Use this age as a starting point. Each child is unique and will progress differently in their reading abilities. I’ve added the genre just under the title so you can skim for what most interests your child.
Looking for books in a series? Visit my recommendations for book series for 5th graders.
You might also like: Gifts for 10 Year Old Girls and Gifts for 10 Year Old Boys.
Best Books for 10 Year Olds (5th Graders)
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate REALISTIC
Narrated by one gorilla named Ivan, this story will immediately grab your heart — it’s sad but keep reading, it’s an amazing story – and I don’t usually like animal stories. Making it even more compelling, it’s a true story! Ivan is kept in a cage in a run-down mall for 27 years without seeing another gorilla, only the stray dog, Bob, who sleeps with him, Stella the Elephant, and Ruby, a newly purchased baby elephant. Before she dies, Stella begs Ivan to find Ruby a home with other elephants – and Ivan agrees, but it won’t be easy.
Refugee by Alan Gratz HISTORICAL
Wow. This book is a tween must-read book. Not only are the stories compelling, it’s vitally important for kids to learn what it’s like to be an immigrant, particularly a refugee. Why? Because empathy is learned from stories like these. Follow three distinct, alternating stories to experience being displaced from your country, on the run, and in danger. First is a young Jewish boy who escapes from Nazi Germany on a ship to Cuba, only to be turned away from the Cuban port and sent back to Europe. Next is a Cuban girl in the 1990s who, with her family and neighbors, flees in a homemade raft to the United States at great peril. Finally is a story about a Syrian boy whose home is bombed in a country at war. He and his family travel a great distance to find a country that will allow them shelter. Gatz skillfully connects all three stories with a satisfying, realistic conclusion.
IN A GLASS GRIMMLY by Adam Gidwitz FAIRY TALE (series)
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! If you buy one book this year, buy this one. It’s fabulous — we’re on our second reading already. We love the message, the fairy tale mash-up, the humor, . . . everything! More Grimm tales await in the harrowing, hilarious adventure.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle SCI-FI (series)
I’ve read this book so many times, I can’t count — many times with my classes as a read aloud — and every time it’s just as fantastic. (That doesn’t always happen with books.) A Wrinkle in Time is a remarkable, well-written adventure in space that deals with the overarching theme of good vs. evil. Meg and her brother, Charles Wallace, and friend, Calvin, set of to find her scientist father who disappeared while researching tesseracts.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman FANTASY
This book is so excellent, I’d say it’s a modern children’s book classic. Bod lives in the graveyard with an assortment of ghosts and other cemetery creatures who raise him after his parents are killed when Bod is only a baby. Bod’s main guardian is Silas who cares for him, feeds, him, and teaches him about the human world. The ending is bittersweet (my daughter yelled at me for making her read a sad story) but perfect. Despite the scary sounding title, the scariest part is in the first chapter when Bod’s parents get murdered and I suspect most 5th graders can handle that part.
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis FANTASY (series)
I think you already know about these amazing books but if you don’t, they’re absolutely engaging fantasy adventures that will hook your kids into reading. We recently listened to the series on audio book which was even more fun to hear it read in a British accent. (Since we’re American.)
Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs MYSTERY / HUMOR (series)
Was the FunJungle’s hippo murdered? Teddy and Summer think so. Mystery, adventure, and humor will keep your readers on the edge of their seats in this unique story with quirky characters perfect for 10 year old readers.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan FANTASY (series)
This series is amazing! Basically there are really still Greek gods and sometimes they have kids with humans and those kids are half-bloods with unique powers. Unfortunately for these kids, monsters are out to kill them and they are the only ones who can save the world from war between the gods and in a later book, between the Titans and the gods.
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, illustrations by Katie Kath MAGICAL REALISM
Honestly, I could care less about chickens — unless they have magic — which the chickens in this story do!! In fact, loved this book so much it’s one of my summer favorites. The book is written as letters from a girl named Sophie, who is newly living at the farm of her dead great-uncle Jim. She writes to her dead abuelita, her dead great-uncle Jim, and Agnes of the Extraordinary Chickens catalog. While her parents are figuring out their new lives, Sophie figures out the farm. Specifically the chickens — starting with the first one she discovers wandering around. She learns that Jim had more than one chicken, and they are quite exceptional! (Think telekinesis, invisibility, and carnivorous chicks.) But a neighbor chicken thief is also interested in Jim’s chickens — and Sophie must stop her. Even if it means entering the town’s poultry show. Unusual Chickens has exceptional writing, characterization, and plot!
All Four Stars by Tara Dairman REALISTIC (series)
The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg MYSTERY
Like the Harry Potter books, I’ve read this book so many times, often as a read aloud for my students, because it’s so well-written and interesting. This is a wonderful adventure of two siblings who run away from home and live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC where they discover a mystery. While unraveling the clues about of who created the angel statue, the brother and sister duo discover that a Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will help them with more than the mystery, but with growing up and going home, too.
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
My 10-year old found this book SO RELATABLE — just like she struggles with confidence and speaking up, so does the main character, Peppi. This well-done graphic novel tackles the issues of friendships and confidence, among other things. (So glad I’m not in middle school anymore.) We highly recommend this graphic novel.
Unicorn on a Roll by Dana Simpson HUMOR
Remember the vain unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils from the book, Phoebe and Her Unicorn? The two friends are back in this hilarious sequel with more funniness and fantastic growing-up poignant life lessons. My kids and I adore these characters and love this new book. It’s one we’ll read over and over again.
Lost in the Pacific, 1942: Not a Drop to Drink by Tod Olson ADVENTURE / TRUE STORY
(Next in the series: Lost in Outer Space: The Incredible Journey of Apollo 13.)
The Player King by Avi HISTORICAL
It’s England in the 1400s with a usurper king on the throne, King Henry VII. When a friar spots kitchen boy Lambert Simnel, he tells him that Lambert is really the next in line to the throne, the missing Prince Edward. So begins Lambert’s journey from poor pauper to heir-in-hiding. Based on true events, Avi skillfully weaves a believable story of this little known historical event. Fascinating.
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Like The Penderwicks, you’ll fall in love with this quirky, wonderful family. The Vanderbeekers’ landlord wants them out by the end of December but the Vanderbeeker kids are determined to change his mind, even though he hates noise, kids, and their family. But it’s almost Christmas and their efforts are only making things worse. What will they do? Charming and heart-warming.
Everyday Angel by Victoria Schwab REALISTIC (series)
My 10-year-old loves these stories about an angel named Aria who is earning her wings by helping girls who are struggling in some way. In the first book, she helps Gabby. Gabby’s brother is hospitalized indefinitely and her mom is totally focused on her brother. It’s up to Aria to help Gabby at her new school and discover who she is. These are sweet, uplifting stories.
Treasure Hunters by James Petterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Juliana Neufeld ADVENTURE
The life of the four Kidd siblings isn’t typical — they live on a boat and their parents are treasure hunters. Unfortunately, not only is their mom missing but their father went overboard in a bad storm. Now their own their own and need money to survive. The only way they know is to find a treasure and sell it. But danger is around every wave; they’re not sure who to trust. This is a fast, action-packed adventure that sets the tone for more books to come.
Smile, Drama, Sisters by Raina Telgemeier REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Raina shares her growing up stories with humor and amazing art in these three popular books. My 10-year-old daughter read Sisters four times the first week she owned it – they’re excellent books and quite addictive.
The Loser’s Club by Andrew Clements
Ever been called a bookworm or a loser? Well, Alec has been called both — because he IS an avid reader. In fact, he gets in trouble for reading during class. As far as the loser comment? Alec decides to claim that word. He makes an after school care club just for reading (not a book club because who wants to talk?), calling it the Loser’s Club. Surprisingly, the club attracts other kids (despite the name). As it does, Alec starts noticing life outside his stories — the cute girl, the needs of other kids, the feelings! Book lovers, you’ll want to read this genuine story with all your favorite books, relatable characters, and the growing pains that happen when we look up from a book.
Kristy’s Great Idea Babysitter’s Club #1 Full-Color Graphix Novel by Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Raina Telgemeier REALISTIC
We’re loving these updated Babysitter’s Club graphic novels by the uber-talented Raina Telegemeier who wrote the highly-acclaimed Smile and Sister. Currently there are three published with many more in the works. It’s a good idea to start with book one since the stories are told in a specific order with details from previous stories. These are funny and fun to read, maybe even more than once. (The Truth About Stacey #2, Mary Ann Saves the Day #3)
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard ADVENTURE / SCI-FI
Darkus Cuttle’s museum director dad mysteriously disappears from a locked room in the museum. Darkus learns that there’s something very strange going on . . . and it has to do with intelligent beetles and a cruel benefactress of the museum. Well-done and unique!
