Have a precocious reader? Book series to keep even the fastest reader busy

My fourth-grader rips through books in a single day. He is a precocious little reader, and I am constantly searching for series of books for him to read. I went into our local library this weekend and a lovely librarian came up with a great list of books for my little guys to tackle. And then she even walked me around to find them.

I am pulling the description and age recommendation of each book from Amazon.com but you know your kids best.

Here are the book she recommended for my 9-year-old boy:

“Gregor The Overlander” (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)by  Suzanne Collins

From Amazon.com: 8 and up

“This irresistible first novel tells the story of a quiet boy who embarks on a dangerous quest in order to fulfill his destiny — and find his father — in a strange world beneath New York City.”

“When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.

“Peter and the Starcatchers,” By Dave Barry (Author), Ridley Pearson (Author)

From Amazon.com –  (10 and up):

“Don’teven think of starting this bookunless you’re sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. Afast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peterand his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. Theyset sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk inits cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement anddanger.

“Discoverrichly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary butfamiliar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles withpirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses thereader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries ofthe beloved Peter Pan.”

“The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” [Paperback] Michael Scott (Author)

From Amazon.com (No Age recommendation on this one)

“He holds the secret that can end the world.”

“The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.”

‘The records show that he died in 1418.”

“But his tomb is empty.”

“The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.”

“Sometimes legends are true.”

“And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.”

“The Fairy Tale Detectives” (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) [Paperback]

Michael Buckley (Author), Peter Ferguson (Illustrator)

From Amazon.com – (2nd grade and up)

“In paperback for the first time, the Sisters Grimm take readers to a world where fairy tales are fact and not everyone is who they seem!

In book one of this bestselling series, sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm. The sisters learn they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files. The girls are the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, and their new hometown is filled with Everafters (as magical folks like to be called)—some good and some very, very bad. When a mysterious Everafter sets a giant loose on the town, it’s up to the Sisters Grimm to save the day.”

“My Side of the Mountain” (Puffin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Jean Craighead George (Author)

From Amazon.com – (8 and up)

“Terribly unhappy in his family’s crowded New York City apartment, Sam Gribley runs away to the solitude-and danger-of the mountains, where he finds a side of himself he never knew.”

“Alex Rider: Stormbreaker By Anthony Horowitz (Author)

From Amazon.com: (no age given)

“From Publishers Weekly

Readers will cheer for Alex Rider, the 14-year-old hero of British author Horowitz’s spy thriller (the first in a projected series). When his guardian and uncle, Ian, is mysteriously killed, Alex discovers that his uncle was not the bank vice-president he purported to be, but rather a spy for the British government. Now the government wants Alex to take over his uncle’s mission: investigating Sayle Enterprises, the makers of a revolutionary computer called Stormbreaker. The company’s head plans to donate one to every secondary school in England, but his dealings with unfriendly countries and Ian Rider’s murder have brought him under suspicion. Posing as a teenage computer whiz who’s won a Stormbreaker promotional contest, Alex enters the factory and immediately finds clues from his uncle….”

“Redwall” (Redwall, Book 1) [Paperback]

Brian Jacques (Author), Gary Chalk (Illustrator)

From Amazon.com (ages 8 and up):

“When Redwall was published in 1987 it catipulted author Brian Jacques to international stardom. And small wonder! This enthralling tale is jam-packed with the things we long for in a great adventure: danger, laughter, hairbreath excapes, tragedy, mystery, a touch of wonder, a truly despicable villain, and a hero we can take to heart.”

“That hero is Matthias, a young mouse who must rise above his fears and failures to save his friends at Redwall Abbey. The villain is Cluny the Scourage, one of the most deliciously despicable rats of all time. The unforgettable cast of supporting characters includes the stalwart badger Constance, an irrepressible hare named Basil Stag Hare, and the elderly wisemouse Brother Methuselah.”

“But most of all there is Matthias, seeking his true destiny in a journey that will lead through danger and despair to true wisdom.”

Can you vouch for any of these book series? Do you kids have a favorite among them? What other series are great for crazy readers?

Want more book recommendations? The son of one of our AJC staffers has started his own book review site. He is 11 and is reviewing books aimed at boys and girls ages 9 to 13. Your kids can read his reviews and offer their own opinion. Check his blog out here.

39 comments Add your comment


November 5th, 2012
12:57 pm

If he’s reading a book a day, maybe you need more complex books, not necessarily a “series”….

