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Reading list for your gifted young reader

There is a lot of understanding these days about finding appropriate books for emerging readers. An entire new genre has even sprung up for struggling older readers who want something more mature than Amelia Bedelia. But there’s a problem on the other side of the spectrum for kids who read early. It’s not uncommon for an early reader to reach five years old and hit a wall: a lack of books at a higher reading level that are still appropriate for a five-year-old. Even though these children may be able to read Harry Potter, they may not be ready for the Young Adult intensity of the later books in the series.

Caddie Woodlawn

Caddie Woodlawn is a favorite for readers who love the Little House series

The following books have been vetted by moms with children in this age group who are voracious readers. Asterisks denote books that may have difficult content for very sensitive readers. If you have additions, please leave them in the comments below. But make sure that the additions follow these rules:

  • No direct violence
  • If deaths of parents, pets, siblings or others are mentioned, please add a note
  • Complex enough reading for a five-year-old reading at a higher level



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Posted in Books, Education, Homeschooling, Parenting.

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18 Responses

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  1. min says

    Thank you for this list! Our 6 year old has read through half of the list. Now, I will introduce the other half!

  2. SnowyRow says

    Oh, hooray!! I love you in advance for this!!

    My oldest son hasn’t yet started reading, but he’s only three and heading for it fast! I’m sure he’ll gobble these up!!! Hooray!!

    • Suki says

      These also make good readalouds for young kids who want to listen to longer books. Enjoy!

  3. Catherine says

    Thank you! This is just what we need right now! I just found your blog through a fb link from Gifted Parenting Support – its so helpful! And we are in Monterey, so its great to see what’s going on in Santa Cruz in this community. Thanks again!

    • Suki says

      Hi Catherine – I’m sorry, somehow I missed your comment and never approved it! Nothing personal. I’m glad you’re finding my blog useful. – Suki

  4. Suki says

    Here’s a book list vetted by Common Sense Media for a variety of ages and on a variety of topics:

  5. pm says

    The Mr Majeika series, by Humphrey Carpenter, are great – my son couldn’t wait for the next one after each book – but they are set in a school, so I don’t know if that would be appropriate for non British children who haven’t started school and aren’t familiar with the classroom context.

  6. Crystal says

    I was thinking of the Great Brain series for my son. I read it as a child and loved it. But, you may want to give it a read first, as it does contain some deep themes like feuds between Christian sects, anti-Semitism, the death of the merchant, alcoholism, amputation, and , even suicide (when that child feels that he is “plumb useless” and tries to enlist his friends to help him end it all.)

    • Suki says

      The Great Brain is one of my favorites, but I had forgotten about that content. Isn’t it interesting how we don’t really remember the negative content of books until we read them with a sensitive reader? I used to love strong content when I was a kid, but I have put an asterisk next to Great Brain… Thanks!

  7. Marcy says

    I’ve been struggling with finding appropriate books for my gifted 6yo reader.

    Here are a few he’s enjoyed that aren’t on your list–

    The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil by Wiley Miller
    The Roland Wright series by Tony Davis
    The Jack Stalwart Series by Elizabeth Singer Hunt
    Bruce Coville’s books (My Teacher is an Alien series, Aliens Ate my Homework series, Alien Adventures series)
    Frank Einstein books by Jon Scieszka
    The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey

    • Suki says

      Thanks! I’m looking forward to checking them out.

  8. Brandi says

    We enjoyed the Cobblestreet Cousins series, Thimbleberry Stories, and Gooseberry Park–all written by Cynthia Rylant.

  9. Jessica says

    Andrea Cheng’s books! My daughter admittedly didn’t take to them, but I was very impressed — they’re emotionally complex while still dealing with realistic emotions for a young girl (I think Anna is nine when the series starts). The first in the series is The Year of the Book.

  10. Brandi D. says

    The Doll People series by Ann Martin

Continuing the Discussion

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