Literature series books are a staple in most students’ reading repertoire. There is no doubt that series books generate excitement for reading. They motivate young readers and help them build positive experiences with books.

While this motivation is critical in the development of young readers, it is also important for students to read a balance of high-quality literature from a wide variety of authors. It can be difficult for young readers to move away from the comfort of a favorite series. They may need your guidance to choose books that will hold the same motivation and appeal that the series provided.

Listed below are six high-interest, appealing series for grades four and five that will help build reading excitement in your classroom. Following each series, you will find a list of “bridge” books which can be used to guide your students toward new authors and high-quality literature.

Animal Ark series by Ben M. Baglio
Mandy Hope and her parents help sick and injured animals at their veterinary hospital, Animal Ark. Featured animals include dogs, cats, horses, and even the occasional exotic animal when the Hope family goes on vacation. The stories often portray clear moral battles to rescue animals from abusive and dangerous situations. Strong characters and exciting storylines build compassion for animals and a greater understanding of their care. Animal Ark fans will enjoy these gripping animal stories:

  • A Bear Named Trouble by Marion Dane Bauer
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
  • Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan
  • Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
  • Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Runt by Marion Dane Bauer
  • Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
  • Summer of Riley by Eve Bunting
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes series by Anne Mazer
Upper elementary girls will enjoy the middle school situations in this light-hearted series in which Abby navigates the pre-teen years with humor and individuality. Storylines are set at both school and home, making Abby’s family an important part of the series. Abby’s journal entries, each with a quotation taken from her many calendars, add dimension and insight to Abby’s character. Abby Hayes enthusiasts will also enjoy these books featuring bright, vivacious heroines:

  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
  • Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles
  • Middle of Somewhere by J.B. Cheany
  • Penny From Heaven by Jennifer Holm
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli
  • That Girl Lucy Moon by Amy Timberlake
  • The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

Deltora Quest series by Emily Rodda
To defeat the evil Shadow Lord who has taken over the kingdom, Lief and friends must collect the seven gems of the powerful belt of Deltora. Each book in this series highlights the quest for one gem with the characters traveling to dangerous places and meeting a variety of fantastic creatures. With plenty of excitement and fantasy, these books are manageable even for reluctant readers and are a perfect choice for students not yet ready to take on Tolkien. Fans of Deltora Quest will savor this mix of fantasy and realistic fiction books about adventures and journeys:

  • Fergus Crane by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
  • Horns & Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
  • The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop
  • The Giant Rat of Sumatra: or Pirates Galore by Sid Fleischman
  • The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Last Dragon by Silvana De Mari
  • The Trolls by Polly Horvath
  • The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith

Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky
Soren the barn owl, pushed out of his nest before learning to fly, is taken in by the evil St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. He escapes the orphanage and travels to the Great Ga’Hoole Tree, where he joins up with a noble order of owls fighting evil in the owl world. Realistic owl behaviors intertwined with a unique depth of human-like emotions create intriguing characters. Plots are driven by themes of good versus evil, independent thinking, individuality, and honor. Readers who enjoy Guardians of Ga’Hoole will appreciate these exciting and endearing animal fantasy tales:

  • Abel’s Island by William Steig
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
  • Poppy by Avi
  • Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel
  • The Boy Who Spoke Dog by Clay Morgan
  • The Good Dog by Avi
  • The Little Gentleman by Philippa Pearce
  • The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Luis Sepúlveda
  • The Tale Of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
  • Urchin of the Riding Stars by M. I. McAllister
  • Whittington by Alan Armstrong

Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo
When Charlie’s family discovers he can hear voices in photographs, he is sent to the mysterious Bloor Academy for the Rich and Magically Endowed. Charlie adjusts to his new life at school, solves unusual mysteries, and searches for his missing father in this series that will appeal to your Harry Potter fans. The cast of characters, ranging from the off-beat Uncle Paton to Charlie’s eccentric friend Olivia, are diverse and entertaining. Charlie Bone fans will devour these novels about middle-grade kids embarking on adventures and solving intellectual mysteries:

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  • Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
  • Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  • Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner
  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
  • Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers


American Girl Mysteries
This series blends high-interest historical fiction with the added excitement of solving mysteries. The stories feature the classic American Girl characters — Kit, Josefina, Addy, and others — while focusing on some less-famous aspects of American history, such as Appalachian poverty during the Great Depression or sugar rationing during World War II. Watch used bookstores for the out-of-print series, American Girl History Mysteries. Readers of American Girl Mysteries will go for these books that also feature suspense and adventure in historical settings:


  • A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
  • Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley
  • Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  • The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis
  • Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • The Lacemaker and the Princess by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • The Little Riders by Margaretha Shemin
  • The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
  • The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed by Heather Vogel Frederick
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare