By Brooke Thompson
With school moving online and kids staying home more due to this pandemic, it might be hard to keep them entertained or off electronics for a couple of hours. If you’re struggling with coming up with new ways to keep them preoccupied, why not try getting them into reading?
Or, perhaps your child is an avid reader but starting to outgrow those beginner series or wants to read books that are a little longer. However, when you go to your local bookstore or go online, you are not sure where to begin.
If you are a parent with a child who needs some book suggestions or wants their child off technology and entertained for a few hours, try introducing these books to them. These five middle grade book series have been popular for the last decade and are beloved by children everywhere.
Here are five middle grade book series that will keep your 4th-7th grader at the edge of their seats.
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Educational Middle Grade Book Series
39 Clues series
If your child likes the Magic Tree House series or The Boxcar Children, they’ll love the 39 Clues books. The series follows Dan and Amy Cahill, a brother-sister duo that travel the world looking for clues to create the ultimate serum and uncover family secrets along the way.
The 39 Clues series is written by multiple authors, which I think is a unique choice. I feel like it prevents the series from getting stale and allows for fresh ideas and different perspectives. All of the authors do a great job maintaining the overall tone of the books and being consistent with the characters.
My little brother and I read these as children. He read this series in the fourth grade and lent these books to my seventh grade self, so the books can be enjoyed by both fourth graders and middle schoolers alike. We enjoyed following Dan and Amy’s adventures as they traveled the world, solving puzzles and mysteries, and collecting ingredients for the serum.
Children reading this series will learn fun and unique facts about history and different countries’ cultures. Additionally, the books teach the importance of family, teamwork, how to cope with loss, and how to make difficult decisions.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
If your child loves fantasy type stories, or you want to introduce them to mythology, Percy Jackson and the Olympians serves as a great ice breaker. While Rick Riordan puts a modern twist on the Greek myths, he does a great job of keeping them kid-friendly and appropriate. Since the series is about mythology, which tends to be dark, he manages to balance it out with a lighthearted and, at times, humorous tone.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians follows the titular character Perseus “Percy” Jackson on his quests as a demigod to prepare him for the Great Prophecy. What is unique about his character is that he has ADHD and dyslexia, yet he uses these as super powers rather than limitations in the series. As stated in the first book, the ADHD is meant to keep him focused and alive in battle while dyslexia makes it easier for him to read Ancient Greek, rather than English. Riordan gave Percy these characteristics to give his son and other children diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia a character to relate to.
Percy’s adventures take place over five books and are set in America. As he prepares for the Great Prophecy, he goes on quests with his friends that range from a trip across the country to find out who stole Zeus’s lightning bolt, sailing to the Bermuda Triangle to find the Golden fleece, and going into the labyrinth to locate Daedalus. These books are action-packed, hilarious, and full of heart.
The series spawned multiple spin-offs (or sequel series), which include Heroes of Olympus, The Trials of Apollo, and the Magnus Chase trilogy. These series all follow the same formula as the Percy Jackson series, but they also focus on other characters and myths. For example, Heroes of Olympus is about Roman mythology while Magnus Chase is about Norse mythology.
Like the 39 Clues series, my brother and I read these when we were in the fourth and seventh grade, so it can be enjoyed by both age groups. What made Percy Jackson and the Olympians so special to us was how Riordan treats his audience. The books deal with a lot of sensitive topics, like abuse, disability, and loss, yet Riordan handles these issues in a respectful way and does not talk down to his audience.
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
If your child enjoyed the Fudge series, Henry Huggins, or the Ramona Quimby series, they will love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. The series is a coming-of-age type of story that’s about a young middle schooler named Greg Heffley.
Due to Greg’s laziness and need for attention, he often finds himself in comical situations. For example, his mother forces him to do the school play The Wizard of Oz, yet he doesn’t want to do it because it’s a musical. He tries out and gets a role as a tree, which he is later bummed about since he only has one line in the play and wouldn’t be able to throw apples at the annoying girl in his class, who plays Dorothy. Or when Greg borrows a paper from his older brother Roderick, he soon learns he can’t turn it in, due to how terrible the writing is.
These novels are written by Jeff Kinney, who originally wrote the Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a series of online comics. He later published them in 2007, where, as of today, there are 15 books and a spin-off series featuring Greg’s friend Rowley.
Despite Greg being a pessimistic, lazy, and narcissistic character, Kinney adds a bit of charm to him. Since these qualities are attributed to Greg, the story never gets dull as readers see him get stuck in crazy yet comical situations. Kinney’s simplistic illustrations also add humor to the story and makes the books easy to go through.
I may have read this series in the sixth grade, but the short sentences and simple language can be enjoyed by readers as young as the fourth grade.
Warriors series by Erin Hunter
If your child likes animals (especially cats), action, and nature, they’ll love these books. I started reading these books in the 7th grade and still am ten years later. The Warriors novels are a large, ongoing series that is about cats living in a forest. There are five clans Thunderclan, Riverclan, Shadowclan, Windclan, and, much later in the series, Skyclan. Each cat abides by the warrior code, which dictates how they live and how they interact with other clans.
But the story is not as straightforward as it sounds. There are often battles for territory, forbidden romances, and even treachery within a cat’s own clan. Religion also plays a huge part in the series as the cats obey Starclan, who guides the characters in their decisions and shapes their destinies.
Not including the guides, super specials, and graphic novels, there are 39 books so far in the series. These books are split up into seven series with six books in each set: The Prophecies Begin, The New Prophecy, The Power of Three, Omen of the Stars, Dawn of the Clans, A Vision of Shadows, and The Broken Code.
Each of these series is a continuation of the other with the exception of Dawn of the Clans, which is a prequel to the main books. Like the Percy Jackson spin-offs, each series focuses on new characters while keeping the protagonists from other books in the background.
Canterwood Crest series by Jessica Burkhart
If your child is obsessed with horses or likes a little drama in their stories, this is definitely the series for them. When I was in middle school, I was outgrowing the Saddle Club and the Pony Pal books when a friend recommended the Canterwood Crest series to me. The first book Take the Reins had me hooked from start to finish. After that, every birthday and Christmas, I begged my mother to buy these books for me.
The series follows seventh grader Sasha Silver who is starting her first year at the prestigious boarding school, the titular Canterwood Crest. She aspires to be a top equestrian rider someday and has weird character quirks, like having an obsession with lip gloss. The novels follow her journey through the seventh and eighth grade as she advances from the school’s Intermediate Equestrian team to joining the YENT (Youth Equestrian National Team).
But the story isn’t just about horses. Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Canterwood Crest is also a coming-of-age type of series as Sasha navigates boys, maintaining good grades, and dealing with overly competitive teammates.
Canterwood Crest is written by Jessica Burkhart and has 24 books in the series. They tend to be about 200-300 pages and easy to read. Due to the content of the books, this series is geared more towards 5-7th graders.
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These five middle grade book series will keep your children entertained for hours, even if your kid isn’t much of a reader.
The 39 Clues series is an excellent choice for children that love history and solving mysteries. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a great option for children that love monsters, enjoy action, and love to laugh. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are wonderful novels that are geared for kids that love pictures, enjoy comedies, and can read a novel in one sitting. Warriors is a good read for children that love cats and enjoy action. Finally, Canterwood Crest is a fun series for children that enjoy horses and drama.