Recently, a commenter mentioned that she was having trouble finding good books for her second grader, an advanced reader who enjoys Harry Potter, but is prone to having bad dreams from reading content that is developmentally inappropriate.
As usual, the answer lies largely in OLD BOOKS, which are comparatively more challenging than much of the modern fare aimed at younger readers. Most of these recommendations were written as series (I have marked these with an asterisk), so there are actually many more books on this list than first appears.
One great quality of advanced readers is that they are usually not book snobs. While they can comprehend and enjoy things written for older children, a book written for their peers can be fun, too, as long as the story is a good one. I have included both in this list.
Many of these titles can only be found at the library, but information about them is still available on Amazon.com. A few can also be found on Kindle, for free, from the Kindle Popular Classics list. To see summaries, reviews, and other books in each series, click on any title.
The Wizard of Oz* L. Frank Baum
The Story of Dr. Doolittle* Hugh Lofting
Rabbit Hill Robert Lawson
My Father’s Dragon* Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Adventures of Uncle Wiggley* Howard R. Garis
Harold and the Purple Crayon* Crocket Johnson
The X Bar X Boys* James Cody Ferris
Rikki Tikki Tavi Rudyard Kipling
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase* Joan Aiken
Encyclopedia Brown* Donald J. Sobol
The Happy Hollisters* Jerry West
The Mad Scientist’s Club* Bertrand R. Brinley
Brighty of the Grand Canyon Marguerite Henry
Homer Price* Robert McCloskey
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet* Eleanor Cameron
Danny Dunn* Jay Williams
Swiss Family Robinson Johann David Wyss
Beautiful Joe Marshall Saunders
Black Beauty Anna Sewell
The Chronicles of Narnia* C.S. Lewis
Pippi Longstocking* Astrid Lindgren
The Borrowers* Mary Norton
The Mouse and the Motorcycle* Beverly Cleary
Dr. Seuss’s bigger books: Horton Hears a Who, Horton Hatches the Egg, Bartholomew and the Oobleck
The Children’s Hour 16 Volume Set Marjorie Barrows, editor
The Fairy Books* Andrew Lang
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to stick with fiction. Books such as The Boy Who Invented the Trampoline, about the history of various inventions, can be a source of interesting reading, as can biographies. There are many written for juvenile readers, and helping your children select people whose lives they might want to learn more about can be a lot of fun.
For more on this topic, see my previous post,“Considering Asynchronous Development in Book Selection.” (1/11/10)