First, I wanted to spotlight two classic books for those older girls out there, including us adults, who love a good romantic epic.
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter is so good, especially if you can push through the lengthy descriptions of nature (my mind always adjusts after thirty or so pages into a book like that). The main character is nearly perfect, but still compelling, and her romance! You are gripping the pages to find out what happens at the very end. (If you are a girl who likes romance, like me.)
And what is, in my opinion, L.M. Montgomery's finest book, The Blue Castle. This is a heart-fluttering, purely romantic, purely wonderful book that I reread regularly. Better, even (I might even say this), than Anne's romance with Gilbert.
Now for two books to get you and your older middle grade or young adult kids thinking.
The Wikkeling by Steve Arntson. This is a strange book, but I couldn't put it down, and I loved the subtle smug references to our sometimes messed-up world. There is a mystery as well, which keeps you turning the pages. Who is the weird creature with the long fingers? Why is there an ancient (truly ancient) cat in the attic? This book is not for everybody, but you may just love it.
Seriously, Norman by Chris Raschka. So I should probably finish this book before posting about it, but I keep thinking, okay, I'll put this down now. I'm not sure where this book is headed and I have ten other books I want to read, but I keep reading anyway because it is so unusual. One of the most unusual books I've read in a long time, and there are things about it that are so intriguing: the dictionary for example. Worth giving a try, especially for a sometimes cynical soul...
And one more, because I can't help myself. The Girl Who Circumnavigated the World in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente. Again, this is a strange book, but the narration is absolutely fantastic. I swim happily in the language as I read (it's like a chocolate swimming pool), and though the main character starts out being fairly unlikable, you warm to her and to everything until you can't put it down by the end. Unless you can. Not a book for everyone, but worth trying. Check out the book trailer on amazon, and you may be inspired to give it a try.