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling FANTASY
The best selling children’s book of all time, this is a MUST READ for so many reasons: the brilliant storytelling, a complex and entertaining plot, relatable characters, rich language, essential life lessons about friendship and bravery, and more. (See all my reasons for reading Harry Potter.) Harry Potter gets kids excited about reading; it’s compelling and amazing. I can’t say enough good things about it!!
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry HISTORICAL FICTION
Lowry does an excellent job at writing about WWII in a way that isn’t too scary or inappropriate for kids. Annemarie’s best friend hides Annemarie’s Jewish family. The tension is high as the Nazis are everywhere looking for Jews or Jewish sympathizers. It’s challenging to hide knowing that every day you could be caught and sent to a death camp. Finally, the family escapes to Sweden where they will be safe from the Nazis.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio REALISTIC
Both “a meditation on kindness” and not judging people by how they look on the outside, but by their character. “I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.” Wonder helps us see compassion, empathy, and acceptance from a variety of character’s points of view. When I first read this book last year, it struck me as a powerful ways to meaningfully talk about bullying and kindness. I believe that it’s easier to see things first not in the lives of characters we read, so that as we read, we can apply those lessons to our own lives. In my experience as a teacher, this especially applies to kids.
Tangerine by Edward Bloor REALISTIC
Paul is a soccer player — at least he will be if he can go to a different school that doesn’t know about his IEP for vision. If he can avoid his dangerous brother, and play soccer on this team, maybe Tangerine County, Florida won’t be so bad after all. After some horrific things occur including a murder, Paul remembers how he lost his vision and makes a stand for what is right. EXCELLENT!!
The WAR That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley HISTORICAL FICTION (series)
Ada and her brother escape their mother’s abuse when the London children are evacuated during WWII and go to live with a grieving woman in a small country town. It’s difficult for both the woman and children to trust but slowly the trust grows and all three regain something lost – hope and love. “I slipped my hand into hers. A strange and unfamiliar feeling rand through me. It felt like the ocean, like sunlight, like horses. Like love. I searched my mind and found the name for it. Joy.” I can’t recommend this book enough, it just touched my heart at such a deep level.
The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh, illustrations by Kelly Murphy FANTASY
I LOVED this book — it’s a fantastic Baba Yaga story about a brave and smart orphan girl, Mary, who wants a home, even if it’s with Baba Yaga. She just has to figure out how to be sure Baba Yaga won’t eat her and she does so with help from her friend Jacob and MAGIC!
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson REALISTIC
This is a beautiful, bittersweet story about Jess who loses his best friend, Leslie, in a tragic accident when going to their favorite pretend kingdom of Teribithia. Jess learns to cope with Leslie’s death with art and running. Well-written and important.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Roller Girl shows the struggles of friendship and finding your place in the world as Astrid works hard to become a better roller derby skater, reconcile her ending friendship with her best friend, and develop a new one. (I recommend going to a roller derby event with your kids to help them know more about this cool sport for girls — it’s such a blast and would be helpful for reading this book, but not essential.) Well-written and relatable.
Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park HUMOR
Totally hilarious premise and fantastic writing! Rafe’s goal in middle school is to break every single rule. You can imagine how his plan will go, right? Filled with cartoon-like illustrations, this story is going to crack you up.
Half Upon a Time by James Riley FAIRY TALE (series)
When Princess May’s grandma, Snow White, is kidnapped, she’s tossed into Jack (of the beanstalk fame) farm. With an and the two venture to rescue dear old grandma back. Fairy tales collide in this humerous and action-packed adventure.
I Survived by Lauren Tarshis – HISTORICAL FICTION / ADVENTURE (series)
Excellent, fast-paced adventures set during significant historical events, these are great for reluctant readers. Your kids will zip through these fascinating adventures. The books always are about a kid trying to survive the historically important, life-changing event.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein ADVENTURE (series)
Kyle and a few classmates win a sleep over at the new town newly created library by game-creator Mr. Lemoncello. The silly Mr. Lemoncello devises a fun way to get OUT of the library — you can only get out if you solve the puzzles around the entire library. Will the kids work together or will it be every child for himself?
