Like many parents, when summer comes along, you search high and low for ways to keep your children learning throughout the summer (summer reading challenges anyone?). For the middle grade audience, there has never been a wider selection of books from which to choose.
But in today’s cultural climate, it can be difficult to find a wholesome, life-affirming book without prereading each one. Here we recommend five such books that are sure to please your middle school child.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
10-year-old Auggie Pullman desperately wants to fit in and make friends, but he is terrified to go to school because of what the other kids might say about his health problems.
A few of Auggie’s classmates befriend him, despite Auggie’s reservations, but as soon as gossip starts to spread around the school, Auggie’s friends disappear as well.
When Auggie is determined to quit school, his sister Olivia encourages him to stick it out until the end of the year. Wonder teaches lessons of forgiveness, compassion, friendship, and standing up for others.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Charlie Bucket dreams about chocolate—especially the delicious chocolate bars that he can smell every time he passes by Willie Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. But even though he dreams of chocolate every day, Charlie is only able to buy one bar each year for his birthday because his family is poor.
When Mr. Wonka announces a special tour to five holders of a Golden Ticket—hidden in five bars of chocolate—Charlie hopes that his one chance to enter the factory is contained in his birthday present. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hilariously examines virtue and vice and questions the cultural attitude of materialism.
Silas Marner by George Eliot
In this classic tale, Silas Marner, a misunderstood, quiet weaver, leaves his hometown of Lantern Yard and moves to Raveloe after a scandal threatens to destroy his reputation and his livelihood.
At Raveloe, he only becomes more isolated and depressed and loses his once-strong faith in God.When a rogue robber steals his gold, Silas realizes that there is more to life than the money he was saving. The miraculous appearance of a little girl on his doorstep changes Silas’ life and ambitions forever.
After learning that the girl’s rightful family does not want her, Silas adopts her and treasures her as his own daughter. Silas Marner is a classic children’s story about the gift of children and the need for family.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Recently released as a major motion picture, The Giver takes place in an almost perfect society with a dark secret. When young Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of Memory, he learns about joy, suffering, and emotions that those in the community will never experience. Because of the lack of knowledge of suffering or pain, the community has lost its moral compass.
Jonas is faced with a serious decision—does he remain silent like the Giver, or does he risk everything to save his community? The Giver is a compelling story of truth, justice, and standing up for others in the face of injustice.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Upon the death of her parents, sick and sullen Mary Lennox leaves her home in India to live with her uncle in England in his mysterious mansion. With nothing to do in the dreary house, Mary spends her time outdoors and soon discovers a secret garden which has been shut up for years.
Mary and her new friends gradually transform the garden into a place of beauty as they themselves are transformed in virtue. The Secret Garden is a classic piece of children’s literature which highlights the joy of marveling in the beauty of God’s creation.
Finding books and films for your family that support the culture of life doesn’t have to be difficult. The Culture of Life Studies Program is developing a database of free discussion guides and critiques for books and movies so that you can use popular media to evangelize the gospel of life.
Download our discussion guides and start living a culture of life in your home today!
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy 5 Pro-Life Picture Books Your Kids Will Love.
The Culture of Life Studies Program stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter to see how we can help you foster a culture of life at home and in school.