My youngest son is starting to move out of the middle grade section and is now reading young adult and adult titles. Many of my all time favorite books are middle grade, and I still sometimes read middle grade books solely for my own enjoyment even if I know my kids have no interest in them. Over the years, I have however read a lot of amazing books with my sons. Today, I’m going to be ranking only the series (not stand alone books) that I read with my boys. If you’re children are slightly younger than mine and you’re currently looking for some read aloud ideas, I suggest trying some of these great titles.
Books my kids absolutely LOVED:
Percy Jackson and all the other spin off series by Rick Riordan – I read the Percy Jackson series before having kids and enjoyed it a lot. When I realized that The Heroes of Olympus series also starred Percy and was basically just 5 more books in a best selling series I was annoyed. Then I introduced my kids to Percy and learned to appreciate all things Rick Riordan. My kids LOVED these books so much! For his entire second grade year, my youngest son read nothing but Greek mythology themed graphic novels and chapter books while I read him Percy Jackson books.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – After Percy, Artemis was probably the best loved fictional character in my house when my boys were in 3-5 grade. This series is absolutely delightful, and not a hyped as it should be. It’s about a 12 year old evil genius human who reeks havoc on the fairy world. Artemis does have a redemption arch over the course of the series, but at least in the first book he’s very much the villain. The fairies are funny, the magic and adventure are great, and my kids couldn’t get enough.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – This is a less well known trilogy that my kids and I really enjoyed. In this series, characters can be read out of books and enter our world and people from our world can also be read into books. It’s fun, magical, and shows kids how easy it is to get lost in a great story.
The Giver by Lois Lowry – I did read this entire series with my oldest son when he was younger, and then I read just The Giver with my youngest last year (when he was in 6th grade). Even though this “series” is really just several stand alones that kind of have matching themes, I’m including this on my list. Because honestly, The Giver is the best read aloud ever! Don’t have your kids read it to themselves, and don’t allow them to grow up without listening to this story. It is so thought provoking, and invites so many amazing conversations. Dystopia for kids – it’s a must.
Books my kids liked a lot:
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis – This series was my absolute favorite book series when I was a kid, and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is still easily one of my favorite books of all time. Because I love these books so much, I’ve actually subjected my children to them more than once (1st in early elementary school and then again in late elementary school). They enjoyed the series both times, but neither of my sons is as connected to Narnia as I was when I was young.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart – These books are long for middle grade and may be intimidating for kids to read to themselves, but they make excellent read alouds. In this series, a group of kids form a secret society and go on a quest to save the world. There are science fiction elements to the story, but it’s more of a mystery than anything else.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – This is a steam punk retelling of WW1. In a way, I wish I’d held off on reading it to my kids when they were younger, because it would be great series for teens to read to themselves. But my boys really enjoyed it in elementary school. And 3rd grade is a perfectly good time to learn about WW1… and steam punk.
Harry Potter by JK Rowling – I read the first three books in this series to my boys when they were in 1st and 3rd grade. My rule was then that they had to read the rest of the series to themselves (because the series gets a lot darker starting at book 4). I really liked this series when it first came out (and I was already an adult). My oldest son read all the books in 4th grade and then got super into the series in 6th and 7th grade. He not only read the series multiple times, but also read A LOT of Harry Potter fan fiction. My youngest son watched all the movies, and finally finished reading the series in 6th grade, but it was never his favorite.
Books my kids enjoyed:
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell – My kids and I listened to this entire 12 book series on audio while I was shuffling my kids to all their various extra curricular activities in elementary school. It’s a funny series, but I honestly wish I’d made my sons read the books themselves instead of listening to them. The paper version of the series has illustrations and this is a great series to pull kids out of early chapter books into longer and more complex middle grade titles (similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid in reading level).
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien – Yes, I read this classic high fantasy series to my children when they were children. Technically, we listened to the audio books in the car, when my boys were 11 and 9. My youngest son didn’t just enjoy this series, he loved it. He would talk about it all the time while we were listening to it, and make comments that showed how deeply he was comprehending the complex story. You don’t have to read Tolkien to your kids, but I’m including this series more as a way to give yourself permission to push your kids. Especially with read alouds, you can read books to your children that are at a much higher reading level then they could read to themselves.
The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan – Percy is Greek mythology, this is Egyptian mythology. My kids enjoyed this series, but it failed to inspire an obsession with Horus and Osiris. This trilogy is good, but a bit more clunky than the Percy series(s).
Books I absolutely LOVED and need to recommend, but my kids haven’t read them:
Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston – This is a brand new series. The first book was just released in 2021. It is easily one of the best middle grade fantasy stories I’ve ever read! Amari is a black girl from the projects who enters a secret magical society and has to save the world. It is just as fun and magical as Percy and Artemis, but it also deals with issues of race and class beautifully. I can’t recommend this book enough. I might have to require my high schooler to read it next year, even if it is intended for younger readers.