50 Best Books at Brightly: The 50 Best Books for 11 - 12 Year Olds by Melissa Taylor

Several years ago, I started compiling personalized book lists for a fee. I've probably made over a hundred lists for readers of all ages and interests since then, but I never pass up the chance to review a book suggesting books, like Bianca Schulze's 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up or any of the many great 50 Best lists that have been compiled at a brilliant site I just discovered, Brightly, started in partnership with Penguin Random House. Brightly is dedicated to making it, "a little easier and a lot more for fun, for parents to raise children who love to read." I hope you will consider using Brightly, along with books4yourkids, as a resource when seeking out the best in children's literature. 

Started in 2014, Brightly features book recommendations from all publishers, regardless of their connection with Penguin Random House. And Brightly isn't just about kid's books. Their website, which is visually appealing and very easy to navigate, has a page for Grown-Up Reads as well as a great Tips & Advice page that features articles like, "A Good Scare: How Horror Books Can Help Kids Conquer Their Fears," "Serenity Now: 3 Quick and Easy Meditations for Kids,"  "5 Reasons Your Kids Should Meet One of Their Favorite Authors," and my favorite, "What Kids Learn About Books From Watching You."

I rarely promote other kid's book review sites here, mostly because I just don't have time to read them regularly and form an opinion. Most often, I am personally referring to School Library Journal, the New York Times Book Review and Kirkus to see what others are reading and thinking about children's literature. However, those sources don't create recommended reading lists or content on parenting and children's literature the way that Brightly does. Best of all, Brightly's lists are organized by genre and include many, many books I have read, reviewed, and recommended, including many fantastic newer titles. An age that I find challenging to find just the right book for are middle grade readers, which is why I especially love Brightly's The Best 50 Books for 11-and-12-Year-Olds list. Genres covered range from Fantasy, Magic, and Horror, to Mystery and Adventure, to Coming of Age, Inspired by History and Page-Turning Non-Fiction. I was impressed to see non-fiction titles I have recently reviewed like Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, Hidden Figures (Young Reader's Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly and Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet, along with books I am reading like I Am Malala (Young Reader's Edition) by Malala Yousafazi, Bomb by Steve Sheinkin, and Isacc the Alchemist: Secret of Isaac Newton, Reveal'd by Mary Losure on the list. Of course, being a huge fan of graphic novels it made me very happy to see that two books by our current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Gene Luen Yang along with the incredible first in a trilogy, The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks (the second of which I just reviewed, The Stone Heart AND it's being made into a animated series!) made it onto this list! Really, 50 books is not that many and the thought of making a list that small is daunting, to me. And, happily, I found a few of my all-time favorites on the list, like two oldies, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud, and two new favorites, Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz both of which are Newbery Honor winners.

Definitely visit Brightly's website, where you can download PDFs of these great lists to take with you to the library or bookstore - please continue to visit brick & mortar bookstores! 

And, even if you visit the website, be sure to check out Brightly on these other platforms.

*Review Copies of books from the 50 Best list provided by Brightly*

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