Keeping advanced or voracious readers tearing through books can be a serious challenge for parents. I know, because I’m always trying to give my kids quality titles that are engaging — and that take more than eight minutes to read.
I also spend a good amount of time skimming middle grade texts before handing them over to my 11-year-old. While advanced readers are skilled in decoding and comprehending texts well above their grade level, not all books that provide a reading challenge are appropriate for their age. Those books might be too scary or violent for a young reader, and deal with themes that are just too mature for where a child is at emotionally and socially.
To help you keep your advanced reader captivated and challenged by books this summer, here is a variety of fabulous selections from this year’s Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge, a free, fun educational program. During the Challenge, kids enter reading minutes online to unlock exclusive digital rewards and help donate books to kids in need across the country. Ask your child’s teacher or local librarian if they’re participating — if not, you can register your child individually.
Books for Advanced Readers Ages 6 to 7
Blaire (American Girl: Girl of the Year 2019) by Jennifer Castle
The Girl of the Year books from American Girl feature determined girls who overcome real life challenges. The shorter chapters and large font size make this series a handy stepping stone for younger advanced readers who have recently made the jump into chapter books. In this read, 10-year-old Blaire’s many talents and her love for cooking are put to good use on her family’s farm and in their restaurant and B&B. However, she’s adjusting to life with a newly-diagnosed food sensitivity that makes her time in the kitchen more challenging. Meanwhile, a good friend wants Blaire to help plan a wedding, and her head is spinning with ideas! She sets out on a mission to make sure the farm’s first wedding is an epic celebration.
Ranger in Time: Disaster on the Titanic by Kate Messner
Finding a series that your advanced reader enjoys is a great way to keep him glued to books, and the Ranger in Time series is perfect for children in this age bracket. These historical fiction titles feature short chapters, a large font size, and occasional illustrations sprinkled throughout the story. Ranger is a time-traveling search and rescue dog who always saves the day, and in this riveting read, he finds himself on board the Titanic in 1912. He befriends a boy who is convinced the ship could never sink. However, when it strikes an iceberg, Ranger must help get Patrick and as many other passengers off the ship as possible before it’s too late.
Geronimo Stilton: Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye by Geronimo Stilton
The Geronimo Stilton series provides young advanced readers with a wholesome introduction to both mystery and adventure genres. The main character, Geronimo, is the mouse editor of the city newspaper and he’s always on the lookout to break the next big story (and in each book, he faces a fear or learns an important life lesson!). With the help of his thrill-seeking sister, Thea, Geronimo finds himself going on adventures across the world and even in alternative historical time periods, sometimes getting into sticky situations. In this read, Thea discovers a mysterious map that shows a secret treasure on a faraway island. Before long, the whiskered siblings set sail to find it!
Books for Advanced Readers Ages 8 to 10
A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese
Exploring topics like industrialization, finances, class issues, bullying, and friendship, this book is a clean, contemporary work of fiction with an important message, making it the perfect read for advanced readers in this age range. When an old wishing well suddenly begins granting wishes to the inhabitants of its tired, weary town, only three sixth graders know why. Throughout the story, they try to give everyone a little hope, one wish at a time, and also give readers a fabulous reminder that small moments of kindness are what make life so special. Just take this impactful quote from the book: “You can’t fix the world. But you do your best in your own little corner of it. And you hope.”
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
When 12-year-old Candice has to spend the summer in Lambert, South Carolina because of her parent’s divorce, she and her mom take up residence in her late grandmother’s house. There, Candice finds an old letter that offers clues to a mysterious fortune, which was responsible for her grandmother’s resignation as city manager of Lambert many years before. The hunt for the treasure leads Candice on a page-turning adventure that spans two different time periods, with the story cleverly (and sensitively) exploring a range of important social issues, including racism, divorce, bullying, and homophobia.
Restart by Gordon Korman
An engaging work of realistic fiction, Restart is great for advanced readers who love R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. Chase is a football star. In fact, he’s an all-around sports star. But he’s also a cruel bully — or, at least, he was. When Chase falls off his roof over the summer, he wakes up with no memory of his life before the fall. As he begins to rediscover who he really was, he isn’t that impressed with himself or his choice of friends. And he definitely doesn’t want to be that Chase any more. Can he start over, or will the other kids not trust him enough to give him another chance?
Books for Advanced Readers Ages 11 to 13
Gamer Army by Trent Reedy
In this futuristic, sci-fi adventure, Rogan is chosen as one of five 12-year-olds, the world’s best young gamers, to participate in an elimination game tournament in the Laser Viper virtual world. But as rounds are completed and competitors are eliminated, Rogan senses that all is not as it seems. The challenges they face in the game appear just a little too real! This futuristic, sci-fi thriller offers advanced readers strong and dynamic characters, lots of surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion — all free from objectionable content.
Grenade by Alan Gratz
This well-researched work of historical fiction shines a light on a complex theme, providing a thought-provoking opportunity for conversation about important issues. Your advanced reader will learn that war is not really about good guys or bad guys: On the battlefield, there are just humans. The story is told from the point of view of two young soldiers (Japanese soldier Hideki and American marine Ray), both of whom are fighting to stay alive during a violent battle that took place on the small Japanese island of Okinawa toward the end of World War II. Although this is a realistic portrayal of war and violence is present in the book, it's depicted in a straightforward way and not too graphically described for this age group.
Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury
The author of this book skillfully creates a wonderfully rich world that will keep your advanced reader absorbed until the very last page. It takes the story of the famed Russian princess Anastasia and gives it a science fiction makeover in an adventurous tale of family and friendship: Sixteen-year-old Stasia has lived in a small town on a small planet all of her life, but one day, she discovers she is Princess Anya Leonova, the sole surviving member of the galaxy’s imperial family. As Stasia struggles with her new identity, she must find a way to rescue her friend Clio and, as the last remaining royal, uncover how she holds the key to saving the galaxy.