Young Advanced Readers: An Age Appropriate Book List for Puzzled Parents

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 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 OzL. Frank Baum

The Story of Dr. Doolittle* Hugh Lofting

Rabbit Hill Robert Lawson

Aesop’s Fables

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

Anything by E. Nesbit

Rikki Tikki Tavi Rudyard Kipling

The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase* Joan Aiken

Any children’s book by E.B. White

Encyclopedia Brown* Donald J. Sobol

The Happy Hollisters* Jerry West

Anything by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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)


1 Comment

Filed under Recommended Reading, Uncategorized

One response to “Young Advanced Readers: An Age Appropriate Book List for Puzzled Parents

  1. I second a huge vote for Encyclopedia Brown – I loved those books as a kid 🙂

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