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We have a lot of restrictions on reading, and we read constantly.  We've officially read through everything I can think of, and that is a lot.  I am out of ideas.  

There are still classics to be read, and recently we've been on a classics kick, but I'm just so tired of them for right now.  They're so depressing and heavy.  We read through Austen last month and that was a nice break, but other than that it's been Hemingway (ugh), Dickens (not as ugh but not the cheeriest - and yet he's the cheeriest one we're reading!), Vonnegut (double ugh), Catch-22, you get the drift.

I don't want to read Kafka or Dostoyevsky or War and Peace right now.

What I'd like is to read a bunch of Anne of Green Gables, but of course we've read through those and also the Emilys.  

Got any ideas?  For the most part older books are safer, modern ones have too many pitfalls for me to want to sort through.  Unless you can give me a modern author whose whole works are quite clean and conservative.

Historical fiction or even very approachable straight history are just fine.  Scifi is okay but we've read pretty much all of the older stuff and the newer is iffy of course. 

I guess what I'd really like is an author or two I've never heard of, or have forgotten about, who wrote lots of readable but not too depressing books before about the 70s. 

Reading level, anything above say the first Harry Potter is fine.  We're not picky (really!)

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Wooster and Jeeves - they're classic and hilarious!

But what about some older british mysteries?

Allingham's Campion series - I love his butler

Lord Peter Whimsey series

I love the Mrs. Pollifax series by Gilman and she has many other books she wrote outside of Mrs. Pollifax.  "The Nun in the Closet" comes to mind.  It was a fun book

I suggest this one to everyone looking for a light-and-fun book:  The "Other Side of the Dale" by Phinn.  Great fun. Like James Herriot but for school inspectors in England.  

Can't wait to see what other people suggest.  Good luck.

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I think my thoughts on what is most appropriate for kids are probably similar to yours.

We have enjoyed:

The False Prince and sequels, by Jennifer Nielsen

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series

The Princess Academy and other bills by Shannon Hale

Anything by Jessica Day George

These are all recent, some are targeted at more of a middle grades level but mostly that means they aren't focusing on romance (which is where all the YA books go...)

In historical fiction, I love books by Cynthia Harnett; she was a British another, not well known in the US; my mom read many of her books to us when we were kids.

Have you read Sir Walter Scott? Non-depressing classics.

Michael Ende's book Momo is really good and not well known in the US.

A String in the Harp is another favorite read aloud.

 

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We recently read The Vanderbeekers of 141st St. and really enjoyed it. I don’t remember anything in it that could be offensive. I first heard about it on the Read Aloud Revival podcast. We’re on the second book now. 

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Ooh good I will look these up!

 

I did read The False Prince and sequels, and I remember liking them.  I can't think now of any reason they'd be objectionable (although my memory of these things often skips over things you'd think it would be impossible to forget!  Imagine my horror upon rereading Anne McCaffery before giving them (haha NOT) to my DD12 a few years ago!  All I remembered was the dragons.  And Heinlein, be still my heart! I got Moon is a Harsh Mistress, started rereading it before DD had a chance to, and promptly pitched it in the trash.  Wow did he have some weird social ideas!)

I have to say that while we are 100% not religious, some of the only modern authors I've found to be both clean and, how do you say it, supportive of traditional family structures, are often Mormons.  It's funny because the books are usually not overtly religious at all.

 

Wooster and Jeeves I've never read.  That looks like a winner, I'll try a few.  Luckily there's no shortage of reading material there 🙂

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You might take a look at the book list from The Good and the Beautiful; I haven't used it but my understanding is it is curated to avoid anything objectionable from a traditional, conservative family values perspective. I've heard (haven't verified) that the curator also cut out some stuff I wouldn't like Harry Potter but at least you are unlikely to find anything objectionable.

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We've read all of Susan Cooper, whom I love, and I thought all of L'Engle but I'll check again.  Those Boggart books are indeed lovely, and she wrote a good one about a kid on Nelson's ship (yes, the Nelson) which was very readable.  

I didn't know Lloyd Alexander wrote anything outside of that one series!  I'll look that up, the kids loved the Prydain books.  

I will look up The Good and the Beautiful's list.  

We've also read just about all of Rosemary Sutcliffe, who is marvellous.  I could read those all day.  They're kind of depressing but not terrible.

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13 minutes ago, maize said:

 Have you read Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea books? They can be a bit on the heavy/dark side but with optimism.

Her other books are more for adults.

 

UK Le Guin is my favorite author, thus we've read everything she's ever written (well, I'm saving some of it for when the kids are older).  And then we've read it again.  And again 🙂

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10 minutes ago, maize said:

Cragbridge Hall trilogy by Chad Morris--fun light twaddle by another Mormon author 🙂

 

Yay!  This is a great rec, my DS11 is going to love these and they look clean as all get out.  And a non-orphan!  I get that it's hard to find ways to get parents out of the way so kids can have legitimate adventures, but boy am I getting tired of literal orphans.