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner MAGICAL REALISM
One of my favorite books of 2016, The Seventh Wish is a magically captivating coming-of-age story filled with friendship and family challenges and . . . wishes. Charlie is struggling with her sister leaving for college and subsequent problems with drug addiction, her parent’s inattention, and trying to make sense out of her life. So when Charlie accidentally catches a wish fish while ice-fishing, she’s sure that the fish will solve all her problems. Only as we might predict, that’s not exactly what happens. This is a wonderful book — great for book clubs and bedtime readings in order to discuss what happens and why.
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer FANTASY (series)
Fairy tales come alive when Alex and Conner (brother and sister) find themselves in the fairy tale book given to them by their grandmother. Their only way home is to find the ingredients for a Wishing Spell. Finding them will be dangerous, mysterious, and life changing. A wonderful adventure!!!
Captivating from the first page, 12- year old Florian Bates uses his brilliant, observing brain to implement T.O.A.S.T. (the Theory of All Small Things) to notice things that others have missed. Including the FBI when there’s a art heist at the museum his mother works at. The FBI hires him to help unravel a mysterious art heist which he does with the help of his best friend, Margaret. Fast-paced and interesting.
The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee (Origami Yoda #3) by Tom Angleberger HUMOR / REALISTICish (series)
What a great book! It’s a funny but poignant story of middle-school angst and discovery. If you haven’t read the first two, you can read this independently. You’ll need to know that Dwight can make origami Star Wars characters who have powers to give advice. In this story, it’s a Wookiee. A must-read.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani FANTASY (series)
The theme is a good one: are people all good or all evil? The School for Good and Evil trains kids to be one or the other — heroes or villains. When this year’s two children are forcefully taken to attend the school, Sophie, a beautiful (yet stuck-up) princess-type, can’t wait to go to the School for Good and tells the other girl, Agatha, a black-wearing, drab classmate, that Agatha is Evil. Only that’s not what happens. Sophie is put in the School for Evil while Agatha goes to the School for Good. Now Sophie spends all her time trying to get into the School for Evil and manipulates Agatha to do so. EXCELLENT!
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny FANTASY ADVENTURE (series)
Charlie’s dad has remarried and moved Charlie and his younger brother into the stepmother’s frightening purple mansion. There Charlie begins to have the most horrible nightmares — nightmares that blur between reality and dream. When witches steal Charlie’s brother into the nightmare world, Charlie and his friends must learn to face their fears in order to save his little brother and our world.
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia HISTORICAL
It’s a typical southern summer in Alabama 1969 and Delphine and her two sisters are visiting their extended family. Daily life means minding their grandmother, Big Ma, a crotchety matriarch, getting extra loving from their much sweeter great-grandma, Ma Charles, hanging out with neighbor, JimmyTrotter, and working at the tricky business of growing up. No matter what happens, a Vonetta-stealing tornado included, this is a strong family that loves each other and God with all they’ve got. It’s a powerful book that transports you into Delphine’s world, if only for the summer.
The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson REALISTIC
You may know Paterson as the author of Bridge to Terabithia. Like that novel, this new chapter book is a powerful heart-gripping story of loss, acceptance, and coming of age. Angel’s mother abandons Angel and her brother at their ancient great-grandmother’s and since Angel’s dad is in jail, there is no one else. Angel’s used to taking care of her brother but now she must take care of her grandma, too. What’s worse, when her mom takes the brother an not Angel, now her worry and loneliness feels unbearable. Making things more bearable is a mysterious neighbor who teaches Angel about constellations, sparking a passion for astronomy. He tells Angel that she is made up of the same stuff as stars — and encourages her to keep surviving. Beautiful!
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith ADVENTURE / FANTASY (series)
Dead City by James Ponti SCI-FI (series)
Molly’s recruited to hunt zombies in New York City, just like her mother, who is dead. Or is mom actually a zombie? And why is she trying to contact Molly? This is a great action-adventure-mystery series with a zombie focus.
Eddie Red Undercover Mystery in Mayan Mexico by Marcia Wells MYSTERY (series)
Eddie, his best friend Jonah, and his parents are on vacation in Mexico. When Eddie’s dad becomes the primary suspect in a theft of a stolen Mayan mask so Eddie and Jonah decide to solve the mystery themselves. Only they don’t speak Spanish all that well, and there’s more to this mystery than just a stolen mask. You’ll love the Spanish words throughout, the well-paced action, and the characters.
