OwlCrate Jr December Backlist

By: OwlCrate Jr

OwlCrate Jr December Backlist 

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, but one thing most of us share through the month of December is gathering with our families. With some time off of school and work, we can pause and spend some moments with those who mean the most to us. In that spirit my picks for this month’s Middle Grade Backlist Reads article celebrate all things family! Whether it’s your own family, found family, or blended, all these stories celebrate the places that we feel safest and those who always have our back. 


To Read:

  1. The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead:

    One of my very favourite middle grade authors, this is Rebecca Stead at her heartwarming best. When ten-year-old Bea’s father announces he will be marrying his long time partner Jesse, Bea is so happy because she is finally going have a sister! But the path of a blended family is never straight forward and Bea will face great hurdles along the way. But the one thing she can always count on to navigate these murky times is the “list of things that will not change” that she made with her mom and dad. An excellent look at what it means to be a family and an honest look into childhood mental health. 

  2. Hollow Chest by Brita Sandstrom:

    This middle grade is an excellent pick for an older middle grade reader, adult middle grade reader, or as a shared read aloud. Taking place over a cold, snowy winter in London right after the end of WWII, it’s also the perfect time to read this chilly story while cozy indoors. A darker tale that touches on topics of PTSD, mental health, and the realities and loss of war, Hollow Chest takes a magical realism approach to these issues. Charlie will do anything to help his brother Theo who has returned from the war a haunted shell of his normal self. Realizing his brother has given away his heart to the “war wolves” that stalk times of great strife and sadness, Charlie fights with everything he has to save Theo and get back his heart. A truly unique and moving story showcasing the incredible power of love that will be perfect for fans of Kelly Barnhill, Anne Ursu, and Erin Entrada Kelly. 

  3. Winterhouse by Ben Guterson:

    This is my perfect pick if you are indeed looking for a great family read aloud for the Christmas holiday. Orphaned as a young child, Elizabeth has been living with her mean aunt Purdy and uncle Burlap who, rather than take her on their Christmas holiday, ship her off to Winterhouse Hotel to spend her entire Christmas break alone. But Winterhouse turns out to be a spectacular hotel full of wonder with a magnificent library, delicious food, snow-filled activities and great mysteries to be solved. As an avid puzzle lover Elizabeth is happy to befriend a fellow puzzle loving boy and together they join forces to solve the great Winterhouse mystery. Finding secrets about the hotel and her family along the way!


Extension Activities: 

Send some snail mail to family members!

Make a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or a parent’s day and send them a letter in the mail. OwlCrate Jr subscribers know how amazing it is to receive something in the mail, so send along a bit of that joy to someone you love. Decorate it up with stickers and drawings and a simple message! Better yet, ask a family member to become your pen pal. Here are some great supplies from the OwlCrate Jr shop to get you started: 

DIY Notebook Cover:

A central theme to two of this month’s book picks is mental health. A great way to get kids talking about their feelings and putting words to their big emotions is by simply writing them down through the practice of journalling. Make it fun by making and decorating your journal/notebook! Here are some really awesome, easy DIY Notebook Cover ideas from diycraftsy. 

Get Puzzling!

Holidays are a great time to break out the puzzles, word games, brain teasers, crossword puzzles, scrabble, and mad lips you have around the house. Even better, take a page out of Elizabeth’s story in Winterhouse and solve some riddles! I really like these 30 Riddles for Kids from blogger mommeynearest.