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I didn't realize this was a booklist for a 12yr old.  Sorry 😏

Another author that I love is Diann Wynne Jones.  Howl's Moving Castle is one, but she's written several.  I loved the Chrestomanci series.  Not exactly twaddle though.  If your 12yr old has read Austen I think she'll be fine.  🙂 

Edited by PrincessMommy
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1 minute ago, PrincessMommy said:

I didn't realize this was a booklist for a 12yr old.  Sorry 😏

Another author that I love is Diann Wynne Jones.  Howl's Moving Castle is one, but she's written several.  I loved the Chrestomanci series.  Not exactly twaddle though.  

 

Oh no, not just a 12 year old 🙂  I have a DS11, DD14, and I, and we all pretty much read everything any one of us reads, because we're desperate constant readers and there aren't enough books.  Our minimum standard is basically stuff written for 11 year olds, though, and we go all the way up through adult.  

We liked Dianna Wynne Jones and read just about all of it a few years ago.  

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6 minutes ago, moonflower said:

 

Ooh so these are like Hallmark Channel movies but books? And she's written like 40 of them?  Yay 🙂

I like them better than the TV shows/movies. I went through a stage as a teen where these were most of my recreational reading. 

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2 minutes ago, maize said:

Have your read Heinlein's youth books? Not like his adult books. My favorite as a kid was Citizen of the Galaxy.

 

 

THAT WAS MY FAVORITE TOO!

Yes, we just went through them about 4 months ago, I bought all of them on a whim and we read right through them.  They are much freer of his crazier social ideas.  Citizen of the Galaxy was great, almost epic if he'd just gone a bit farther and really it was close enough that we loved it.  

I did not like Farmer in the Sky, by the way, although it was good enough and we all read it, because of the part in the middle where the mom is just fine with sending her 10 year old (or so) daughter back to live on Earth while they all stay on whatever planet they're on.  Like, now I either hate this character or I just don't believe anything you say, Heinlein.

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2 minutes ago, maize said:

Enchanted Forest Series by Patricia C. Wrede; also Sorcery and Cecilia. I didn't like of her Far West series.

 

I did like the Far West books, but we've read all of her too.

Have you read McKillip, the Riddlemaster of Hed ones?  I feel like those were pretty clean and essentially positive books but it's been so long.

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There's a lot of Sir Walter Scott I haven't read, but I loved Ivanhoe and The Talisman as a kid 

Novels[edit]

The Waverley Novels is the title given to the long series of Scott novels released from 1814 to 1832 which takes its name from the first novel, Waverley. The following is a chronological list of the entire series:

Other novels:

  • 1831–1832: The Siege of Malta – a finished novel published posthumously in 2008
  • 1832: Bizarro – an unfinished novel (or novella) published posthumously in 2008
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To give the situation perspective, we don't have a TV, or kindles, or smartphones, or a video game player. We have two desktops that we use for work all day.  So the kids read and read and read and read especially during fall/winter/spring, and so do I.  We got so desperate before Christmas that I ordered (and read) all of Newt Gingrich's historical fiction.

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12 minutes ago, moonflower said:

 

I did like the Far West books, but we've read all of her too.

Have you read McKillip, the Riddlemaster of Hed ones?  I feel like those were pretty clean and essentially positive books but it's been so long.

Haven't read those.

Don't remember why I didn't like Far West, I just didn't; seems there was something in it that bugged me.

Mostly though we seem to have very similar tastes 🙂

Edited by maize
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Erma Bombeck was a favorite author for my DD at age 11-12 :). 
 

I also really like Donna Andrews mysteries (cozy mysteries where the protagonist is a female blacksmith with a very large, quirky family.) Violence is minimal and off stage, and they are funny and light. I gave them to DD at about age 11-12, because she simply was not ready for YA content. There are minor TeA references (there is one late in the series where an act of vandalism is putting some rather extreme items in an art studio for a children’s class to find,  in an effort to get an arts center to close. The adults find it and take care of it before children see it), but they happen after marriage and, again, off stage. 


Robert Asprin is fun and punny, and I think is fairly innocent. Again, I had no trouble with my DD reading them as a tween. There are some references to women’s bodies In the Myth series-the protagonist is originally a teen boy at the start of the series, who becomes a dimension traveler, and some of the women he encounters are, well, interesting. The Phules Company series is a unit of space legion misfits, who work together to be successful-but not always by the book. 

