Some time back, a friend asked if I could recommend some books for a seven-year old boy. I’m asked variations on this somewhat frequently so I finally decided to sit down and write out a list. For this post, I’ll focus on series. I’m sure there will be more to come and these recommendations are in no particular order. Most will appeal to both boys and girls, but not every child will enjoy each series below equally.
1. The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne – I have yet to meet a child who rejected this series in its entirety. There are nearly 50 books in the series so it can keep readers busy for a while. Jack and Annie are siblings who find a magic tree house in the woods near their house. The characters open a book they find in the house, say “I wish we could go there,” and are transported to the desired location. Before they can go home, they have to solve a puzzle and help either a person or animal. I like the message behind these books, even if as an adult reader, the writing style is a bit repetitive. For kids just beginning with chapter books, the series offers mild thrills and the chance to learn about the structure of narrative – without even realizing it.
2. A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy – Three relatable kids, Josh, Dink and Ruth Rose solve mysteries in and around the town of Green Lawn. My daughter and I loved the friendship presented in the books. Sometimes the kids get mad with each other, but they find ways to resolve their differences in a peaceful way. There are enough clues to help readers solve the mystery. Each book comes with a map and readers can use that to help solve the mystery too. It’s nice to see map skills in use. Also, I like the way the three kids teach each other. If one uses a harder vocabulary word, or casually mentions a tougher physics or natural world concept, a second character will be a bit confused so the first speaker explains him or herself, or they will talk about what they learned in school and compare notes on what they each remembered. Ron Roy has two other series – Calendar Mysteries geared toward the same age range and Capital Mysteries geared toward more confident readers.
3. Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton – These rodents both know how to spin a good yarn and get human kids excited about geography, science and the newspaper industry. Heavy illustrations support the text, giving it the feel of a graphic novel, but these are chapter books. My daughter prefers the Thea Sisters series, but the Geronimo Stilton is equally good, if not better. Also, there are a lot of bad puns and literally cheesy dialogue. The phrases “Moldy mozzarella” and “Fabumous” have become household favorites.
4. Bad Kitty Series by Nick Bruel – For earlier readers, pick up wacky alphabet book Bad Kitty which runs through the alphabet four times and serves as an origin story for our anti-heroine. I love the series for featuring a not so lovable feline who gets her comeuppance in a humours way. Again, there is a bit of a graphic novel feel, and the heavy illustrations make this a good step into chapter books. The author “breaks the wall” so to speak, inviting the reader to become the anonymous narrator who talks to Bad Kitty. Also clever, asides by Uncle Murray to explain more advanced concepts and the glossary. Some readers may be put off by the “bad” language. Uncle Murray often refers to “that stupid cat” but the reader is asked to laugh along with and at the bad examples they see on the page. Bad Kitty for President is one of the best explanation of politics I’ve seen.
I’ll stop here for now. What series or individual books do you recommend? My daughter is always looking for new reads and my son is a few years away from needing some other suggestions.