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate REALISTIC
Crenshaw is the new book from the author of The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate, and it’s another amazing story dealing with poverty. I read this book after my 10-year old who loved it as much as me. After having lost their home and living in their van for 3 months, the family is now about to lose their apartment. Although Jackson’s parents don’t tell him this, he knows the signs. He knows why they’re having a yard sale. He knows it’s not his dad’s fault for having MS but he’s mad and worried and alone. It isn’t until Crenshaw shows up and pushes Jackson to speak the truth to his parents that Jackson learns that he’s not facing this alone. Oh, and who is Crenshaw? He’s Jackson’s large, imaginary cat friend from when he was little returned to help Jackson in his time of need. I felt like it was a God metaphor. I wonder what you’ll think?
The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry HUMOR (series)
Hilarious. Of course. While on a class trip to Washington D.C., Wyatt and his best friend, Matt, are positive they’ve discovered a plot to blow up the White House. Wyatt’s crush, Suzanna, helps the friends make a plan, and as you can imagine, disaster and hilarity strike. I totally loved this book and know your kids (especially those who like humor) will as well.
The Menagerie Dragon on Trial by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland (series)
The 2nd book in this series, Logan and his friends, Blue and Zoe are convinced that the menagerie’s smallest dragon didn’t eat the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. But if the dragon didn’t do it, who did? Time is running out. If they don’t discover the real culprit, the menagerie might be closed down and the dragon exterminated. Fantastic adventure and recommended series.
Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall REALISTIC (series)
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
Chasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman ADVENTURE (series)
Aidan and Meg Falconer are their parents’ only hope. The Falconer parents are facing life in prison — unless Aidan and Meg can follow a trail of clues to prove their innocence. The problem? Right now they’re trapped in a juvenile detention center. They escape to find themselves on the run, both from the authorities and from a sinister attacker who has his own reason to stop them. The Falconers must use their wits to make it across the country … with plenty of tests along the way. This series is compelling, perfect for reluctant readers.
Stella watches her father when he registers to vote and then votes. She watches her neighbor’s house burn for voting. She watches her classmates learn even as she struggles with writing down her thoughts. Draper skillfully shares this historical time from Stella’s 11-year old’s perspective. It’s understandable and not too overwhelming – we learn about the KKK but aren’t exposed to the horror that could have been included.
The Outcasts: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 1 by John Flanagan
HISTORICAL FICTION / ADVENTURE (series)
I’m a new John Flanagan fan — this was such a well-written story of a young, father-less boy named Hal whose mom was an Araluen slave. To survive the town’s prejudice against him, he is helped by another outcast, his dead father’s former shipmate, a one-armed recovering drunk. When it’s time for his Brotherband training, he becomes the leader of a rag-tag group of boys. They’ll complete against better, stronger teams who don’t always play fair . The stakes are high and Hal must win even with his group of misfits.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine REALISTIC
Caitlin’s brother Devon is killed in a school shooting, leaving Caitlin, who has Aspergers, to make sense of the world on her own, with out his compassionate and understanding guidance. Her father isn’t helpful, he’s lost in his grief. So when Caitlin reads about grief and closure, she decides to go after closure in a literal, hands-on way. And it will help both she and her father build their relationship and let go of Devon. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read — so powerful and hones.t.
The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West FANTASY (series)
My daughter introduced me to this awesome book series about a house that seems to be haunted; with paintings that lead to other worlds, and mysteriously cryptic, talking cats. Olive soon learns that the previous owners trapped many people in the paintings, including a boy Olive befriends who is now a 2D painting. The plot’s twistings kept me wondering what was happening, and I loved the main character’s gumption and her supportive side-kick cats.
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale & Dale Hale FAIRY TALE
One of my favorite books, not just graphic novels, EVER! This Rapunzel is set in the wild west — she uses her braids to lasso bad guys while searching for her mother with her sidekick Jack.
The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine REALISTIC
If you only read one book this year, make it this one. It’s so powerful and stuck with me for weeks. (Kind of like Erskine’s other book, Mockingbird, another deeply moving book.) The title is the only math concept Mike understands — absolute value which is the subject in which Mike’s dad wants Mike to excel. Only Mike hates math. When he gets sent to a small town for the summer with distant relatives, Mike finally learns his true value.
Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson REALISTIC / ADVENTURE (series)
I thought this was not just a great story but I loved that the main character (the ninja) was a girl! It’s written in combo of text and comics making it fun and accessible for all readers.