Challenge him to read The Hobbit books….challenge him to read at the next level.

And how is his comprehension? Can he read a book and then tell you about it?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 5th, 2012
1:04 pm

mayhem — he has the hobbit by his bed but I don’t think he’s gotten into it — He reads on a 7th grade level (comprehension, not just can read the words) so It’s hard to find things that are appropriate– ie not to violent or pre-teeny for him. I’m hoping she’s made good suggestions because I haven’t read any of these. We have a hard time with appropriate computer games as well — he’s all into mindcraft and I have to really watch what servers he gets on.


November 5th, 2012
1:12 pm

My son really liked the Series of Misfortunate Events books at that age… a little dark but not scary.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 5th, 2012
1:33 pm

I wondered about those — i know the library has the whole series — good one. thanks!


November 5th, 2012
1:39 pm

Not sure what his feelings about pets/animals are but the Warriors series introduces some very memorable felines & their world which parallels that of humans. Can be somewhat dark at times (major plot line involves constant threats to, and deaths of, central characters) but also has a “circle of life” tone about those developments. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warriors_%28novel_series%29


November 5th, 2012
1:43 pm

Also, how about Rick Riordan’s Olympians series (five books so far)?

I’ll echo the Lemony Snicket suggestion from earlier. The Alex Rider series is probably okay but the violence is on par with a junior grade James Bond from what I’ve read. Wasn’t an issue for me, but your mileage may vary.


November 5th, 2012
1:53 pm

I enjoyed the “The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel”.

Picked up a cute book called The 68 Rooms by Marianne Malone, I think there are two books so far. Liked them so much got my 79 year old mother to read them and on our trip to Chicago in September we stopped by the Art Insutite of Chicago to see the room.

Also liked Septimus Heap by Angie Sage.

How about any of the RIck Riordan? I have enjoyed 39 Rooms, the maze of bones and several of the Percy Jackson books.


November 5th, 2012
1:57 pm

Rioridan had several series…My younger one enjoys having them read to her, but she can read them as well.

My challenge is for the older one. She prefers to read the graphic novels (comic books on steriods if you ask me) than a novel. Or to get something more junior….she reads (and comprehends) on a 10th grade level and has zero interest in the classics. She is reading Hunger Games #2 at the moment, she isn’t happy but she is doing it b/c I told her she had too.


November 5th, 2012
2:06 pm

He might like “The Gaurdians of Ga’Hoole” books. They are about warrior owls. There is even a movie made from them. If he hasn’t already read them, the complete set of “The Chronicles of Narnia” (most people think it is only one book). Oh and the “How to Train Your Dragon” book series.

My daughter is 8 and also reads and comprehends on a 7th grade level so I know how you feel.


November 5th, 2012
2:11 pm

Artemis Fowl series and Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanigan and anything by Brandon Mull also – all good series for preteen boys. Also, personally thought the Nicolas Flamel books were a little old for my 9 year old.


November 5th, 2012
2:30 pm

Not just the Olympians series, but look into books about the myths on which they’re based on, as well as mythology of other regions. When I was about your son’s age, my mom bought me D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. Well-written for kids, albeit some gruesome and PG-13 details (not many), but what might slow him down will be the incredible illustrations on many of the pages. I recently purchased a hard-cover copy of that one, and another one on Norse mythology. They’re just as incredible today as they were when I first got the Greek book.


November 5th, 2012
3:25 pm

The Gregor books are very good. I even enjoyed them as an adult, but there isn’t any inappropriate content for a 4th grader.

Atlanta Mom

November 5th, 2012
3:30 pm

Two out of three of my children really liked the Redwall series. Not my favorite, but they were harmless.
The Hobbit may be appropriate for a 4th grader, but I don’t think the Trilogy of the Rings is. Lots of violence and the entire middle book gets bogged down in battle.


November 5th, 2012
4:02 pm

Redwall is a fun, appropriate book series for older readers. I found it as an adult, but would have loved it in that stage where it’s hard to find books that are a high enough reading level but still have appropriate content. And there are a lot of them!

Metro Coach

November 5th, 2012
4:05 pm

The Theodore Boone series by John Grisham is excellent.

ATL Born and Raised

November 5th, 2012
4:26 pm

I remember being very into the Star Wars books when I was that age. The Young Jedi Knights series was really good, focused on Han and Leia’s kids and their adventures. Unfortunately, I have no idea if those particular books are still in print now. I also liked the Golden Compass books. Never enjoyed the Hobbit myself.

