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.
22 thoughts on “Great New Chapter Books For Ages 9 and Up”
You always make me want to read everything you write about. These look wonderful- especially the Sharon Creech book. This is perfect timing, too. Fen’s been in a book rut lately, so hopefully I can spark her interest back up with some of these.
Oh, please let me know what Fen likes!
I was really impressed with The Lightening Thief, It’s been a while since I have been looking at books for this age group. My husband is currently writing and illustrating his first graphic novel so this book really piqued by interest. The brilliant color and details of the illustrations should make even reluctant readers take a second look.
My only issue with The Lightening Thief graphic novel (and many of them have this problem) is that the characters age b 10 years when drawn by comic book-ish style artists. Also, the drawings don’t reflect the character description. Annabeth is supposed to be gorgeous — blonde, gray eyed and intelligent looking. She looks the most age appropriate but the artist failed to convey her beauty. The boys, on the other hand, look like they are 22-years-old.
Raina Telgemier gets the age of the characters in her graphic novels right. I know it must be a tough illustration challenge!
Believe me, to do a graphic novel correctly takes a lot of time and effort. It takes at least three days to do one page of illustrations. I admit that my husband is a perfectionist when it comes to art, but attention to detail is really important to the sequencing of the story in a graphic novel. Because his style is realistic as opposed to a cartoon style, I have not seen this problem. But I am not that familiar with graphic novels written especially for children.
I can imagine it must be difficult to create a graphic novel. Your husband’s sound great! What age are they for?
The Great Unexpected has been on my want-to-read list for some time. It’s sounds so good! Thanks for this list. I’ve pinned it for my daughter’s reading.
Hi Renee C,
Thanks so much! Please let me know if she ends up reading any of these and what she thinks. I love hearing kids’ opinions on books!
Will do! And thanks for linking this list into the Kid Lit Blog Hop. I’m sure many will benefit! 🙂
Great post! I’ll be coming back to it for ideas in a couple years 🙂
Any parent would love to get their fingers on these books. Am sure my sons will love them.
I bet they are all at your library or will be soon. The Orca series is great for reluctant readers! I can confirm that after trying it out with a reluctant 7th grade boy who loved them and is now reading more happily!
These are a little advanced still for my kids but The Great Unexpected is definitely on my reading list!
I can wholeheartedly recommend The Great Unexpected and I’m surprised that it didn’t win any big awards so far!
I keep reading See You At Harry’s but sometimes it’s hard for me to start a book I know will make me cry! Thanks for sharing at The Children’s Bookshelf.
Hi Mom and Kiddo,
I know what you mean but I can honestly say that it’s truly uplifting in the end. I’m still surprised that it didn’t win any awards.
Thanks for sharing at What’d You Do This Weekend. I am pinning this as i frequently buy books for kids as gifts. This will be a very handy list!
Thanks so much Tumbleweek Contessa! I really appreciate that!
My favorite on the list is the Percy Jackson series. Although I would have preferred Harry Potter.
Hi Christopher James,
We are enjoying Harry Potter right now. My oldest and youngest like it but my middle child did not like action adventure. We are also reading anything by Rick Riordan! My youngest wants me to pre-order anything he writes. Thanks for coming by!