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor REALISTIC
This book hooked me from the first page, taking me on a coming of age story that was both heartbreaking and filled with hope. Perry is well-loved by his mother and her friends. . . in prison. That’s where Perry has lived since he was born eleven years ago. But in an unexpected and unpleasant turn of events, his best friend’s stepfather, the new District Attorney, forces Perry to leave the prison. Not only that, the DA tries to stall Perry’s mother’s parole hearing. Perry discovers the stories behind the inmates lives, hoping that they’ll be helpful in reuniting him with his mother. This story will stay with you long after you read the last page.
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger FANTASY / ADVENTURE (series)
I stayed up all night to finish this book -it was fantastic! Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. And Sophie has a secret—she’s a Telepath and not human. She must leave the human world for the elvin world where she’ll face danger from both worlds. Her only hope is to regain the memories about her past.
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley MAGICAL REALISM
You’ll fall in love with this magical story about a lonely boy whose beloved grandfather faces a life-ending illness. Micah’s grandfather and Micah hope the Lightbender in the Circus Mirandus who owes the grandfather a miracle, will be able to help. With a missive to the Lightbender, Micah soon discovers the magical circus his grandfather once loved so much. It’s an adventure filled with emotion.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien SCI-FI/ ADVENTURE (series)
This is a must-read, excellent Newbery winning book about amazing lab rats with intelligence who escape from the lab and form their own community. This was always one of my fifth graders favorite read-alouds.
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman FANTASY
If your child hasn’t learned about Nordic mythology, this will be a great intro! To end the long winter, Odd must journey to find Asgard, a city under siege from the Frost Giants. A wonderful, nail-biting adventure.
Starcatchers series by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson FANTASY
I adore this series and think your kids will, too. The authors imagined what happened BEFORE Peter Pan and this is the result. A stunning, totally creative fantastical adventure of magical star stuff, evil shadows who want to rule the universe, and so much more.
Nooks and Crannies by Jessica Lawson MYSTERY
I picked this book up because I loved the cover art. Yes, I admit to judging a book (at least initially) by it’s cover. Nooks and Crannies is an intriguing story about a young girl with horrible parents. Just before she’s about to be sent to an orphanage, she learns that she just might be a rich someone’s heir and have the chance to live happily ever after. Once at the Countess’ home, she must use her detective skills to figure out what is going on with the disappearing kids and scary Countess. My daughter LOVED this book.
Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein REALISTIC
Jacky stutters badly so to make life easier, she just makes a joke . . . about everything. Now at age 12, she’s started the new school year with tons of detentions. Luckily, someone sees the potential in Jacky and lets her “serve” those detentions in the school play, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. It turns out Jacky is a natural actor — and that helps distract her from her Nonna being sick, her mom being deployed, and her dad never being home. Very enjoyable!
The Sisters Club by Megan McDonald REALISTIC (series)
Meet the Sisters Club: twelve-year-old Alex, aspiring actress and born drama queen; eight-year-old Joey, homework lover and pioneer wannabe; and smack in the middle, ten-year-old Stevie, the glue that holds them together — through dinner disasters, disputes over stolen lucky sweaters, and Alex’s going gaga over her leading man.
Jonny Jakes Investigates: The Hamburgers of Doom by Malcolm Judge
Johnny is the anonymous reporter for the tell-the-truth secret school newspaper, The Woodford Word. His latest investigation is the unusual principal, an alien who is somehow brainwashing the whole school and the parents and turning them into chubby zombies. (The title is a BIG hint.) He pairs up with a girl named Julie, his friend Norris, and an unusual drama teacher to find a way to stop the alien principal from fattening up the students for an alien feast. This sounds weird but it’s actually a great story of perseverance, friendship, and old-fashioned investigative journalism.
Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson FANTASY
By the same author as 100 Cupboards, this is a creative, thrilling, action-packed time-traveling adventure. Our hero, Sam Miracle, is a foster kid with two bad arms, who sees things that no one else can — things in a parallel world. Of course, he’s got enemies who wish to stop him. In fact, those enemies have killed him many times in past versions of the world. But with the help of a wise Native American healer, a Native American priest, the two personality-filled snakes that have become his arms (!), and his friend, Glory, maybe, just maybe, Sam can live and save the world.
Johnny Hangtime by Dan Gutman ACTION
He’s a real stuntkid, the take-all-the-risks, get-no-credit kind and Johnny loves it. This is a high-octane adventure where Johnny will face the same stunt that killed his father. Will he do it or is it time to quit the business? And wait until you get to the plot twist . . . !
