantasy Fiction6th+5th-8th
The Quest of the Missing Map - Nancy DrewMystery Fiction4th+6th-8th
Riding ChanceFiction6th+3rd-12th
Stuart Little *Children's Fantasy Fiction4th+4th-5th
To Kill a Mockingbird*Historical Fiction6th+6th-12th
UngiftedFiction5th+5th-8th
The Viking Symbol Mystery - Hardy BoysMystery Fiction4th+6th-8th
War of the Worlds*Science Fiction6th+6th-8th
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry FarmerChildren's Fantasy Fiction5th+4th-6th
A Year Down YonderHistorical Fiction5th+6th-8th
Zebra ForestFiction6th+6th-8th

More About the Books

To learn more about the books we are reading, you can read through the summaries and customer reviews on Amazon, or check out the parent reviews from Common Sense Media. (Some of the books didn’t have CSM reviews and may be linked to PluggedIn or another source. If you are reading this via email and have trouble with the links, you may need to click over to the original post.)



Our “By the Letter” Read-Aloud Challenge

Our challenge is very simple, really. There’s no time frame, no cut-off point, no deadline. We will read through the books as quickly as we can. It might take a year. (Or more.)

What we WILL do is celebrate after every 7th book with some kind of affordable fun activity (such as going bowling, that sort of thing.) And of course that leaves only 5 books for the last round, but I’m letting go of perfection and ignoring that. Celebrating the milestones will hopefully keep us on task. *fingers crossed*

And while I was at it, I made a printable checklist, too. If you’d like, you’re welcome to print this off and use it in your own home. It would even work for a middle schooler who wants to read these books on his own!

Click on the image below to print your own copy of the reading list.
Which books have you read with your children? Which books do you think we will like the best? I’m excited about a lot of them (most of them actually.) I’m going to enjoy this challenge so much! 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash



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