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