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. Making it even more compelling, it’s true! Ivan is kept in a cage in a run-down mall for 27 years without seeing another gorilla. He’s friends with the stray dog, Bob, who sleeps with him, Stella who is a full-grown elephant, and Ruby, a newly purchased baby elephant. Due to maltreatment, Stella gets sick and dies. But before she does, she begs Ivan to help Ruby find a better life. Despite his fear, Ivan agrees and gets help from the janitor’s kind daughter.
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.
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. Auggie, a boy with a facial difference, starts public school for the first time in 5th grade. His experience, though often difficult, shows his inner strength. And kindness wins over bullying!
Refugee by Alan Gratz HISTORICAL
Wow. This book is a tween must-read book. Follow three distinct, alternating stories about 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.
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 sequel, The War I Finally Won, is also an incredible, beautiful story.
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny FANTASY ADVENTURE (series)
Charlie’s dad remarries and moves 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. Then the nightmare witches steal Charlie’s brother into their world. Charlie and his friends must venture into the nightmare world, face their fears, and hope they can save his little brother and the world before it’s too late.
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo FANTASY / ADVENTURE
Edge of Extinction The Ark Plan by Laura Martin ADVENTURE
Action from the first page! This is an awesome story about a dangerous world where cloned dinosaurs have taken over. Now Sky and her fellow humans live below ground in safety with Noah as their supreme ruler. Sky discovers that her missing (maybe traitor?) father left her a secret note with cryptic instructions on how to be found. She decides to leave the underground city in order to find her dad. Barely outside a day, she and her friend Shawn are rescued from hungry dinosaurs by a boy who lives in a treetop enclave. When his enclave is attacked by Noah’s soldiers looking for her, Sky realizes that everything she believed about Noah is wrong and is even more determined to find her father. LOVED it!
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 off 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.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan FANTASY (series)
This series is amazing! Greek gods still exist and so do their kids, half-bloods, or demigods, who have incredible abilities. Unfortunately for these kids, monsters are out to kill them. But, they are also the only ones who can save the world from a war between the Greek gods the Titans. Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood where he gets trained to protect himself… that is until he’s sent on a dangerous quest. Betrayal, adventure, plot twists, and incredible mythological world building make these books kids can’t put down. BOX SET HERE.
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)
Smile (Also: 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 that are very relatable to tweens. BOX SET HERE.
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.)
Pararescue Corps by Michael P. Spradlin, illustrated by Spiros Karkavelas
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Like The Penderwicks, you’ll fall in love with this quirky, wonderful family from the first page. 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.
Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt
REALISTIC – FAMILY, COMING-OF-AGE
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.
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!!! BOX SET HERE.
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. 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. BOX SET HERE.
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 set in a different world of magic and magical animals that will hook your kids into reading. We recently listened to the series on audiobook which was even more fun to hear it read in a British accent. BOX SET HERE.
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.
The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings by Sarah Prineas FANTASY
I couldn’t put this book down! It’s an imaginative story about a boy who knows he’s meant to be a librarian and a girl queen who is growing into her position. Alex pretends he’s the royal librarian for the queen, quickly discovering that some books are attacking and even killing. He urgently tries to discover what the trained librarians already know –like how to command the Pages and the magic– and how to stop the dangerous, ancient magic that seems intent on killing the queen.
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
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein ADVENTURE (series)
Kyle and a few classmates win a sleepover 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Space Case and Spaced Out by Stuart Gibbs SCI FI (series) (series)
review written by 11-year old JJ
This series was AMAZING! It was a murder mystery on the moon. I can never turn down a good, realistic sci-fi PLUS murder mystery. It has it all! It was placed in 2040 and their second-in-command had died. He had walked out the airlock (to the moon’s surface) with his space suit on wrong– he died in seconds. Everyone thought he had gone crazy, but Dashiel Gibson suspected differently. Murder. The first book is almost mirrored in the second –the base commander this time disappears. With just enough breaking the rules, they can figure out where she is and who did it.
Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall REALISTIC (series)
The close-knit Penderwick sisters and their father spend their summer vacation in a rented cottage on an estate called Arundel. Theirs is an unplugged world of summertime magic filled with play and pretend and a new friend — Jeffrey Tifton, the son of the estate’s owner.
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.
The Endling: The Last by Katherine Applegate FANTASY
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.
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!
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. Great for reluctant readers!
Black Beauty Puffin Graphics + (The Graphic Novel and Original Text in One Volume) by Anna Sewell CLASSIC
Puffin Books is releasing children’s classic novels as graphic novels. This is one of the first along with The Wizard of Oz and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book also has the original narrative text as the second half. I think this is a fantastic way to introduce kids to classic novels, don’t you? Read the graphic novel, then read the original text.
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.
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.
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.
Rules by Cynthia Lord REALISTIC
I highly recommend reading this meaningful, coming-of-age story about 12-year old Catherine. Read it in your classroom and with your children to develop empathy and compassion for children who have autism. Catherine’s worked hard to help her autistic brother, David, learn the rules about life. But now that she has new friends, she’s feeling more embarrassed than compassionate.
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith ADVENTURE / FANTASY (series)
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
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 heir mystery, the disappearing kids, and the scary Countess. My daughter LOVED this book.
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.
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 Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine REALISTIC
The title is the only math concept Mike understands — the 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.
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.
Hero Rescue Mission by Jennifer Li Shotz
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.
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.
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, fatherless 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 compete against better, stronger teams who don’t always play fair. The stakes are high and Hal must win even with his group of misfits.
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.
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. Together, the two venture to rescue dear old grandma back. Fairy tales collide in this humorous 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. Great for reluctant readers!
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.
Wicked Nix by Lena Coakley, illustrated by Jaime Zollars FANTASY
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, without 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 honest.
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!
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.
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 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.
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 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 Terabithia. Jess learns to cope with Leslie’s death with art and running. Well-written and important.
Book Lists By Age
Easy Reader Books for 5- and 6- year olds
Beginning / Easy Chapter Books for 6- and 7- Year Olds
Books for 8-year olds
Books for 9-year olds
Books for 10-year olds
Books for 11-year olds
Books for 12-year olds
Book Lists By Genre
Adventure Books for Kids
Fantasy Books for Kids
Funny Books for Kids
Historical Fiction Books for Kids
Mystery Books for Kids
Nonfiction Books for Kids
Realistic Books for Kids
Science Fiction Books for Kids
ALL Picture Book Reviews
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!