Something about September…

So, yeah.  This is a purposely disjointed post because it’s too heavy and triggering to stand alone so I’m going to add something light and (somewhat) lovely at the end.  For once, my disorganized posting is actually non-accidental.  This is cause for celebration, although the comment section might be incredibly confusing.

So here’s the first subject, and it’s not fun but it’s fucking important, so listen.

This week is Suicide Prevention Week.  I always appreciate that it comes in September because there’s something about September that wants to eat you.  I don’t know why.  I just know that depression lies and it lies the loudest and most convincingly in September.  That’s why today I’m reminding you that suicide hotlines are amazing and have saved me from self-harm on numerous occasions.  If you need someone to talk to, or if you’re someone who knows a person who needs help and you need advice on what to say or do, call.  That’s what they’re there for.

Also, because so many of us are online, this page about safety teams on social media sites can be crazy helpful.  (Not sure if there’s a non-American version of this.)

Here are some good numbers to have:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US)

Canadian Mental Health Association (Canada)

Befrienders Worldwide (International)

Also, To Write Love on Her Arms is doing a fabulous thing where they’re asking you to share why you can’t be replaced.  It’s a perfect reminder of why you’re important and it’s a bad-ass way to flip it around and tell other people why you think they can’t be replaced.  If you can’t think of anything to write on yours then ask your friends or family to fill it out for you.  You cannot be replaced.  Trust me on this one.

Here’s mine.


Okay.  That was a little dark, but sometimes you have to visit the dark to appreciate the light.  And now for the light…

This month Hailey turns 9 and I wanted to bring cupcakes to her class but there are some severely allergic kids in there and I don’t want to accidentally kill them.  Instead I was considering just bringing all the kids a book.  Around age 9 was when I realized that books were slightly better than cupcakes, so I think it might go over vaguely well but now I can’t pick a book.  I wanted to do Magic Trixie or Coraline, but I’m afraid there are some uber-religious kids in the class who might not be allowed to read anything magical (and that made my heart hurt just writing it) and so now I’m not sure what to get since almost all of the books that Hailey and I read are a bit dark or objectionable-in-the-best-possible-way.  What was your favorite book when you were 9?  Any recommendations? (Ideally under $10 and good for any gender.)  I’m leaning toward Hank the Cowdog but is that one of those books that everyone already owns by age 9?  Help.

Updated (9-16): Holy crap, you people have some amazing suggestions and I’ve started a whole reading list for Hailey just based on these comments.  In the end I took your suggestions to talk to the teacher about ordering from Scholastic and she was crazy helpful and I was able to get about 100 fantastic books to give out to the kids and to be used as an impromptu lending library.  They had Bunnicula for a dollar so I bought dozens of those and I plan on buying more and handing them out on Halloween for All Hallow’s Read.  Also, I’ve never read A Wrinkle in Time, but so many of you suggested it that I bought it on Saturday and Hailey and I are already halfway through it.  It is spectacular.  Thank you.

1,473 thoughts on “Something about September…

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Sideways Stories from Wayside School! My friends and I thought that was the goofiest book in the whole world. The chapters are short, there’s a weird character everyone can relate to, and it makes you appreciate your own school just a little bit more.

    What a fabulous idea to give a book for a birthday treat.

  2. My birthday was on Saturday and it was a horrible day. It was better than most birthdays because I have a loving family who visited the weekend before and a loving boyfriend who spent the day with me but it never fails that the beginning of my winter depression and anxiety spiral starts near my birthday. September sucks but depression lies and in a few more weeks, September will be over and I will be the same kickass person I am right now.

  3. How about “Fortunately the Milk” by Neil Gaiman? It’s out Sept. 17, and Amazon has it for pre-order at $8.99.

  4. I loved the Little House on the Praire series (for obvious reasons) and Jack London’s “White Fang”

  5. My local Target has copies of “The Wizard of Oz” on sale in their dollar bins for only $.50 each–might be an idea?

  6. Why are kids SO complicated these days?! Bring them peanut butter cookies, Matilda, and tell them to toughen up! JK.

  7. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.

  8. Agreed – September sucks. The last two times I’ve had to go back on anti-depressants was in September. I think it’s the crappy weather combined with your kids’ going to school (aka not needing you anymore, at least that’s what it feels like).

    I love the Lorax.

  9. At 9, they might be ready for Louis Sachar’s Holes, or anything else by him. I particularly loved, “Someday, Angeline.”

  10. The Hobbit was my fav when I was nine, closely followed by the Anne of Green Gables books. I was a strange little kid who read pretty much anything I could get my hands on, and rarely was it age appropriate. By the time I was almost 11, I was into Peter Straub and then Stephen King, and my favorite of all time, Edgar Allen Poe.

    Being that you want to appeal to the entire class, I’d go with Hank the Cowdog. It’s one that we’ve read so many times around here, we’ve already replaced it. Gaby now reads it to her niece over Skype. I have a feeling we’ll be replacing it again as her current copy is going to be making a flight to the UK where it will stay forever and ever.

  11. I’m trying to remember how old I was when I discovered that books were something necessary for me. My teacher read us Charlotte’s Web, and I realized I really needed to have this book.

    Is Charlotte’s Web too young for 9? Pretty sure it was my 2nd grade teacher who read it to us, which means I was 7.

  12. PEANUTS!!!! Who wouldn’t love a Snoopy book! 🙂

    I can not be replaced because: I’m unique… there will never be another me!

  13. Is 9 too old for Shel Silverstein? I still read Shel Silverstein. Pretty much all his books are between $10-15 on Amazon. I’d give them either The Giving Tree or The Missing Piece or Where the Sidewalk Ends.

  14. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. It’s a great book that taught me not to be such a selfish little kid, as many are, and that it’s important to think of others and what they give for/to you.

  15. The Freddy the Pig books are HYSTERICAL. And I don’t think anyone could object to them, and they’re in the perfect age bracket. Freddy the Detective is the best (and also the easiest to find). However, just writing “easier to find” reminded me that they’re out of print, so that might make it tricky for finding enough for the entire class …

  16. Does her school participate in Scholastic Reading Clubs? You could give them each a gift certificate for a book and let them each pick their own. Also, 31 years ago last week, we lost my cousin to suicide. It still hurts. I still miss him. He mattered. Our family never fully recovered. He missed meeting his siblings spouses. He missed meeting his nieces and nephews. He missed my wedding and never got to meet my kids. So, yes. YOU ALL MATTER.

  17. I love “From the mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” I love that they run away…fare on their own but eventually come home of their own accord. Plus there is the whole solving the mystery part too!

  18. How about “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler “? Loved that book at age 9. My teacher read it to us.

    September is the month I finally break out of depression because it means there is an end in sight to the long, uber hot days and fall is coming.

  19. I admitted to the first person ever that I have been suicidal in the past this weekend and its why I got my dogs – so something depended on me. I have never told anyone that and I’m still pretty much a mess about it. The crazy thing is he said “I need you, you can’t be gone.” Its been a rough few days but its ringing in my head and just that will keep me going.

    fuck September.

  20. Hank the Cowdog is a great option. If they already have it, they can share the love with someone else. What a great idea

  21. I loved Encyclopedia Brown and The Great Brain, but I am old, so I don’t know kids these days. If you give Encyclopedia Brown, you can give out the various books to different kids so that they can pass around and share when they are done.

  22. Island of the Blue Dolphins or Swallows and Amazons? I loved the idea of being on my own at that age. Both books are about kids surviving on their own in a fantastic way…although Island of the Blue Dolphins is a bit dark…

  23. “Love You Forever” or “Five Minutes Peace” [although I’m pretty sure the moms of Hailey’s classmates would appreciate that one more]. Doesn’t matter how old they are — both have important lessons.

  24. Charlotte’s Web was my favorite book when I was around that age, though now the thought of a spider writing things with her web kind of terrifies me a little.

  25. Or The Bongleweed, or Trillions, or the Wombles, or Professor Branestawm, or Stig of the Dump, or Tom’s Midnight Garden, or Fattypuffs and Thinifers, or the Borrowers. All of these are brilliant books! I hope one of them might work for you all.

  26. Hank The Cowdog is great. I didn’t own it at 9. In fact, I never owned. I had to check them out at the library. My mother was absolutely NO fun. However, I still love The Polar Express. Not under $10… Anyway… OH! James And The Giant Peach!!

  27. First: You entertain me unlike any other person I’ve read (and briefly met). 🙂

    Second: Any one of the Ramona Quimby series. For reals.

  28. Roald Dahl’s “The BFG” totally changed my world at about that age. Would highly recommend anything by him. All his books are licksquishy. 😀

  29. I read the second of this series and just loved the kookieness of it. It might pass the test. It’s super cool because it brings in science and math stuff in such a way that I didn’t even notice it. Which is great to support kids going into STEM paths. Anyway. I loved the second one, and I imagine all 3 are great.

    These books also cracked me up as a kid. A little “scary,” but totally awesome!

  30. Thank you for sharing this, I really appreciate it. I have had a lot of friends that have attempted and I shared this post with my twitter. You are amazing Jenny Lawson!

  31. My Teacher is an Alien was a favorite of mine in 3rd grade. Granted my mother was my third grade teacher. Life was a little weird.

  32. I have to agree with SaraBeth, I’m also 35 and freaked out by Coraline. Hank the Cowdog is always a win. I would keep it light and simple since (sadly) there are a lot of kids out there who don’t like to read at all.

  33. I think I was about 10 when I read Maniac Magee, and it was so good I remember it being the first book I read in one sitting.

