Road Trip! Explore the United States with chapter books!

Have the wanderlust? Enjoyed Around Europe in 20 Chapter Books?

Let’s explore the United States through classic chapter books!

United States chapter books and map

Northeastern United States

Enter into rural New England life with a group of 6 cousins living with their grandparents in Maine at the end of the 1800’s. Charming and often funny anecdotes of family and farm life.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Stories from Old Squire’s Farm

Go back in time to the 1700’s and visit the dense Maine wilderness where Matt watches over his family’s homestead alone. He quickly learns the frontier is home to heartless criminals- but also finds unexpected friends and allies in the local Indian tribe.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Sign of the Beaver

Visit New Hampshire and meet Miss Hickory, a charming little doll made out of an apple twig. Animals, dolls, and nature collide in this charming Newberry Winner.

Buy it through my Amazon link: Miss Hickory

The small but tough Morgan horse breed was developed in Vermont. In this true story told by acclaimed author Marguerite Henry, travel to the New England countryside and farm and learn how this all-American breed developed.

Buy through my Amazon affiliate link: Justin Morgan Had a Horse

Tour Sam Gribley’s tree home in upstate New York‘s Catskill mountains. Sam describes how he survivies the tough winters alone in the mountains by learning how to live off the land.

Buy it through my Amazon afflink: My Side of the Mountain

Discover the ghostly remains of a New York lake resort town with Portia and Julian in Gone Away Lake. This is a lovely story of nature, intergenerational friendship, and the New York countryside from beloved author Elizabeth Enright.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Gone Away Lake

Chester cricket is a country “boy” who finds himself making new friends nad experiencing the wonder of New York City, Times Square, and some unexpected friends.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Cricket in Times Square

Tour turn-of-the-century New York City with the 5 sisters of All of a Kind Family. Experience life for a Jewish family living in the Big Apple in this wonderful story of family life and adventures.

Buy it trhough my Amazon afflink: All-Of-A-Kind Family

Enter the world of New England sailors and learn about early navigation and ships in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, based on true events in Salem, Massachusets.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

For slightly older audiences, Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women really brings alive the atmosphere of Concord, Massachusetts.

Buy it through my Amazon afflink: Little Women

Meet Ginger Pye, the smartest dog in small-town Connecticut in Eleanor Estes’ beloved classic about kids and their dog.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Ginger Pye

Visit Civil War era Pennsylvania and learn about the momentous events along the Susquehanna River and how they impacted one boy’s life.

Buy it through my Amazon afflink: Flames Across the Susquehanna

Go back to explore Revoluntionary War Era Philadelphia with Benjamin Franklin and his faithful mouse Amos in this whimsical story from Robert Lawson.

Buy it thorugh my Amazon affiliate link: Ben and Me

The amazing ture story of Father Farmer takes you to rural New Jersey in the Colonial period. Learn about a time nad missionary field when priests were unwelcome and adventures abounded.

Buy it through my amazon afflink: Priest on Horseback

Or, visit small-town New Jersey and laugh at the escapades of small-town American kids in Henry Reed, Inc.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Henry Reed, Inc

Southeastern United States

Part of acclaimed children’s author Lois Lenski’s Regionall Books series, Coal Camp Girl takes the reader to coal country in the West Virginia mountains.

Buy it through affiliate link: Coal Camp Girl

Visit coastal Virginia in this unforgettabale story of two resourceful children and one special horse.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Misty of Chincoteague

Travel to North Carolina to an 1800’s Quaker farm where orphaned Martitia struggles to find her place among a large family of cousins. Best for 12+ due to light romance part of story.

Buy it through my affiliate link: They Loved to Laugh

The charming Fairchild Family share their everyday adventures as they search for arrowheads, learn about trading, and work on their farm in the gorgeous Kentucky mountains.

All 4 books in the series are excellent. Buy through my affiliate link: Up and Down the River

Visit the war torn South with Hannalee, a young Civil War era girl who fights to return to her home in Georgia after being relocated by the Yankees.

Best for 12 and up due to a couple mild curses in some editions of book.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Turn Homeward, Hannalee

Meet a Florida farm family in Lois Lenski’s beloved classic Strawberry Girl.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Strawberry Girl

Learn about Helen Keller’s childhood in Alabama in this excellent and inspirational children’s biography.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Helen Keller

Explore the Mississippi River Valley with Minn, a snapping turtle. Kids love all Holling C. Holling’s books that take them on journeys!

