Book Suggestions for Advanced Reader but Still Age Appropriate

Updated on April 05, 2013
M.Q. asks from Gallatin, TN
26 answers

Hi Mamas!
My 8 year old daughter is reading at a 5th, almost 6th, grade level. I'm looking for recommendations of books and/or series of books that are challenging enough for her but not too advanced in the material. She's read most of the Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody, Ramona type books. She's currently into the American Girl series. I want to encourage her love of reading but am finding it difficult to find books that are both challenging, yet age appropriate for an 8 year old.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! :-)

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So What Happened?

Wow! Thank you SO much for all the great recommendations (and for reminding me of some from my childhood)!!

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answers from Washington DC on

What about Dealing with Dragons series? Secret Garden? James and the Giant Peach? Little House on the Prairie? Anne of Green Gabels? The Borrowers? Rats of NIMH?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have to agree with the Little House and Green Gables series. Lets see, by this time I think I had gone through most of the Sweet Valley High books, but I don't know how appropriate they are.

Let her wander the young adult section and see what she finds, but you should read the back of the book first or a review.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Billings on

I just facilitated a gifted and talented book club for 8 and 9 year old. Let her read "THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY" Great book--Everyone loved it.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

Almost any book on this list will be appropriate ...

I had a goal at about her age to try and read them all. I made it through many of them, but not all. Great books that will build her love of reading. Excellent children's literature. Also, suggest checking in with the children's librarian at your local library ... They'll be able to offer suggestions and it's what they are there for.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'm not sure what you would consider age appropriate but here are a few my daughter has read and enjoyed(she's 9):

The Wizard of Oz
Oliver Twist
Black Beauty
Little House on the Prairie
The Phantom Tollbooth
The Secret Garden
The Magic Tree house series
Harry Potter - entire series

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

How about the Little House series? Or Harry Potter?

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answers from Las Vegas on

Boxcar Children if it hasn't been mentioned already.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I read through several series at that age. Not sure about the exact reading level. Some may still be a bit high for her... but honestly, I don't put too much on "grade level" if she can read them and likes them, let her.

Anne of Green Gables series

The Oz books are great (a bit scary/dark... but not inapprorpriate)

The Narnia books.

Roald Dahl books (BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, etc)

I also liked Nancy Drew at that age. They aren't great literature, but they're fun.

The nice thing about any of these, if she reads on and likes it, you've got several more books she'll enjoy all lined up on the library shelf!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Have you talked to:
1. The children's librarian(s) at your local library?
2. The librarian at her school library?

They would LOVE to help you find great things for her to read. No one knows more about what is out there, from classics to the most recent stuff, like a children's librarian/school librarian. (No, I"m not one, but I volunteer at our elementary school library and I am amazed at how well our librarian knows all the latest books. In way to learn a ton about what your daughter might like is to volunteer in the library. Ask the librarian if you can come in twice a month or whatever and shelve books, help label books, do checkout for classes etc. The librarian probably will be thrilled at the offer of help. Ours does a roster of volunteers who come in on a regular schedule. It's not hard and it really does help out, and I've found great books for my daughter this way.)

I would not go backward from the Judy/Ramona/Junie reading level or she might get bored (and the language won't help her advance any, either). Classics that others have mentioned like Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess (by Frances Hodgson Burnett -- do not confuse it with the zillions of other books about princesses that are aimed at tweens), The Borrowers (which is a whole series of books that would be fine), etc. are all great. I would take care when offering her Newbery Medal winner books -- they are indeed good literature but you should read them yourself to check on content; some are more mature in their subject matter.

She might also like: The Egypt Game; The Westing Game (not related to the previous book) though the latter might be a little "old" for her; anything by the author Andrew Clements, especially his novel titled Frindle.

