It may seem strange but I'm often enamored with circus books. There is something so magical about their brand of community and I just adore a peek inside. One of my favorite movies in high school was Big Fish (which I've been wanting to rewatch for years) and I don't see my love for circus books going away any time soon!
🎪 Emma's Circus by Candace Fleming... This picture book is just cute, about a little girl who's a bit "too little" to help out with big family tasks so puts on a circus for her family instead! I like quite a few Candace Fleming books.
🎪 Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E Harrison... This picture book was written and illustrated by the creator of our beloved Bernice Gets Carried Away. In this one, which is very short and simple, a cute little circus dog learns that just being you is enough.
🎪 Ghost Boy by Iain Lawrence... This is the one that started it all. I'll eventually re-read it but from what I remember (lots of bullying), I don't think this will honestly meet my standards for my kids today. Still, I remember standing in line for my childhood library's summer reading prizes when this one caught my eye. A young albino boy, tired of never fitting in, joins a band of misfits in the circus and finds his view of family changed.
🎪 The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright*... I just finished this grownup Christian fiction and I'm so glad I got to read it! The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is a Wisconsin-based timeslip about a serial killer, a young woman connected to the circus in 1928, and a modern day single mother who is battling an autoimmune disease while dealing with the new (and possibly haunted?!) property she just purchased. There was actually even more going on in this one (including romance... It's billed as romantic suspense) but it somehow never felt like too much. It took me over 100 pages to really get interested in the 1920s character, Pippa, but I was very much interested after that and was interested in modern-day Chandler's story the whole time. Well-written, suspenseful, enticing!
🎪 Lions in the Barn by Virginia Voight... This is a fourth grade level book about a young man and his family housing circus big cats in the barn over the winter. A is going to love reading this one!
🎪 The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate... I just loved this book, and I think it's being made into a movie! Ivan the gorilla has lived in a tiny mall circus for most of his life but now there's a new baby elephant joining the show and it's up to Ivan to make some things change. Simple writing from Ivan's perspective makes this a great 4th-6th gradeish book but with strong themes of courage, friendship, and loyalty that make it a delightful read-aloud too.
🎪 The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff... It's been a while since I read this and I can't promise it's perfectly appropriate but I do know I loved it! World War II, circus train, unconventional family, stellar writing!
🎪 Summer of the Monkeys... My sixth grade class read this book and I still remember so much of it! A young boy learns that a traveling circus has lost its monkeys and is offering a reward to the person who catches and returns them. He's got big plans for that reward and of encounters and learns some delightful things along the way. This one is on my kids' sixth grade shelf too.
🎪 The Tuttle Twins and the Search for Atlas by Connor Boyack... This is a circus-themed look at why socialism ultimately fails, perfect for a 4th-ish grade reading level.
🎪 Twenty-One Elephants by Phil Bildner... This fantastic picture book tells the story of PT Barnum parading his 21 circus elephants (including Jumbo, the world's largest elephant) across the newly finished Brooklyn Bridge to prove its safety.
🎪 Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen... This book really touched my heart when I read it, gosh, ten years ago? Ryan's grandma and I read it at the same time and I adored it despite being a little scandalized at times. We went on a movie date when the movie came out and I liked the movie too, but she told me immediately after that she disliked the movie and hated the book. Maybe circus stories aren't for everyone 😉