Buy it through my affiliate links: Minn of the Mississippi

Another excellent Lois Lenski Regional Series book, Bayou Suzette brings Lousiana to life for readers.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Bayou Suzette

Midwestern United States

Travel with a little boy’s carved canoe through Michigan‘s Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean in this nature-filled voyage.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Paddle-to-the-Sea

Explore the woods of Wisconsin with beloved American tomboy Caddie Woodlawn. Sibling escapades, growing pains, and farm life against a backdrop of tough winters and bright summers.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Caddie Woodlawn

Experience pioneer life in Minnesota with Laura and Mary of Little House fame.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: On the Banks of Plum Creek

Or, visit turn of the century Minnesota town and join Betsy, Tacy, and Tib in a series of funny and heart warming small town adventures.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Betsy-Tacy Treasury

In the wilds of North Dakota, one farm family finds unexpected assistance from an injured Thoroughbred named Old Sam.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Old Sam, Dakota Trotter

Experience the harsh winters and short summers of the South Dakota grasslands with Laura Ingalls in By the Shores of Silver Lake and The Long Winter.

Buy through my Amazon affiliate links:

By the Shores of Silver Lake

The Long Winter

Laura and Mary’s most famous adventures took place in Kansas in the beloved Little House on the Prairie.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Little House on the Prairie

Enjoy some humor from Iowa with these three tall tales about the hilarious McBroom family.

Buy through my affiliate link: McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm

All Eben McAllister wants is to get away from his boring small town life in Missouri. So his dad makes him a deal: discover Seven Wonders in his hometown and then he’ll get a trip to the city. A wonderful message about finding wonder in friends, family, and your own town.

Buy it through my affiliate link: The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs

Life on a Missouri river town is never more lively than in Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Visit Chicago with a young Irish lad named Conn and experience the excitement of building the first Ferris Wheel and the Chicago World Fair.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Great Wheel

In this Newberry Honor book, Jethro, a young Illinois farm boy, experiences first hand the stresses of the Civil War Era.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Across Five Aprils

From making way too many doughnuts to capturing a gang of robbers with a little help from his pet skunk, Homer Price is always up something in small town Ohio.

Southwestern United States

Billy and his two hounds roam the Ozark hills in this beloved Oklahoma classic. Warnign: tear-jerker that may upset younger or sensitive kids.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Where the Red Fern Grows

In frontier era Texas, teenaged Travis takes on a man’s responsibilities on his family farm- including some tough choices. Warning: sad ending that may upset sensitive readers.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: Old Yeller

Visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Against an arid desert backdrop, Brighty the burro wanders free. A Marguerite Henry classic.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Brighty of the Grand Canyon

In this semi-autobiographical novel, two young men travel around the southwest in an old Ford called “Shiftless,” scratching a living by art and odd jobs. A later installment in Ralph Moody’s Little Britches series.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Shaking the Nickel Bush

Western United States

Tour California and search for gold with Jack and his butler Praiseworhty in this funny and heart-warming adventure.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: By the Great Horn Spoon

Here’s another Gold Rush era book about a brother and sister who travel by covered wagon from Missouri to California. A lovely nuanced story about family, friendship, and whether gold is the key to happiness.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: The Secret Valley

Based on true events, this is an easy-reader version of the story of Snowshoe Thompson, a courageous mail carrier who traveled along through Nevada’s treacherous Sierra Madres Mountains.

Buy it through my Amazon affilaite link: Snowshoe Thompson

Ralph Moody’s Little Britches is a timeless classic about life on a Colorado ranch with its breathtaking beauty and backbreaking hardships.

Buy it through my Amazon affiilate link: Little Britches

Wander through the wilds of Wyoming with Peter Lundy, a boy who loves a horse more than anything. Learn about the rare medicine hat pattern, mustangs, and life on the rough western prairie in this horse novel from acclaimed American author Marguerite Henry.

Buy it through my Amazon affiliate link: San Domingo: The Medicine Hat Stallion

Explore the western United States including Montana, Idaho, and Oregon with this amazing living history book that brings Lewis and Clark’s Expedition to life.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Seaman

Visit the Fellows family in the deserts of Oregon where homesteading is not for the faint of heart.

