So just in time for holiday shopping, here are five of my 8-year-old’s favorite chapter books and series from the past few months – books full of adventure, fantasy, magic, and friendship. He’s a pretty voracious reader, so many of these books would still be great choices for late elementary and middle school.
I wish I could tell you more about what these books are about, but now that Zip is reading independently he devoured many of them before I had a chance to flip open the cover. All I’ve got to go on is the book jacket synopsis and my kiddo’s promise that they are really good.
The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand Brinley
Grades 3 and up, 217 pages
There are a handful of Mad Scientists’ Club books available, but I recommend the original collection of short stories. It features a motley group of tweens (the Mad Scientists’ Club) who use science as a basis for pulling pranks around town as well as solving mysteries. It was a huge hit with Zip, primarily because “they do lots of tricks and pranks and science experiments. And you can actually try them yourself and do the things they do in the book, if you have the right materials.”
Heads up: My only reservation about the book is that because it was written in the 1960s there is some significant gender stereotyping and frequent references to “Injuns.” We read this aloud at bedtime, which gave us the opportunity to talk about those aspects of the book.
The Imaginary Veterinary by Suzanne Selfors
Series, Grades 2-7, 240 pages
Zip devoured the first three books in this new series early in the summer and counted the days until the fourth book was released in July. In his words, “It’s like stuff in fairy tales your mom and dad would tell you, but more adventurous. It’s cool when they are rescuing the magical animals like dragons.”
The Plot: After being sent to his grandfather’s for the summer (so that his parents can work out their marital issues), Ben meets Pearl and together they discover a secret hospital for animals from another world. They join the mysterious Dr. Woo in helping to save magical animals and, of course, adventure ensues.
Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve
Grades 3-7, GLE 3.7, 368 pages
For magic lovers, this book is a great follow-up to the Harry Potter series. It is also one parents won’t mind reading aloud! Zip and I started it together, and I was kind of bummed when he finished it without me!
The Plot: In Zip’s words, “It’s about Polly Peabody and her family and they have a magic farm that has been passed down through their family. They grow stuff like chocolate rhubarb and Polly’s best friend is a rhubarb plant. On the farm it rains every single day at 1:00, but then one day it stops raining and they are at risk of their farm being destroyed, so Polly has to figure out how to save the farm and make it start raining again.”
Series, Grades 3-7, GLE 4.2, ~200 pages
A great fantasy book for animal lovers. I love that the series features girls in strong, central roles and a diverse cast of characters. Zip loves it because “there is lots of adventure and action” and is already talking about dressing up as one of the characters for Halloween next year!
The Plot: The story takes place in an imaginary world where, on their 11th birthdays, children undergo a special ritual to determine if they will summon and be bonded with a spirit animal. Four children from different lands summon reincarnations of the Great Fallen Beasts and are consequently destined to join together on a quest to save their land from dark forces.
Heads up: There are some intense scenes and violence, with characters having their lives threatened.
The Freaky Joe Club by P.J. McMahon
Series, Grades 2-5, approx. 115 pages
This light chapter series is another one that Zip inhaled over the summer. Consequently, I didn’t get to read any of them, but they must be pretty funny because I’d often hear him giggling his little tooshie off while he read!
The Plot, according to Zip: “It’s about a group of kids who are mystery solvers and they have to convince the town where they live that it still has crime that needs to be solved because no one believes them. They’re solving crimes and mysteries.”