Luckily there are books aplenty – some of them hot off the presses like this list of middle grade chapter books that I highly recommend.
Recommended Beginning Chapter Books
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara (beginning chapter book 6-10 years)
Hysterical and totally believable . . . if your goldfish dies and you bring him back to life. It won’t work, your goldfish will be a zombie. One that can mesmerize you with his powerful eyes and you’ll do anything he wants. Aaaah! A silly new chapter book series.
The Kingdom of Wrenly: The Lost Stone by Jordan Quinn ((beginning chapter book 5-7 years)
Prince Lucas doesn’t have any friends. His parents don’t want him to play with the village children. But finally, the King agrees to let him play with Clara, the daughter of the dressmaker. Lucas and Clara soon embark on an adventure to find Lucas’ mom’s missing jewel.
The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler (beginning chapter book 6-8 years)
My daughter and I loved this entertaining new beginning reader chapter book series about a boy ghost, Kaz, who is blown away from his family and into a new haunt – a library. But who is the library ghost — it’s not him. He and his new friend, Claire, decide to be detectives and discover the secret of the ghost.
Recommended Middle Grade Chapter Books
Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells (9-12 years)
My goal has been to not only read and recommend fantasy books so finally, I proudly bring to you a mystery! And, I was excited to discover that the hero, Edmund, is a boy of color. Finally. Anyway, this story is about Eddie, a kid who is enlisted to help the police solve a crime because of his unusual skills – a photographic memory and amazing drawing ability. It’s a great adventure, and I think your kids will love it.
The Rain Dragon Rescue The Imaginary Veterinarian Book 3 by Suzanne Selfors (7-12 years)
Did you know that rain dragons eat clouds and are two miles long? Ben and Pearl meet two dragons in this adventure, break a kazillion rules, and save a life. An enchanting adventure of fantastical creatures and mystery. Recommended!
Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine and Vinson Compestine (10-12 years)
If your kids aren’t interested in Chinese history, they will be after reading this novel. Ming lives in rural communist China with his father, who finds artifacts for the museum. A discovered terra-cotta soldier who comes to life and befriends Ming. They must work together to protect the soldiers and Emperor Qin’s tomb. I like how the authors wove in historical photos and information. It sounds like a silly premise for a story but it worked — and was very good.
School for Good and Evil A World without Princes by Soman Chainani (8-12 years)
Second in the series, now the schools have changed – more than the friends could imagine. The schools have gotten rid of all the princes. Because who needs boys anyway? It’s up to Agatha and Sophie to help each other and the princes only it’s not easy when you don’t know who to trust. I really loved how thought-provoking this was. It would be a great book club pick.
The Unfairest of Them All by Shannon Hale (8-12 years)
The second chapter book in the Ever After High series, we’re seeing the results of Raven decided to choose her own story and ending. Kids have picked sides – rebel or royal – and Raven and Apple need to bring everyone together or all of their happy ever afters will be no more. Fun and creative plot.
The Menagerie Dragon on Trial by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland (8-12 years)
The 2nd book in this chapter book 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.
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (12 and up)
Wow – loved this adventure that is typical of Sanderson’s unique worlds with plot twists and turns. In this world the Epics, super-powerful individuals who have extraordinary powers and no goodness, control the cities. David’s father was killed by Chicago’s Epic, Steelheart. David wants revenge and he joins the Reckoners to assassinate them. This is a page-turner and completely entertaining.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown (12 and up)
Love, love, love this book — it takes place on Mars with 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. Better than Hunger Games – especially for boys who don’t want to read about romance and really get enthralled with battle strategy. Excellent. I can’t wait for the next book!
The Falconer by Elizabeth May (12 and up)
These are not the happy, cute fairies you read in Disney stories. These fairies want to control, kill, and destroy. But only a Falconer, a fairy hunter, can fight the fae and teenage Aileana just so happens to be the only one left. In the world. She’s on a mission to kill all fae, especially the one who murdered her mother. Ironically, she’s helped by a handsome fairy who she knows she can’t trust. But why would he turn on his own people? Loved this story and can’t wait until the sequel!
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly (12-18 years)
A serious girl power chapter book — this is the story of five mermaids who journey to find each other and then to the sea witches. An ancient evil is being unleashed and not only is trying to kill the girls, but enslave or kill their communities. Very entertaining!
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
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!