Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Theme: Creative Trades: Bargaining, Bartering, Swapping, and Re-using

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - (ISBN: 978-1406305623)

by Marcia Williams

Readers will enjoy these bawdy tales of the spicy, medieval characters who travel ensemble to visit the holy Canterbury Cathedral. The graphic novel format and the basic level of the tales’ humor add to this book’s appeal for the middle school reader. Children can see both some of the original language in cartoon bubbles and its modern-day equivalent on the page as they ponder the existence of the raunchy characters and the accompanying, coarse illustrations. Try continuing the custom of exchanging tales for food the next time you travel with your family.

Crazy Jack - (ISBN: 978-0440227885)

by Donna Jo Napoli

This retelling of the classic trading tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, features a new Jack who tries to re-win his childhood sweetheart, searches for the complete story of his lost father, and resists the temptation of the giant’s wife. As Jack battles between the young girl and the wicked wife, the effects of the magic beans and lute fade. Try some of the author’s other retold fairy tales if you like this one: <i>The Magic Circle </i> is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, <i>
Zei </i>of Rapunzel, and <i>Spinners </i>of Rumplestiltskin.

Daisy Diaz Shakes up Camp - (ISBN: 978-1575652924)

by Lisa Harkrader

This teaching book, focused on helping children learn fair trade concepts, features Daisy, the camp entrepreneur, who tries to find a way for the other campers to obtain what they need through trading. She also solves problems by swapping goods and services. She does not know what to do about the pesky boys from an adjacent camp. What advice do you have for her? Read the ending of the book to find out if her usual techniques work.

Pearls of Lutra: A Tale from Redwall - (ISBN: 978-0142401446)

by Brian Jacques

This adventure fantasy, part of the Redwall series, involves a number of citizens trying to solve riddles to save their land before a fiendish emperor conquers it. Is intellectual exchange also a kind of bartering system? Try your hand at these puzzles and see what you think by the end of the book.

The Boy Who Could Fly - (ISBN: 978-1606840849)

by James Norcliffe

Michael would give anything to escape from the Great House prison-orphanage where he lives,. He gives almost too much in exchange for his freedom, assuming the identity of an outside boy who replaces him on the inside. Michael made his trade without realizing what awaited him on the other side of the wall. Read this book to decide whether his deal was a good one.

The Old Country - (ISBN: 978-1596431928)

by Mordicai Gerstein

This rollicking, allegorical tale gives new meaning to the term “shape shifting” when the grandmother tells her granddaughter the story of how she changes into a fox. Not only does she look like a fox when she swaps roles, but she also thinks and acts like the animal. This evocative adventure draws readers into the world of the implausible with little resistance as the author explores many heady topics on an easy-to-understand level. What does it mean to trade identities with an animal? Can you imagine other trades?

Alice in Wonderland - (ISBN: 978-1441411938)

by Lewis Carroll

Food Waste (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!) - (ISBN: 978-1615322404 )

by Deborah Chancellor

Julius Caesar's Sandals - (ISBN: 978-0778737179)

by Gerry Bailey

Just a Dream - (ISBN: 978-0395533086)

by Chris Van Allsburg

No Money? No Problem! - (ISBN: 978-1575651415)

by Lori Haskins

The Mummy Market - (ISBN: B0007DX67Y)

by Nancy Burns Brelis

Activities for this Theme

Make a paper quilt craft using these instructions and ideas as inspiration


As a family, recycle a favorite fairy tale by rewriting it to be modern, to be more humorous, or to include some of the characters in your family!


As a family, recycle a favorite fairy tale by rewriting it to be modern, to be more humorous, or to include some of the characters in your family!


Enjoy a classic tale of how a husband and wife each traded their most prized possession for a gift for the other’s Christmas present.


Make jewelry from recycled materials