Hey 4th-8th graders! Today’s post is for you!
Once upper elementary school hits, life gets so busy that juggling your schedule becomes much harder. According to researchers, more and more of you are choosing not to make time for reading.
For your teachers and parents, this can be frustrating. Maybe it’s frustrating for you, too.
My observation as a teacher, librarian, and parent is that sometimes selecting a book off the shelf is actually the hardest part of reading. (I will add here that student self-selection of books is fantastic and if your teacher allows it, say thank you. You have higher odds of increased achievement.)
Luckily, I’ve got a few books to recommend that I’m willing to bet you’ll enjoy. My recommendations have nothing to do with Lexile scores (an often misused tool) and everything to do with fabulous stories that lots of kids have loved. These are tried and true favorites. If you need a book for class—or just for fun—I dare you to try one of these. Give it to chapter 3 and then let me know what you think.
1. Anything by Raina Telgemeier.
They are all super popular: Smile, Sisters, Drama, Guts, and Ghosts.
Graphic novels of any kind are a good bet. If your teacher balks at allowing graphic novels in class, invite them to read my article about the benefits of graphic novels.
2. Anything by Rick Riordan.
The Lightning Thief is the first book of his first middle grade series, but if you are in middle school, you might prefer starting with Book 1 of The Heroes of Olympus series. The characters are older, and the storyline is more complex.
If you’ve already devoured all of his books, consider another upper middle grade fantasy.
3. The Last Kids on Earth, by Max Brallier.
Humorous tales are always a win, and Last Kids on Earth has the bonus of some inside artwork. Plus ZOMBIES.
See also: Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and I, Funny.
4. Love That Dog and Hate that Cat, by Sharon Creech.
Short, easy-to-read, and totally gripping, Sharon Creech tells this story in a one-sided conversation made of poems. Even my students who claimed to hate poetry loved this book and its sequel.
Other novels-in-verse books to consider as well include The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (especially for basketball fans) and Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle.
5. Scary books are constant favorites.
You don’t have to stop reading scary stories once you outgrow Goosebumps. Try a novel by Mary Downing Hahn—she’s the queen of ghost stories for young teens.
If you’re ready to kick it up another notch, try Coraline, Doll Bones, or The Night Gardener.
If you don’t love a book within the first three chapters, it's okay to abandon it and try a different book. If you find yourself abandoning books all the time, though, consider asking your librarian or teacher for some advice on books you might enjoy. But I would be surprised if none of these worked for you!
Bonus— If you have younger siblings, try reading aloud to your younger brothers and sisters. No, I’m not kidding. Books are magical, and little kids will remind you of this truth if you've forgotten. Watch their eyes sparkle as you read to them. Here are some great books for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, as well as reading tips and information for families about building a love of reading. The adults in your household will probably appreciate both the linked info and your sibling sweetness.
There is a book waiting for you right now! A perfect book for you! A good book you'll love--you just have to give it a chance!
To those of you in 4th-8th grade and older, I hope I can offer a smidgen of help & encouragement as you traverse the waters of intermediate school, middle school, and high school.