Are you trying to find books for your elementary age or middle school age reader who reads at a high school level? It’s tricky! Because it’s important to find a book that is both challenging but also age-appropriate.
Here’s a list of books that are above a 1000 Lexile Measure and appropriate for young advanced readers. All books listed are at a reading level above Lexile 1000. (I used various websites to verify.) This number, the Lexile Measure, indicates the text complexity, more or less. Generally speaking, books that are above 1000 are around upper middle school to high school reading level.
Challenging Books for Young Advanced Readers
I’ve split up the books into genre starting with fantasy and sci-fi. Scroll down to see historical fiction, biographies, and classics.
(I’ve only added reviews of the books I’ve reviewed on my blog.)
Fantasy and Sci-Fi
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The classic Tolkien from which everything begins . . . it’s wordy and descriptive and wonderful.
Outcast of Redwall by Brian Jacques
If you like epic fantasy adventures, this is the series for you.
Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
A great girl-power novel.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This book was my all time favorite in high school!
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Teens love this book, and so do I. You need to know that it’s about a necromancer and the themes may be too advanced for younger readers.
Wizard of Earths by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
Fever is an orphan, raised by a scientist in the order of Engineers. She begins having strange memories and wants to know if she’s a non-human Scrivener and where she came from.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
In this creative expanded Alice in Wonderland story, Alyss Heart, heir to Wonderland, flees from her evil aunt Redd who has attacked her kingdom and killed her parents.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Orphan, Alina, lives in a country where much of the land and people have been a darkness called the Shadow Fold. When magical Alina’s powers reveal themselves, surprising even her, she’s taken to the leader, the Darkling, to train and serve him in his fight against the Shadow Fold.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown (listed below 1000 but I think Scholastic made an error.)
This trilogy takes place on Mars where there’s a caste society, color coded by the level of your caste. Darrow, a low-caste Red, infiltrates the ruling Gold caste’s special training school. His training? Kill or be killed. Lead an army or be enslaved. One of the best books I’ve read EVER.
Eye of the Minds by James Dashner
Imagine our world with more advanced technology that lets you “live” in a game world. Players hook up their bodies to to the game, and while their in the game, food and bathroom breaks are taken care of. It’s crazy action and adventure that will keep you reading late into the night. It’s an addicting adventure.
Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Part historical (Rome) and part fantasy, Elias and Laia live in a world that enslaves them both in different ways — Elias to fight and Laia to serve and spy. This is an epic page-turner with lots of mystery, action, and a hint of romance.
Rascal by Sterling North
The Princess Bride by Barry Denberg
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Eagle (The Roman Britan Trilogy) by Rosemary Stucliff
Mystery & Adventure
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Forced to survive in the woods on his own, this is an amazing survival journey of a boy that captivates readers.
The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan: an Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer
Sherlock’s sister hones her detective skills in these historical mysteries.
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Neatly Snyder
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Emma by Jane Austen
Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
Call of the Wild by Jack London
Wind in the Willows by K. Grahame
The Incredible Journey by Shelia Branford
Autobiographies & Biographies
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat
Steve Jobs by Karen Blumenthal
All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot