My son’s reading journey started when he turned three and wanted to only read about dinosaurs. At age four, his interest switched to Pokémon. He learned to read in kindergarten when he turned six and we read mostly picture books.
Graphic novels got him reading in first grade but we also read a lot of picture books too, particularly those with a math theme. By second grade, he read books about aliens, funny books, and graphic novels, and explored different genres in third grade.
In fourth grade, he read a combination of funny, realistic fiction and graphic novels with a little fantasy adventure thrown in. In fifth grade, he discovered he liked poetry thanks to Kwame Alexander. (Thanks Kwame!) This was the year his reading exploded.
Sixth grade was marked by a year of concussion, but we kept on reading with me reading aloud to him. I would describe his taste in books as solidly Rick Riordan, realistic fiction, anything funny including graphic novels, with an interest in science topics either in fiction or nonfiction. He is essentially your typical boy. We’d love your recommendations for a boy who likes funny, action adventure. Thanks so much!
p.s. His sister’s 6th grade reading list: 6th Grade Chapter Books from a Sixth Grade Girls.
My Son’s 6th Grade Reading List
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
This was the assigned summer reading for his rising 6th grade. We both really liked it, and were thrilled to learn that director Rob Reiner, also reading this book with his daughter, liked it so much that he decided to make it into a movie. My son isn’t into girls but he didn’t seem to mind this middle school love story. [chapter book, ages 12 and up]
Booked by Kwame Alexander
My son learned that he liked poetry after reading The Crossover. My son doesn’t play basketball but he’s played club soccer since he was eight. When I told him Kwame Alexander’s next book was about soccer, he was excited to read it. He liked this book about soccer, divorce, and bullying too. I was surprised that a soccer star could be bullied. I haven’t seem that where I live, but I guess it happens. [novel in verse, for ages 10 and up]
Schooled by Gordon Korman
My son’s sisters really liked Schooled so I thought it was a safe bet for my son. He loved it and now he’s a Gordon Korman fan though he only wants to read Korman’s realistic fiction books. This zen story of a homeschooled boy who goes to traditional school and turns things upside down for the bullies is a middle school realistic fantasy come true. [chapter book, for ages 9 and up]
Ungifted by Gordon Korman
I think my son liked Ungifted even more than Schooled because it’s funny and relatable. A boy gets accidentally placed at a school for the academically gifted. He doesn’t fit in at first, but his presence changes those around him. What will happen when he’s outed? [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs
My son found the first two books at a used book store that benefits kids who age out of foster care called More Than Words. We got hooked on the first book, and sped through the rest of the series. Now we are waiting impatiently for the next book. It’s a series about an animal theme park where Teddy, who lives there because his parents both work there, is thrust into mystery and intrigue. He has to solve these issues while also trying to stay alive as the bad guys hone in. There is also a hint of romance with the owner’s daughter which makes this perfect for middle school sleuths. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
My son found this book in his English teacher’s classroom library. It has an old-fashioned feel of a classic like a more gentle version of Roald Dahl. I should look into more books by Eva Ibbotson; this was my first book of hers and she’s a talented storyteller. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
My son is Rick Riordan’s biggest fan and he will abandon any book he’s reading as soon as a new Riordan book arrives. We have really enjoyed the Magnus Chase series. To get ready for it, he re-read D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths. Magnus Chase might be my favorite series outside of Percy Jackson. [chapter book, ages 10 and up — while the publisher suggests this series is for ages 10 and up, my son and all his friends started reading Magnus Chase in first and second grade. Aside from action/adventure, there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers.]
The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
My son likes this latest series by Riordan of Apollo cast down to earth as a puny and pimply teenager by Zeus as punishment. It has some dark moments as Meg McCaffrey, a demi-god, has a step-father, the villain in the book, is emotionally abusive. [chapter book series, ages 10 and up *see note for ages above]
For Magnus Chase: Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan
For those who need a refresher in Norse Mythology, take a ride with Magnus to Hotel Valhalla to get a quick overview of the Norse gods and goddesses. I can’t imagine a more entertaining way to learn about Norse Myths. [chapter book, age 8 and up]
Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce
My son has always loved graphic novels; it’s what got him reading independently in the first place. Now, he can read a Big Nate book in one sitting. I know how much he loves Big Nate because he carefully tears out the poster in each book and tapes it to his door. These books make my son laugh out loud. [graphic novel series, ages 8 and up]
My Son’s Rising 7th Grade/Early 7th Grade Reading List
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
We started this book and then abandoned it when a Riordan book arrived. My son picked it out again after six months and we started from the beginning this second time around. It’s the perfect mix of science and humor for my son. It’s also a short book, if that helps with finding the perfect book for your child. The premise is a scientific break though in aging for eleven-year-old Ellie’s grandfather. Unfortunately, that means he shows up at her doorstep, as a thirteen-year-old. This doesn’t make her mother happy because she’s never gotten along with her father who disapproved of her career choice in the dramatic arts. Still, having her grandfather in middle school with her turns out to be a bonding experience for Ellie and ignites an interest in science in her as well. This is a funny, fast read for those who like science served up realistically, with sides of humor and magical realism. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
We are sad that this series is over after just three books. There is a cliffhanger and we are hoping that Riordan will return with another go at this series. [chapter book series, ages 10 and up]
See You In the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
This was my son’s assigned rising 7th grade summer reading book. My son liked the first half of the book which is about 11-year-old Alex Petroski’s road trip from Colorado to New Mexico for a rocket launch event with his small and very afraid dog. The story is told through Alex’s voice by way of recordings and it also indicated to me that perhaps Alex has Asperger’s Syndrome. We know that it’s just Alex and his mom at home and there is something not quite right with her as Alex is the primary caretaker for both of them.
It’s at the rocket launch event that Alex meets two fellow competitors that help him get to the next leg of his journey. It’s here where my son loses interest in the story. Cheng introduces more adult characters at each new location in the book, with each having a backstory that somehow winds together with rest of the plot. Newbery judges like this complicated lines of plot that intersect for a satisfying ending, but my son did not. He had trouble keeping track of everyone and really didn’t care for a nearly-all adult cast. If you compare this to Riordan books which he loves, this book lacks the humor, the adventure, the special powers, and, most of all, the “kids-on-a-quest-doing-it-by-themselves” element. It was tough slogging to make my son finish the book and I did all the reading to him aloud!
I think while some have this book on the short list for Newbery, there is just too much going on in terms of adult characters, plot twists, and mental health challenges for a middle school audience. For a road trip book, I’d probably recommend Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech instead. My son would recommend The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex instead. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]
The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
The Apollo series is my least favorite Riordan one but my son likes it, as he does all things Riordan. I think it’s Apollo’s character as Lester Papadopolous that rubs me the wrong way. He still has some of the arrogance of Apollo but in the more puny, human form of Lester. This does create humor, which my son and I appreciate, but I am just not rooting for Lester/Apollo like I do Riordan’s heroes. I do, however, have grave concern for Meg McCaffrey, the demigod who is Apollo’s master in this series. Meg’s stepfather Nero, is reborn as an evil villain, of the most terrifying kind: cruel and emotionally abusive. The damage that he inflicts on Meg is horrific and while I do applaud Riordan for making the reader aware of otherwise under-the-radar abuse of children, it’s difficult for me as a mother to read. Still, any book that gets my son reading independently is a good thing and I am thankful that this is a five book series. I just hope Meg and other abused children in this series come out ok in the end. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]
We Are Currently Reading
Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth by Amy Stewart
My son loved The 100 Most Disgusting Things on the Planet series in elementary school and this is the middle school version of it. These bugs, my son points out, can give you nightmares as they really do exist in real life. He has currently switched to the Wings of Fire series but I am hoping we will finish this excellent nonfiction book. We would also recommend The Plant Hunters by Anita Silvey for those who like nonfiction action adventure. [nonfiction chapter book, ages 8 and up]
Wings of Fire series by Tui Sutherland
My son noticed a girl that he knew from elementary school was reading this series. He asked her about it and she recommended it, so he came home with a book request which is very unusual for him. Hence, I bought the five book paperback series sight unseen. It turns out that this is a fantasy series similar to Guardians of Ga’hoole by Kathryn Lasky which my son and I have read half the books for, or the Warriors series by Erin Hunter that his oldest sister enjoyed. In short: fantasy series of battling dragons, each species with special powers. My son hasn’t really read much fantasy so I will keep you posted if we make it though this series. He likes dragons though, so that is the hook for him I think. [chapter book series, for ages 8 and up]
Books He Abandoned
Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
I really want to get though this series with him but unfortunately, he misplaced the book in his messy room and it took a few months for it to reappear. By that point, we had moved on to another book. My liked this book read aloud to him fine, but I think it lacked the humor and action of a Riordan that really gets him into a book. [chapter book series, ages 8 and up]
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly
I thought this was a medieval version of Riordan complete with kids with “super powers”, action adventure, AND humor. I love this book but it didn’t quite capture his attention to finish it. I think it will remain on the abandoned pile for him. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
Artemis Fowl 5: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
We met Eoin Colfer at the Mega Awesome event with Rick Riordan, and Colfer is hilariously funny and charming. It was enough to convince my son to try Artemis Fowl and we plugged away at four of the books, enjoying each one. This fifth one, however, was our stopping point. I think my son enjoyed Artemis more as diabolically evil. Still, four books is a good run in my book! [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
Ramses: The Son of Light by Christian Jacq
Because my son is studying Ancient Egypt in 7th grade AND he liked Riordan’s The Red Pyramid series, I thought I’d give this adult historical fiction series a try by Egyptologist expert Christian Jacq. My husband and I loved this series and it reads like an action adventure series but with a real person. This worked ok as a read aloud for my son, but I think he’s still a little young for it. Timing is everything! [adult historical fiction series, for ages 14 and up]
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