  34. I wanna say that’s the age I discovered The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton and everything by Judy Blume. I’m interested to see what others come up with since my son turns 8 in six months. He’s just finished Sir Fartsalot Hunts The Booger, lots of vocabulary building text and quite a bit of inappropriate humor I’m guessing 9 years would lilke

  35. Kids (and adults for that matter) book suggestion: The One and Only Ivan. I think nine is the right age for this. Mine are 4 and 5, and still too young to sit through a chapter book without pictures.

  36. Give them all a composition book and a nice pencil and encourage them to write their own story. Probably a little less expensive as well.

  37. My birthday is in September too! September babies rock! – My two favorite books (which sadly I do not have in my possession…yet) are “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “The Giving Tree”. – OK, admittedly, 9 may be too old for these books. But I’m (almost) 29 and I still love them!

  38. Because I still like reading kids books 😛
    I love Measle & Wrathmonk series by Ian Ogilvy.. I dont know if thats available in USA but theyre awesome.. (like harry potter ISH but only in terms of the kid being an orphan n having to get out of horrible crap that happens to him)

  39. I loved anything by Ronald Dahl! The BFG was probably my favorite. Magical, and sometimes a little dark, but not enough to twist the panties of “those” parents. I know, because I had “those” parents. (The kind who removed me from class when a PG-13 movie was being shown. Yep.)

  40. I just asked my thirteen year old son what he liked when he was 9 and he said he loved the Captain Underpants books. Those might be a little more geared toward boys. He also loved Roald Dahl. He said Boy, James and the Giant Peach, and George’s Marvelous Medicine were his favorites. My 10 year old daughter loves the Ramona books but again a little more geared toward girls.

  41. Fortunately the milk by Neil Gaiman is out this month, maybe they’d like that? Alice in Wonderland is always a classic as well as Peter Pan. Or maybe The Frog Prince Continued.

  42. I began my love for Madelien L’Engle books at that age. There is the Wrinkle in Time trilogy, An Acceptable Time, The Young Unicorns (no unicorns actually involved), etc. The great thing about starting out with Wrinkle, is that L’Engle has a large body of work that only gets more mature from there, so you can grow up reading her.

  43. I would highly recommend the Humphrey books by Betty G Birney – the first one is less than 10$ for sure – probably more like 6$. They’re gender free and cute as heck.

    Also, I can’t stress enough the depression lies thing. And how awesome the helplines can be. And Jenny, another reason you’re irreplaceable is because you’ve made this awesome, unbelieveable internet community that gives hope when there isn’t any.

  44. Because of Winn Dixie? Freckle Juice? Tales of a 4th grade nothing? The Best School Year Ever? All are popular here and I have kids that age of both sexes.

  45. “James and the Giant Peach” or “Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing.” Love those two 30+ years later. Introduced to both in my classroom readers then DEVOURED the entire books from the school library. Dahl & Blume changed my life.

  46. Mr Stink by David Walliums is a treat, about a little girl that adopts a homeless man, very like Dahl, very amusing and I’m sure the ‘good people’ will find a message in there somewhere 😀

  47. Hi Jenny,

    That suicide hotlines by state website is crazy out of date. I know because I run one of the hotlines listed on it and I can’t get them to update our information that has been wrong for almost 10 years. There is information on other hotlines for my state that I know is wrong as well. Your post has inspired me to try again to update my hotline’s information on this site, but in the meantime the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number will route you to the closest certified member hotline in your state (800-273-8255).

    Thanks for all you do. You CANNOT be replaced.

    (You rock. I’ll take down the other one. There’s nothing more depressing than reaching out for help and not finding it. ~ Jenny)

  48. Two of my favorite books when I was that age were Charlotte’s Web and How to eat fried worms. I’d go with Charlotte’s Web. Not many girls I knew liked How to eat fried worms.

  49. Why not get a selection? And anything except The Girl from Yamhill by Beverley Cleary are great. (Girl from Yamhill is her autobiography and while it gets put with kids’ stuff, it is not a kids’ book.)

  50. ferdinand the bull!! A wrinkle in time. The blueberry pie elf. Stuart Little. The Stinky Cheese Man! Pumpernickle tickle and mean green cheese!

  51. James and the Giant Peach…anything Roald Dahl.
    Calvin & Hobbes would be fun and reach across reading levels though. Sorry, ahem, the teacher in me snuck out.

  52. Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. It’s a classic, with no objectionable material. And if you haven’t read it, put it on your list!

  53. My 10 year old was breezing thru Harry Potter when she was 9… (as my 8 year old is now). You don’t want to bring them anything too easy! How about Lemony Snicket? 🙂

  54. I really loved Beverly Cleary when I was that age. Ramona transcends gender boundaries. I’m bad with age appropriateness and my childhood seems to glob together in my brain, so those might be too young and not hip for the 9 year old crowd. Oh maybe Captain Underpants? I bought those for my nephew once. He seemed amused.

  55. I LOVE this post. Not only are you reaching out to those who need to be lifted up and know they are important, but you are sharing something dear to my heart…reading. I had a tough childhood and had some hard times growing up (around the age that Hailey is now), but the one thing that helped me escape and gave me something to look forward to was reading. Maybe the book you choose will reach out to one of the kids in Hailey’s class too. 🙂

  56. Some favorites when I was that age:

    The Black Stallion books
    All of Marguerite Henry’s “Misty” books
    The My Friend Flicka series
    Little House on the Prairie series
    Mr. Popper’s Penguins
    The Chronicles of Narnia
    Black Beauty
    Island of the Blue Dolphins
    Shel Silverstein’s books are always classics!

  57. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    and thank you, as always, for your honesty and truth and humor.

  58. How about a selection of books and then let the kids choose the ones they want… the books that don’t get chosen get added to your library or added to the school’s. Maybe the kids will be tempted to swap books as they finish! There’s so much good stuff out there that it’s hard to pick a favorite.

  59. I vote for Walter the Farting dog. Seriously. It’s a book.

    If not, My Father’s Dragon gets my vote. Both my kids couldn’t stop reading it.

  60. Ack…this made me cry 🙁 my daughter was adopted away from me against my will so yanno…I only wish I was her only mother. But she was my inspiration for getting and staying clean so when she comes to find me (she knows who I am and has met me a few times though her adopted mother won’t let me talk to her now and hasn’t for the last 3 years) she won’t find a drug addled crazy lady.

    On the plus side, I got my daughter a signed copy of Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” when she was 9, the last time I got to see her, since it was my favorite book at her age. Just a suggestion 🙂

  61. At that age my daughter absolutely loved Because of Winn Dixie.
    Thanks for all you do – I absolutely adore you.

  62. I’d forgotten about Sideways Stories from a Wayside School! I loved that book!!

  63. If you can’t decide you could always brings gift certificates to your local book store. Books & shopping, how awesome is that??!!

  64. When I was that age, I was in love with Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. The first book in the series is BEEZUS AND RAMONA.

    Good for you for wanting to give books instead of junk food. 🙂

  65. Maybe, instead of a specific book (you never know who will already have the book you pick), you could give each child a $10 gift certificate to a bookstore. That way, you’re promoting reading (bookstore), but allowing the parents to guide their child’s choice of book.

  66. I think giving a book is an awesome idea! Maybe you could ask the teachers? I bet they would have some great ideas of books that would be appropriate/interesting for the kids. (And they’d probably think it’s an amazingly cool idea, too!)

  67. I still like reading kids books 😛
    I love Measle & Wrathmonk series by Ian Ogilvy.. I dont know if thats available in USA but theyre awesome.. (like harry potter ISH but only in terms of the kid being an orphan n having to get out of horrible crap that happens to him) might be more a boy book..but Im a girl!.. and I discovered it when I was 14 (Im 23 now..and I would still proudly stand by these books :P)

  68. Thanks for this, Jenny! An important reminder. And while I LOVE September, and fall in general, February is my September, so I get it. (Incidentally, I think this is the first time I have commented on your site. I usually read and laugh and love.)

    Let’s see, books at age 9. I was WAY into science fiction before I knew that’s what it was. So, I was reading books like “The Secret of Nimh”, “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”, and “Bunnicular”. (sigh.)

    And, of course, “How to Eat Fried Worms”, and “The Girl With The Silver Eyes”. Probably not very helpful here, am I?

    You could do rice krispy treats. They are relatively allergy safe. OR! I could send you some of my lollipops! :] Totally gluten, nut, chocolate and basically everything free.

  69. Yeah… I was always an advanced reader… In fourth grade I did a book report on Agatha Christie’s “Cat Among the Pigeons” and got in trouble with my teachers because they thought I was lying or something because apparently… So probably not Adult Murder Mysteries, but mysteries are always so much fun, especially when you’re a kid…
    So how about going to the used book store and buying a variety of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books and letting the kids pick the one that suits their fancy?

  70. Sadly, says this librarian, many kids don’t have books at home. September 22 is also Banned Book Week, and Shel Silverstein is frequently mentioned, so I say use the banned book list as your guide when choosing…and of course I mean choose from the list. I get tired of trying to make sure my snack/gift/movie choice will work for everyone. If you don’t want your kids to read/watch it…deal with it at home. If you’re that worked up that you haven’t raised them to make healthy independent choices and be secure enough in your belief system, then bah upon you.

    On a sort of related note, my fave Seuss is “My Many Colored Days”. When I’m in a low spot I like to remind myself that there will be other colors in the future :-).

  71. I second Sideways Stories from Wayside School or The BFG. Those are both on my childhood favorites list. I also like Hank the Cowdog, but since it is more popular there is more of a chance that the kids already have that one.

  72. Chris Colfer (Finn on ‘Glee’) wrote a fabulous book called ‘Land of Stories’ that my daughter couldn’t put down. It was really a great book and he just put out the second one a couple of weeks ago and that one is just as good!
    Happy birthday to your girl.