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One of my favorite series as an adult is CJ Cherryh's Foreigner books--it's a long series and still being written. The main character is a human diplomat working with an alien government. Around book three he begins a sexual relationship with his female alien bodyguard and that continues throughout the series--it is just there as an established relationship, not explicit, but you would have to determine if it fits your parameters for your kids (most interspecies sexual stuff in sci-fi irritates me at best, but this particular relationship doesn't).

I love the exploration of linguistics, culture, and what things may be biologically determined. 

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Is she a horse fan? There are a bunch of horse books by Marguerite Henry that DD has enjoyed, and they have very unobjectionable content. King of the Wind was one, Misty of Chincotegue

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If your kids liked Nancy Drew there are the lesser-knownTrixie Belden and Cherry Ames. 
We love an author called Hilda von Stockum. Her books get marketed as Catholic bc they feature large Catholic families but I don’t think there’s anything in there that would offend non-Catholics, just a window into a different world. 
Rumer Godden’s doll books and The Kitchen Madonna. 
You yourself might enjoy the Cinder series by Marissa Mayer. I let my 13 yo read it but the kissing scenes were pushing the envelope a bit, I felt. 
Miss Buncle’s book by D.E. stevenson. Possibly the Miss Read books. 
The tripod trilogy?

Joan Aiken’s children’s novels?

We just read Snared by Adam Epstein. So far so good, but sometimes series go downhill. 
Finding Serendipity series by Angela Banks. 
The Realm series by EmilyRodda.

The Great Brain books...you’d have to preview.  Either you’ll think it’s hilarious oryou’ll be horrified. 
 

Edited by Spudater
I’m realizing maybe I tilted this list a little young. I was thinking 11yo and younger for some reason.
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I liked a series of historical kids mysteries when I was a kid. The main character was named Mandie, and I think they were very clean, but I haven’t read them in a long time.

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1 hour ago, moonflower said:

UK Le Guin is my favorite author, thus we've read everything she's ever written (well, I'm saving some of it for when the kids are older).  And then we've read it again.  And again 🙂

She is also my favorite author!  So maybe I can make some recs you'd like...

For the Anne McCaffrey books, most have too much... content... but the Harper Hall books set also on Pern (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums) are YA and completely clean.  They were my first Pern books and when I went on to read the rest of the series (as an older teen) I was a bit surprised!

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

All the James Herriot books, starting with All Creatures... warm and funny.

Someone else suggested Momo by Michael Ende, but I actually found that quite ... not happy.  It's kind of dystopian.  By the same author I'd recommend The Neverending Story (which goes way beyond the movie - the sequels to the first movie, which covered about the first half of the book, went in a different direction than actual rest of the book).

Eva Ibbotson's books? Zilpha Keatley Snyder books?  The Moomintroll books by Tove Jansson?  Ronja, Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren?  The Wonderful Adventure of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf?

Fairy/folktale retellings? Robin McKinley's Beauty, The Winternight Trilogy (starting with The Bear and the Nightingale) by Katherine Arden

More classic - Captain's Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (loved this when I read it at 11), Monkey: The Journey to the West, translation by Arthur Waley (Monkey is hilarious) - there's also a children's version by Ji-Li Jiang called Magical Monkey King: Mischief in Heaven

The Tiffany Aching YA sub-series of Pratchett's Discworld?

And I've recently enjoyed a series of regency superhero romances - very clean, Jane Austen-esque stories, happy endings, but in this alternate world, people have various superpowers (flight, telekinesis, etc.).  Sounds odd, but I found them very enjoyable.  Independent female characters - no mooning about.  The Extraordinaries by Melissa McShane (starting with Burning Bright).  If she liked Austen, she might like these.

I also loved The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig - an autobiographical novel of her family's deportation to Siberia, which sounds depressing but overall I didn't find it to be so..

Edited by Matryoshka
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Mysteries were a big hit with my daughter at that age. She loved the Westin Game by Ellen Raskin. Another author that wrote in the 1960s and 1970s that my daughter and I enjoyed was Irene Hunt. Her books Up a Road Slowly  and The Lottery Rose had a major impact on my life. She also writes historical fictions such as Across Five Aprils and No Promises in the Wind.   Just as a precaution, some of the themes in these books are difficult (child abuse (not sexual), losing a parent, and poverty). Have you read Tolkien's books yet? Another author my daughter enjoyed was Laurie, Halse Anderson. She has a number of books out, but we only read Fever 1793  and Chains. 

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1 hour ago, moonflower said:

 

Yay!  This is a great rec, my DS11 is going to love these and they look clean as all get out.  And a non-orphan!  I get that it's hard to find ways to get parents out of the way so kids can have legitimate adventures, but boy am I getting tired of literal orphans.

