I am an active follower of the Read-Aloud Revival, a podcast (and facebook group) about reading aloud excellent books to children even once they're old enough to read on their own. I've read the science behind why reading a loud to kids makes such a difference, and I buy into it. The great thing about the facebook page is simply why we're all there--the excellent book recommendations.
I saw a lot of people mentioning The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh on the forum, and I thought if so many people recommended it, it must be good! I really enjoyed the illustrations, and the simple story (50+ pages), and it gave us a lot to talk about including relationships between native peoples and the settlers. I found out it was based on a true story and I love true stories, especially when they are written well.
This book would be excellent for a mid-elementary school resource or homeschooling and learning about pioneer times. The story involves a young girl, Sarah, age 8, who goes on a long trip to help her father (to cook for him, actually) for months while he builds their family's new house in a different location. They have to sleep in a cave, watch out for wolves, develop relationships with people who speak a different language, and get the work done before winter. It's short and sweet and it would be a great precursor to the Little House books because of it's size.
Do your kids like historical fiction, or would they rather read sci-fi, fantasy, or a novel?