  73. I’m with you on the September thing. I always think it’s because of my birthday which really got fucked a few years back on 9/11! And although I don’t sit in front of the tv the entire day bawling anymore, I get pretty bummed out. This one is my 50th and even typing that made me throw up in my mouth a little. I’m a suicide survivor numerous times over, but life is better. No meds for a few years now. Sorry I can’t recommend a book. My 18 year old just read East of Eden. Whores and such. Probably not a good choice. Thanks for what you do!

  74. I also loved the Pippi Longstocking books. I don’t remember how old I was but 9 seems about right? I don’t know. My kid just started kindergarten.

  75. Mine was the Bunnicula series. Who could object to a bunny that sucks the juice out of veggies? Oh wait, it’s Texas (where i grew up…but it was way different then) so, maybe not.

  76. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

    Stewart Little is still one of my son’s (now 12) favorites, and he’s passed his copy around to several friends

    The Gregor the Overlander books are fabulous, but you’d run into the same problems with “magic,” although they aren’t as creepy as Coraline

    But one of the ALL TIME FAVEs that speaks a wonderful message about love in general is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. My son’s teacher read this to them in 4th grade, and he’s read it several times since. It’s very appropriate for 9 year-olds, and is such a fabulous, incredible little book. Also, it’s one of those books that’s just beautiful to look at too. The paperback is less than $10 on Amazon, I think.

  77. October used to be the bad one for me. It was so bad that my husband declared it renamed as “Unicorn.” It actually helped. Over a couple of years of celebrating the month of Unicorn, I was able to conquer the “-ness” of October.

  78. Go with Hank the Cowdog!! They prob already own it but you should sign it too! I bet they don’t have a signed copy by Jenny Lawson.. lol is it wrong to sign someone else’s book?? eerrr maybe..

    I actually always tell my son, “I’m the only Mother you have,” it’s funny and semi-dark at the same time. Whatever it takes for us to realize we make a difference! Not only to others but to ourselves 🙂

  79. What did I read at 9? Hmmm…I remember bringing Stephen King’s “It” to school in 4th grade and reading it in my down time. Seriously. Today that would get parents called and a counselor brought in to talk to the kid. My teacher just picked it up, looked at it, and asked what I thought of it. I told her Stephen King was my favorite author (he was at the time) and that so far it was really good. She gave it back to me and smiled and that was the end of it. It’s occurred to me that this is part of the reason that I’m a creative, yet somewhat screwed up, adult. 🙂 Also, depression lies. Both my mother and I concur on that. And you keep us both laughing. *hugs*

  80. My favorite books from when I was nine (and I’m borderline ancient, so maybe they would not appeal to kids today…)

    Any and all of the Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary (she seriously rocks)
    Miss Hickory (cuz who doesn’t love a woman made of twigs)

    And, yeah, books are waaaay better than cupcakes.

  81. I have to admit that I haven’t read any of her children’s books, but Ursula Vernon (artist, children’s books author, and creator of Hugo award-winning webcomic, Digger) is an awesomely quirky person who creates awesomely quirky things that are probably generally safe for children of that age and different backgrounds.

  82. I loved “The Mad Scientists’ Club” by Bertrand R. Brinley. Sadly, the paperback editions of the four books are out of print. Fortunately, “Purple House Press” has a “Bargain Basement” section where they sell blemished and returned copies of the hardcover editions for under ten bucks a book.

    Another of my favorites were the James Herriot books, about being a Vet in rural Yorkshire England. I’m reminded of this series because “All Creatures Great and Small” starts off with Dr. James Herriot with his arm stuck in a cow’s vagina. He has a number of notable stories about having his arm stuck in the vaginas of various farm animals.

  83. The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, James and the Giant Peach, A Series of Unfortunate Events

  84. Redwall. For grades 3-7, and even with the fantasy premise of animals that are like people, it’s based in an Abbey which I appreciated as a young Catholic reader. I also remember learning a lot about the hierarchy of medieval times, a bit of knowledge that I still like having to this day. And, quests!

  85. My daughter just turned nine in July! Some of her favorites are Charlotte’s Web, the Ramona series (but not really gender neutral) or Ralph S. Mouse series, any of The Boxcar Children Books, Bedknobs and Broomsticks umm, she keeps just naming books at me and now I can’t get her to stop..

  86. Hahha! Cris! You wrote while I was posting. Another Bunnicular fan! I bet we were responsible for all two copies sold. heh

  87. How to Steal A Dog…Barbara O’Connor. Funny and touching and my girl really dug that book!!!

  88. Where the Sidewalk Ends would be good. So would Phantom Tollbooth or many of the other suggestions you are getting. In fact, I don’t think you’ll be able to decide on one, so you can do a “Hailey’s Lending Library” and give out a selection with the idea that they be traded around among the kids as time goes by. As a “published author” I think you get leeway on these kinds of things . . . .

  89. Garbage Delight
    Jacob two two
    Arn’t all books that age about magic?
    I like The Giver

  90. Send copies of “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,” with a note explaining that you thought you’d let them know life isn’t perfect, and their kids’s allergies are the reason they have to learn that so young.

  91. Perfect age for The Hobbit! Which is also a great read aloud book for families.

    I think September swamps parents, new schedules, big back to school bills, making lunches etc. and then we feel like big failures when we forget to buy their favorite snack.

    Depression and anxiety lies! We’re doing okay.

  92. Thank you for sharing the links! Also handy to have around.
    Also…books = a good idea. Although so many have e-readers, they’ll be confounded as to how to open it! 😀

  93. what about Ramona and Beazus? It’s a great read.

    other option is Animal Farm? ……….It’s about animals…….ok maybe not. wait until her 10th birthday for that one. lol

  94. I second Maniac Magee… it would be good for both boys and girls. But just get them Coraline and make the world a better place 🙂

  95. I loved Matilda and Island of the Blue Dolphins.
    I also loved Number the Stars but the Holocaust may not be what you’re going for….

  96. Maybe the first book in the 39 Clues series? You could pitch it to the parents as something that uses fun storytelling to teach history, geography and culture. Unless those are things that their kids shouldn’t know about either. In that case, you’re screwed.

  97. I would suggest:

    “The Phantom Tollbooth”
    “Hank the Cowdog” (I never got to read the whole series…)
    Shel Silverstein poetry books (I got “A Light in the Attic” for 25¢ from a used bookstore once)
    “The BFG” (it’s a little scary at parts, but I still read it at least once a year)

    I think the Junie B. books would be too young for fourth graders.
    And “The Outsiders” is kind of…dark. Dark for fourth graders ;-; Although I was reading everything I could find about the Holocaust at that time, so I can’t exactly judge…

    I wish I could look at my bookshelves while I write this…but alas, I’m sitting in my dorm instead of in my room, and all my bookshelves are too far away.

  98. The Egypt Game! My absolute fave at that age. Made me want to be an Egyptologist until my mother pointed out that the bugs are REALLY big there.

  99. Island of the Blue Dolphins was my favorite book around that age but I might have been older. Still an awesome book. After that I was on to Stephen King and The Stand… probably too dark.

  100. How about a collection of books – so a few copies of a few different books and encourage the kids to swap the books once they’ve read them.

    My fav books from when I was that old are very local to my region – Kes, A Pair of Jesus Boots, The Old Powder Line. I doubt they’re still in print these days.

    But how about something like ‘The Saga of Erik the Viking’

  101. I’m going to agree with anything by Roald Dahl. My teacher read us the BFG at that age, and it was awesome.

  102. I loved the Secret of Nimh. I also loved A Wrinkle in Time. I read those over and over.

  103. The Phantom Tollbooth!!! I discovered that book in 3rd grade (and I read a bit ahead of the curve), and it has been my favorite ever since. It’s more than 50 years old, and still has a great lesson about not relying on technology to entertain yourself – it also has awesome illustrations and wonderful wordplay.

    My hub’s depression always seems worse in August and September. I call his worst times “Big Black Holes” because it seems like his interest in everything just vanishes. We haven’t had a Big Black Hole event so far this year, and I’m hoping his meds are helping (finally). I don’t suffer from depression, but I desperately love someone who does, so I thank you 10,000X for being brave enough to talk about it.

  104. I still have my copy of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I got it from Scholastic when I was in grade school.

  105. I 100% agree with Calvin and Hobbes! Everything else I read at that age was magic and fantasy. The only other one I could think of was one I read called “Judge Benjamin: Superdog” by Judith Whitelock McInerney. Think Lassie, but a giant St. Bernard. I read that one til it fell to pieces.
    And thank you for posting about prevention week. My problems ususally hit in November and February, but this year… With my last pregnancy, I felt better than ever in my life- no incidents from the time I conceived until I weaned off breastfeeding. But this time- it’s like bizarro world pregnancy where everything about me is just… wrong. I keep pretending it’s just that I’m tired and it will go away because I don’t want to medicate while pregnant. But… well, we’ll all just hang in there, right!?

  106. My favorite books were all about magic so I’m no help. Maybe the Secret Garden? Goodreads has great lists by ages too:

    And a note – suicide prevention hotlines are for more than suicide prevention. They will talk with you when you are having a panic attack or your anxiety’s ramping up or you get that feeling in your head that feels like the flu but it’s really a depression starting even if you aren’t feeling the need to self-harm. Travel can be an anxiety trigger for me – I always keep a hotline number in my phone when I travel so if I wake up freaked out at 3am alone in a hotel room, I can call and they will be a friendly and helpful voice in the dark hours. September can be a tough month. Hang in there.

    Oh, and I can’t be replaced because I am the only one who knows how to make the right voice for my son’s stuffed owls. They each have their own voice and their own story – I’m the only human who can tell them.