But that's just a few. I would really go to the librarians first! Each kid's taste is so different -- some kids love the idea of a million pages of densely plotted Harry Potters and others want something more realistic or more grounded or just plain more digestible. Some kids want reassuring stories and others like to be more challenged by tougher plots, or thrilled by mysteries. You know her best -- take what you know and talk to the librarians. Have fun!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Judy Blume
Little House on the Prairie
All the other books by Beverly Cleary
Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Boxcar Children

I would also recommend going to your local library and asking the children's librarian for recommendations. They are actually really good at picking great books based on age and reading ability.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I understand her reading level is high but she might enjoy the subject matter of a little lower books,

We like Puppy Place by Ellen Miles ( anyone sick of me recommending that series yet?)

Ron roy A to Z mysteries and Capital Mysteries

I second the chronicals of narnia. the hobbit

DS liked the louis Sach----? something Wayside school is falling Down might want to preview them they a bit like junie B sort of kookie

don't forget about magazines like hightlights, Ranger Rick and American Girl subliminal advertising after i typed this i realized that was the mamasource ad in the side bar.

Also Non fiction like how to care for a pet, or teach yourself to knit in 5 months, all about the space shuttle etc etc etc.

Its fluffy but we have some Rainbow Fairy books they are ok too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

There is a lot of real litature on

The Little Fairy House in the Wood by Ethel Cook Eliot
Puck the Gnome by Jacob Striet
Stories of the Saints by Siegwart Knijpenga

If you type these in at amazon you can take a look at them and they will also lead you to other books like it.

It's the context, the archetypical story, the development, the life and meaning that is important not what grade level - things that speak to the child's heart, mind and soul. What so often happens to children that read this much this early is that they get burnt out by 12 or so. Be sure she is being balanced with other activities in play and hand work such as kniting and sewing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Ditto everything Leigh said. I volunteer in my son's school library and the librarian is a gem. She has great suggestions, I'm sure yours does too.

Leigh suggested some great books. The Boxcar Children series, The Littles, some of Beverly Cleary's other books (Ellen Tibbets, Henry Huggins) are all great reading. The vocabulary/language of CS Lewis, Madeline L'Engle and LM Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) are a little advanced, but usually accessible through context.

Don't forget the Little House on the Prairie books... that would be the first place I would start. Accessible stories and great values. I LOVED those books at that age.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

When you say age appropriate, I think that varies.. So IF my suggestions don't seem good for her, then disregard. I mention this because in two of my son's favorite books when he was her age speak about death (not in some gory detailed way) but it does address it in: Walk Two Moons and Chasing Red .. He loved those two books...

He also enjoyed:
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Where the Red Fern Grows
Spirit Bear
Witch of Black Bird Pond
The Bronze Bow..

He is now eleven and is reading and comprehension level are off the charts.. At this time, he has read, presidential autobiographies, Paris 1919, Troublesome Young Men, Italy and its Monarchy, Ben Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, etc.. etc..

Sounds like your daughter is on a great track .. I think it's so important for kids to get into good reading habits when young..

good luck and happy reading!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

When I was young I loved the book Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski. I don't remember if I read anything else by her or not, but you might look at the link below and see if something pops out at you.

I have boys and they weren't interested in Strawberry Girl LOL! However, I hope your daughter will like it as much as I did!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My nephew started reading series books at 6, he loves to read. The first series he started was Harry Potter. His teacher at school didn't think he'd understand them, until she quizzed him on them. She told my sister he picked up more details than she had!

There's the Wizard of Oz, Little House on the Praire, and the Chronicles of Narnia, too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Beverly Cleary has written a lot more books than just the Ramona books that she might enjoy. How about Judy Blume's Fudge series? Other authors and series (in addition to the universally recommended Little House, Harry Potter, and Anne of Green Gables series) I liked as a child and can't wait to get into with my kids:

Roald Dahl
Encyclopedia Brown series
Great Brain series
Pippi Longstocking series
L. Frank Baum's Oz books
Louisa May Alcott
Frances Hodgeson Burnett
Collections of classic fairy tales and Greek myths
E.B. White

Are Magic Treehouse books too basic for her? I also read a lot of Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins when I was a kid, but those might be for a slightly older child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Two books I absolutely enjoyed at that age were Harriet the Spy, and Behind the Attic Wall. I recommend them both very highly...Harriet the Spy is fun, and Behind the Attic Wall is truly one of my favorite books even to this day. Perhaps also some classics...I'm currently reading The Secret Garden because I'd never read it as a child and I'm loving it.