Buy it through my affiliate link: Year of the Black Pony


“Blessed Carlo Acutis” Review

book cover blessed carlo acutis

Blessed Carlo Acutis: The Amazing Discovery of a Teenager in Heaven

Last fall, my family “discovered” Blessed Carlo Acutis through a Holy Heroes Glory Story CD. We learned about this amazing youth who managed to accomplish so much in just fifteen short years of life. My kids were enthralled not only by how young he was but how recently he had lived and how similar his life was to theirs. He died only a few years before they were born! He wore jeans! He used a computer!

A Saint for 21st Century Kids

My kids aren’t the only ones who love Blessed Carlo and feel an instant connection to his story. This young man is inspiring kids around the world as his story spreads. Blessed Carlo Acutis: The Amazing Discovery of a Teenager in Heaven is a brand-new book by Sabrina Arena Ferrisi. Drawing on Church documents and interviews, especially personal interviews with Carlo’s mother, Ferrisi retells Carlo’s life story. Kids (and adults!) can learn about his Eucharistic devotion, charity work, favorite pets, love for computer programming and film making, and much more!

But Ferrisi also includes an explanation of the official path to a declaration of sainthood. Kids will learn about the 3 stages on the way and what is required at each stage. They’ll be even more amazed that Carlo was declared a Blessed less than 15 years after his death!

There’s also plenty of color photos of Carlo, his family, and more for kids who love visuals.

Who Will Enjoy This Book?

Target age: middle grades through high school. But younger kids will enjoy hearing parts of the book read aloud, especially if they’re already familiar with Blessed Carlo’s life from Glory Stories. I enjoyed this short book thoroughly as an adult. I was touched and inspired by Blessed Carlo’s love for both God and neighbor. This young Blessed’s life truly exemplifies the two great commandments!

You can order your copy of Blessed Carlo Acutis from publisher Holy Heroes. Enter the discount cod CARLO15 to get 15% off your purchase to celebrate this new relase!

No affiliate link here, just a really awesome saint and story I wanted to share!

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of “Blessed Carlo Acutis: The Amazing Discovery of a Teenager” in Heaven in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

For more of my favorite books for Catholic kids, check out My Book Lists!

Review of “The Melendy Quartet”

Recently, I’ve been sharing one of my childhood favorites with my 7 and 9 year olds at read-aloud time. I love everything I’ve ever read by Elizabeth Enright, but The Melendy Quartet holds a special place in my heart. In a truly unique way, these books capture the magic and wonder of a childhood lived with reasonable freedom and endless imagination.

Meet the Melendy Quartet

In The Satudays, you meet the four Melendy children: Mona, who can’t wait to grow up; Rush, who plays the piano remarkably well; dreamy and creative Randy; and young Oliver, full of curiosity and determination. You see the streets of mid-nineteenth century New York City through their eyes as they venture forth singly and together in a series of magnificent adventures. You’ll love how these children have the capacity to listen and learn from the adults they meet, whether it’s an old French aristocrat or a Bronx hairdresser with a big personality.

But it’s in The Four Story Mistake that the Melendy adventures really come to life with the family’s move to an eccentrically constructed old house in the country. In this book and its sequel And Then There Five, the Melendy kids enjoy the freedom of country life and make new friends young and old. Building their own swimming pool, trying to surprise the adults by doing all the canning alone, helping an orphan, and building tree houses are just a smattering of their excitements.

Spiderweb for Two is my absolute favorite and, sadly, the end of the series. With the older Melendy kids away at boarding school, Randy and Oliver look forward to a dismal year alone. But then a mysterious blue letter comes with a riddle that starts them on a rollicking book-long treasure hunt from clue to clue and adventure to adventure.

Why We Love Them

My kids immediately fell in love with these books and the characters. Elizabeth Enright creates real kids, kids you could see meeting at your local park, in the four Melendys. They’re quirky and creative and fun.

The Melendy kids show us that having a curious mind and an imagination can make everyday life intriguing whether you live in the city or country. They teach today’s kids that you don’t need video games or cell phones to have heaps of fun. Adventure isn’t in a screen; it’s outside your doorstep.

These books also celebrate sibling relationships without glossing over the inevitable squabbles that come with living in close proximity. Despite their occasional quarrels, the Meledy kids find genuine joy in being together and go out of their way, as in Spiderweb for Two, to show each other they care.

They’re beautifully clean and content-free. The only violence is that in And Then There Were Five, the kids befriend Mark Herron, a boy who lives with a mean relative. Said mean relative dies in a fire eventually; no graphic description.