  107. Funny that this post comes today… I keep a dry erase marker in my bathroom because that’s when I remember the random shit I need to buy so I write it on the mirror to remind me. This morning after fixing my daughter’s hair and convincing my son that putting his sippy cup in the toilet was a bad idea I wrote “You’re a good mother” across my mirror. Every morning I am going to write an affirmation to myself.

    Also, i agree with the Hank the Cowdog books…

  108. Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Chapter 19 is the most ingenious chapter ever written in any book ever. But you have to read the whole book to get it, so don’t just skip to chapter 19. Also, I’m just remembering as I write this that I wrote a snarky blog post regarding Wayside School and the way our state government is killing education with budget cuts a couple of years ago, so… what the heck. Here it is. Warning though: It will spoil the beauty of chapter 19.

  109. We just started reading the Guardians of Childhood series with my son and all I can say is OH. My. God. I love these books! they are imaginative and beautifully written and illustrated and they really are about helping kids not be afraid of the boogeyman (Pitch, the King of Nightmares who could also be a veiled reference to sadness).

    So, even though the first 2 books in the series are a bit younger, I would say the novel-length books would make great gifts for nine year olds.

    Also, you could do a set of barettes, ponytail holders or other wonderful home-made thing (and by home made I mean purchased from Etsy) that is non-edible. Thanks for being you. I appreciate it.

  110. You might get her teacher’s suggestion for a book. It might be scary to call the teacher…it was for me last week, boy howdy was I shaking…but it’s for a good reason…a happy reason… and the phone call shouldn’t have to last too long. You can write down what you want to say, sometimes that helps.

    I understand about September. I’m glad you mentioned it, because I hadn’t thought about it and damn it sure explains the way I feel right now.

  111. 1. I am writing under an assumed name. ( I just feel like I need to admit that right off the bat.)
    2. September is a killer.
    3. When I was 9 I was reading Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie. Shortly after that I moved on to Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine.

  112. What grade is nine? Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing? Or is that too soon? SuperFudge?

    Thank you for this. You rock. Also? I just bought the t-shirt in your shop about how Depression is a Lying Bastard. I wish I could buy it for everyone I know. With all my heart.

  113. Jenny! What a GREAT idea about the book (and ‘I am her only mother’ hit me right in the feels). When I was a little girl around Hailey’s age, my very favorite book was Roald Dahl’s, ‘The Twits.’ I’m sure some parents won’t like it, but those parents can be damned! It is a delightful, hilarious read.

  114. My 9 YO is pretty adventurous in his reading, but ‘Coraline’ still gives him nightmares (it’s the buttons as eyes thing). One of my favorite books that my son really likes is called ‘Gila Monsters Meet You At The Airport’, which is about a kid who moves from New York City, to Texas, and all his preconceived ideas about it. While in the airport, he meets a Texan kid who is moving to New York City, and he spouts all of his crazy notions about gators in the sewers and everyone being a gangster. It’s a cute way to remind kids not to judge. And it was on ‘Reading Rainbow’ (who’s theme song will now be stuck in your head for the rest of the day).

  115. I loved the book Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes! Its perfect for younger kids. Its about a brother and sister who save up to buy a pet dog, but when the dog Ginger goes missing they have to figure out what happened to her. It has just enough mystery to make it a good read, but its not a “mystery” book.

  116. I was going to say Tales if a fourth grade nothing too. I also like the idea of a book gift certificate from scholastic. As a fourth grader I think it would be so near I’d I got to pick a book for someone else’s birthday!!

  117. You could get an assortment of the books mentioned and donate them to the class library so that each kid gets a chance to read a bunch of great books. That said, I love My Father’s Dragon.

  118. When I was 9 Superfudge and Fantastic Mr. Fox were my absolute favorite books.

    Spring starts in September here in Chile, so to all of you northerners with the seasonal sadness, know that in another part of the world life is coming back, just like it will for you, just like it always does.

  119. I loved all the Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books, and read them fanatically, does that make me really old? Also how about the Madeline L’Engle ones? A Wrinkle In Time, etc, can’t remember what age range those are, but they are awesomesauce.

  120. The Missing Piece Meets the Big O.

    Totally not dirty (unless you intend to read it that way) but a good message for young and old. I give it as high school graduation gifts. Everyone needs a reminder that you don’t need someone to complete you– roll on your own merits.

  121. “There is something about September that wants to eat you…” ~ TRUTH!!!
    And try The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman. I haven’t re-read it in adult years, but my 4th grade self was obsessed.

  122. ” I always appreciate that it comes in September because there’s something about September that wants to eat you. ”
    September is always hard for me because my birthday is this month. Every year my family somehow manages to make me feel as bad as possible on my birthday and so I’m not particularly happy when it rolls around. In addition, the weather is changing, we get the last of the dreary monsoon rains, school just started and has a whole 9 months left to go before summer break, retailers start putting out a confusing mish-mash of Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations (though this year, we have Christmas sales already out as well) that make me sick of the holiday weeks before it even arrives, we get the first of the fall colds, and even the earth looks depressed as leaves start changing color and falling and animals start preparing for hibernation.

  123. Sideways Stories from Wayside School are the kind of ridiculously awesome stories that makes no sense whatsoever, but are also wildly entertaining and kind of stick with you and warps you a bit in their own special way for years to come. It’s actually not entirely unlike the grade school version of your blog – only with less cursing. (That’s meant as a compliment, I’m not sure it came out right.)

    Also, I now want a ethically taxidermied rat in a zillion different raincoats, just in honour of you and this book. How am I going to explain that one to Mother who still believes I am somewhat not crazy??

  124. Wow, I was reading Stephen King at age nine so I’m not sure where to go with that. A cool science book? No, I’m just a dork – but I would have been all over a cool science book about dinosaurs or mummies back then. I almost suggested mermaids and then realized that even thought the Discovery Channel played a cruel trick on me, they are not real. Or so they say.

  125. Here’s to making it through September!
    And for books … Any Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (although they are somewhat magical) or Stuart Little. Awesome gift for a class!

  126. A Wrinkle in Time, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Bridge to Terabithia, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry or Holes. All excellent books!!!

  127. I also vote for Shel’s “where the sidewalk ends” It’s a wonderful read even as an adult. Please keep being you. You are loved and appreciated.

  128. Anything by Roald Dahl, esp “The BFG.” Magical books (without actual *magic*) and get to read the word “queer” in a British way.

  129. How about: How to Eat Fried Worms? I forgot about Hank the Cow Dog! 🙂 That made my day!

  130. When in doubt, ask a librarian. 9 is a great age for books because most kids read well enough to get into the story instead of getting stuck in the mechanics. Here are some of my favorites for this age:

    Frindle by Andrew Clements
    The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
    Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale
    Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
    Stuart Little by E.B. White
    Riding Freedom by Pam Muñoz Ryan
    My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

  131. A Wrinkle In Time was my favorite book back then– but IDK if that would go over well.

    THANK YOU for continuing to talk about suicide prevention. Don’t you ever stop!

  132. oh! My Father’s Dragon. I hadn’t thought about that in years. I loved that book (and many others). I even remember making a papier mache dragon in school in 4th or so grade. I have to get myself a copy!

  133. It’s one of those things that I’m kinda glad that my birthday’s in the middle of February, because it’s just starting to head into spring. I’m also glad that my SAD doesn’t hit me until after Halloween’s over (srsly, it’s my favorite holiday).

    Books…Bunnicula. Where The Red Fern Grows. Superfudge. Anything Roald Dahl. Any of the other ones mentioned above me.

  134. My 8 year old just read Wayside Stories from Wayside School for the first time 2 weeks ago. He’s read it 3 more times since then. 🙂

  135. Hank the Cowdog and Coraline are both exquisite. However, I only knew about (and deeply adored) Hank when I was 9. I say go with that, because who can object to a hilarious crime-fighting farm dog duo? Especially in Texas!

  136. Oh yeah … and Where The Sidewalk Ends. My 32-year-old son memorized several verses from that book as a youngster and can still perform them!

  137. I loved “The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids,” I had a bunch of them. I went to look them up and could only remember “Leprechauns Don’t Play Basketball.” All the titles are something like that, they might fall into to magical category though :/

    My birthday is on the 29th. I usually love September, but October is my favorite. Except for when it rains on Halloween, but that’s Kansas.

  138. What about some oldies but goodies? The Vampire Bunny (Bunnicula) by James Howe or My Teacher Is an Alien by Bruce Coville? Those were some of my faves.

  139. What about Shel Silverstein? I loved ‘Where the sidewalk ends’ when I was a kid. And my friend who had the uber religious parents who would let her read/watch certain things had it as a kid too and loved it. Except that might be a little too pricey…

  140. “How to Eat Fried Worms” is a great book for both girls and boys.

    February is my September. Every February, I have to convince myself that March will finally come, and the heavy weight on my chest will lift. February is a cold, dark month that lies, lies, lies. I finally reached out to one of my sisters during a a particularly dark February and she confided that she has the same problem. Now we help each other count down to spring and coming out of the darkness.

  141. “Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Creech! It was my most favorite book as a child and I still think about it to this day (I am now 28). Even if you don’t use it for your daughter’s class, you should read it together!! Such an amazing message – “never judge a person until you have walked two moons in their moccasins.”

  142. Thank you. I know people who this holds true for. I’m eternally grateful that they failed at their attempts.

    Now for something completely different…

    I recommend a book of poems by Shel Silverstein, not sure if it will hold to your $10, but I haven’t shopped around.

  143. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – fun for all ages and also fun to compare to the two films.

  144. I agree – I think classics are good. Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Treasure Island, The Secret Garden, Doctor Doolittle, Call of the Wild, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, A Little Princess, etc.

    And then you should hide a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark inside each one.

