My family and I just returned from spring vacation spent at Universal Studios (or, as we like to call it, “Harry Potter Land.”) There may be rides there that have nothing to do with witches and wizards, but you couldn’t convince my children of it. (Okay, we did also spend time in Seuss Landing. We are such a bookish people.)
Now that my eldest has finished the entire Harry Potter canon, memorized every spell on her Diagon Alley map, and calculated the number of Knuts in a Sickle, she’s ready to immerse herself in another fantastical adventure. Perhaps your child is ready, too? Spring is the perfect time to get caught up in a captivating series that leaves boys and girls itching for the next book, talking about the characters at the dinner table, and imagining their own role in a magical universe.
Challenge your kids to try a series at a more advanced reading level in preparation for their move to a new grade soon – or to get hooked on a series that will keep them rushing back to the library through the summer months. You can read more about the benefits of reading series in my Hook Them With a Series post – or just scroll on down for some of the best options for your adventure-hungry kiddos!
MY FAVORITE ADVENTURE SERIES FOR KIDS
For young kids (K-2nd grade)
I also recommend the Flat Stanley books by Jeff Brown, the Judy Moody and Friends series by Megan McDonald (ill. by Erwin Madrid) and The Littles series by John Lawrence Peterson for this age group. None are too scary/intense, but they all have enough excitement and laughs to keep kids coming back for more.
If your 2nd-3rd grader is looking for something a little more exciting,
and can take a scare or two, look into the Beasts of Olympus series by Lucy Coats (2 titles out now, 2 more to release later this year!)
For gross-outs, laughs and weirdness, try the Rotten School series from Goosebumps author R.L. Stine.
New from Chronicle books is The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner- first in a series you better believe I will be reading, even if my kids don’t.
For readers in grades 4-7, check out these great options:
The SpiderWick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
Personally, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since these incredible books first arrived on the scene. Shorter than the heavy tomes that make up the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson series, these “new classics” are now available with updated 10th anniversary covers and artwork from Simon and Schuster Press. They are perfect for readers who crave mystery, magic, and mythical creatures without the intimidation of a 300+ page book!
Spiderwick games, puzzles, trading cards and printable board game templates are also available to download free right here.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
An unusual ad in the newspaper draws four very different – but incredibly gifted – children into dangerous adventures with the guidance of the brilliant and benevolent Nicholas Benedict in these fast-paced, fun, and slightly off-kilter books from Little, Brown and Company. Readers can test their wits against the characters as they solve puzzles, break codes, and get to the bottom of some very bizarre doings by the evil Ledroptha Curtain – then go online to learn more about the characters, play games and solve puzzles at the Benedict Society’s not-so-mysterious website. There’s also a companion puzzle books for those who can’t get enough of riddles, logic problems and code-breaking.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
These books are classics for a reason – and even if you never read further than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you should make sure your child reads every book – seven distinct stories that together span the lifeline of an entire alternate reality from world’s creation to destruction. Ignore the numbers on the spines (based on publication date) and start with The Magician’s Nephew to get the chronological effect. Then prepare for a world where good battles evil again and again, where animals speak, sea serpents slither, and a lion breathes both forgiveness and judgment upon all. I’m not a huge fan of the recent movie adaptations, but I know plenty of people who loved them. Three have been released to date, with The Silver Chair rumored to be coming out as soon as 2017. There are also excellent BBC movie versions of four of the books available on Amazon and elsewhere.
For additional activities related to the Narnia books, check out this great post from Lasting Thumbprints.
Even reluctant readers can’t resist the Spirit Animal series by various authors (Scholastic)
The Spirit Animal series takes place in the magical land of Erdas, where each child who comes of age must see if he or she has a magical bond to an animal, which unleashes great powers. Through adventures written by a variety of best-selling authors, the reader follows four amazing children and their spirit beasts through dangers and challenges to fight a dark force in the land.
Each book includes special codes that unlock new avatars and powers in the online Spirit Animals game run through the Scholastic website. If that isn’t enough to convince your child to keep reading, I’ll be flabbergasted.
In the footsteps of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, The Pegasus series by Kate O’Hearn blends fantasy, mythology and present-day events into heart-pounding adventures. It all begins when lightening strikes the mythical flying horse and sends it crashing into the lives of 13-year old Emily and Joel. There are monsters, evil government agencies, and goddesses aplenty in these fast-paced, well-crafted books. My oldest daughter is already penning a desperate request to the author for a fifth book!
Before I wrap up, I absolutely have to plug one of my all-time favorite series, The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. These books are wrapped in mystery, magic, and the stuff of Arthurian legends – and they kept me awake late into the night for long stretches of my youth. The writing is gloriously rich, full of symbolism and poetry – and only intensifies the epic struggles between Darkness and Light. It’s no wonder they garnered so many awards and honors! I reread the series recently, and it has lost none of its power since the final volume was first published in 1977. My eldest is still a bit too easily frightened to dive into these books – but I’d say most 5th-8th graders these days will be unable to put them down until the very end.
I could go on and on – since I love a good series more than just about anything. (Seriously, my husband once bought me a 21-book box set for my birthday. BEST. GIFT. EVER.) But I’d also love to hear from you. What adventure series are favorites with you and your kids?
Thanks for reading – and for sharing! Keep up the good work #RaisingReaders!