As well as being a “cat-loving-kpop-obsessed-cupcake-consuming” bibliophile, none of those obsessions exactly pay the bills in the real world.
In the real world I take the challenging, but always rewarding, role of 5th grade teacher to 25 students.
Besides watching their faces light up when they finally grasp the concept of dividing mixed numbers by fractions – I absolutely love matching students up with “the book.” “The Book” that turns them into lifelong voracious readers. It warms my bookworm heart to hear my students talk about the book’s characters like they are their best friends.
This year one of my students entered the fantastical world of Harry Potter for the very first time. I watched as he took his first steps into Diagon Alley, experienced his first Quiddich match, ran through the corridors of Hogwarts with Harry under his invisibility cloak, and battled Death Eaters with Dumbledore’s Army. I do not tear up easily…but hearing his excited updates on what page he was on, and what he thought would happen next…made my eyeballs a tidge moist.
This post is dedicated for parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, and grandparents who are desperate for some children’s book recommendations.
This post is also dedicated to those adults who just want to revisit a simpler time in their lives… or just for nostalgic purposes.
The following list will include the title, author and Lexile level of the book. All of these books are strongly recommended by my students, and all are continually checked out of my classroom library.
The Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell L: 710
~ This illustrated series is written in diary format and follows the adventures and misadventures of Nikki Maxwell and her friends. This is the “girl-version” of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney L: 950
~ Boys don’t keep diaries…or do they? Greg Heffley is in Middle School. The hazards and adventures of surviving in the hallways results in funny diary entries written by Greg about his friends and family…and how tough it is to be a wimpy kid.
Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi L: GN410 Grade 3+
~ This is a graphic novel series about Emily and Navin who move with their mother into a strange house. A sinister creature kidnaps their Mother, and it is up to Emily and Navin to save their Mother. They have to go through a dangerous underground full of talking animals, robots, and demons on their mission. Somewhat mature elements of loss and fantasy-based conflict.
The Warriors series by Erin Hunter L: 740
~ A fantasy series that follows four Clans of wild cats. The series starts off with an ordinary house cat named Rusty, who might be the answer to the problem of noble warriors dying in mysterious ways. If talking animals is your jam, this series is for you! This series also has a companion series Bravelands.
Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland L: 750
~ Seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations over an ancient lost treasure. A secret rebellion called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring peace to the land. Five dragons are forcefully enlisted in bringing about the peace that the revolutionaries desperately seek. But not all is what it seems in this magical fantasy series.
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce L: GN520
~ This hugely popular graphic novel series follows Nate, a boy who KNOWS he is meant for bigger and better things. Trouble always seems to find Nate in all of the series’ books but Nate navigates through all the hardships with a positive attitude and a personality that is as cool as a cucumber. My lower readers and reluctant readers absolutely adore this series.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling L: 880 Grade 3/4+
~ I grew up with this magical series and have such great memories attached to the whole series. I remember making my Mum drive to our local Barnes at Noble at midnight so I could pick up Harry’s latest adventure. This series follows Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, in their quest to defeat a dark wizard. There are wizards, witches, dragons, giants, Quiddich and so much more in the magical world of Hogwarts. The latter books in the series do deal with mature elements – younger readers may need to be monitored.
The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope L: 570-600
~ This popular and hugely prolific series follows the adventures of Jack and Annie who travel through time and space with the help of a magical tree house. This is an excellent series to familiarize young readers with the concept of chapter books. I have small group sets of some of these for my lower readers who gobble up Jack and Annie’s adventures and always ask for more.
Weird but True collection by National Geographic Kids
~ My copies of this collection of National Geographic Kids books are literally falling apart at the binding. Scholastic offers a huge variety of these entertaining fact books. These little books pack a punch with funny, gross, educational, and weird facts that kids are drawn to. My favorites in this collection is the Holiday edition. These books are great for introducing kids to informational writing.
Bailey’s Story (A Dog’s Purpose) by W. Bruce Cameron L:720
~ Bailey’s Story is an illustrated novel adapted for young readers from the best-selling A Dog’s Purpose (which was also adapted into a popular movie). The young reader versions of A Dog’s Purpose follows each dog as they go about finding their purpose, and wringing a few reader tears along the way. Perfect for kids who love dogs and animal books.
Minecraft: The Island by Max Brooks L: 790
~ If your young reader is obsessed with Minecraft – steer them towards this book, and a series called Diary of a Minecraft Zombie. The Island is about a Minecraft hero who must survive the harsh environment of an island while unraveling it’s dark secrets.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine L: 670
~ A quirky retelling of Cinderella. Ella was cursed at birth with the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her, Ella must obey no matter what. Ella’s journey to her ‘happily ever after’ is full of twists and turns where she encounters elves, ogres and a Prince. Ella is an independent and intelligent girl who takes matter in her own hands, taking care of her own ‘happily ever after.’
Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine L: 450-470
~ Another class favorite, especially around October. R.L. Stine is known for writing short horror stories geared towards younger readers. They still inspire a spark of fear – but in a G-rated campfire format. Every year it seems like they add another 5 books to the Goosebumps canon. Low readers to high readers cannot get enough of this spine-tingling series.
Honorable Mentions: Captain Underpants series, A Series of Unfortunate Events series, I Survived series