  145. Oh shut up. Just saw somebody suggest Mrs. PiggleWiggle, and now my day is beyond amazing. COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THAT!!!! I always wanted her upside-down house when I grew up…

  146. Abel’s Island by William Steig, it’s a great romance story about a mouse that gets stranded on an island and separated from his wife. I love this story and have reread it hundreds of times. Even though the writing is simple it manages to convey a deep sense of feelings across to its audience.

  147. My daughter (age 9goingon27) is addicted to all things Harry Potter, but since you’re in Texas and don’t even get me started…. I just bought her the Judy Blume Fudge books. Freckle juice may be a good one. She loved the clementine books.

    Or, for next year, no pressure… You could write a short story for them. Bound to be funny and awesome.(sorry, no pressure, just sayin’ I’d move my kid to Texas to be in your kids class for that!) please don’t hate me or ban me from your site.

  148. Wow – the ‘I’M HER ONLY MOTHER’ part got me. (Though I have had numerous times where I think mine would be better off with no mother than the hot mess they got dealt, but….perhaps you can relate.) Anyway, I was OBSESSED with Helen Keller when I was a kid and I just recently read my kids a short biography of hers written for kids and I would think a lot of kids that age might find her as inspiring as I did (and do). It’s not ‘fun’ reading, but it’s AMAZING.

  149. I was always a bit ahead of the curve in my reading. I’m pretty sure when I was nine, I was reading the Vampire Diaries and other YA Paranormal Romances. The way I see it, choose a book that Hailey loves and that she wants to share with her classmates. If a kid doesn’t want to read it, then they don’t have to. You can’t please everyone.

    Plus, even if kid (or more likely, his/her parent) is overly religious and doesn’t want to read anything magical, this may be the best way to expose them to something they wouldn’t normally choose for themselves. If the child understands that this is a book that Hailey chose, then they will be more willing to give it a chance.

    Anyway, tell your kiddo “Happy Birthday” from a fellow September baby (This coming Sunday for me!!!). Hug that kid tight and remember that September has given you her.

    I adore you, and you’re right: only you can tell your story! 🙂

  150. The Shades by Betty Brock. It is out of print but is on Amazon and ebay. It was written by a child psychologist and I cannot tell you how much it affected me at your daughters age. It is magical, gothic and amazingly written. I own several copies since I snipe them when I find them on ebay. I think you and your daughter would enjoy it a lot. It is just one of those stories glues itself to you. I give it to every child I love when they reach your daughters age.

    My father committed suicide and my brother made an attempt last year that left him with a permanent brain injury. I commend you for bringing this cause to light on such a public forum.

  151. I agree with the Calvin and Hobbes suggestions. My son loved those books at that age. Barnes and Noble usually has some of them in their bargain book section.

  152. Yay for books!

    Shel Silverstein, Harriet the Spy, Narnia, Wrinkle in Time, Phantom Tollbooth, A Little Princess, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (Cushman), Under the Lilacs (Alcott), Ballet Shoes (Noel Streetfield), 101 Dalmations (Dodie Smith)…

  153. Eloise books. I only ever had one, “Eloise in Moscow,” but I *loved* it and read it over and over for years and I still have it. The only book I still have from childhood. I am 54 now and I still love it. It makes me smile every time I read it. I always wished I had more of the Eloise books. I’m going to give it to my granddaughter when she is old enough to read.

  154. Ok, I think I was around 9 the first time I read Podkayne of Mars by Robert Heinlein. I read it over and over, into my teens, it was my favorite book as a youngster. Of course, I guess was not your average kid, so this book may not be QUITE what you’re looking for… but you asked, so there it is, anyway.

    And now I want to read it again….

  155. Why don’t you just give them copies of your book? You can even hold a book signing and everything. And, just think of the responses you will get from the other parents when they find out!



  156. A Light in the Attic or Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
    From the Mixed Up Files of Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler (adventure and rebellion without magic!)
    Half-Magic (like the title says, it’s only half-magic, so it might work?).

  157. Oohhhh book! That’s so hard! Kids like such a huge variety of books. My daughter is eight and ALL of her favorites are objectionable in some way I think. Maybe the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe? It has religious subtext so a lot of crazy religious folks like it, but it’s also magical. I maybe that’s too long to hold a non-reader’s interest though. My daughter really likes the “challengers” and “warriors” series.

  158. How do you pick just one!!!
    I also love the odd and weird books.
    Here’s my short list

    Phantom Tollboth
    A Wrinkle in Time

    My son loved
    the 39 clues series and Guardians of Ga’Hoole (not sure about the magic content in that series)

  159. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
    My daughter read it last year (when she was nine) and loved it very much.

  160. I second asking the teacher, I’m sure the teacher would be happy to help with something so fun. Also, you could get a bunch of different books so they could pick their own and then maybe trade with each other once they’ve read theirs, just a thought.

  161. And thank you for the hotlines and such…I’ve had too many friends and others lately who either gave in to the lies, or thought long and hard about it. As always, I love you like a fat kid loves cake…with or without allergies.

  162. Shel Silverstein is always great, but at that age I was OBSESSED with the Little House on the Prairie books. Also, maybe look for some books that feature Children of Color, since they often don’t get a lot of representation, as evidenced by the fact that I can’t think of anything to actually recommend. Oh, and A Wrinkle in Time might be a bit of a challenge for some at that age, but it’s a good one too. Oh, oh, crap! Animal Inn is a great series about a girl whose father is a veterinarian, and she helps out at his practice and rescues a blind show horse and is going to be a vet too, and her little sister is a ballerina, and their little brother is smart and nerdy, and their mom passed away young, lots of feels.

    All of these are a bit dated and I haven’t read them in a while, so I can’t vouch that they won’t be problematic, but I loved them with all my heart and they were better than anything else in my entire world when I was a kid.

  163. “A Wrinkle in Time” – it’s got it all – awkward but wonderful kids, magical creatures, science, science fiction AND nods to religion in a good way. I can’t think of anything objectionable.

  164. Anything by Shel Silverstein (my 9 year old boy LOVES him) or Harriet the Spy. I still love Harriet the Spy….

  165. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
    August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. (@Amazon for a little over $5.00).

    Good read for all kids.

    (Hailey’s class is reading that now. Great book. ~ Jenny)

  166. So, I will share your blog post on my blog…and if you don’t like that, then simply let me know and I’ll respectfully take it down.

    Also? …

    Because Carm loves you…she really does…you can ask anyone.

  167. Ask the teacher for suggestions! The teacher will know!
    My daughter’s 1st grade teacher gave out “Charlotte’s Web” at the end of the school year, but it’s a classic.
    Boxcar Children may also be a good one — especially because AlbertWhitman has revived the characters in a modern series, so kids who get hooked can keep reading.
    I was horse crazy, so for me it was “Misty of Chincoteqgue” by Marguerite Henry, and “The Black Stallion” by Walter Farley.

  168. Yes, dark and light, part of the same damn thing. Thank you for collecting resources here, and for the reminder.

    I work with teenagers, mostly high school seniors, and some of them don’t yet have any idea of the ways they are irreplaceable. We talk about college admission essay topics and this would make an awesome one.

    For books, I’ll second/third some of the suggestions and add a couple:

    Phantom Tollbooth (my daughter is in college – and still quoting this book)
    Swallows & Amazons – it’s a whole series, so you might just start something there
    The Cricket in Times Square
    The Secret Garden
    OZ – any of the Oz books, really – that is another long series for the kid who wants to follow the yellow brick road
    Gildaen by Emilie Buchwald – a story of an unusual rabbit (might be hard to find – lovely, amazing read, though)
    Captain’s Dog by Roland Smith – story of the dog who accompanies Lewis & Clark

    And one more thing, a small rant – you might find yourself reluctant to choose a ‘girl’ book, that is, a book with a girl as the main character – Little House, Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web, for example. There is this shifty thing in children’s literature that suggests girls will read books with boys in them, but boys won’t read books with girls in them. So we only give boy books to boys, if we expect them to read at all. And then we wonder why boys grow up into men without an understanding of the female perspective or valuing the female point of view. /rant

    So, kudos to you for wanting to give the children books. Hot damn, that’s a cool thing to do. And give them any damn book you want to. Because you are the one doing the generous thing here.

  169. Call of Cthulhu.

    Leon and the Champion Chip by Allen Kurzweil (or any in that series) – listened to the audiobooks during a 3 hour drive – both kids (10 and 7) enjoyed it – should be appropriate for any audience.

  170. I would highly recommend talking to Hailey’s teacher – if she participates in the Scholastic Book Club she’ll have access to teacher-only book packs which are very, very good deals. The teacher will also be able to make sure that children whose reading is below or above grade level get appropriate books.
    (And yes, I am assuming the teacher is female – the vast majority of primary and even elementary grade teachers are women.)
    Thank you for being you, Jenny. Witnessing your courage in sharing your vunerability makes it a little bit easier for me to be me.

  171. The Public Library was my mom’s version of daycare.

    Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter – Astrid Lindgren

  172. You squeezed my heart with your two hands today. Books saved me then. She saves me now.

  173. And “Black Beauty”…how could I forget!?
    And Swiss Family Robinson… and Robinson Crusoe…
    Oh the things you are making me remember. Thanks.

  174. What about The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry?
    IT’s never too early for this little jem

  175. I thought I was the only one who dreads September! I would suggest Harry Potter, because I’ve been going through my obsessive JK Rowling’s binge, but there’s a lot of magic in that, so no. That won’t work.

    I can’t think of a book, but I have to say what an awesome idea this is! I wish my son was young enough to do this for, but he’s 19. He still likes books though! We both binge on JK Rowlings.

  176. THE WESTING GAME!!!!!

    Yes, I’m yelling for a reason. The Westing Game is awesome and MUST be shared!

    Also, thank you for reminding me that depreaaion lies. In my darkest moments I repeat those words over and over. So far they help.