 

If you're comfortable with Harry Potter, there is another middle school series that we LOVED (for me, much more than Harry Potter BECAUSE they kept the family intact and important to the plot at all times)- Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.  The later books in the 5 books series are similar in darkness to the later books in Harry Potter.  My two oldest and I really enjoyed them.  

Another book we all LOVED was The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry.  The greatest thing about this book is it picks on all the tropes of children's literature- being orphans, nannies, rich benefactors, etc.  It is all tongue-in-cheek and absolutely hilarious.  

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3 hours ago, maize said:

Madeline L'Engle 

I love L'Engle but some of her books are depressing & others deal with some disturbing content. (Um, Arm of the Starfish is one, I think?)

Chris Grabenstein's Mr Lemoncello series is fun & should be clean. 

The Chasing Vermeer series by blue Balliett?

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen (start of a 3 book series) by Eric Berlin.

Angie Sage's Septimus Heap series? 

John Flanagan--I only read the Brotherband books & they do deal with slavery in some of them. The Rangers Apprentice books are his bigger & better known series & only my kids have read those, not me.

My favorite L.M. Montgomery books are the two Pat books, but they are sad, IMO.

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Keeper of the Lost Cities is a middle grades series by Shannon Messenger, not finished yet. My family has a love/hate relationship with it--it's a fun, light, adventurous read, very clean, has some quite creative elements.

The writing is some of the most irritating I have ever read... Because I would stop reading most books that were so irritating! And every time the protagonist stares into a certain pair of teal eyes my kids groan. But they are eagerly awaiting the next book in the series all the same.

Edited by maize
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4 hours ago, mmasc said:

We recently read The Vanderbeekers of 141st St. and really enjoyed it. I don’t remember anything in it that could be offensive. I first heard about it on the Read Aloud Revival podcast. We’re on the second book now. 

 

*I* have an objection. There are no zoned high schools in that part of NYC. The odds of those kids going to the same school next year... well, it certain could've happened, but it was never a guarantee. Given how much the high school admissions process ate my brain when the kids were in their 8th grade years, respectively, I felt a little put out about that inaccuracy.

But... if you don't live in NYC you probably don't care.

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That's something, but it means every book by that author has to be pre-read in case her bigotry is front and center.

Of course, that's true whenever you read mostly only older books. Honestly, I'd rather take the chance on sex and violence than sudden sneak attacks of racism (etc).

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Noel Streatfeild -- the "Shoes" books etc. Wholesome, may feel a bit formulaic at times, but I can't recall a single one that my 11-year-old and I haven't enjoyed together.  

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Good job on spelling her last name right, Rasa!

I'm going to suggest something a little unorthodox, which is that you start with one of her books that's not Ballet Shoes. Ballet Shoes has an awkward timeline, probably due to originally having been written for adults and then edited severely to be appropriate for children.

Though, oddly, my favorite Streatfeild is one that never got co-opted in America with a Shoes title at all - Thursday's Child.

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20 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

 

*I* have an objection. There are no zoned high schools in that part of NYC. The odds of those kids going to the same school next year... well, it certain could've happened, but it was never a guarantee. Given how much the high school admissions process ate my brain when the kids were in their 8th grade years, respectively, I felt a little put out about that inaccuracy.

But... if you don't live in NYC you probably don't care.

Granted I know nothing about NYC (I had to explain to my kids what a brownstone was!), but I don’t think any of the kids in the book were high school age. I think the oldest was 12. 

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An Old Fashioned Girl, Eight Cousins, and Rose in Bloom were favorites of mine at that age.  All by Louisa May Alcott.  A bit condescendingly moralistic to adults but lovely for kids.

At a bit younger than that I got on a desert island kick and read Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and a few others that escape me at the moment that were recommended by a librarian.

Lets see... I also liked The Babysitters Club series at that age. You might want to pre-read but I think it's pretty good, family values wise.

Seems like the other twaddle my DD reads now isn't going to fit your standards.

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Granted I know nothing about NYC (I had to explain to my kids what a brownstone was!), but I don’t think any of the kids in the book were high school age. I think the oldest was 12. 

 

Yes, 8th grade. Which means that they should've been thinking about high school admissions, finalizing their choices, and worrying about being put in a school without their friends. (Or WITH their friends if they had a falling out after the application deadline.)

And the twins should've been seriously considering whether or not they'd end up in school together. (Honestly, I'd advise twins to try to go to different high schools unless they have very similar interests, but then, that's what I advised my own two as well. It'd be more convenient for me if they were together, but then their teachers would constantly be comparing the younger one to the older unless it was a very large school.)

 

Edit: But if you really want all my tedious thoughts on high school admissions in NYC and the accuracy of books, maybe we should start another thread.

Edited by Tanaqui
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