In my last post, I recommended books for beginning readers who are Harry Potter fans. But what about kids who are well past early readers and ready for chapter books? Glad you asked. For slightly older readers, say 8-11, there’s a wonderful selection of middle grades books that will appeal to more experienced readers who aren’t quite ready to tackle the Potter books just yet.

The Warriors, Seekers, and Survivors series by Erin Hunter. Actually, Erin Hunter is a pseudonym for a team of writers including Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Gillian Philip, Inbali Iserles, Tui T. Sutherland, and editor Victoria Holmes. These books were incredibly popular among second grade boys and girls alike, largely because the characters are all animals. The Warriors series focuses exclusively on feral cats and their societal structure and struggles to survive in nature. My daughters and their friends spent endless hours with their friends playing Warriors in the backyard. So these are both a good reading choice and a good way to get your young reader some exercise!

Speaking of Tui T. Sutherland, her Wings of Fire series has been very popular with my nine-year-old. In this series, all the characters are young dragons growing up in a war-torn society and finding their particular strengths. I love the format: each book is told from the point of view of a different dragon, so that we see dragon society and culture from different perspectives, as well as each dragon’s individual challenges and growth. One dragon is shy, another fierce, another contemplative. All are in some way misunderstood and strive to achieve respect while also working to improve their world. Strong themes of loyalty and friendship will make this familiar territory for young Potterheads.

I recommend anything by Shannon Hale, including her bestselling Princess Academy series and her Ever After High tie-in novels, which are surprisingly sophisticated and challenging. Too girly? Try her crazy steampunk fairytale Calamity Jack series.

For more intense adventure in small bite-size pieces, try Holly Black’s Spiderwick Chronicles. Brilliantly illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi (more on him in a later post), each of the five books is a short foray into the realm of Faerie, with themes of trust, loyalty, and family throughout.

For some classic choices, consider L. Frank Baum’s nigh-endless Oz series, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, and C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.

Next post: Books for the advanced reader who’s stuck at Book Four.