I would also like to very politely disagree with the suggestion that reading too much too early burns a child out on reading. At least for myself, I loved reading from the start and read more and more each year...perhaps took a BIT of a break in my teen years when I had so many other activities, etc, but picked up reading nonstop again in college and am still devouring books to this day. There are more books on this earth that I want to read than I will ever get the chance...if she wants to read, let her. ;)

Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins. I see no one has mentioned those yet...absolutely wonderful series, both of them, with good lessons learned, and where the main characters aren't snotty little brats who just get away with everything. I really am not a fan of much modern literature for young girls.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hello, my daughter is 7 and reading at the same level. She just finished the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and has now started the Nancy Drew series. She's also reading the Secret Garden.


answers from Williamsport on

The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame has lovely language and grammar. Winnie the Pooh A.A. Milne is pretty advanced. The Trumpet of the Swan EB White. Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The World Treasury of Literature Volumes one and two are packed with great stories for her age and older, and the Charlotte Mason reading list on the Charlotte Mason website by grade levels has really great books.

My daughter is 7 and very advanced and she also loves all the "Classic Starts" novels. Right now she's reading The Odyssey and various Greek Myths. She has also read Great Starts "Black Beauty", "Oliver Twist", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" "Alice in Wonderland" "Dracula" "The Secret Garden" "Sherlock Holmes" "Anne of Green Gables"...they have all the classics written at a 4th/5th grade type level and the concepts are nice and mature and timeless without any inappropriateness. If any of the Classic Starts (Amazon has great sets of Classic Starts) are a little to basic for her (probably not-I plan to let my daughter read again in a couple years with better comprehension), the real novels are always a great option.



answers from Jacksonville on

My 8 yr old advanced reader loves The 39 Clues series, Percy Jackson, The Kane Chronicles.



answers from Augusta on

my 8 yr old is on the 3rd book of harry potter. The first book is at a 5th grade level the second and 3rd are high 6th grade.
The first few books don't stray from the movies TOO much , some yes but nothing too drastic. We won't let him go past book 5 though at this point because we know he's not ready to read beyond that yet.
Nancy Drew might be good for her as well.



answers from Atlanta on

You've gotten lots of great suggestions; I'll say ditto to the Percy Jackson and the Kane Chronicles. As well as getting suggestions from the librarian yourself, you might let your daughter wander around the children's section of the library or ask the librarian HERSELF for books similar to her current interests. My daughter discovered the American Girl series, the Babysitter Club series, the Disney Fairies, and Nancy Drew on her own by looking at the shelves. I'm all for encouraging kids to love the riches of the library... You can help her screen for appropriateness.



answers from St. Louis on

I'm thinking of a few books I really loved as a kid ...I can't think of what the real target age group would be for these, but I know my daughter who was way ahead in reading too read them in about 3rd grade so I'm thinking they would be ok.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
A Wrinkle in Time ...this one I remember I kind of read along with her at times as she was a little confused, but she really enjoyed it
The Lion, the Witch , and the Wardrobe
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Oh, and my daughter also really enjoyed the Mysterious Benedict Society series!



answers from San Francisco on

Didn't read other answers, but my 7 yr. old is reading through my old boxed set of the Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder) books. She loves them. She also reads the Ivy & Bean series and the Magic Tree house (although they are a little too easy for her, she zips through them in one day)



answers from Grand Rapids on

Here are a few suggestions as well: Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins. Animal Ark series by Ben Baglio. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has some good books like Shiloh and Boys against the girls series. Also, Heartland series by Lauren Brooke. Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony Diterlizzi.

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