I read A LOT. Like seriously, an embarrassing amount. It’s how I stay sane in the mundane world of motherhood. (Also, it’s fun.) My kids also read a ton, so we are constantly on the hunt for new, awesome books to consume. I can’t tell you how excited I get when I see pages of book recommendations. In light of that, I thought I’d put out there a list of our own favorites to help out anyone who’s in the same boat. Then, you know, if you want to toss some suggestions my way in the comments, we all win!
This will be a running series. In future posts, I’ll put up my favorite YA novels, my favorite sci-fi, etc. The complete compiled list can be found on the little tab above that’s creatively called Book Recommendations.
This list only includes title and author and a short description, but I’m going to be working on adding book reviews to the blog, so as I get longer reviews up, the links will be on the Book Recommendations page, too. Check back from time to time, I’m always reading more (and so are the nerdlings) so this list is going to grow.
If you liked Harry Potter (and if you didn’t, I can’t help you)
For kids of all ages (With a focus on the 7-11 crowd)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket – Just so, so much word play and sibling awesomeness. Since these are two of my favorite things, I have been smitten for a long time. And both my girls (even the one who just turned 5) have loved these.
- Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket – First of a four-book series called All the Wrong Questions which is already genius before you can even get past the title. Classic Lemony Snicket style with a twist of mystery thrown in.
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – Not like you wouldn’t have thought of these on your own, but in case you’re wondering, the first five books (original numbers) are as good as you remember (really wonderful and surprisingly short) and the last two…eh. Do not make the mistake of starting with The Magician’s Nephew. Also, this is the one case where the movies are as good as/better than the books.
- The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley – Gets five stars as my 9-year-old daughter’s favorite series ever. Fun and funny and full of fairy-tale references. [end of alliteration]
- N.E.R.D.S. by Michael Buckley – More by the author of The Sisters Grimm, this is a team of geeky kid spies of both genders which appealed to all of my little nerdlings.
- Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown (of Vader and Son fame)- This one is for the younger end of the spectrum, but you can’t go wrong with the Star Wars universe and kids who don’t have a clue.
- Warriors (Start with Into the Wild) by Erin Hunter – I really hate to do this to you, parents, but my 9-year-old and her darling nerdy friends are obsessed. Warrior cats living in clans in the wild. Elaborate world-building. Apparently hundreds of books. Great intro to future fantasy geekdom.
- On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson – Have you heard of this one? A little more overt Christian allegory than I would like, but I loved the tongue in cheek style and the fast-paced action.
- Leviathan by Scott Westerfield – Super steampunky, this is a fun kid adventure in alternate history. Imagine WWI if the Brits had giant flying airbeasts and the Germans had advanced mechanical walkers. Creative world building and interesting, well-developed characters.
- Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins – I’ve only read the first in this series about a boy who falls down into an underworld adventure with roaches and bats and rats. So you can see why I quit and also why kids would love it. Remarkably heart warming and (obviously) well-written.
- The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson- This is an odd one, but if you have a math-obsessed nerdling who isn’t as in to reading, I’d recommend giving it a try. Elaborate system of fighting with chalk drawings, more mentally stimulating than emotionally gripping.
- Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe- Do you remember reading this series as a kid? I hope so. Easy read for those who are just getting into chapter books, and they are so fun. Plus it inspires you to search for white carrots to freak your kids out.
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee – A motley collection of odd bright children? Mysteries to solve and puzzles to puzzle over? Yes and yes, please. This one is probably better for the 9 and over crowd (just based on difficulty, not on content).
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle- Just read these again as an adult and man, they are weird. But I can still remember reading about Meg and Calvin and Charles Wallace for the first time all those years ago and feeling understood.
- In the Hall of the Dragon King by Stephen Lawhead – A more obscure pick from my childhood. These were my favorite books, my intro to the fantasy genre (went straight from here to The Hobbit), full of kings and sorcerers and brave young men who have to save them all. Obviously Christian, but leans toward world-view shaping rather than allegory or preachiness.
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster- Please tell me you know about this wonderful classic gem. So smart, so clever, and so resonant and wise. Kids may need to be older to get into it, but this is a book that will make your life better.
- Stick Dog by Tom Watson – Not remotely in the same genre as Harry Potter, but the concept is clever and the writing nimble and my 7-year-old who loved HP finds these books hilarious. Tom Watson makes a bid deal about how he illustrated this with his own self-proclaimed terrible drawings, and that’s the kind of creative awesomeness I want to support.
- The Brixton Brothers by Mac Barnett – A modern Hardy Boys. I haven’t read more than a page or two, but my 7 -year-old son ranks them at the top of his list. My favorite bit? There aren’t any brothers. It’s just one kid who is trying to imitate his detective heroes.
- The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau – These books are a really interesting look at human nature and the effects of culture on our choices. So yeah, even though they are definitely for kids aged 9-12, they are serious. A serious adventure. Good books, but not going to appeal to everyone.
- The Book of Sight by Deborah Dunlevy – What? You didn’t think I was going to recommend my own books? I’ve been living with Alex, Adam, Dominic, Logan, and Eve long enough that they’ve become some of my favorite people. Book Three will be out in just a few weeks! For the record, this is the category I would file these under. So far my happiest fans are aged 9-13.