I recommend them as a read aloud for 7-9 year old or for independent reading at 8-12 years old.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means that if you buy through my product link I receive a small fee at no additional cost to you.

If you’re looking for more great books for Middle Grade Readers, check out my lists: 60 Classic Books For Middle Grade Boys and 50 Classic Books that Middle Grade Girls Love!

happy ethnic children lying on bed

Classic Chapter Books that are Funny!

My 9 year old was laughing so hard the other night over a book that he woke up his youngest sister. He just loves a laugh out loud funny book, and I bet he isn’t the only one! Depending on who you ask, laughter keeps us sane, is good medicine, and makes life worth living.

“Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery

It’s Robert Frost who said laughter keeps us sane by the way. And Byron says it’s cheap medicine.

Anyway, here’s a list of the funniest chapter books for 8-12 year old middle grade readers.

Homer Price captures bank robbers- with a little help from his pet skunk Aroma. He watches the donut shop for his uncle- and ends up making thousands of donuts. Robert McCloskey’s wry illustrations help make this comic classic memorable. Our world is so much more complicated, but kids still laugh about Homer Price’s small-town escapades.

Speaking of McCloskey, he also illustrated Henry Reed, Inc.. Diplomat’s kid Henry Reed speaks several languages and has traveled the world, but knows very little about America. He returns to spend the summer in suburbia at Grover’s Corner and mayhem ensues. We love all the other books in the series: Henry Reed’s Babysitting Service, Henry Reed’s Journey, Henry Reed’s Big Show, and Henry Reed’s Think Tank.

Tom Sawyer: American legend. Kids would have to read this book anyway for cultural literacy, but it’s so funny they read it voluntarily. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer still have charm.

Life is an adventure on McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm where beanstalks grow sky high overnight. Sid Fleischman tells original American tall tales about a large family on a miraculously productive farm.

Good Old Archibald is a vintage schoolboy story of accepting differences and forging friendships through sports and pranks. Reprinted and available from Bethlehem Books.

My kids loved and laughed at Owls in the Family from about age 3 onwards. It’s got that universal appeal that makes all ages laugh out loud. Farley Mowat humorously recounts his childhood complete with a menagerie of pets including two Great Horned Owls that thought they were human.

In The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, you get a three books in one volume! This illustrated edition of the beloved Pippi stories brings the irrepressible red-head to life for today’s kids.

Speaking of today’s kids, Adventures with Waffles is a modern day Scandinavian author’s Pippi-inspired comedy story. You can read my in-depth review here: “Adventures with Waffles” Review.

Edward Eager’s Tales of Magic series follows sibling groups on unlikely magical escapades usually with a twist. Like in Half Magic the children find a magic charm that gives them get exactly half of whatever they wish. Of course general hilarity ensues and they learn the hard way to be careful what they wish for!

The “magic” in Eager’s books is in the the Nesbit tradition: fairy-tale like magic that just happens to everyday people. The children are not trying to be witches or wizards. The magic happens through a toad that grants wishes in one book, a magic penny in another.

The Mad Scientists’ Club is vintage boys’ fiction with lots of science, pranks, and brainy kids saving the day. Overall I recommend these books for older middle grade readers with a few reservations. Things I don’t like: outsmarting domineering adults such as the Mad Scientists’ archenemy the mayor of the town is a common part of this collection of stories. There’s also some “fibbing” and disobedience to parents without real consequences.

But on the other hand, there’s a lot of positive themes about loyalty, friendship, problem-solving, and good clean fun. It’s quite funny and will inspire kids to explore and delve deep into STEM. This review from First Things captures the positives and negatives of the series well.

two yellow labrador retriever puppies

Printable List: 25 Great Books for Kids Who Love Animals

My list 25 Great Books for Children Who Love Animals is one of my most viewed posts, so I whipped up a printable version of the list to take along to your library or track your child’s reading. I even threw in a few additional titles by the same authors on the original list to give you more options to pick from. This list is a great length for a summer reading project for a kid who loves animals!

Here’s what it looks like:

To download the FREE printable pdf version, just click here:

Want to help keep the book lists coming?

1. Go to my Book Lists and buy a few books for your family through my links! Your family gets new books, and I get a small affiliate fee at no additional cost to you. Win for us both!

