As I write this my boys are in the 4th to 6th grade range. Mostly these are fiction books they’ve read during the past year through a combination of reading, immersion reading on the kindle, and audio books. If you have a child with dyslexia I highly recommend the immersion reading feature on the kindle. The combination of audio with highlighted text is excellent. It really does open up a world of books that are of interest but might otherwise not be read.
Redwall We will probably spend most of our summer immersed in this series. My kids are action, adventure, fantasy genre fans. While it might seem that books about mice are meant for younger children, these books are meant for those moving into the middle school years. The villains are indeed quite evil and merciless. The good mice do suffer and mourn. Yet over all the story is hopeful and triumphant. The reading level of the series trends around 6th to 7th grade.
The Chronicles of Prydain Even though the books were published back in the late 60’s, I never read them as a child. What an excellent find! The second in the series was a Newbery Honor winner and the fifth won the Newbery Medal. The stories have a lot of adventure and humor. My favorite part was how the characters grew and developed over the course of the series. The writing is very action focused and the stories move quickly.
The reading levels of the books vary from 5.5 – 6.6 and they vary between 4 to 6.5 hours in length according to the audio book. The narration of the audio books is one of my absolute favorites.
Comparisons are frequently made between Chronicles of Prydain and Lord of the Rings. Given that these are rated easier on reading level and much shorter in length they could be great books to read prior to Lord of the Rings. Personally I liked this series much better than Lord of the Rings, and the boys say it is too close to decide.
The Hobbit The boys loved the Hobbit. They found the story fun and interesting. I’m not a Tolkien fan. I’ve tried multiple times, but I get very bogged down. I purchased the kindle and audible versions of both the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I’m glad I did, because I’m quite sure these will be revisited by the boys.
The Fellowship of the Ring – Again they really enjoyed the entire trilogy. The reading levels on the books are 8.1-9 and the books are lengthy, so we made use of the immersion reading feature on the kindle.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series – The boys loved this series. The books are full of action and very accessible. Rick Riordan does a great job of writing high interest low reading level books perfect for kids with dyslexia (Reading level for this series is 3.3 – 4.7). My son was appreciative of Percy Jackson being a struggling student with ADHD and dyslexia. This series really sparked an interest in all things Greek.
The Heroes of Olympus The Greek demigods of the Percy Jackson series discover their Roman counterparts in The Heroes of Olympus series. The series has lots of action which was greatly enjoyed by the boys at my house. 3.7-5
While the Percy Jackson books are certainly popular and not what some would consider literature, I appreciate them. They sparked a learning path at my house that took us from Percy Jackson to reading Greek Mythology to learning more about Greek and Roman history. Along the way we learned about Archimedes, the Collisium, the history of Christianity, and methods of warfare in Ancient and Medieval times. Right now we are working on a catapult project that includes building a trebaucht and recording data about its use.
The Chronicles of Narnia It’s been a while since we’ve read Chronicles of Narnia yet these still come up in discussions as we compare and contrast themes and discuss magical / mythical beings.
I Survived seriesThe reading level for this series is around the 4th grade range. Each story is about a young boy surviving a tragic historical event such as the Battle of Gettysburg, the sinking of the Titanic, or the San Francisco earthquake.
Harry Potter series As I’ve been asking parents what their kids are reading, Harry Potter keeps cropping up. Many parents say they read them with their kids a few years ago, and now their sons are picking them up to read on their own. So perhaps these are ripe for strewing about the house, even if you’ve already done them as read alouds.
Books in Waiting:
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch– I read this last year but for some reason didn’t share it with the boys. It’s an excellent tale of a boy who faces many hardships on his journey to manhood. His spirit of perseverance was just amazing.
Johnny Tremain A Newbery winner from 1944, this book is the story of a 14 year old boy caught up in the American Revolution.