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Great Chapter Books

Recommended Chapter Books

The following chapter books were published within the last 3 years.  All can be found in our school library, as well as most public libraries.  These are generally recommended for 3rd-5th graders, but a few are great for 2nd graders as well. All grade recommendations in the following list are based on content, not on reading level (there is a good chance that many of these books would need to be read to a 2nd grader).

Gravity Buster: Journal #2 of a Cardboard Genius by Frank Asch (2nd grade and higher)
Using his astounding scientific ability – plus lots of grocery boxes and duct tape  - Alex creates another spaceship.  This time he’ll go to Jupiter to escape his pesky little brother.

No Place for Magic by E.D. Baker (4th grade and higher)
The fourth book in the Frog Princess series.  In this installment, Emma and Eadric travel to Upper Montevista to ask his parents to bless their upcoming marriage and discover that Eadric’s younger  brother has been kidnapped by trolls.

The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett (3rd grade and higher)
In the midst of a series of unexplained accidents and mysterious coincidences, sixth graders Calder, Petra, and Tommy lead their classmates in an attempt to keep Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Robie House from being demolished.  This is the first of three books by this author that follows the adventures of the three friends.  
Highly Recommended.

The Calder Game by Blue Balliett  (3rd grade and higher)
When seventh-grader Calder Pillay disappears from a remote English village – along with an Alexander Calder sculpture –his friends Petra and Tommy fly from Chicago to help his father find him.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (3rd grade and higher)
In this sequel to “The Penderwicks”, the four sisters are faced with the unimaginable prospect of their widowed father dating, and they plot to stop him.

Ivy & Bean by Annie Barrows (2nd grade and higher)
When seven-year-old Bean plays a mean trick on her sister, she finds unexpected support for her antics from Ivy, the new neighbor, who is less boring than Bean first suspected.  There are currently 5 books in this series.

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (4th grade and higher)
Two eleven-year-old misfits try to solve the mystery of a dead magician and stop the evil Dr. L and Ms Mauvais, who are searching for the secret of immortality.

Soupy Saturdays with The Pain and The Great One by Judy Blume (3rd grade and higher)
Revisits the sometimes challenging relationship between a six-year-old (The Pain) and his eight-year-old sister (The Great One) through 7 chapters featuring such events as learning to ride a bike, having a birthday party, and dog-sitting.  There are 3 books in this series.

Moving Day by Meg Cabot (3rd grade and higher)
Nine-year-old Allie Finkle has rules for everything and is even writing her own rule book, but her world is turned upside-down when she learns that her family is moving across town, which will mean a new house, school, best friend, and plenty of new rules.  1st in a series that currently includes 2 books.

The Report Card by Andrew Clement (4th grade and higher)
Fifth-grader Nora has always hidden the fact that she is a genius from everyone because all she wants is to be normal, but when she comes up with a plan to prove that grades are not important, things begin to get out of control.

Lost and Found by Andrew Clements (4th grade and higher)
Identical twins Jay and Ray have long resented that everyone treats them as one person, and so they hatch a plot to take advantage of a clerical error at their new school and pretend they are just one.

The Runaway Princess by Kate Coombs (5th grade and higher)
Fifteen-year-old Princess Meg uses magic and her wits to rescue a baby dragon and escape the unwanted attentions of princes hoping to gain her hand in marriage through a contest arranged by her father, the king.

The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech (4th grade and higher)
Two orphaned peasant children discover a mysterious pouch, the contents of which lead them to the majestic Castle Corona, where their lives may be transformed forever.  By a Newbery Award-winning author.

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Curtis (4th grade and higher)
In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada,  a haven for  former slaves, uses his wits to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money  that was to be used to buy a family out of slavery. 
Highly Recommended.

The Last Dragon by Silvana De Mari (4th grade and higher)
After his village is ruined by a flood, Yorsh, the world’s last elf, reads writing on ancient ruins and realizes that in order to stop the torrential rains, he must find the only remaining dragon.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (3rd grade and higher)
Edward Tulane, a cold-hearted and proud toy rabbit, loves only himself until his is separated from the little girl who adores him and travels across the country, acquiring new owners and listening to their hopes, dreams, and histories. 
Highly Recommended.

Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig by Kate DiCamillo (2nd grade and higher)
A short, easy chapter book with bold, colorful illustrations.  Two sisters move in next door to where Mercy the pig lives, and, frustrated when Mercy continues to eat their flowers, decide to call an Animal Control officer, Francine Poulet, to handle the case. 4th in a series of 5 books.

Mallory series by Laurie Friedman (2nd grade and higher)
5 books in this series tells the ongoing adventures and struggles of 3rd grader Mallory.  If you like Ivy & Bean or Judy Moody, you’ll love Mallory too!

I Am Not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos (4th grade and higher)
Joey’s father returns, calling himself Charles Heinz and apologizing for his past bad behavior, and he swears that once Joey and his mother change their names and help him fix up the old diner he bought, their lives will change for the better.  4th book in the Joey Pigza series.

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon (4th grade and higher)
When Will and his friend Chester embark on a quest to find Will’s archaeologist father, who has disappeared, they are led to a labyrinthine world underneath London, full of sinister inhabitants with evil intentions.

Nicholas series by Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempe (3rd grade and higher)
A collection of 17 escapades, the stories introduce Nicholas, a French boy, and his pals as they wreak havoc out of simple, everyday situations at school, on the playground, and at home. Pestering the substitute teacher, trying to adopt a lost dog, and quarreling over soccer positions (only to find there isn't even a ball) make for hilarious sketches.  Wonderful illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Sempe accompany these stories.  There are  4 books in this series.

The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman (4th grade and higher)
Four 5th-grade students: a geed, a class clown, a teacher’s pet, and a slacker, as well as their teacher and mothers, each relate events surrounding a computer programmed to complete homework assignments.  
Highly Recommended.

Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf by Jennifer Holm (5th grade and higher)
The first year of middle school can be exciting and scary, just ask Ginny.

Warriors series by Erin Hunter (3rd grade and higher)
Clans of wild cats live in the forest, fight against enemies, meet new cats, and attempt to fulfill their destinies.  A wildly popular series with older elementary and middle  school students, there are in fact 3 series with 6 books in each series, as well as several Manga books, and a field guide describing each cat.  Get a child reading these books, and you won’t need to find them new material for a year!  
Highly Recommended.

Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plasti by Emily Jenkins (2nd grade and higher)
Six stories relate the adventures of three best friends, who happen to be toys.

Alabama Moon by Watt Key (5th grade and higher)
After the death of his father ten-year-old Moon Blake is removed from the Alabama forest where he was raised and sent to a boy’s home, where, for the first time, he has contact with the outside world and learns about friendship, love and humanity.

Halloween Fraidy-Cat by Abby Klein (2nd grade and higher)
Part of the “Ready Freddy” series.  Freddy is apprehensive about the haunted house that Chloe plans to have at her Halloween party but tries to hide his fear from his classmates.

Swindle by Gordon Korman (4th grade and higher)
After an unscrupulous collector cons him out of a valuable baseball card, sixth-grader Griffin Bing puts together a band of misfits to break into the collector’s heavily guarded house and steal the card back. 
Highly Recommended.

Girls Don’t Have Cooties by Nancy Krulik (2nd grade and higher)
Part of the “Katie Kazoo Switcheroo” series.  Katie, an ordinary third-grader who accidentally wishes on a shooting star to be anyone but herself, turns into her best friend Jeremy and tries to reconcile the boys and girls in class 3A.

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (3rd grade and higher)
In the Kingdom of Ayortha, Aza, an unattractive woman with a magical voice, learns to balance her appearance with her talent.  Meanwhile, her singing attracts both a prince who cannot resist it, and the queen, who plots to use it to benefit herself.  From the author of “Ella Enchanted.”

Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand by Gail Carson Levine (2nd grade and higher)
Written by the author of “Ella Enchanted.” Three fairies from Never Land must deliver a wand they promised to the mermaid who has threatened to flood their home in Fairy Haven.

The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin (4th grade and higher)
Frustrated at her seeming lack of talent for anything, a young Taiwanese American girl sets out to apply the lessons of the Chinese Year of the Dog, those of making best friends and finding  oneself, to her own life..

Rules by Cynthia Lord (4th grade and higher)
Frustrated at life with an autistic brother, twelve-year-old Catherine longs for a normal existence but her world is further complicated by a friendship with a young paraplegic.  This book won a Newbery Honor in 2007. 
Highly Recommended.