  177. Bridge to Terabithia, My Side of the Mountain, Witch of Blackbird Pond (which I bought for my church around that age so maybe it would be ok?) How about a variety of books? Say four or five different ones and you can allow kids to choose? Tough choices!

  178. Where the Sidewalk Ends. Our teacher read it to us in the third grade and it ended up being one of my favorite books of all time. I’d also agree with the people who said The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Such a fantastic story and it appeals to people who are deeply religious as well as those who love magic and fantasy.

  179. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. When I was 9 the thought of living in a museum was the coolest idea ever. I still think it’s a pretty awesome idea, actually.

  180. Thank you Jenny. Seriously. Thanks. I love your blog for both it’s random, silliness and downright hilarious shit that makes it way out of your head and the raw brutal honesty even if sad and “dark”. The dark while scary for some, is fucking important. I lost a dear friend to suicide 8 years ago and lost another old friend 2 weeks ago. Depression is real and strong and it most assuredly lies. I wish they both could have read your words and realized that they too will never be replaced and we are all a lot worse off without them in this world.

    Thanks for the silly and the not at all silly.

  181. This is such a wonderful idea, um, giving books instead of cupcakes.

    Suicide isn’t a wonderful idea, but thank you for discussing the topic so openly and mater-of-factly.

    Here’s a list of great suggestions:

    But I personally love The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane OR the Tale of Despereaux. Both are beautiful stories with beautiful messages of love and growing up.

  182. My kids loved Half Magic (hey, it’s not ALL THE WAY magic, so maybe religious Texans would be okay with it?), and all the rest of the books by this guy:

    Quintin Blake is the illustrator (he did the illustrations on the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book) and is awesome. Even if kids can read chapter books well, I think everyone still appreciates kick-ass pictures in a book.

    By the way – I just finished your book and could not have loved it more.

  183. I’m going to second the “Cowboy and Octopus.” It makes me laugh, and I’m 42. It’s also a nice pre-Halloween book because of Octopus’ costume (which is brilliant). Then, you could bring beans with you to class.

  184. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Patterson. Where the Lilies Bloom, by Bill & Vera Cleaver. Fairly uncontroversial, excellent reads, and no magical stuff.

  185. I remember “I Am the Cheese” by Robert Cormir. Nice little bit of psychosis to go with the peanut butter free pbj cookies. 🙂

    Seriously, it is a good read and doesn’t involve magic, or anything like that. Just a questionably corrupt government, or maybe it’s all in his head?

  186. p.s. Another plus for Half Magic – in paperback it’s only $6.29 on Amazon, and it’s sort of light and small.

  187. Lizard Music or Fat Men From Space by Daniel Pinkwater. Hyperintelligent chickens and radio receiving braces in New Jersey. What’s not to love?

  188. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engel (?). I read it when I was 10, and it was amazing. That was about 45 years ago, so it should be available at a reasonable price : ). Let me know if you want cupcake bookmarks for them!

  189. I read mostly fantasy as a kid so I don’t have a lot of recommendations from then. Maniac Magee though is a pretty great book (read it as an adult when I was teaching low readers, still awesome).

  190. Ohhh! The Catherine Valente books would be PERFECT, since the heroine is named September! But they’re super magic. My daughter (who is 8) is reading The Candymakers by Wendy Mass right now. Gender neutral, baby, and magic-free. We also love Matilda.
    Happy miracle day to you, and Happy Birthday to Hailey!

  191. As a teacher, I have to say I LOVE the idea of giving the kids books! I get so tired of grocery store cupcakes and little bags of chips! I teach middle school (which is seriously the best, because you get to experience all the crazy with none of the angst), and I always have a read-aloud going with my kids..even though they pretend to be too old for it. Books we have enjoyed as a class are:

    The Hobbit
    Flush (by Carl Hiaasen…really anything by him is fantastic)
    Harry Potter 1-3
    The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
    A Wrinkle in Time
    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (this one was WAY above their heads, but I was having fun and that was really all that mattered at the time).
    Hunger Games
    The Zombie Survival Guide (this was actually for my science classes…I feel it’s important for the next generation to be prepared. We didn’t read the entire book, but used bits and pieces for critical thinking activities)

    Best of luck!

    Also, you’re awesome. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

  192. When I was 9 I inhaled all of the Nancy Drew Books. Or, you could do any book with the name Hailey in the title. I did some research for you: there’s a whole series called “Hailey Twitch” and it’s for readers age 7-10. Author is Laura Barnholdt.

  193. James and the Giant Peach was a good one, but when I was 9 I was reading all of the Goosebumps books….I’m fairly certain that doesn’t help your cause though. The Judy Moody and Stink books are a favorite in my house right now….good luck!!

  194. i LOVED the cricket in times square when i was 9. I read it so many times, the cover fell off. of course, I also loved laura ingalls, and anne of green gables, and emily of new moon. anything by beverly cleary was a good choice, too. Misty of chincoteague is supossedly a good book or that age group, too. or the RL Stine spooky books. You probably don’t want to go with the attic books (creepy), but the secret garden was a good story.

  195. The BFG by Roald Dahl. That was the first book I remember picking out and reading on my own at just about the same age.

    Also fuck depression and you are absolutely irreplaceable!

  196. I’d suggest Bunnicula, but I assume that vampire bunnies are out of the question as well. Harriet the Spy?

    September for me is a constant reminder that I am back in school and have deadlines and assignments and they’re going to be late, or wrong and what if I’m not studying enough and oh god, I don’t have time to study for this test I’m going to fail.
    And then the panic attacks start again. This year I spent the entire summer only having one panic attack. I can already feel them coming.

  197. Rahld Dahl is great for that age set. ” James and the Giant Peach”, or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Or you could go old-school. I loved “The Black Stallion” around then, and fewer and fewer kids read that book anymore, but it’s pretty timeless. Also, you could look into the various versions of Cinderella, as the story has been told in many different cultures, and some of the non-traditional versions can still appeal to boys at that age. Commentors early-on mentioned Calvin and Hobbes which is a HUGE hit with that age set, but I’ve known parents who objected to the adult ideas in those books. Plus, those are expensive unless you were gifting a book to the classroom, instead of each kid. Poetry is always nice, especially the earlier ones illustrated by Mary Grandpre like “Plum”. Oooh or anything by Jack Prelutsky!

  198. LOVED From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – and Mr. Poppers Penguins – are the too old for those at 9? Or the heart wrenching The Pigman… maybe not the best gift choice.. but still a great book!

  199. I vote for Neil Gaiman’s “Wolves in the Walls.” My son is 9 years old and LOVES this book. Although I’m not sure if its too scary. We like scary in our house.

  200. Oh man! I can’t believe I forgot Pippi Longstocking! SHE’S THE BEST.

    And if you want to go dark, The Lottery Rose is a beautiful book about child abuse, written for children.

  201. I read all the above suggestions (I do have to say I have come to really NOT LIKE “The Giving Tree”… wth is the lesson? Give, give, give, they take til they drain you dry, and for what? Still not happy? ) However, the book store certificate– EXCELLENT idea. Reading likes are so very different, that way you engage them in finding a book they like! They may even find several and get their parents to buy more. 🙂

    Sept.. my birthday and my daughters.. but also anniversary month for my mother, grandmother, most beloved dog, husband’s grandmother… yeah Sept sucks.

  202. At 9 my favorite book was The Giver. A teacher gave it to me and it really struck a chord with me, still does to this day. Maybe that’s a little too deep for 9 though…

    I love the early suggestion of Weird Al’s book; he’s a highly under-rated genius in my mind.

  203. I have been reading aloud to my daughter who is Hailey’s age. Here are the books that have been the favorites:
    * Misty of Chincoteague
    * Betsy-Tacy
    * Wonder
    * The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    * Harriet the Spy
    You should get a book you love, so you can tell them why you love it. That will make it a million times more meaningful for them. Great idea!

  204. Charlotte’s Web, please. Perfectly written, great story, doesn’t piss off conservatives or liberals, athiests or religious folk. Plus, the greatest rat in literature!

  205. My almost 9 year old and all his classmates are just getting into Percy Jackson (it has magic but also sneaks in Greek mythology) I loved Little House, and the Beverly Cleary Books (Ramona and Beezus for girls Dear Mr. Henshaw or Henry Huggins for boys) also Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Cricket in Times Square, Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Sign of the Beaver. Can’t go wrong with Judy Blume and Superfudge either.

  206. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is great for everyone in my opinion. Or Charlotte’s Web. Or the Boxcar children. I was out of picture books by 9 and onto reading chapter books. (Dense ones at that, but I loved to read.) Also, suicide. I lost my cousin thirteen years ago and an uncle 28 years ago. The people you leave behind miss you.

  207. Where the Sidewalk Ends. My 10 yr old has read this countless times and she loves it.

  208. I feel psychic! But one of those weird, get things right, but in a weird, incorrect sort of way.
    I just started a wish list of books I feel my daughter must read (when she is able to), and I think it might help you. May I suggest The Great Gilly Hopkins? Or Maniac Magee? Or Holes?

    I loved all of those when I was nine.

  209. “The Giraffe, Pelly and Me.” By Ronald Dahl. Its a slim litlle book about a monkey, giraffe and pelican window washing company. Its very cute. But still has adventure for both genders.

  210. I was into comics at 9 and totally in love with Elfquest and following the adventures of Cutter and Skywise faithfully. They’re 35 yrs old now and I think, they still hold up.

  211. Judy Blume’s Superfudge (although he does talk about Santa and where babies come from…) or Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Or the Cricket in Times Square (I don’t remember the author), the Bunnicula books by James Howe (I thought these were awesome!!!!), The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (might not be for everyone). I love this idea!!! Good luck!

