I’ll admit it, I’m an avid reader of fiction written for school-age kids! Oh, the magic! Yay, the escape to excitement and thrills! Sigh, the beloved characters that find their way into your heart! Ah, the simple reminders of the lessons that are truly most important in our lives!
I’m always recommending book series for friends to read with their somewhere-around-8-year-olds (even though my own son is much younger) because I’ve read and re-read and loved them myself. I’ll also admit I have a Deathly Hallows tattoo on my wrist so even though I said this series was NOT one I’m recommending it’s just because I figure you’ve already read it*. SO, if that kind of dedication is more-cool-than-weird to you, bookmark these recommendations to read with your kiddo… OR for yourself, school-age kids or not!
Gregor: The Underland Chronicles – Suzanne Collins
Gregor: The Underland Chronicles (also known as Gregor the Overlander)
5 Books in this Series:
- Gregor the Overlander
- Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane
- Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
- Gregor and the Marks of Secret
- Gregor and the Code of Claw
You may recognize Suzanne Collins as the author of the popular Hunger Games Series – The first Gregor book was published 5 years before and while widely acclaimed by critics it seems to be the much less known of the two series. I personally draw similarities in the themes between the two series and feel no one writes siblings quite like Collins. Beautiful and sometimes sad, the love and dedication between Katniss and Pru is echoed in 11-year-old Gregor’s commitment to his little sisters, especially the lovable 2-year-old “Boots”. In both his adventures in the fantastic Underland as well as above ground in New York City, Gregor is an example of how to be a caring friend and brother. What I love most about Gregor is he “feels his feelings”, expressing empathy, loyalty, dedication to family and friends, as well as disappointment, anger, and frustration during truly warranted situations.
When Boots falls into the Underland through a loose grate in their apartment complex’s laundry room, Gregor goes after her and the adventures and thrills begin! The first chapter of Gregor the Overlander introduces us to Gregor’s bleak life in New York City, but I assure you things start to change after his arrival in Regalia. A lot of action and fun mixed with real feelings – every single person who has taken me up on this recommendation finds themselves falling completely in love with this series and I whole heartedly recommend it to you!
Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer
8 Books in this Series:
- Artemis Fowl
- The Arctic Incident
- The Eternity Code
- The Opal Deception
- The Lost Colony
- The Time Paradox
- The Atlantis Complex
- The Last Guardian
Much like my love for Gregor, Artemis Fowl found his way into my heart, just not for the same reason at all! While Gregor’s family challenges open his heart to care for those around him, Artemis’ has become hardened and his actions are best described as truly diabolical. On his own without parental guidance (much in the same way as Gregor), Artemis combines his genius and family money to scheme up plans to get what he wants… A teen-aged criminal mastermind, if you will!
Fun, fantastic, and easy to read, this series takes you on adventures as Artemis encounters an underground world himself… this particular one is the underground world of the fairies! Another element I love about The Artemis Fowl Collection is we get to see such a tough charter soften into the young and vulnerable kid that lives at the core of his personality. This transformation will make you want to root for him that much more – truly an anti-hero if there ever was one. Parts of the story are written from the point of view of fairy Captain Holly Short – a tough-y herself and member of the LEP-recon (get it?) unit of the fairy police. Through Holly we get to see a unique fairy world driven underground by humans and unlike any I’ve ever read about before. I’m also pretty excited because the first book in the series is being made into a movie by the most magicy-magic makers of all, Disney! Now is a great time to read this series (or re-read as I love to do) and I can’t wait to see how they make the underground world of the fairies come alive on the big screen!
Percy Jackson and the Olympians – Rick Riordan
5 Books in this Series:
For Gregor and Artemis, a magical and unknown world was right under their feet. For Percy Jackson it has always been around him, he’s just been shielded to it until now. More like Gregor than Artemis, Percy is a caring friend, good natured and kind but ready to meet his challenges head-first. If it wasn’t clear in the two previous reviews, as a mother and a human in general I appreciate young characters who feel real feelings and put an example of emotional literacy into a world that so much needs it. Percy does not disappoint here and I believe this series is so popular not only due to the adventure and love of mythology, but also because of this endearing main character and his friends.
I’m not sure if there is a single person who isn’t at least a little bit interested in Greek Mythology. You don’t have to be a fan or have big knowledge base to get right into these fast-paced and exciting books. Adventure kicks off from the very beginning and really doesn’t stop. The characters are well developed and the mythology is woven in beautifully. Much like the appeal to us Muggles who loved the Harry Potter series, Percy’s world is one where magic exists just under our noses and common people, items, and locations are transformed. I think you’ll find your imagination ignited by this style of story telling… the best part for me is the fond feeling of “what-if” that is left behind, long after the reader is done. While the books are wonderful, the first movie Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief in my opinion is not-so-much. Though, I should mention, recently my good friend watched it with her son after completing the series and while her opinion was the same as mine (we give it a “meh”), her son really enjoyed it.
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