Teacher, Too

November 5th, 2012
4:58 pm

The Mike Lupika sports books are great (Travel Team, etc). It’s not a series, but the books are well-written. Also, I believe that James Patterson is now writing for young adults.

Cornelia Funk also wrote the Ink trilogy— Inkheart and so on.

He might also like Aragon.

Warrior Woman

November 5th, 2012
5:09 pm

The Underland Chronicles are good for upper elementary students. My girls all liked the Lemony Snickett “Series of Unfortunate Events” at that age, as well as The Hobbit series, and the Harry Potter series. I also recommend Artemis Fowl books and all of the Rick Riordan series. The Carl Hiassen kids books (Hoot, Flush, and Scat) might also be good for him.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 5th, 2012
5:11 pm

he spends most of his time reading all the Riordan books — he has from three different series at home now and ends up rereading a lot because he enjoys it so much — thanks for the other suggestions guys!! I love having it online so I always can look it up!

Warrior Woman

November 5th, 2012
5:13 pm

Also the Madeleine L’Engel “Wrinkle in Time” series and the Brian Jacques “Redwall” series.

ATL Born and Raised

November 5th, 2012
5:17 pm

I second Madeleine L’Engel. I can’t really recommend any “popular” series of the day since none of these were published when I was a kid. Pre-”Harry Potter” days. I used to love the old “Tarzan” books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and “Have Spacesuit–Will Travel” by Robert Heinlein.

Atlanta Mom

November 5th, 2012
5:17 pm

I remember taking my daughter to the library and she asked me where the “banned book” list was. She explained to me that it had been posted on our previous visit, and there were a lot of good books on it. She wanted to use it as her reading list. ” Wrinkle in Time” was one of the books.


November 5th, 2012
5:20 pm

My son LOVED the Sister’s Grimm books, Lemony Snickett, Fablehaven, and Percy Jackson books. He is an avid reader too. He also liked the Septimus Heap series and The Candy Shop War books. He is currently reading The Janitors and already wants the second one. I can’t keep him in books either… Good problem to have!

Andrew D'Ath

November 5th, 2012
5:38 pm

I find it interesting that nearly all parents with children that read so much don’t read more of the books their kids do. Having said that in the last 12 years I have read a load of books to know what my kids ARE reading.
here are some of the popular ones,
Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson series (leads into) the Olympians…. yes thats up there I know, but need to read in order
Eoin McNamee- The Navigator, and City of Time
Emily Roder- Deltora quest…… wasn’t my favourite series, but the kids enjoyed it and they were ok
Chritopher Paolini – Eragon, Eldest, and two others? can’t remember heavy going, but my boy read them at 11
Cornelia Funke – Inkheart Trilogy the book bets the movie (isn’t that always true?)
Douglas Adams- Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy!!!! I can’t believe they enjoyed that the way I did at the same age
Justin D’Ath – Sam fox Extreme adventure seires (any age that can read them my kids started these at 7)
Geronimo stilton – again younger ones 7-10

and the kids are getting into some classics too
The Hardie Boys – the original series (they don’t like the new ones which get to preteeny)
Nancy Drew – again my kids loved the original series
Sherlock Holmes – for the 12 year old he really got into a few of them
Jule Verne! – my kids collected them
Lord of the rings series – the older two read these (10 & 12)
Narinia series – all my kids read these at about 8-9
Coral Island – just getting iinto it,

so there are a couple that might help. I have to date removed two books from my older sons reading as I found that although they were “recommended”, some content was too “adult” for him to read …. yet.

Andrew D'Ath

November 5th, 2012
5:45 pm

Oh and how could I forget?
L. M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables (I read this to my Duaghter, and cauhgt the boys reading it when she wasn’t looking!)


November 5th, 2012
6:18 pm

Depending on how much he likes science, he might enjoy the Hitchhiker’s Guide series by Douglas Adams.


November 5th, 2012
6:25 pm

Haven’t read the Alchemyst series but all the others are good. Redwall books are thick enough and there are enough of them to take a little time to get through.

It is very hard to find books for fast readers that young. I ended up pre-reading a lot of books for my son until he was old enough to discern what was appropriate and what was not. It was also helpful because then I knew the story and could see if there were any slow spots he might need to work past and we could discuss what was happening.