2. Share my site and book lists with your friends, parish, homeschool group and school! Search engines judge sites on views and shares, so this really helps bring the site to more people!

3. Sign up on the sidebar to receive notifications of new posts. Only one a week, I promise! And don’t worry, I never sell or share email addresses.

4. Most important, pray for my mission to continue. I love connecting Catholic families with great books in this easy, free way and hope to be able to continue to do so for many years!

ancient arch architecture art

Review of “The Haunted Cathedral

haunted cathedral cover by kolenc

The Haunted Cathedral

The second installment in Antony Barone Kolenc’s The Hardwood Mysteries, The Haunted Cathedral picks up right where we left Xan at the end of The Shadow in the Dark. This fast-paced historical fiction trilogy set in Middle Age England follows the adventures and misadventures of young Xan, an orphaned boy trying to find his family- and God’s will. In Shadows in the Dark, Xan tries to recover his memory after a group of bandits leaves him wounded and burns his home. In this second book, The Haunted Cathedral, Xan struggles to learn how to forgive and move on. A little mystery might be just what he needs to help distract him from his hatred.

Meticulous Historical Fiction

I really appreciate the care Kolenc takes to accurately represent Middle Age England. From monasteries to towns to castles to cathedrals, Kolenc takes the reader on a tour of what life was like for an orphaned serf boy in the Middle Ages. Speaking of serfs, these books subtly explore the relationships between serfs and lords, monasteries and patrons, merchants and monks. The intricate castes of the Middle Ages get attention in this book as Xan realizes that as a serf he doesn’t have the freedom to choose a vocation or even where to live.

In keeping with the setting, there are some fundamental lifestyle differences. For example, 12 and 14 year old children are already considering courtship, which is of course strange to our modern sensibilities. Xan’s interest in the girls is handled very gently and discreetly though. Kolenc includes a section at the back of the book which outlines many of the unique traditions of the Middle Ages for readers.

An Intriguing Mystery

What are ghosts? Xan and his friends Lucy, Simon, and Christina are fascinated by tales of a ghost in the Cathedral. A wise monk and priest give the different Catholic perspectives on ghosts. In the end, Xan realizes that trying to reconnect with his parents through a ghost isn’t the wisest idea. Instead, he and his friends help solve the Cathedral mystery and restore another orphan to his parents.

A Fresh Catholic Series

It’s fun to see new Catholic historical fiction getting published. Parents will appreciate the discussion questions in the beginning and historical enrichment at the end. Best of all, this series takes on a slippery topic- the Church in the Middle Ages- with an honest and unapologetic tone. There are very good monks, and troubled monks. There are pros and cons to the power the Church and its ministers held in that time period. These are good reflections for the intended tween and teen audience to begin to consider.

You can buy The Hardwood Mysteries: The Haunted Cathedral through my Amazon affiliate link: The Haunted Cathedral

Or through my BookShop page: The Haunted Cathedral

I received a copy of The Haunted Cathedral from Loyola Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Around Europe in 20 Chapter Books: Printable List

You all enjoyed touring Europe in Chapter Books so much I got requests for a printable version of this list!

So here it is: a short and sweet 20 book list perfect for a summer reading challenge. Travel around Europe from the comfort of your living room with these classic chapter books!

printable list europe chapter books
printable europe chapter books list

Here is a FREE printable PDF download link of the color version:

Or, if you’re like me and chronically out of color ink in your printer, here’s a tamer black and white printable version:

Want to help keep the book lists coming?

1. Go to my Book Lists and buy a few books for your family through my links! Your family gets new books, and I get a small affiliate fee at no additional cost to you. Win for us both!

2. Share my site and book lists with your friends, parish, homeschool group and school! Search engines judge sites on views and shares, so this really helps bring the site to more people!

3. Sign up below to receive notifications of new posts. Only one a week, I promise! (And don’t worry, I never sell or share email addresses.)

4. Most important, pray for my mission to continue. I love connecting Catholic families with great books in this easy, free way and hope to be able to continue to do so for many years!

person with toy airplane on world map

Around Europe in 20 Chapter Books

Europe map with chapter book covers

Tour Europe Through Living Books!

These 20 Classic Chapter books set in Europe capture the culture and flavor of life in a variety of European countries. Since most of us can’t travel the world right now in person, entering these countries through our imagination may be the next best option. Here’s my picks for a literary tour of Europe this summer!