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy HISTORICAL FICTION MYSTERY
I LOVE this fantastically developed historical fiction story for several reasons – the girl-centric history is really interesting (and empowering), the characters are so well-developed you feel as if you know them, and the plot is a grand adventure! The author imagines a friendship between Ada Byron, genius daughter of Lord Byron and the world’s first computer programmer, and Mary Shelley, the world’s first science-fiction author who almost could have been friends in real life but for about a decade of years. Mary joins Ada to study with Ada’s tutor and the duo form a detective agency. In this first adventure, Mary and Ada learn about another historical figure who invented hypnotism and solve the case of a stolen heirloom.
Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania Del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle FANTASY MYSTERY (series)
School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari REALISTIC (series)
Madeleine, Theo, Lulu, and Garrison must face their phobias head-on as students of the exclusive and elusive school. There’s no homework or exams. But if they don’t conquer their fears, they’ll find out just how frightening failing can be.
Artemis Fowl The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin FANTASY (series)
Also available as a full text novel, this series is about an anti-hero. Ok, a villain, evil genius kid named Artemis. He plots to steal the fairies gold which leads him to kidnap a fairy-cop and hold her for ransom. Very entertaining.
The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan REALISTIC
Short but filled with tenderness! When a grief-stricken dog rescues two lost children in a terrible snow storm, he takes them to the cabin of his former friend, a poet named Sylvan who rescued him years before. Told from the dog’s perspective we watch them bond and wonder if maybe the kids have saved him as much as he saved them. (And the beautiful ending WILL make you cry!)
The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Deliz Sherman FANTASY
Runaway, Nick, leaves his horrible uncle’s only to get stuck with an evil wizard who calls him foxkin and won’t let him leave. If he tries anything against the rules, Nick gets turned into something– a spider and a rock, for example. Once he’s resigned to his new life, Nick finds a lot to like, especially learning magic from the wizard’s books and then helping the wizard protect the Smallbone town from the Evil Wizard Fidelou. This is a magical story about kindness, friendship, and growing up. (With a little Dread Pirate Roberts twist thrown in at the end!)
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III, illustrated by James Mark Yellowhawk HISTORY REALISTIC
Jimmy McClean’s grandfather takes him on a road trip where he shares the stories of Crazy Horse — his life and battles up to his death. They travel from the Dakotas (home of the Lakota) to Wyoming and other places significant to Crazy Horse’s life. I thought that following the duo traveling to the sites and then hearing the grandfather’s mesmerizing stories made this book easy to follow and very interesting. I actually wish they had included a map so I could picture it in my head and maybe take my own kids. It’s a sobering true story and one that will stick with me.
To Kick a Corpse by Tom Angleberger HUMOR (series)
Irreverent and wildly appealing humor!! Third in the series, these three friends are having trouble meeting to plot and plan since after their last (mis)adventure, Marilla’s parents said she couldn’t. But when Marilla hears about a slave master buried standing up to better control his slaves, she’s infuriated. She’s determined to right that wrong and kick him over! (other books in the series: Poop Fountain! and The Rat With the Human Face.)
Welcome to Wonderland Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein ADVENTURE / HUMOR (series)
P.T. (named after the other P.T.) tells the most creative stories — and it’s his creativity that hopefully will save his family’s motel from the bank. With only a month to raise $100,000, he and his new friend, the math whiz, Gloria Ortega, think they can do it with some unique promotions that include a talking frog and a pirate’s buried treasure. Unfortunately, they come up short only to discover that there might be REAL buried treasure somewhere at the motel.
The Midnight Tunnel: A Suzanna Snow Mystery by Angie Frazier HISTORICAL FICTION / MYSTERY
My daughter says this is a GREAT mystery. Set in 1905 in New Brunswick, Suzanna works at her family’s inn. When a young guest disappears, Suzanna’s detective uncle arrives for the search. But, Zanna finds clues of her own that lead her to think there is more than one mystery going on.
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo REALISTIC
Raymie Nightingale seems to be a book about friendship and loss but it’s also very much about the big questions of who we are as individuals and why we are here on this earth. “She could feel her soul. It was a tiny little spark somewhere deep inside.” Raymie joins two other girls for baton-twirling classes where no baton instruction happens but friendships develop. The characters are unique and well-developed. This is a beautiful book and would be perfect for lengthy book club discussions.
