The best heart-warming middle-grade stories with hints of paranormal activity

Christopher Francis Author Of Screaming Ridge: Remembering Kaylee Cooper
By Christopher Francis

Who am I?

Somehow, I’ve always been drawn to stories with elements of the paranormal. From children’s picture books, chapter books, middle-grade, to young adult, I feel compelled to include hints of a supernatural world mixed in with everyday life. I’ve always connected with stories with realistic content—content I can relate to—content that, in my mind, could really happen. However, I can’t help but wonder what else is out there, beyond what we can see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. This ‘wonderment’ excites me, and I want to find ways to share this curious buzz with my readers. 


I wrote...

Screaming Ridge: Remembering Kaylee Cooper

By Christopher Francis,

Book cover of Screaming Ridge: Remembering Kaylee Cooper

What is my book about?

Kaylee Cooper is certain that Alex will become friends with a ghost this year. But he doesn’t care.

He simply wants her to leave him alone and stop jeopardizing his important sixth-grade social life. But Kaylee Cooper won’t stop. She doesn’t care either. Fed up, Alex develops a strategic plan to ultimately get rid of Kaylee Cooper for good. However, Alex soon learns about the mysterious legend of Screaming Ridge that pulls an unlikely group of friends together, including the girl of his dreams, and the school’s meanest bully. When the group discovers Kaylee Cooper is at the core of the mystery, Alex stares death in the face and helps save her from an eternal life of misery and confusion.

The books I picked & why

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The Last Kids on Earth

By Max Brallier,

Book cover of The Last Kids on Earth

Why this book?

The book series targets a young audience craving action and adventure on a newer, more appropriate, and more mature level. So many children gravitate toward stories that might be inappropriate for their age. They are drawn to the plot and characters, but are unfortunately hit with all of the negative language and content that comes with it.

Being a teacher, I see this negativity spill out in the classroom.

The Last Kids on Earth, is a perfect balance of adventure and fright that excites and engages the reluctant readers I see too often at school. I love that there are wonderful illustrations and word bubbles on every page, mixed in with middle-grade text. For readers looking to move from chapter books to graphic novels, this is a perfect transition. This series is an eye-popping, gross-out, nail-biting good time with pleasing character development. Highly recommend!

The Last Kids on Earth

By Max Brallier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Kids on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Terrifyingly fun! Max Brallier's The Last Kids on Earth delivers big thrills and even bigger laughs.' Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

SOON TO BE A MAJOR NETFLIX SERIES!

'Forty-two days ago I was an ordinary kid, living an uneventful life. But now it's TOTAL MONSTER ZOMBIE CHAOS and I'm battling beasts on a daily basis. Crazy, right? But I know exactly how to make it through the zombie apocalypse.'

Meet Jack Sullivan, self-described as a late-blooming, slow-developing 13-year-old who has so far survived the zombie apocalypse by hiding out in his treehouse. Overnight Jack's life has…


Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney,

Book cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Why this book?

My son, who is now eight, despised reading—to the point where he would do anything to avoid it. Seeing him re-read an entire series is beyond exciting for me—not to mention, the stories and characters remind me of the students I teach: Goofy, curious, naive, inquisitive, and caring.

What I like about The Dairy of a Wimpy Kid is that Jeff Kinney mixes in doodles and comic-like drawings to add to the main character’s wild thoughts, concerns, ideas, and accounts.

It’s also very funny. I love hearing my son laugh out loud as he turns each page. He’ll even stop and share some of the hilarious moments with the entire family.

So, why am I making note of this? Because one thing I haven’t focused on in my writing is humor—something I want to try in my future works.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Diary of a Wimpy Kid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Boys don't keep diaries-or do they?

The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to

It's a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you're ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley's star…


The End of the World Running Club

By Adrian J. Walker,

Book cover of The End of the World Running Club

Why this book?

Adrian J. Walker takes you on a scenic adventure across England as his characters struggle to survive a world-ending meteor strike. I love this story as it hits all the elements of a great story: love, struggle, adventure, survival, humor, horror, and drama!

Why would I recommend this book? Because you can’t help but wonder if you’d do the same thing as the protagonist. You can’t help but empathize with him. I mean, what would you do if a meteor was about to destroy everything? How would you save your family? What would you do to keep alive? What if you and your family got separated? Would you run across the country to find them?

The End of the World Running Club

By Adrian J. Walker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The End of the World Running Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 International Bestseller!

A Science Fiction & Fantasy Book to Keep on Your Radar by io9 and Gizmodo

A fast-paced, literary, dystopian thriller for fans of fiction like Andy Weir's The Martian, Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven, and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Asteroids are striking Earth, the end of the world is near, and Edgar Hill is on the wrong side of the country.

Over five hundred miles of devastated wastelands stretch between him and his family, and every second counts. His only option is to run—or risk losing everything he loves. He'll have to be ingenious and…


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon,

Book cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Why this book?

It’s about an autistic boy trying to solve the murder of a neighbor's dog and discovers wild truths about himself and the world. He loves animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched, and he hates yellow. I liked Christopher and his unique view on life. Somehow, the author makes Christopher’s little world an incredibly interesting and thrilling place to be.

I recommend this book because it takes you on a unique detective-like adventure where you’re dying to know how Christopher navigates the real world with such unique qualities.

The story is heart-warming, educating, and humorous at the same time.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

'Outstanding...a stunningly good read' Observer

'Mark Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement... Wise and bleakly funny' Ian McEwan

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the…


Asterix Omnibus #1

By René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo (illustrator),

Book cover of Asterix Omnibus #1

Why this book?

The adventures of Asterix and Obelix focus on their wild skirmishes with the Romans. It’s a wonderful series of graphic books that help strengthen the imagination while sharing a comical twist on ancient history. I grew up with these books and they inspired me to draw—and ultimately become an author.

My writing career began as an illustrator, and I now use illustrations in all of my children and middle-grade books.

I can’t help but recommend the Asterix series because without it, I may not have taken the creative path I am on today. The illustrations (originally designed by Albert Uderzo) are probably the most detailed and original you’ll ever see. It was his wildly funny and eye-popping drawings that helped the books jump off the shelf every time I visited a book store.

The author (Rene Goscinny) pieced together the wonderfully funny historical adventures, making this series my all time favorite growing up.

Asterix Omnibus #1

By René Goscinny, Albert Uderzo (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Asterix Omnibus #1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Asterix is celebrating 60 sensational years as an international comics superstar, and in the first collected edition from Papercutz, the stories are newly translated into American English for a new generation of fans! The story of Asterix starts here. These are the first three adventures of Asterix as he defends his tiny village from the overwhelming forces of the Roman Empire. Join the short, spunky, and super-powerful warrior from Gaul and his faithful friends--including the boar-eating delivery man Obelix and the ecologically-minded canine, Dogmatix--as they battle to protect their village against impossible odds. Asterix Omnibus volume one collects “Asterix the…


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