Ireland

Visit the Emerald Isle and experience everyday life in The Cottage at Bantry Bay by Hilda Van Stockum.

Amazon affiliate link: The Cottage at Bantry Bay

England

In The Secret Garden, experience England for the first time through the eyes of Mary Lennox, a sickly child from India. Discover the magic of an English country garden and the moors.

Amazon affiliate link: The Secret Garden

England (Lake Country)

Join the Swallows and Amazons on their summer holidays in England’s beautiful lake country. Capture the flag, camp on a deserted island, and find some treasure in this classic.

Amazon afflink: Swallows and Amazons

Scotland

From the shores of Scotland to early America and back, this sweeping story of the Catholic persecution in Scotland includes realistic Scotch dialect and plenty of castles.

Amazon afflink: Outlaws of Ravenhurst

Sweden

Come join The Children of Noisy Village in life in a tiny Swedish village. Astrid Lindgren of Pippi Longstocking fame brings Sweden to life in this charming chapter book.

Amazon affiliate link: The Children of Noisy Village

Norway

Our part-Norwegian family love Snow Treasure: a true story of brave Norwegian children who smuggled their country’s treasure away from the Nazis on sleds.

Amazon affiliate link: Snow Treasure

Netherlands

In this sadly hard to find Newberry Medal winner, a group of Dutch schoolchildren bring their community together as they work to bring back the storks.

Amazon affiliate link: The Wheel on the School

Netherlands

Learn about windmills and the Dutch resistance in The Winged Watchman.

Amazon Affiliate link: The Winged Watchman

Denmark

In Number the Stars, a young Danish girl and her family embody the heroism of the Danish people who helped save almost all the Jewish citizens of their country during World War II.

Amazon affiliate link: Number the Stars

Poland

Enter the adventures and intrigues of medieval Poland with Josef in The Trumpeter of Krakow.

Amazon affiliate link: The Trumpeter of Krakow

Germany

The Grimm Brothers traveled through the Black Forest collecting the tales that are at the essence of the German soul.

Amazon affiliate link: Fairy Tales

France (Paris)

A homeless man meets three homeless children who take shelter under “his” bridge. An unlikely family emerges.

Amazon affiliate link: The Family Under the Bridge

France (Rural)

Twenty Catholic children living in the French mountains help save ten Jewish refugee children.

Amazon affiliate link: Twenty and Ten

Hungary

The Good Master takes you right into the heart of Hungary with a fantastic description of farm life, the countryside, the celebrations, and folk tale retellings.

Amazon Affiliate link: The Good Master

Switzerland

Everyone has to read Heidi, of course!

Amazon affiliate link: Heidi

Switzerland/Alps

This fantastic book about a boy determined to scale a mountain to fulfill his father’s dream brings the Alps to life in all their majesty and danger.

Amazon affiliate link: Banner in the Sky

Austria

Come visit the White Stallion of Lipizza at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Amazon affiliate link: White Stallion of Lipizza

Italy (Northern)

A boy and his donkey work to save the local monastery and an American soldier during World War II.

Amazon affiliate link: The Small War of Sergeant Donkey

Italy (Southern)

Everyone is terrified of a cursed grotto; everyone but the mysterious strangers who are determined to uncover its secrets. A story of the discovery of the famed blue grotto of Capri.

Amazon affiliate link: Red Sails to Capri

Greece

Travel back to the days of Greek heroes with Padraic Colum in the iconic Golden Fleece.

Amazon affiliate link: The Golden Fleece: And the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles

Enjoyed this visit to Europe in chapter books? Check out more great books for Catholic kids on My Book lists!

red flower near white flower during daytime

Review of “The Good Master”

The Good Master

Although only time will tell what books of the last century last through the centuries as true classics, I’ll venture to predict Kate Seredy’s The Good Master and The Singing Tree will be on that short list. Hungarian born Kate Seredy was a brilliant children’s author who lived from 1899-1975. She wrote prolifically and was also a talented artist who illustrated her own books. My favorite books by Seredy are the The Good Master and its sequel. Both books were Newberry Honor books and much lauded. Best of all, these books tell an engaging story: a story about two cousins and a farm and a war and a lost way of life. They’re a window that gives a glimpse into the early twentieth century your family will never forget.

These books are living history at its best!

