The Best Book Series for Elementary and Middle School Kids

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Growing up, I was an avid reader. I devoured books, often borrowing 10 at a time from the library. I’ve kept many of the book series from my elementary and middle school days so that I can pass them on to my own children one day.  

Today, I would like to share with you some of my favourite book series.  With Christmas just around the corner (yes, I am that awful person that starts celebrating on the first of September), now is a great time to start thinking about gifts for your elementary and middle school age children.  

And, in my opinion, books are some of the greatest presents a child can receive (if they disagree with this opinion, they might not have found the right book yet).  

Many of these are probably familiar to you from your own childhood. These are all books that I would consider to be classics, as they are just as relevant today as they were when they were written.  

 

The Boxcar Children   

by Gertrude Chandler Warner 

 

The Boxcar children are four orphaned siblings who decide to live together in an old train car. They solve mysteries and go on adventures together. Eventually their wealthy grandfather takes them in, but they keep the boxcar to remember the days when they had to make a home for themselves.  

Reading difficulty: Easy 

Suggested age range: 6-10 

The Royal Diaries  

 

These fictional diaries follow the stories of real royal women throughout history. Based on real facts, they aim to help young readers explore the lives of key historical figures, while also imagining what those women were thinking and feeling as significant events took place.  

To throw in a personal note, I still love reading history and historical fiction today, and have noticed the impact these books have made on my comprehension of history. Being familiar with people, places, and eras The Royal Diaries cover has given me a solid foundation to add to. I highly recommend them.  

Reading Level: Medium 

Suggested age range: 8-13 

 

Dear America   

 

Produced by many of the same authors as The Royal Diaries series, Dear America differs in that they present the made-up stories of fictional people throughout the history of America. While these girls are not real, their stories personify some of the more obscure periods in American history, as well as some of the most significant.  

Reading Level: Medium 

Suggested age range: 8-13 

 

The Journal of… (previously called My Name is America) 

 

This is the boys’ version of Dear America, and it follow the stories of fictional male characters in much the same vein as Dear America follows the stories of girls.  

I would suggest letting both boys and girls read both series, as it gives a greater appreciation of the historical differences in gender roles.  

Reading Level: Medium 

Suggested age range: 8-13

 

American Girls  

While the dolls are vastly popular, many children today don’t read the books that the dolls’ characters are based on. Whether or not your child has an American Girl doll, these books bring history to life in a child-friendly way, showing the role girls played during each era of American history.  

Reading Level: Easy 

Suggested age range: 6-10

 

The Mandie Collection  

by Lois Gladys Leppard

 

The Mandie mysteries are a collection of books detailing the exploits of a fictional girl from the 18th century American South. Besides being exciting adventure books, they stand out to me because of the depth in which they explore values and moral conundrums that children still face today.  

Reading Level: Medium 

Suggested age range: 8-13 

 

The Hardy Boys   

by Franklin W. Dixon

 

Frank and Joe Hardy have been around forever – and they’re not going anywhere if I can help it! Action, adventure, and mystery follow these teenage sleuths everywhere.  

The Hardy boys books are the male alternative to Nancy Drew. 

(but if we’re being honest, the reason Nancy Drew didn’t make this list is because I didn’t like her books that much. I much preferred the Hardy Boys, even as a girl.)  

Reading Difficulty: Medium 

Suggested age range: 8-13 

The Three Investigators   

by Robert Arthur Jr. (pseudonym Alfred Hitchcock)

If your child liked The Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators books are a natural follow-up.  

The main differences?  

  • Quirkier characters 
  • Slightly more involved mysteries 
  • More modern setting 
  • Fewer books in the series 

 Yep, there you’ve got it. I actually like The Three Investigators a little bit more than the Hardy Boys, but they’re very similar.  

Reading Difficulty: Medium 

Suggested Age Range: 8-13 

The Chronicles of Narnia   

by C.S. Lewis 

 

Now we’re getting to the real classics.  

Regardless of whether they’ve seen the new movies or not, The Chronicles of Narnia should be on every kid’s reading list.  

This engaging series takes place in the land of Narnia, where animals talk, children reign, and wrongs must be put right. Full of action, adventure, and fantasy, there’s definitely something appealing for everyone.  

Reading Difficulty: Hard 

Suggested age range: 10-13 

(that’s totally just a suggestion though. I read these books when I was 7 or 8 and loved them) 

The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit)

by J.R.R. Tolkien 

 

This is my favourite series of all time.  

Hobbits, elves, dwarves, wizards, goblins, dragons, orcs, trolls… The list goes on. Arguably the most influential fantasy novels of all time, Tolkien’s books draw read readers – young and old alike – into the magical world of Middle Earth where the battle of good and evil rages and the fate of the free world is left in the hands of Its smallest inhabitants.  

It could be argued that these are not children’s books. I disagree. There is something to be said for telling children during their formative years that their size does not stand in the way of them accomplishing great things, and that sometimes it’s the most ordinary people who are needed to fix the world.  

Reading Difficulty: Hard 

Suggested age range: 10-101 

 

The Inheritance Cycle   

By Christopher Paolini 

Another great fantasy series, the Inheritance Cycle follows the exploits of Eragon and his dragon Saphira as they master magic and work towards defeating the evil king who reigns over the land and allows evil to prosper. 

Reading Difficulty: Hard 

Suggested age range: 10-13 

 

Artemis Fowl   

by Eoin Colfer 

This is truly a unique little series, fusing fantasy with modern technology. Artemis Fowl is a child genius with a knack for criminal enterprise. His illegal activity accidentally unearths an entire world of magic and mystical creatures who become his dear friends (and sometimes enemies).  

Throughout the series, the child criminal is transformed into an unlikely hero as he saves the world more times than they will ever know.  

Reading Difficulty: Medium 

Suggested age range: 8-13 

 

Percy Jackson & the Olympians  

by Rick Riordan 

Quick sad story: I was 3/5 of the way through this series when I accidentally left the fourth book on an airplane. Consequently, I don’t know how the series ends (because I obviously couldn’t read the 5th book before I’d finished the 4th). 

That being said, the Percy Jackson books are a wonderful gateway into the world of ancient Greek mythology. Set in modern times, they delve into the story of a boy who discovers he is actually part god and is sent away to a special summer camp to hone his fledgling powers.  

Reading Difficulty: Medium

Suggested age range: 8-13

 

The Little House   

by Laura Ingalls Wilder 

The Little House books are stories of faith and perseverance, courage and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The lessons that are learned through the character of young Laura are just as valuable today as they always have been.  

If you never got to read this series as a child, I would highly suggest reading them now, as they contain some great parenting lessons too!   

Reading Level: Medium 

Suggested age range: 8-13

 

The Ramona Collection   

by Beverly Cleary 

These books share humorous insight into the lives of Ramona and Beezus, two sisters who love each other, but also get on each other’s last nerve. Told from the point-of-view of Ramona, the younger sister, readers get a glimpse into the everyday thoughts of an elementary schooler.   

Reading Level: Easy 

Suggested age range: 6-10 

 

Inkworld Series (Inkheart Trilogy)

by Cornelia Funke

What if the books we read came to life? And we could enter into their world? Or their characters could enter ours?

This is the premise of the Inkheart Trilogy (recently made into a movie that wasn’t all that great). It explores a world of fantasy and reality blending together and creating a unique story.

Difficulty Level: Medium

Suggested age range: 8-13

 

Kids need something new to read? Looking for Christmas gifts? Here are 16 of the best book series out there for kids to read. | Mom but not a Mom

Let me know what I missed in the comments!

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