Liberty Belle by Emily Ungar
On the same day she turns twelve years old, Savannah moves away from everything she’s known in sweet, sunny Georgia to preppy Washington D.C. Not only will she miss her best friends Katie and Tessa, Savannah will start a new school. She soon discovers that her schoolmates love to brag—about their clothes, their parents’ governmental connections, and even who has the in with the school authorities.
Unhappy and lonely, Savannah decides if she can’t make life better, she can at least make it sound that way. Soon she is living in the childhood home of George Washington, riding in the limo of the vice president’s daughter, and even moving into the former Luxembourg embassy.
All is well until she learns that her true friends from Georgia are coming for a visit. Now Savannah must create the life she’s been talking about in her letters—and fast! Will Savannah find herself or lose her friends?
Author Emily Ungar:
Emily Ungar is a graduate of Indiana University, where she majored in journalism. After living in seven different U.S. states by the time she finished college, she now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and very curious twin toddlers. When she isn’t chasing after her twin boys, Emily loves to curl up in a chaise lounge with a book in one hand and a lemon cupcake in the other.
How to Recommend Classic Books to Young Readers by Emily Ungar
When I was a middle grade reader–around the age of 11 or so–I didn’t like books to be recommended to me. I knew exactly what I wanted to read, and that meant a lot of The Babysitter’s Club and R.L. Stine and very few classics such as The Secret Garden and Little Women. If the cover didn’t feature a girl who looked like she could be from my school, I wasn’t interested. How I wish I could go back now and read both the classics and the contemporary. All that free time I had! Now, as a mother to toddlers, my reading time is limited and I wish I could have some of those glorious golden reading hours again.
Often when books are recommended to adults, they are done so for a specific reason. “You’ll love this one,” a friend might say. “The setting in Rome is gorgeous, and the main character reminds me of you.” Or maybe books might be recommended because of a certain life situation you’re going through. We often follow through on books recommended to us because family and friends know those books will change our hearts in a positive way. I believe that the same is true for children reading books. Many well-meaning parents recommend classic books to their children either because they read them as a child or because they are considered classics or have won certain awards. But that doesn’t mean much to a kid who has many book options as well as distractions from TV and social media. When we recommend books, we should customize them to the kids. Give them a reason to want to pick up the book. Share something special about the child we’re recommending to and let them know why we think this book will be special to them. You might say something like “Jo from Little Women longs to be a writer, just like you. I think you’ll be surprised by how similar you are, even though you grew up in different time periods.”
Even watching the movie first can sometimes make some children curious to read the book. My mom says she’ll never forget the look on my my second grade teacher’s face when I lugged a hardback copy of Gone with the Wind into the classroom for reading time. But, having just seen the film for the first time, I wanted to a keep a little part of it with me and experience a different part of the story.
A balanced bookshelf is much like a balanced diet. A great blend of books (contemporary, classic, fantasy, historical, etc.) will leave the reading soul feeling nourished–and maybe experiencing tastes that the young reader may not have known about! So when choosing classic books for your children or other young readers in your life, first recommend the classic books you know they’ll love. They will trust your tastes, and it will pave the way for more awesome recommendations in the future.
And when you’re in the market for a contemporary, clean middle grade book, be sure to check out my new release LIBERTY BELLE, a terrific read for any girl who loves to tell stories!
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