Seekers by Erin Hunter FANTASY
Three bears . . . one destiny. Three young bears from different species—black, polar, and grizzly—are separated from their families when they are just young cubs. They find themselves brought together on a perilous journey. Fate is about to change all these bears lives forever, setting their paws on a path toward a future they cannot yet imagine . . . (Don’t miss reading Hunter’s other series, especially Warriors about cat clans!!)
The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore MYSTERY
Three kids, Ephraim Appledorre, Mallory Green, and Will Wylie, begin at odds but as they work together, will they discover the secret Water Castle? Does it contain the secret water for eternal youth? I loved this great adventure!
The Cloak Society by Jeramy Kraatz FANTASY (series)
Alex’s parents raised him in their secret society of supervillains, training him all his life for a life of villainy. He surprises himself in a battle when he saves the life of his enemy, a Ranger of Justice girl named Kirbie. They secretly become friends making Alex question his entire life and the next big mission to wipe out all of the Rangers.
Horizon by Scott Westerfeld ADVENTURE / SCI-FI (series)
First of seven books, we follow a plane crash over the Arctic Circle with only 8 kid survivors. The wrecked plane lands in a sinister jungle filled with attacking vines, shredder birds, and two moons in the sky. When the kids find an anti-gravity tool, they use it to help them fly so they can locate water and hunt for answers to where they are. They suspect someone engineered this dangerous world and more importantly, the kids need their help –Molly is getting sicker from the glowing green bird bite on her shoulder and they don’t want another death.* Action-packed with unique characters, you’ll be hooked on this sci-fi adventure series.
*The adults on the plane are presumed dead and one of the kids dies during the story.
Thrones of Bones Frostborn by Lou Andres FANTASY (series)
Two misfits — a boy named Karn who is only good at playing a board game, and a girl named Thianna who is a half-human, half-giantess — unexpectedly partner to survive deadly soldiers, undead warriors, trolls, and a dragon. I absolutely loved this adventure and can’t wait for the next in the series. Plus, I’m so happy to see that Norse mythology is growing in popularity with writers. The only thing I suggest is that you to make sure to use the glossary as you read — there are many words which aren’t commonly known and specific to Norse culture.
Skulduggery Plesant by Derek Landy FANTASY (series)
Secret Coders: Get with the Program by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes SCI-FI GRAPHIC NOVEL
What’s happening at Hopper’s new school? She and her friends discover something very amazing about the birds — they’re robotic and can be controlled by numbers. Which leads the kids to go up against the scheming, evil janitor. Readers learn some basics of how to use the programming language Logo with sequence, iteration, and selection, and must apply their knowledge to help the characters. I love the interactivity, the diverse main characters, and the progressive way the authors teach the logical thinking of programming. Very well-done!
Snow Rose by Emily Winfield Martin FANTASY
This isn’t the same Snow White and Red Rose story from Disney, it’s something closer to the original Grimm story, and it’s marvelous. Snow and Rose are two sisters who with their mother live in the woods after their father disappeared in those same woods and they lost their fancy house and way of life. The girls explore, befriending a young boy from a mushrooming family named Ivo and a large bear who they nurse back to health during the winter. But they fear the woodsman will find and kill their bear. Then they stumble upon a sinister Little Man who seeks to enchant them or kill them. Surprisingly, this is one Grimm story with a happy ending . . . which I won’t spoil. You’ll find out when you read it. 🙂
Bug Girl by Benjamin Harper and Sarah Hines Stephens FANTASY
H.I.V.E. (Higher Institute of Villainous Education) by Mark Walden ADVENTURE
Otto is a prime candidate to become a super villain says the school H.I.V.E. that kidnaps him, enrolling him unwillingly in their island school for villains. Otto and his classmates plan a daring break-out. Plus they need to stop the mutant flesh-eating plant that’s attacking everyone in the school. A great adventure series!
Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas by Jonathan W. Stokes ADVENTURE
I enjoyed this action-packed adventure story. Addison and Molly’s archeologist aunt and uncle are kidnapped for their specialized knowledge about the Incas and their famed, hidden treasure. But the kidnappers have underestimated the persistence and brilliance of Addison and Molly who, with their friends, pursue the treasure and their aunt and uncle.
Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson FANTASY / ADVENTURE (series)
My daughter loved this series but I have to admit it had too many main characters for me so I didn’t enjoy it. However, if you like Disney and non-stop adventure, you’ll love these books. Our main characters, teenagers, protect the park agains the Disney villains. At least they will try. Because catching the bad guys isn’t always easy.
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