The Good Master tells a simple story of Hungarian farm life in the early twentieth century. Jansci’s father is a successful farmer known far and wide as “The Good Master” for his gentle but firm way with animals and children. When Jansci’s difficult city cousin Kate comes to visit, the peaceful farm life is thoroughly shaken up. But in the end, the magic of animals, country life, and never ending family love cure Kate of her willfulness. Mostly. This first book showcases the simple beauty of country life and the Hungarian traditions throughout the year.

In sharp contrast, The Singing Tree begins with the advent of The Great War: World War I. Jansci and Kate are barely in their teens, but suddenly having to take charge of the farm as Jansci’s father must leave for war. In this sequel, Seredy draws a poignant picture of the challenges the impoverished Hungarian farmers and peasants faced, their confusion about the war, and how they survived by helping one another. This book, though sad, is even more beautiful than The Good Master. If you’re studying the early twentieth century or World War I, The Singing Tree is a must-read.

Anything parents should be aware of?

No violence, sexual content, language, and so on. These books are squeaky clean and beautifully written! There is some dramatic tension in the second book about whether Jansci’s father will come home. Other soldiers from their village die in the war. There are orphans and homeless who shelter on Jansci’s farm. Undeniably, the Singing Tree is a very sad book at times. But it’s also a story of strength and courage and heroic charity. I recommend reading these books in the middle grades, around age 10-12. But like true classics, they’re very enjoyable read aloud as a family also!

You can buy The Good Master through my Amazon affiliate link: The Good Master and The Singing Tree.

For more great books for Middle Grade kids, check out My Book Lists, especially:

mount rushmore

American Revolutionary War Chapter Books for Catholic Kids

Living History Books blend fiction and historical events in a unique way that captures kids’ interest. The chapter books on this list are a great springboard for getting your kids interested in learning more about the American Revolutionary War and the great men who helped found our country!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This simply means that I will receive a small fee if you buy through my link at no additional cost to you.

Ben and Me American Revolutionary War

Ben and Me is a unique biography of Benjamin Franklin, cleverly written by his trusty sidekick Amos the Mouse. This book is hilarious, memorable, and easy to read. Perfect for 8-10 year olds.

Mr. Revere and I
American Revolutionary War Chapter book

Scheherazade the chesnut Mare used to belong to a cruel British officer. When she begins a new life with Paul Revere she ends up playing a pivotal role in helping the American patriots when Paul makes his famous ride to sound the alarm. After your children read Mr. Revere and I, your whole family can enjoy reading Longfellow’s fantastic poem Paul Revere’s Ride aloud.

On the other side of the Atlantic, George III of England seemingly inexplicable treatment of the American colonists gets a fresh look in Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? Newberry Winning author Jean Fritz draws on amusing anecdotes of King George’s childhood to help children understand this man who drove a country to revolt.

10 year old Ellen bravely takes her ailing grandfather’s place in a dangerous spy mission to help the American patriots in Toliver’s Secret. A thrilling story of a shy girl’s courage and patriotism.

The Childhood of Famous Americans series has over 50 volumes that teach history through engagingly writing about the childhood and young adulthood of famous Americans. For a Revolutionary War character study, I recommend their biographies of George Washington, Martha Washington, and Benjamin Franklin.

The Reb and the Redcoats follows the American Revolution from the perspective of a British family. When they are forced to house an American POW, it changes everyone’s perspective. A thought-provoking book that gives “both sides” of the story.

The Minute Boys of Lexington and The Minute Boys of Bunker Hill are by the author of The Hardy Boys! These old classics bring alive the story of the Minute Men and several famous American Revolutionary War battles.

Guns for General Washington retells the story of a courageous 19 year old who transported 183 guns across a state to help General Washington win an important battle in Boston.

In True to the Old Flag, prolific historical fiction writer G. A. Henty focuses on a young British soldier’s experiences fighting in America and Canada during World War II. I found this book gave a fascinating and often unheard perspective, focusing on the Loyalist American arguments and the British cooperation with the Native Americans. 10+

Johnny Tremain is a young silversmith who tragically injures his hand, ending his budding career. But soon, he finds himself working for the Patriot newspapers and being drawn into the fight for independence. 10+

A centuries old feud and some friendly ghosts lead orphaned Peggy on a journey back in time to interact with her American Revolutionary War ancestors. A touch of mystery, a touch of Romance, and a lot of masterful historical fiction make The Sherwood Ring a favorite of mine. 12+

Looking for more living history chapter books? Check out my list of World War II Chapter Books or my other books lists: