Books for Advanced Readers with Age-Appropriate Content? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 05-28-2011, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
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We are struggling to find books that appeal to DD.  She is in 1st grade and reading at about a 4th-5th grade level and rising rapidly.  It seems the books that are at her reading level often deal with content that is outside her realm of experience.  Characters obsessed with fashion, fame, boys, growing boobs, general angst, and all other sorts of social situations that she just can't grasp right now (she cannot fathom why friends would fight over a boy, or get upset with each other over xyz, because her social world just isn't that complicated LOL).  On the flip side, it's not like she wants to read about magical puppies either LOL.


Any recommendations?  Perhaps a good plot-driven book, rather than character-centric book?  Is there a genre/series/author that you would recommend?

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#2 of 18 Old 05-28-2011, 11:30 AM
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What about the Babysitters Club series? I loved it in 5th grade, and I think I was a little on the remedial side back then. It's pretty innocent.

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#3 of 18 Old 05-28-2011, 11:40 AM
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ramama if you go look thru the books forum you will find a few threads kinda on this subject.


i have a child like yours and what i found was that she read the same books that u point out and a lot of the subjects went over her head. she got something out of the book and i was ok with her not understanding part of the book. 


it would help to know what kind of books - storyline your dd likes to read. mystery? girls? fantasy?


is she beyond the magic tree house series (dd never really liked them) or the box car kids (again i am not familiar with the books but many moms point out to it).


dd's first long book that she loved was the wimpy kid series (i think there's a dork one for girls now which dd also liked). she did not understand a lot of underlying things in that book. 

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#4 of 18 Old 05-28-2011, 04:13 PM
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I would chat up your local librarian:


Also, just because she can read at 4th + does not mean that she will not enjoy books both above and below that level. Rather, you are looking for a type of book:



Some ideas would be:


Half-Magic (and the rest of the series)


Cricket in Times Square & other books by the same author


Mrs.Frisby and the Rats of Nihm & others by the same author


Matilda by R.Dahl (and the rest of his books)


any Beverly Cleary books


Charlottes Web & other books by the same author


Encyclopedia Brown series


Little House on the Prairie series


Anne of Green Gables Series


Narnia series


Five little Peppers series


American Girl Series (great historical books)


Dear America-- My America Series (again, good historical books)


any book by Margurite Henry (horse based series)


Bunnicula series


Shel Silverstein poetry books (humorous)


Black Stallion book series (horse based)


Big Red and other books in series (dog books)


anything by AVI (animal based series)


Redwall series




does she like non-fiction??? Often advanced readers enjoy reading about specific topics : DK, Eyewitness, & National Geographic have great lines of  books full of great topics and beautiful can find anything from animals to ancient civilizations!





These are a few authors/titles/series that have good solid characters, nice plots, and do not deal with social relationships that may be too mature for younger readers (preview the historical books, a few American Girl books deal with  weightier topics  and it would depend on your child if you are OK at that age). It is a mix of 3-6th grade book lists (I used to teach upper Elem). 



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#5 of 18 Old 05-28-2011, 07:58 PM
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I've done a MDC wiki (feel free to add -- I'd love to get more titles) for Books for Early Advanced Readers just for this reason -- dd is in 1st grade, reading at a 5th grade level and it is hard to find appropriate books. Right now, she's reading books that range in ability from 2nd grade up to 6th grade, depending on her mood.


Note too that while you may want plot driven books, your dd developmentally may want to be reading character driven books.




My favorites from that list:

The World According to Humphrey (series)

Beverly Cleary's Ramona books


Dd's favorites are:

Main Street

American Girl

American Diaries


(Dd is very much into 'realistic fiction')

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#6 of 18 Old 05-28-2011, 11:34 PM
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my 1rst grader and i just read "the island of the blue dolphins," which she adored. we have also recently read charlie and the chocolate factory, and the giant peach. a book i remember and loved from my childhood- one i read and reread maybe hundreds of times was a book called, "pennies for the piper" which has a very strong and admirable female character. i agree with a previous poster who said to chat up your local librarian. also, it is hard to offer up books when i don't know what you;re dd might be into.

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#7 of 18 Old 05-29-2011, 06:14 AM
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My middle son will be in 1st grade in the fall. He is currently reading Charlotte's Web for the second time. He also loves Roald Dahl, the Ralph Mouse books (but not Ramona), and Bunnicula. We're reading A Wrinkle in Time together and both boys are really into it. 

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#8 of 18 Old 05-29-2011, 09:55 AM
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You need the classics. KC Michigan's list is an excellent one.
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#9 of 18 Old 05-29-2011, 10:00 AM
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This article from Book Links magazine might help: Challenging Gifted Readers


It talks about the different ways that books can be challenging, and it has a bibliography of books for all ages.  



Has she read Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins?  There are several titles in the series.  I've read it aloud to my preschooler, and she enjoyed it.  I believe the reading level is 3rd or 4th grade.

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#10 of 18 Old 05-29-2011, 08:27 PM
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Astrid Lindgren and Eleanor Estes are good authors to check out.


Some other ideas:

Jenny and the Cat Club

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner

No Flying in the House

Emmaline and the Bunny

Happy Little Family

Did You Carry the Flag Today, Charley?

Tove Jansson's Moomin books

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

Mary Poppins

The Doll People (and sequels)

The Animal Family

Igraine the Brave

The Night Fairy

Nim's Island

Star in the Storm

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

George's Secret Key to the Universe

The Wind Boy


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#11 of 18 Old 05-30-2011, 06:37 AM
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Great lists. I don't think I saw mentioned: 


The Phantom Tollbooth

Alice in Wonderland

All-of-A-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor 

 Gone Away Lake and Return to Gone Away by Elizabeth Enright

Frindle by Andrew Clements

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

The Casson Family series by Hilary McKay



I haven't looked at the links yet, though, so they may be duplicate suggestions. Some of them might be a little stretch beyond 4th grade level, into 5th/6th, but if she is a voracious reader, she'll probably be there soon. 


I also wanted to suggest reviewing awards lists for ideas. The Newbery is often cited, but I like looking at other countries for their award winners. Even if the story is at or below a child's reading level, there's often unfamiliar words, scenery, history etc. that can provide a lot of interest. 



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#12 of 18 Old 05-30-2011, 07:32 AM
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My dd has loved the How to Train Your Dragon Series (it is nothing like the movie) by Cressida Cowell, Despereaux (another book better than the recent movie) by Kate DiCamillo, and right now she is reading a book by Grace Lin Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  Ds read Lin's Year of the dog this year (he is 4th grade) and really enjoyed it and  I read to dd another DiCamillo book,

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which was good.  Both of my kids have enjoyed many of the books on KC Michigan's list.

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#13 of 18 Old 06-02-2011, 08:21 PM
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This is a fantastic free website with booklists for all ages and grades.  It's designed to be used as a curriculum resembling Charlotte Mason's teaching approach. CM was a believer in giving children quality literature to read. 

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#14 of 18 Old 06-03-2011, 03:10 PM
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I would recommend the Magic Tree House series for an advanced first grader but if she is reading at 5th grade level you might want to search for older series like Little House on the Praire, Anne of Anvolene - try the site and look for the reading list for her grade level for either the Charlotte Mason method or the Waldorf Method - both lists have books that would appeal to higher level readers


What does she enjoy? Mystery, History, Fantasy? Animals?

Our Island Story is a History book of stories about English History - my son 10 yo started using this book when he was 8 and still reads certain stories from it.


Norse Stories are pretty good but not sure if she'd like that as a first grader as it is introduced in 4th grade when the classes learn Norse Mythology.


I hope some of these help. If she can find her reading genre - she will be led by her love of reading


The Gutenberg Project is another place with free books online  that will help you see before you buy or borrow a book series for her.

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#15 of 18 Old 07-01-2011, 07:30 PM
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My DD was like that as well . . .interestingly, I found out that even though she COULD easily read books way above "grade level," she didn't really always need to, you know?  While she could read a 5th or 6th grade book, she was really happy with the content of a 3rd grade book most of the time.  The problem is with newer chapter books.  They are written for a certain reading level vs being good writing.  Sometimes picture books will have harder language than chapter books for that reason.  The classics are good, but if your DD is like mine, she would even like the very simple Magic Treehouse books even if it just takes her 15 minutes to finish them.  (I stopped buying them and only got them from the library!)  And believe it or not, I actually LIKED the dumb Junie B. Jones books and at that time, DD would read them, too.  Again, even though your DD will fly through them, she might think they are funny and be able to relate to them since they are about a KG/1st grader. 


I agree very much with non-fiction.  To me, this is where you can get way above grade level and with (usually) appropriate content.  Not always true for history once your DD gets a little older-- so much scary in history!

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#16 of 18 Old 07-05-2011, 07:05 AM
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We just recently found The Sugar Plum Sisters series. They are longish chapter books and well written; I read them to my 4.5 YO DD and find the content appropriate for her. But the stories themselves would still be interesting for older children.

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#17 of 18 Old 07-08-2011, 03:54 PM
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Some great suggestions here, esp. Kc, Daffodil's and ollyoxen's lists. I have a rising second-grader reading at about this level (give or take) and she has enjoyed a lot of what they suggest.

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#18 of 18 Old 07-10-2011, 09:11 AM
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The thea stilton books are pretty good for girly girls. they will catch any little girls eye


  • Thea Stilton and the Dragon's Code 
  • Thea Stilton and the Mountain of Fire 
  • Thea Stilton and the Ghost of the Shipwreck 
  • Thea Stilton and the Secret City 
  • Thea Stilton and the Mystery in Paris 
  • Thea Stilton and the Cherry Blossom Adventure 
  • Thea Stilton and the Star Castaways 
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