  212. Oh, I have no idea, when I was 9 I moved on to the adult sci-fi and fantasy in the house, which was full of magic. Oh, yeah, and sex.

  213. September is hard for me as well. My kids go back to school and with my husband at work it almost feels like I have been abandoned. I know that is not how it is but the first few days it always feels that way.

    As for books for a 9 yr old, I have very few memories before I was 13 so I don’t really remember what I was reading. I tended to go towards darker type books that would give me a good scare later on. My kids though liked The Magic Tree House books a lot and Diary of A Wimpy Kid.

  214. October is when things just start to hit for me. I can just feel it.

    I wish I had this stuff & knew about my friend’s depression a year & a half ago. She killed herself on July 1, 2012. I have guardianship of her amazing daughter, & while both she & I both consider me her “Mom”, her other Mom cannot be replaced. I am her second Mom.

  215. I loved The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary), A Wrinkle in Time (Madaleine L’Engle) and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E. L. Konigsburg) when I was about that age! I still try to re-read A Wrinkle in Time every few years and I just re-read “From the Mxed-Up Files…” and “The Phantom Tollbooth” last summer as a fun retro vacation break from reading harder stuff! Still on my favorites list 30 years later!

  216. Beverly Cleary books are geared toward boys & girls. But all the other suggestions rock.
    The original Mary Poppins is wicked too.

  217. My mom used to read Roald Dahl to us and stop at the most thrilling parts. That’s how she made us read (on). 😉

  218. Also you should get Hailey a copy of her favorite book (hardcover if possible) and have her teacher and her classmates sign it for her.

  219. Someone suggested Calvin & Hobbes … great idea. Who doesn’t love C&H?!?! 😉
    P.S.) Thank you for posting re: depression, Love Write Love on Her Arms, etc. We should all use our voices to speak for those who can’t.

  220. I really can’t think of the books I was reading when I was 9. Likely the Sweet Valley High books. Or the Baby-sitters Club. I may have still been fully into my Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys time too. I have no idea what kids read now. Especially considering I moved from those to Harlequin romance novels and Steven King books. With a side of the old Christopher Pike books.

    Now as I think about it, that was twenty years ago…now I feel old.

    And I also miss books.

  221. The idea about the Scholastic gift certificate was fantastic – especially since most schools have a book fair at the beginning of the year. My 8 year old (and his class) LOVE the Magic Treehouse books – there’s about 45 of them so you could get each kid a different one and they could all do a book swap!!!

  222. Judy Blume’s The Fudge Books: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, OtherwiseKNown as Sheila the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-a-mania & Double Fudge.
    These books are what hooked me on reading. I love them so much I checked one out of the library this weekend!

  223. There are a bunch of comments I wanted to LIKE as I scrolled through.

    I love love loved Harriet the Spy.

  224. In my neck of the woods, “Anne Of Green Gables”, by Lucy Maude Montgomery, is a biggy. Or, a little more modern, “Diary Of A Whimpy Kid” is also good. And neither has a supernatural plot.

  225. Pretty sure when I was 9, I loved the Ramona Quimby books, or Tales of a 4th grade Nothing… might be a bit dated. I loved Coraline, but it was genuinely creepy. My 9-year-old nephew LOVES Captain Underpants…. That’s all I’ve got. Good luck!
    And thank you for the suicide post. Two members of my extended family have ended their own lives in the past 5 years, and I’ve contemplated it myself more than once. Depression lies, and we have to keep saying that. So, thank you.

  226. What about James and Giant Peach?

    Also, depression does suck, however through your blog and the comments on your blog, I feel so much better when I start to go to that dark place.

  227. I totally loved the Bunnicula books when I was younger, but that probably gets filed under somewhat objectionable/odd since it is about a vampire bunny (even if it was a vegetarian vampire bunny).
    But how can you NOT love a title like “The Celery Stalks at Midnight”?!?

  228. Roald dahl!! he’s twisted, but widely accepted. Just avoid his retold fairy tales, as they sometimes have mild cuss words, since the UK isn’t so easily offended 🙂

  229. I…….am having a hard time thinking of anything that would definitely not offend any religion. So here’s a few that may be touchy:
    -Bunnicula by James Howe (the first in a series, about a pet vampire rabbit who sucks the juice from innocent vegetables and it’s up to the household’s other pets, 2 dogs and a cat, to save the family)
    -Anything by Roald Dahl (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and its sequel were my favorites but it might be nice to go with one they maybe haven’t seen in a movie. We read “Danny,Champion of the World” in school when I was about 9)
    -Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (might be a little too old for 9 year olds? Artemis himself is 11 in the first book. also, it has fairies and trolls magic galore)
    -Holes by Louis Sachar (I read this as an adult and loved it. can’t think of anything objectionable in it, other than the fact that the whole book is about kids who have gotten in trouble with the law and are sent to a desert ranch for punishment)

  230. If it is out in paperback yet, try “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio — a brilliantly good story (though I suppose it might be a read-with-someone level book for a lot of 8/9 year olds). So perhaps instead, a good one would be any of the Wayside School books – they are funny, strange, and just a touch irreverent. “Bunnicula” could also be a good one, and I do think Hank the Cowdog is a good choice as well.

    Not for the class — but I strongly encourage you and Hailey to check out anything and everything by Tamora Pierce, The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper, and the “Saavy” and “Scumble” duo by Ingrid Law. Fantastic books, all, with strong and smart young protagonists, & some especially great female characters. Just a bit too much magic and fantasy and myth and potential danger to be a safe friendly-for-all-types-of-families choice.

  231. February is my “fuck you” month. Thank God it’s shorter than the rest.

    As for the school birthday observance: Our school requires us to purchase whatever we bring, as opposed to lovingly home-baking something. Doughnuts are always well-received. But there are a couple of gluten-free kids in the class so I had to bring fruit roll-ups or some alternative. That said, a book is a good idea, but can also be tricky. Is there any way you could purchase gift certificates to the Scholastic Book Clubs – does your school send home those flyers? If so, some sort of gift certificate or credit would be nice for the kids, and the teacher gets some sort of kickback in the form of books for the classroom too.

  232. My favorites were all by Natalie Babbit when I was nine. Tuck Everlasting is the one everyone knows, but Kneenock Rise is wonderful.

  233. What about a giftcard for $10 to the local children’s bookstore – or barnes & noble – or wherever you buy books in your area? That way the kids get to choose their own book! Hopefully it’s not target or wal-mart or something -because you’ll know they won’t buy books -it will be toilet paper or something stupid.

  234. Where the Red Fern Grows. Crazy sad ending, but amazing story. Still go back and read it every so often…

  235. Roald Dahl is awesome and I LOVED A Wrinkle in Time. I guess 9 is a bit young for To Kill a Mockingbird – the best book ever! Tom’s Midnight Garden is awesome as is Richard Peck’s The Ghost Belonged to Me. I was also an animal nut and loved The Black Stallion series and Old Yeller, which also has a sequel – Savage Sam. I actually still have a lot of my favourite books from when I was growing up – and I’m 43! When things are bad, I sometimes reread them and escape for awhile.

  236. Phantom Tollbooth? Or is that a little too old for nine.

    My fav books when I was nine were all by Stephen King or Anne Rice, so yea. I’m not the best to ask.

  237. Please ask her teacher. She’ll know. And who knows, maybe the cupcake thing would work! I also agree with someone who suggested Carl Hiaason. “Hoot” was awesome. But make sure it’s one of his kids novels because his adult ones, though awesome as well, are bent.

  238. First, thank you for accepting that food allergies are serious! I love that – instead of getting bent out of shape because you can’t provide baked sugar goods to the class – you chose something that may actually improve their love of reading and not kill somebody too boot! Second, I think the Lemony Snicket “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books would be great. Especially since it was identified by someone online as THE #1 Worst Books for Children.

  239. A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet
    From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
    The Phantom Tollbooth
    Where the Red Fern Grows
    Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone
    Little House in the Big Woods and the rest of the series
    The Trumpet of the Swan
    and yes, of course to Calvin & Hobbes…excellent. 🙂

    Give your September girl a big hug from this September girl too. Yes, I know those feelings of which you speak. At the same time, this is about celebrating being born into this big ol’ mess of life. Let’s do that. xoxo

  240. When I was a kid, some my favorite books were…
    -The Wizard of Oz series
    -The Narnia series
    -Aesop’s Fables
    -Betsy and Tacy series

  241. So many great book suggestions! No matter which one you pick, maybe you & Hailey could design a special birthday bookplate to put inside each one? :o)

  242. I’m an elementary school librarian– I love questions like this!
    (Calvin and Hobbes, though a great idea, is probably much more than $10– I’ve never seen any comic strip books for that cheap.)
    Bad Kitty
    Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls
    Dear Dumb Diary
    Anything by Roald Dahl
    Charlotte’s Web
    Little House in the Big Woods
    Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

  243. Sideways Stories or anything Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory??) are awesome.

  244. My almost 9-year-old is obsessed with The Girl Who Owned a City. Interestingly, so was I at her age!

  245. Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing
    How to Eat Fried Worms
    Bridge to Terabithia

    All of these are great!

  246. Oooh, great post, seriously. As for book recs: The Phantom Tollbooth, Up From Jericho Tel (though that has kids communing with a dead actress, so that might be off-limits, too), and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

  247. When I was 8-10 my aunt used to take me all the time to book sales, usually at the local libraries where they would sell the old beaten up copies so they could buy new ones. One book that I found, held together with a rubber band no less, was The Never-Ending Story. I don’t know if it was because it was so beaten up and falling apart, or if it was just the story itself, but it was my favorite at that age, and still is at 36 🙂

  248. I’m reading “Walls Within Walls” by Maureen Sherry. Loved the Ramona books and all things either fantasy or mystery.

