Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Theme: Family History, Family Legacies

Emily’s Fortune - (ISBN: 978-0385736169)

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Emily, an orphan, is left a fortune by her aunt, but her Uncle Victor tries to take her inheritance for himself. On the way to claim her money, Emily embarks on a wild stagecoach ride, meets another orphan, and must thwart the clutches of Catcham Child-Catching Services. An excellent, high adventure book for reluctant readers, this tale will keep any reader’s interest as each chapter ends with a dilemma.

Kit’s Wilderness - (ISBN: 0385326653)

by David Almond

When Kit moves to his ancestral home in Northern England with his parents, he joins in an eerie death game with his peers, spinning a knife to see who must remain behind in a dank cave. In the cave, the presence of boys once killed in a mine accident points to past events in Kit’s own family. Reality tinged with fantasy makes Kit’s newfound knowledge about his family’s past seep into the reader’s consciousness. Even non-fantasy lovers will enjoy this dip into the real and supernatural effects of one’s past.

The Goose Girl - (ISBN: 1582349908)

by Shannon Hale

When Ani, the Crown Princess, learns that her brother will become king and take her rightful place as ruler, she almost succumbs to despair. Then Ani learns her mother has promised her as a bride to a neighboring prince, another blow. During the forced journey to meet her new “husband,” Ani escapes and uses her talent for talking to animals to regain her rightful position, meanwhile actually falling in love with the neighboring prince. If you enjoyed the classic fairy tale version about the goose girl, you will find this new version for middle-schoolers absolutely delightful!

The Westing Game - (ISBN: 978-0142401200)

by Ellen Rankin

Millionaire Sam Westing creates a puzzle for pairs of his “heirs” to solve before dispersing his great wealth. Not only do the pair teams have the incentive of inheriting his money, they could also each receive $10,000 to use while searching for answers about his mysterious death! If you enjoy complicated plots, many characters, and thrilling mysteries, try this classic, award winning book.

Whittington - (ISBN: 978-0375828652)

by Alan Armstrong

A street-wise tomcat named Whittington begins telling the story of his ancestor’s master, Dick Whittington, whose wealth and success came thanks to his cat’s wise advice. Whittington’s new owner’s grandchildren who feel lost without their parents are among the listeners to the cat’s tales. The story of the ancestral cat gradually has a positive effect on the present day grandchildren. Try reading Dick Whittington and His Cat for a different point of view about the first cat.

Davy Brown Discovers His Roots - (ISBN: 978-1601310538)

by Keely Alexander

Families: A Celebration of Diversity, Commitment, and Love - (ISBN: 0395470382)

by Aylette Jenness

One Tiny Twig - (ISBN: 978-0972983501)

by Dan Rhema

Till Death Do Us Bark - (ISBN: 9780547400365)

by Kate Klise

Activities for this Theme

Create a family tree using a form.


Read the original Grimm Goose Girl tale online.


Use an interactive map to find what foods most popular in the country of your ancestors’ origins.