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Growing Reader


Sweet Dreams: Non-Scary Bedtime Books for Independent Readers

by Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Photo credit: Teresa Short, Moment Collection/Getty Images

There’s nothing like winding down with a book at bedtime to ease into a good night’s sleep. Unless the plot contains a nasty monster, unexpected death, or other spooky surprise that could send your little one — or even your bigger child — scrambling into your bedroom for a middle of the night cuddle.

Fortunately, there are plenty of wonderful books that will entertain your offspring without giving them nightmares, beyond the well-known crowd pleasers like Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Beverly Cleary, and Judy Blume. This list includes funny, suspenseful, thought-provoking reads that are kid-approved for a sound sleep.

  • Tween and Early Teen Reader (Ages 11–13)

  • Oh My Godmother: The Glitter Trap

    by Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson, illustrated by Abigail Halpin

    Imagine hearing the voice of a popular girl in your head, as you try to navigate the shoals of middle school. Misfit Lacey has what might seem to be the next best thing: a popular girl’s fairy godmother trapped in her hair.

  • Everest Series

    by Gordon Korman

    Middle school readers devour almost anything Gordon Korman writes — the Swindle series, the 39 Clues series. The Everest series combines the high stakes of the youngest team to attempt to climb the Himalayan giant, without the terror of some of the 39 Clues books. The fierce competition and realistic characters will draw in even a reluctant reader. Warning: One climber dies in book three, but the event is well signaled, so any squeamish readers can stop before it happens.

  • Tell Us We're Home

    by Marina Budhos

    Class differences and the immigrant experience form the center of this story about three eighth-grade girls in a wealthy suburb who happen to be the daughters of their classmates’ maids and nannies. An accusation of theft threatens to divide the friends and displace them in the school community.

  • Scat

    by Carl Hiaasen

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    Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen brings adult-like rollicking, Everglades capers to a teen audience with a quartet of animal-themed novels. In Scat, the school’s most feared biology teacher disappears during a school trip to the swamp, causing students Nick and Marta to investigate.

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  • Savvy

    by Ingrid Law

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    This funny, gripping tale centers on Mibs Beaumont and her family, each of whom possesses a magical power that matures on their 13th birthday. But when an accident strands Mibs’s father in a hospital far from home, she sets out to save him, along with an odd collection of companions, in this 2009 Newbery Honor Book. The sequel, Scumble, focuses on Mibs’s cousin Ledge discovering his talent, and is just as enjoyable.

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  • Holes

    by Louis Sachar

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    Some authors can truly inhabit a child’s perspective. Louis Sachar brings that talent to the teen experience, following Stanley to Camp Green Lake on work duty, and through the adventure that follows.

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