  249. These may be a bit “young” for 9 year olds but I’d recommend “Scaredy Squirrel”. Not 100% sure it’s available in the states, but this is a book I first bought about 3- 4 years ago when my daughter’s anxiety reared it’s ugly head for the 1st time. It was a great and fun way to talk about anxiety without it being all preachy. You can even laugh at the “silliness” of the anxiety and all the lists he makes to deal with potential (usually imagined or seriously exaggerated) dangers in the world before he, of course, discovers, it wasn’t as bad as he expected.
    My 9 year old daughter still loves Scaredy (there are a few books in the series now). We always look for ward to new ones.
    Anyway, here’s the book’s website. If you can get it stateside, I highly recommend it.

  250. You probably aren’t going to read this far down but my son absolutely loved “Sir Fartsalot hunts the Booger” by Kevin Bolger. Needless to say their is a lot of flatulence humor which I think all kids of that age find funny. But I even enjoyed reading it to him. We both laughed out loud at some parts. I think you can get it in paperback for five or six bucks.

  251. I wish I could remember. Sometime around then I was really into Shel Silverstein and Jack Pelusky. Sadly, haven’t been into poetry since.

  252. When I was 9 I loved horse books and dog books: Black Beauty, Where the Red Fern Grows, etc. I was also big into Nancy Drew. Ok now that I think about it, I was kinda lame.

  253. Hmm…I’m sure my mom has a box of my old books somewhere, but I’m too lazy to ask. I do remember a few though, so hopefully they’ll help!

    The Boxcar Children by Patricia MacLachlan
    Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  254. Rascal by Sterling North. I did a book report on it in elementary school and the book stuck with me so long that 20 years later I named my first dog, Rascal, after the raccoon in the book.

  255. Are you me? My birthday was Sunday and it was just the worst day ever. September really does seem to lie the loudest. I’m happy to see other September birthdays here who felt the same. Also, the Write Love on Her Arms totally made me think of who I could ask to write something, and what good things they might say, and it cheered me up just to imagine it. Doctor Who says it best (like usual!) with You Are Not Alone. (Is #YANA better then #YOLO?)

    In book world, I’d suggest The Dark is Rising sequence, but if parents are going to object to anything, it’d probably be a book with Pagan mythos in it. Calvin and Hobbs is probably a great idea. I love giving books instead of sugar.

  256. The Epiplectic Bicycle by Edward Gorey (yes, Epiplectic, not Epileptic) if for no other reason than Gorey is brilliant and every child should be reading him and seeing his artwork! My other go-to for kids is The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Crazy good mystery with so many people and twists it’ll keep everyone engaged.

  257. The whole not-being-allowed-to-read is pretty depressing… but if you’re genuinely concerned about that, then some of the suggestions above won’t work– The Giver, Sideways Stories, Phantom Tollbooth, Bunnicula & Wrinkle in Time all have either magical or violent properties to them. Shel Silverstein used to be frowned upon by the uber religious because he wrote for Playboy, but perhaps that tide has faded– his books are some that will stay with people for a lifetime. Mixed Up Files features a runaway duo– they come home eventually, but that can always be a problem, too. The Hobbit, Wizard of Oz, and Green Gables are for above average readers… which is probably on 10% of the class. Mr. Poppers Penguins had a movie, and sometimes that ruins it for kids. 4th Grade Nothing and Are You There God aren’t really gender neutral- if you ask a 9 year old. 🙂

    Roald Dahl books like the BFG work out alright, because for some reason the magic of them doesn’t bother parents. Danny the Champion of the World is another good one by him.

    I think Frindle is a great choice for you. It suits your personality, but is entirely appropriate for kids and the age group.

    Or, I would go with a classic– like someone mentioned above, you can find ’em in the Target bin for next to nothing ($.50) and even if it’s hard reading… it’s something they’ll hold onto for awhile. Maybe mix up Wizard of Oz with $.50 wand bubbles, too– making it a sort of awesome gift under $1. 😉

  258. *sigh* It’s ironic that Suicide Prevention week normally coincides with my birthday. just turned 49. No husband, no kids, so I guess I can be replaced. Sorry, just feels like it at some times. Like I am not a real person.
    Sorry, just in a very deep dark hole right now.

  259. Thank you Jen,
    You actually just reached someone who was not going to, but very much wants to top herself right now. That can happen, you know. You know better. You know its selfish and crappy. And if you have a child its out of the fucking question. And yet if things have been rough, and you’re alone and you’re just plain goddamn done, you think about it. It feels like shit and compounds the sneaking suspicion you have that you are a selfish loser. What did I do for those I love today? Hey! I didn’t kill myself! How very thoughtful of me. Now I have to reapply my makeup and go out job hunting (again) and try and find things to be grateful for. At the moment its you. Thank you.

  260. –>Hard to remember what I was reading then but I saw someone write Encyclopedia Brown and I got excited remembering how much I loved those books.

  261. I would ask the teacher! Also, ask her about Scholastic and order all the kids a book through their program. They will usually give the teacher free books for the classroom for every so many books that are ordered, so it’s like a win-win-win! 39 Clues my son LOVES!! They are pretty “safe” when it comes to the magic thing and it gets them thinking without even knowing it because you are gathering the clues and solving the mysteries, PLUS they reference actual historic events which leads the kids to begin to gain interest in those moments in history!

  262. How about this? Recommend the indubitably magical books for us heathen adults and budding adults, but include some equally magical books for those who are religious–the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis are good, but the Madeline L’Engle books are also faith-based but very good as well, if a bit dated.

    For the older kids and adults, I can’t recommend a series of books I’ve been reading, the “Peter and the Monsters” series enough–I’m so delighted by them as they are hilarious, magical, mysterious, and chock full of great pop culture references for the adults reading. These books are by Darren Pillsbury and can be learned about here:

  263. I’d donate the 39 Clues series of books to the classroom. My son and I couldn’t wait for the next book!

  264. The gift certificate to Scholastic is a fantastic idea, whoever said that first. I don’t know if anyone else mentioned it or not (don’t have time to read all the comments), but I loved Superfudge and remember reading it in the fourth grade when I was nine.

  265. when i was 9, SCIENCE IN YOUR OWN BACK YARD
    Now, i second CALVIN AND HOBBES
    ( for anyone, anytime, any age)

  266. I think I read a lot of Beverly Cleary books (specifically anything involving Ramona Quimby) when I was around that age. There was also Harriet the Spy.

  267. Matilda (or really, any children’s book by Roald Dahl), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Sword in the Stone. I still love these books, especially Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

  268. I vote for “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”
    And anything by Edward Eager – “Half Magic”, et al — because they have male and female characters and each gender is equally capable.
    If you know a good Usborne Books consultant ( she’ll have a recommendation for that age. My consultant was always SPOT ON with her recommendations.

    “Captain Underpants” — NO! Please.

  269. Thank you for posting the information on the suicide hotlines. I especially loved the “I cannot be replaced” project. I assign little value to myself, and although I can rationally admit that *today*, there are days that I am not rational. Days I believe that I’m a ‘placeholder’ in the lives of others; that anyone else could satisfactorily perform the same functions as myself, with no one the wiser. That it doesn’t matter that it’s *me*. It’s really hard for me to believe sometimes, but I cannot be replaced. And neither can you. Thank you.

    As to the book: I’m with Kat and Serena: “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales” by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. When I was about 16, I took my little brother (then 8), to the school book fair, and saw this book. I picked it up; it looked a bit weird, which I thought was perfect. And of course, the title was strange and funny. I bought it, we walked home, and I read it to him that night. We laughed ourselves sick that night, and it became a fast favorite. To this day, I can still quote “Jack’s Story” word-for-word from memory. And once you read it, you’ll understand why.

  270. My first ever really-interested-in-reading not just-because-I-have-to series, was the Little House on the Prairie. I even made my school order the newest books so that I could read them in the right order. haha Not exactly great for the less than proficient readers, or even for the boys… but thought I’d put my piece in. 🙂

  271. Go with Hank… or take a mix of the three books and let kids choose? *remembers when birthdays were awesome in school*

    By the way, your 4 reasons are wonderful. So what if its a little dark? You can’t reach the light without traveling in the dark first.

  272. I think the Shel Silverstein suggestions are the way to go. And choose several different ones so that if a kid in the class has the one he gets, then he can trade with another classmate. And this is a GREAT birthday idea, given the not wanting to accidentally kill someone. Put “I have great alternatives to killing kids” on that list of reasons why you cannot be replaced.

  273. At 9 I was totally into Judy Blume –
    not sure how gender neutral she is, but I still love her, all these years later.
    We moved so often her characters were, at times, my only friends.

  274. Little Women! Although that may not apply across genders. Perhaps some Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys? ORRRR… Do they still do those choose your own adventure books?? Those things were great!! Or Mad Libs. Throw a little undercover grammar lesson in.

  275. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It won the Newberry (twice!) and made the teacher’s top 100 list. A good book that appeals to both genders and shouldn’t upset any parents.

  276. I assume Babysitters Club, Choose Your Own Adventure, and Sweet Valley Twins is not helpful… But after scanning the other comments, it has jogged my memory that I DID also read books of a higher literary quality. I enjoyed everything by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. I also remember liking How To Eat Fried Worms and A Wrinkle in Time. And Half Magic, which I think my mom said she read as a kid. And my 8 year old nephew has been reading these books too, so I would say they’re all still classics, not just whatever was simply new-ish and popular back in the 80’s!

  277. I can’t fill that out today because 2 days ago the man I love told me I very much can be replaced and well… I got nothing now.

    Books: “The paper bag princess” and “the Salmon princess” are both amazing and very different, despite the similar names.