Also, would recommend: (based on the list I kept of books my son read)
Alcatraz and the Evil librarians by Sanderson – funny series – the character breaks the 4th wall often to talk to the reader;
Warriors: Into the Wild by Hunter – about a society of cats living in the wild (1st series of 6 books is very good, 2nd series is good; 3rd and 4th series after that gets a bit annoyingly teen-angst-y even though the characters are cats. my son still enjoyed them but I tended to think ‘just get over it’ too often);
Mysterious Benedict Society by Stewart;
Corby Flood (and other FarFlung Adventure series);
Cosmic or Framed by Frank Cottrell
Kingdom Keepers series by Pearson (has very slight thread about a middle school crush but not enough to be bothersome)
The Book of Three, Black Cauldron, etc by Lloyd Alexander
The Glitch in Sleep (the Seems series) by Hulme
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Masterpiece by E. Broach
Arthur and the Minimoys by Besson
If you can find them: Dragon and Thief (series) by Timothy Zahn is excellent. Also, Eager (and 2 follow-up books) by Helen Fox.

One old series we like is Freddy the Pig series by Brooks (Freddy goes to Florida or Freddy the detective are the best ones to start with). If your kids don’t like slightly older turns of phrase, then this might not work. We listened to the first one on CD and that got my son involved in the characters so he wanted to read the others.


November 5th, 2012
6:36 pm

@Andrew – I agree with Inkheart – the first book is definitely good and absolutely beats the movie. After that the series got darker and darker. My son and I didn’t really enjoy the last one. Unless a person really likes darker realities, I recommend stopping at the first one until the kids are older.

We enjoyed the first Deltora Quest series. By the time she got to the Monsters of Deltora, I was a bit over it. The first set is hard to find now because it was published 12 years ago. (at least at our library which tosses books out as soon as they past their ‘freshness’ date).

@ATL born – we just finished reading ‘Have Spacesuit..’ The kids and I listened to a college lecture series about science fiction literature and the professor talked about Heinleins’ books and their influence. It was good, also enjoyed Starman Jones by Heinlein


November 5th, 2012
6:55 pm

“Artemis Fowl” — a 12 year old genius millionaire and his Sherlockian adventures — what’s not to like? :-)
“Dragonriders of Pern” – sci-fi
Also, try “Chasing Vermeer”, along the lines of “DaVinci Code for kids”
Narnia, of course
Hardy Boys (not the new ones – blech)
‘The Cat Who . . .” series, by Lilian Jackson Braun (my kids LOVED these tapes on car trips!)
And my 24-year-old son still has his carefully collected series of the “Animorphs” from when he was 8, and refuses to part with it :-) I think Scholastic is re-releasing it, with updates to get rid of anachronisms, etc. Out of 50+ books, I think so far they’ve re-released 6 or 8.

library volunteer

November 5th, 2012
7:03 pm

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Starts with The Book of Three. Read and re-read by both son and daughter in late elementary school.


November 5th, 2012
7:31 pm

My Side of the Mountain is one of my son’s all time favorites. He also loved the Hardy Boys. The Shiloh books are great too. My daughter loves Percy Jackson.


November 5th, 2012
8:54 pm

I completely forgot these in my earlier post

The three books in the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Among the Hidden) is the first one and most kids think it is AWSOME.

Oh and the books by Roald Dahl like “Matilda” and the books by Andrew Clements “Frindle” is a must read

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

November 5th, 2012
9:53 pm

I just wanted to put in a plug for the old book series:

Nancy Drew
The Hardy Boys
Encyclopedia Brown
The Bobbsey Twins
Ramona and Beezus
Fudge and all Judy Blume books
Little House on the Prairie

I know they are all dated now but they sure did make me happy not so long ago.

Uncle Stonewall

November 5th, 2012
11:52 pm

How about the book ‘Why is mommy a liberal?’ followed by the 2nd book in the series ‘Why does mommy have a huge gap in her teeth’?


November 6th, 2012
7:34 am

Where the Red Fern Grows…..


November 6th, 2012
11:31 am

I am reading a book called “The Reading Promise” by Alice Ozma — she and her dad read aloud every day from age 7 to 18. In the back of the book, she lists many of the books they read, lots are the classics mentioned here, but some I had not heard of before. At Walsh’s age, she was entranced by the L. Frank Baum “Oz” series.

Longtime Educator

November 10th, 2012
1:27 am

When in doubt, check the Newbery Awards list…usually can’t go wrong with those.


Longtime Educator

November 10th, 2012
1:29 am


November 12th, 2012
10:30 am

Thanks for such a great list. My kids love the How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell.