Best Chapter Books for Ages 9 and Up
Need new book ideas to keep your 4th grader, 5th grader, 6th grader or 7th grader reading? From realistic fiction to action adventure series, here are some new discoveries to get excited to read.
What if your child is a reluctant reader? Try the Orca Currents series or a graphic novel. For Percy Jackson fans, try the graphic novel of The Lightening Thief or The Ghost Leopard for a new action adventure series that is similar.
Kids who like Newbery quality book and realistic fiction will find Sharon Creech’s latest, The Great Unexpected, to be her finest work to date. See You at Harry’s and Precious Bones with both make you wonder why they didn’t get a Newbery nod. Alas, all these great books can’t win the Newbery!
What are your child’s favorite chapter books or graphic novels?
Oracle by Alex Van Tol
The Orca Currents series targets middle school reluctant readers with pocket-sized very short chapter books and a high interest fast-moving plot. Each line on the page has 8 words or less! It’s a formula that works. 8th grader Owen has a crush on the Queen Bee Mean Girl Camryn, who in turn, is crushing on his older brother. With the help of Hannah, the class president, Owen sets up an anonymous blog that gives relationship advice. It seems to be working but Camryn discovers the truth and Owen must face the music. Middle school boys who find girls puzzling but attractive are the natural audience for this quick read. [chapter book, ages 11 and up]
The Lightening Thief: The Graphic Novel (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) adapted by Robert Venditti, art by Attila Futaki, color by José Villarrubia, original book by Rick Riordan
The Percy Jackson chapter books seems to divide kids into two emphatic groups: Love it or Hate it. My 3 kids divide by genre. My oldest daughter and my son love it. They also love video games and action adventure books. My middle daughter hates it. She likes realistic fiction and is not a gamer.
It’s interesting to me that this graphic novel version is a bridge that can coax kids who rejected the Percy Jackson chapter books into giving it a try. At least, that’s my experience for my son’s book club. The graphic novel also makes the series accessible to kids who might find the chapter books too long or too challenging. Unlike the movie, the plot of The Lightening Thief is faithfully covered in the graphic novel, leaving nothing important out.
Fans of the Percy Jackson series will enjoy the graphic novel to relive the book and non-fans might find that the graphic novel changes their mind.
See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles
MG author Karen Day told me about this book when I saw her at the dog park. She said our local beloved children’s librarian loved this book so much that she made it her avatar. Enough said. I bought a copy and ended up reading the day before the Newtown tragedy. It was the right book at the right time in that See You at Harry’s can take a family tragedy and some how leave us feeling like thinks will somehow be ok. 12-year-old Fern is also an unforgettable character. If this were a movie, she’d win an Oscar. This chapter book deserves a Newbery!
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech
I had big thoughts to match the big wind. I wondered if we find the people we need when we need them. I wondered if we attract our future by some sort of invisible force, or if we are drawn to it by a similar force. I felt I was turning a corner and that change was afoot.
In the little town of Blackbird Tree live two orphan girls: one Naomi Deane, brimming with curiosity, and her best friend, Lizzie Scatterding, who could talk the ears off a cornfield. Naomi has a knack for being around when trouble happens. For she knows all the peculiar people in town—like Crazy Cora and Witch Wiggins and Mr. Farley. But then, one day, a boy drops out of a tree. The strangely charming Finn boy. Then the Dingle Dangle man appears, asking all kinds of questions. Curious surprises are revealed—three locked trunks, a pair of rooks, a crooked bridge, and that boy. Soon Naomi and Lizzie find themselves zooming toward a future neither could ever have imagined. Meanwhile, on a grand estate across the ocean, an old lady whose heart has been deceived concocts a plan. . . .
As two very different worlds are woven together, Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech celebrates the gossamer thread that connects us all, and the great and unexpected gifts of love, friendship, and forgiveness.
This book is probably Sharon Creech’s finest to date with a tightly constructed interwoven plot that is From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (the outside narrator that the plot turns on) meets Irish faerie magical realism. While the cast of characters is large, each person plays a role in this story that spans generations of sorrow yet wraps up in a denouement that is both inspiring and satisfying. The Newbery award seems to favor a windy plot set in small town Americana. I put my money on this book for the top Newbery award!
Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger
10-year-old Bones lives in a bygone time — the Florida swamps during 1949. It’s a time of transition both for Bones and the world around her. Her half Native-American father, Nolay, still faces prejudice while living in a white man’s world. Things turn upside down when Yankee land swindlers show up trying to buy their land and one ends up dead in her swamp. Nolay is arrested as the chief suspect. Can Bones and her best friend, Little Man, unearth evidence to save him? Written in the rich cadence of local dialect, Ashley-Hollinger paints a world that is both authentic and deeply moving. [chapter book, ages 9-12]
Ghost Leopard: A Zoe & Zak Adventure (Volume 1) by Lars Guignard
If your child is a fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles series, Ghost Leopard has the same action packed adventure combined with Hindu mythology. Zoe and Zak, classmates at school, find themselves at the same hotel in India. They must dig deep inside of themselves, discovering their special abilities, as they race to save a mythical animal. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.