Gossamer, by Lois Lowry (4th grade and higher)
While learning to bestow dreams, a young dream-giver tries to save an eight-year-old boy from the effects of both his abusive past and the nightmares inflicted on him by the frightening Sinisteeds.

Heat by Mike Lupica (5th grade and higher)
Pitching prodigy Michael Arroyo is on the run from social services after being banned from playing Little League baseball because rival coaches doubt he is only twelve years old and he has no parents to offer them proof.

Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan (5th grade and higher)
Newbery winner MacLachlan gives us the story of Edward, a boy in a large family that loves baseball, music, books and each other.  When he unexpectedly dies and his parents donate his organs, his wonderful eyes go to a perfect recipient.

The extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil by Wiley Miller (3rd grade & higher)
Bored with his life in a lighthouse, Basil sets out for adventure and soon arrives in a mysterious city in the clouds, where he discovers and tries to foil a plan that threatens the entire world.

Fablehaven series  by Brandon Mull (4th grade and higher)
When Kendra and Set go to stay at their grandparents’ estate, they discover that it is a sanctuary for magical creatures and that a battle between good and evil is looming.  There are now four books in this series.

Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo (4th grade or higher)
A 10-year-old boy discovers he has special powers and is sent away to a school to develop these.  Although there are some similarities to the Harry Potter series, Jenny Nimmo is an acclaimed writer in her own right and has developed a fast-paced mystery/adventure with a likable hero and many twists and turns.  This series is now into its seventh book.

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen (4th grade and higher)
Things get out of hand for a twelve-year-old boy when a neighbor convinces him to expand his summer lawn mowing business.

All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall (5th grade or higher)
Five urban middle school students, their teacher, and other community members relate how a school project to build the world’s largest tetrahedron affects the lives of everyone involved.

Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker (2nd- 5th grades)
While sorting through difficulties in her friendship with her neighbor Margaret, eight-year-old Clementine gains several unique hairstyles while also helping her father in his efforts to banish pigeons from the front of their apartment building.  If you enjoy the antics of Ramona, you’ll like Clementine too! (3 books in series).

Percy and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (4th grade and higher)
Percy, expelled from six schools for being unable to control his temper, learns the truth from his mother that his father is the Greek god Poseidon, and is sent to Camp Half Blood where he is befriended by a satyr and the demigod daughter of Athena. The trio sets out across the country to end a feud between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Along the way they must cope with the Furies, Medusa, and various other immortals. This immensely popular series will conclude with the 5th book, scheduled to be released in May. 
Highly Recommended.

Flyte by Angie Sage and Mark Zug (3rd grade and higher)
When Princess Jenna is pursued by a dark wizard, it is the apprentice, Septimus Heap, who must save her while enduring such terrors as a night in the Forest with hungry wolverines and carnivorous trees.  This is book 2 of a (currently) 4 book series.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2nd grade and higher)
Told both through text and beautiful black and white drawings, this book, winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal, tells the story of 12-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931.  When he meets a mysterious toy seller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized. Highly Recommended.

Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton (4th grade and higher)
Having reluctantly accompanied his academic mother and pesky younger sister to Oxford, twelve-year-old Blake is at loose ends until he stumbles across an ancient and magical book, secretly brought to England in 1453 by an apprentice of Gutenberg.

Peak by Roland Smith (5th grade and higher)
A fourteen-year-old boy attempts to be the youngest person to reach the top of Mt. Everest.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (4th grade and higher)
After passing a series of mind-bending tests, four children are selected for a secret mission that requires them to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. Highly Recommended.

Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis (5th grade and higher)
A quirky and logical seventh-grade girl named Emma Jean discovers some interesting results when she gets involved in the messy everyday problems of her peers.

Crossing Bok Chitto: a Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom 
by Tim Tingle (4th grade or higher)
In the 1800s, a Choctaw girl becomes friends with a slave boy from a plantation across the river, and when she learns that his family is in trouble, she helps them cross to freedom.

Leepike Ridge by Nathan Wilson (5th grade and higher)
While his mother continues to search for him, eleven-year-old Tom, presumed dead after drifting away down a river, finds himself trapped in a series of underground caves with another survivor and a dog, and pursued by murderous treasure-hunters.